How to Test Heating Elements


Heating elements are found in many appliances around the home, including dryers, stoves, dishwashers and toasters, among other appliances. Sometimes it's necessary to know how to test heating elements to make sure the elements are working correctly. Testing a heating element will determine whether it is bad or whether another part of the system is faulty. You will need the owner's manual to the specific appliance you will be testing to find out how to gain access to the heating element and remove it from the appliance.

Things You'll Need

  • Owner's manual to appliance
  • Masking tape
  • Volt-ohm meter
  • Replacement heating element
  • Disconnect the power supply from the appliance with the faulty heating element. If the appliance is hardwired into the home, turn off the circuit breaker to the appliance. Unplug any appliance from the wall outlet that uses a plug.

  • Remove the heating element from the appliance according to the owner's manual. This will require disassembly to some degree. If you are disconnecting any wires, it is a good idea to label the wires with masking tape. This makes it easier to identify where the wires reconnect during the reassembly process.

  • Set the scale on your volt-ohm meter to the RX1 setting. You are going to test for resistance within the heating element.

  • Touch one probe on the volt-ohm meter to one terminal on the heating element, and touch the other probe to the other element terminal. A reading of high resistance indicates that the heating element is good. A reading of no resistance indicates a faulty heating element, and the heating element needs to be replaced.

  • Take the faulty heating element with you to an appliance repair facility or well-stocked hardware store. You want to replace a faulty heating element with one the exact size, shape and voltage of the faulty one.

  • Install the new heating element into the appliance according to the manufacturer's instructions. Reassemble the appliance, and reconnect the power supply to the appliance.

Tips & Warnings

  • With some appliances, like toasters and coffee makers, it may be more cost efficient to replace the entire appliance rather than the heating element.
  • Always disconnect appliances before attempting any repairs to them.

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