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Making Basic Electrical Tests

You'll most commonly measure two electrical parameters when you're troubleshooting your appliance: resistance (measured on units called "ohms") and voltage. Typically, both of these measurements are made on a single meter called a multi-meter, which you can set to measure either ohms or voltage.

Using an Ohm Meter to Make Continuity and Resistance Measurements

The picture to the right shows how to measure resistance. Resistance is measured in units called "ohms." You'll commonly want to know the resistance of things like bake elements and solenoid coils. For example, a good bake element typically has a resistance of about 30 ohms. If your oven's not baking and you measure the resistance of the bake element and the meter doesn't move, then you know you'got a bad element. Two things to remember when making resistance measurements: 1) the circuit should be de-energized (for those of you in Rio Linde, this means to unplug the appliance first!) and 2) remove at least one wire attached to the component you're testing to disconnect it from the rest of the circuit so you're not getting a false reading by measuring through the rest of the circuit.

You wouldn't believe the number of grasshoppers I talk to who just off and changed the bake element when the oven didn't work only to find that that wasn't the problem! A simple ohm measurement would've saved him alot of money and headache.

Using a Voltmeter to Measure Voltagee

This picture shows how to measure voltage. A voltage measurement at the outlet should the first thing you do whenever you have an appliance that is completely inoperative. More details here for dryer outlets and range outlets.

Using an Amp Meter to Measure Current

Here's a clamp-on ampmeter (or amp meter) being used to measure current flow through a wire. This is a common test for determining whether or not a gas oven ignitor is good or bad--only way to really know is by measuring its current draw and comparing to rated draw. You'll also want to measure current draw in cases where you have an electric motor that runs for a few minutes then shuts off to see if the problem is with the motor drawing excessive current.

Well, al-l-l-l-l-righty then.

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