A Complete Guide to Testing Home Outlet Voltage

Posted by Casandra Properties on Friday, September 4th, 2020 at 2:40pm.

Do you need to test your home outlet voltage? Are you interested in learning more about voltage testers? Maybe you're wondering why one of your outlets doesn't seem to work or why you're experiencing circuit issues.

Whatever the reason, it's fairly simple to get a voltage reading. All you need is the right equipment to do so.

Learn about useful equipment, how to take safety precautions, and what you can do to troubleshoot a circuit problem in this guide.

Home Outlet Voltage

Testing Using Multimeters

Before you test your outlets, you'll need a voltage tester and multimeter. Make sure you follow all safety precautions when using a multimeter and read all directions to ensure you don't hurt yourself.

Electrical tools and sensors can measure current, voltage, temperature, and more. For example, thermocouples and RTDs measure temperature. You'll need the right tools to measure your voltage.

Equipment, like a multimeter, can measure AC and DC voltage, resistance, and current. There are many different types of testers that professional electricians will use, and multimeters are one of the handiest. Homeowners can also find one of these tools if they need to test their home voltage.

Multimeters can also tell you if an outlet is correctly grounded.

If you're using a multimeter to test voltage, start by setting it to measure voltage. Plug in the leads as directed, following all safety instructions, and insert a probe into each slot of your outlet.

Most working home outlets should put out somewhere between 110-120 volts. It's normal for the reading to be slightly higher or lower (such as 100 or 127.)

120 Volt vs. 240-Volt Outlets

Outlets in the U.S. can use either 15 or 20-amp circuits. High-powered appliances like fridges use the 20-amp circuits. Your AC, washing machine and dryer, and other appliances that require more power, should be on special circuits that produce around 240 volts or more.

20-amp receptacles have a small horizontal slot attached to one of the regular, vertical slots, so you can easily tell them apart.

You can also tell the difference between 120-volt and 240-volt outlets due to their appearance. 240-volt outlets are bigger and have either three or four holes.

Staying Safe

While multimeters are incredibly useful tools, you have to stay safe while handling them. Using a multimeter can be a little intimidating to homeowners that are unfamiliar with them. If you're worried about getting shocked or having an electrical accident, leave it to the professionals.

Calling an electrician to test your home outlet voltage might seem expensive, but if you feel unsafe using a multimeter, or if you're not sure what the problem is, it's better to let an electrician run the tests.

Voltage Testers

If you're simply unsure whether any power is headed to your outlet, you could use a non-contact voltage detector. These tools can tell you whether there's any voltage in your outlet, cables, cords, etc. These are usually small, lightweight, and easy to use tools.

These testers are safer than multimeters, but you still must read the instructions and follow all safety guidelines first. Voltage testers can tell you whether one socket was wired incorrectly or differently from the others. These non-touch tools don't tell you the exact voltage, but you can use it to test your outlets and wiring to make sure they're working.

Testing Home Outlet Voltage

Now you know the tools and methods you need to test your home outlet voltage. Remember, electricity is dangerous, and if you don't know what you're doing, you could hurt yourself or cause damage to your home. Call an electrician if you suspect a larger problem, or if you're uncomfortable handling a multimeter.

For more tips on making the most of your home, keep checking back on our blog!


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