While most repairs and diagnostics on household appliances can be best handled by a qualified service person, users need to know how to test a heating element with a multimeter.
Basically, in order to test a heating element with a multimeter, you can use the continuity test or the resistance test mode.
With either a digital or analog multimeter, make sure the probes are connected to the multimeter on one end and with the free ends, make contact with each of the open terminals on the heating element. The analog multimeter might need calibration. You should get a significant reading; if not, the test failed.
The heating element is the most crucial part of an oven and it is also the most prone to damage as each time during operation, it’s subjected to intense heat.
You can go about checking to see if the element is bad but the most conclusive results can be obtained with a multimeter.
Multimeters are generally inexpensive and you can get a simple one for less than 20 dollars. Armed with one, you can go about checking your heating element through the steps we provide below.
What we’ll be testing for is continuity and more on this will be revealed as we get along with this article.
Also Read: How to tell if oven heating element is bad?
What is Continuity?
Before we go along with testing, it’s important to understand what we’re looking for. Electrical continuity indicates that there’s a full path on which current flows.
Therefore, when testing for continuity, we are checking to see whether there’s a continuous flow of current in the heating element between two different terminals.
If the continuity test passes, it shows that the current does flow and the device is working as expected.
A failure indicates that the heating element may be damaged and will need to be replaced. This test is used for a variety of other electrical devices.
There are two kinds of Multimeters, analog, and digital. That aside, a multimeter is a useful electrical device that is used to measure multiple electrical values like resistance, volts and current.
They are small and portable and with their ease of use, can come quite in handy when inspecting your electrical appliances.
While their main functions are the same, analog and digital Multimeters work just a little bit differently.
Most multimeters have a dedicated mode for continuity. This represented by a little sound wave with a diode symbol.
Also Read: Why is my oven not heating up properly?
How to Test a Heating Element with a Multimeter?
What you’ll need for the test is a working multimeter, the heating element that needs testing and the probes to use to contact the terminals.
These usually come with a new multimeter.
1. Turn off the Power
Because we’re dealing with electrical devices, the first step is usually to switch off the power supply to the device.
In the case of an oven, you can unplug it or switch off its breaker switch.
By switching off the power and ensuring that the device is isolated, you are adding an extra layer of protection for both yourself and the device in case you end up making a mistake or touching part of the circuit.
2. Check the Device’s Manual
Going straight for the disassembly might be futile if you do not know exactly where the heating element or the screws holding it in place are. Therefore, to avoid this, you may need to consult your device’s user manual to get valid information.
Checking the manual can help you with removing the heating element from the device safely and will be invaluable for determining the model of the element if you end up needing a replacement.
Additionally, checking the manual will notify you of any warranty issues that could arise from this endeavor, so make sure you study it carefully.
3. Disconnect the Heating Element
Once the first two steps are done, the next thing you’ll need to do is locate the heating element inside the device and disconnect it.
You can still get the measurement while the element is connected to the device, but for best results, removing it completely comes in handy.
Not only will you be able to administer the test more easily, but you’ll also be able to check for other problems if need be.
4. Set Up the Multimeter
Setting up most multimeters is simple as you just have to select the continuity test mode.
However, on certain multi meter without continuity test o take the measurements, we’ll use the lowest ohms of the resistance value.
To do this, adjust the dial so that it points at the respective low ohm value. You can also opt for the ohm with the sound option which will generate a sound if there’s continuity.
Once this is done, you can go ahead and skip the next step if you’re using a digital multimeter.
5. Calibrate the Multimeter
If you’re using a manual multimeter, you may need to do some extra calibrations to get it to work as expected.
All you’ll need to do is touch the two probes together. If the pointer deviates from zero, go ahead and use the turning mechanism to return it to zero so that it is adjusted for errors.
This step is not necessary on a digital multimeter.
Test the Heating Element
Once all the steps have been completed successfully, you can now go ahead and test the heating element with the multimeter.
To do this, use the probes and ensure they’re properly inserted into their slots on the multimeter.
With the free ends, make a connection on the first terminal with one of the probe’s ends and use the other to contact the remaining terminal.
Now select the mode to continuity test. As mentioned earlier, continuity test mode has a soundwave like symbol with a diode.
If you DO NOT have a dedicated continuity test mode, you can select the resistance check mode. This is displayed in Ohms.
Once you do this, note the readings that you get from the device. Notice whether the pointer on the analog multimeter moves if it does and on the digital one, look for any changes.
Understanding the Results
The results that you see on the multimeter depends on whether you are using an analog or a digital multimeter.
Digital Multimeter and Analog Multimeter with Continuity Test Mode
A working heating element will show the result as 0, or very close to 0, if you have a multimeter wit ha dedicated continuity test mode.
Some multimeters make a beeping sounds, others show a value close to 0 on their screen.
Analog Multimeter WITHOUT Continuity Test Mode
Since most budget analog multimeter do not have a dedicated mode for continuity, you check the continuity using the resistance test.
When doing so, you will certainly see a value. You will see the needle swing to show the amount of resistance present.
Basically, if there is resistance, then there is continuity. An incomplete circuit or a broken heating element, would not show any resistance.
Also Read: What is heating element made of?
With regular use, a heating element can still get worn out. While this may be the reason why your appliance isn’t working, you can use the continuity test to see if that is the case.
Here we see how to test a heating element with a multimeter. It is not too hard once you follow the steps carefully.
The results you get will determine whether you need to replace the element if it fails and if it succeeds, the test can show that you may have some other problem
Regardless, using a multimeter can provide very accurate results.