How to Find a Short Circuit with a Multimeter?

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A short circuit occurs when a wire that carries current contacts a ground or a neutral wire in a circuit. If you notice your circuit breaker trips frequently or fuses being repetitively blown, it indicates a short circuit.

A multimeter is commonly used to check for short circuits. It is one of the simplest meters that are easy to operate and use. The continuity setting in the meter produces a beep sound or flashes a light whenever there is a short circuit in a connection. Here in this article, you will get a complete guide about the reason behind a short circuit and how to find it using a multimeter. Check the guide below.

Causes of Short Circuit?

There are different reasons behind this problem.

  • A wiring appliance that is broken or damaged.
  • The insulation of a wire with a busted circuit. Avoid using old and damaged insulation wires as they can permit neutral or hot wires to come into contact with each other. All this can cause a short circuit.
  • A loose wire connection and more.

Ensure the device which you are planning to use is the right one. It must include all the properties and features. Test your multimeter multiple times so that you can get the right reading. Mostly the multimeters offer three primary functions of computing voltage, current, and resistance to their users. However, some of the higher-end devices are equipped with some additional features. It includes additional readings, different types of modes, and multiple attachment options.

How to Find a Short Circuit with a Multimeter?

Before looking for a short circuit with a multimeter, the first thing is to turn the power off to the device or circuit completely so that you cannot face any trouble later on. Make use of a tester to check this step completely. For checking purposes, insert the two probes of your tester into the holder’s vertical slots. If the power is not off completely, the tester will light up.

After this, follow the below-listed steps one by one.

1.) Set your Multimeter to Resistance or Continuity

It is important to set the parameter to resistance or continuity whether using a digital or analog meter. To change the setting, use the selector knob. All the multimeters except the standard ones contain both continuity and resistance parameters. In such a case, set your gadget to a continuity parameter.

Moreover, the continuity parameter is not present in a standard device. In such a case, go for the second one. However, note that most of the multimeters contain a range of resistance settings. Select the lowest one on the meter if you have a device that lacks continuity and contains several resistance values. The continuity feature helps determine the number of ohms at both ends of your wire. The short circuit occurs when the figure is different at both ends.

2.) Check the Functioning of your Multimeter

Do not forget to test and attune the gadget before using it. Make sure everything is working correctly so that you can get accurate measurements. Set the desired mode on the device and touch its probes. If you can get a zero or near zero reading, then it means everything is fine. Similarly, if you get a higher value, calibrate till it becomes zero.

3.) Properly Test the Probes

Do not forget to test the probes to the circuit. To perform this job, you first need to identify the probs. These are in black and red color. Simply touch the black probe to the ground of your circuit and the other to the testing component. Perform this job carefully. Properly contact circuit board foil with the probs.

The multimeter contains an alert to tell the user about an issue. You can change the alert as per your choice. One can either select a flashing light or a beep tone while performing the testing. The user manual of a meter contains all the information about your device. Properly check it before so that you cannot miss anything.

4.) Monitor your Multimeter’s Display

While performing the above-listed steps, check your gadget’s display and properly observe the reading. If you select the resistance mode, and the value on the screen is 1 or OL, then it refers to a short circuit. Similarly, if you get a reading of 0 or some value close to 0 in the case of a continuity mode, it is also because of a short circuit.


1.) What are the physical signs of a short circuit?

Some prominent signs include visible burning, a burning smell, hot spots in the cover or wall, and more.

2.) What does a zero ohm reading represent?

The zero resistance value indicates a complete circuit.

3.) What is the ohm value in an open circuit?

The value of the current is zero (I = 0) in the case of an open circuit. Therefore, the resistance is immeasurable for any voltage value in an open circuit condition.


If you are looking for the right guidance about finding a short circuit with a multimeter, then you are at the right place. Here you will get a complete understanding of it. By following the steps mentioned above, you can easily ensure whether there is a short circuit in your circuit or not. If you don’t know how to use the correct measurements, you can also learn about it and its various parts. So what are you waiting for? Check the details above for a complete understanding.

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