Troubleshooting Thursdays: Testing for open and short circuits (Tip 10)

Posted on: September 27, 2015 by in RSSMasher
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A resource for safe and effective troubleshooting: from the leaders in simulation training.

Welcome back! Last week on Troubleshooting Thursdays, we looked at faults that lead to the malfunction of an electrical circuit. We learned that there were two main types of electrical faults, which can generally be categorized into open circuits and short circuits. But, how do you test for a fault caused by an open circuit or a short circuit?

Today on TsT, we will begin the discussion on testing for open and short circuits safely, using a multimeter. However, before you can test for a fault, you must determine whether you should test the circuit while it is live, or dead.

WARNING: Working with electrical equipment can be hazardous. The electrical energy contained in many circuits can be enough to injure or kill. Make sure you follow all of your company’s safety precautions, rules, and procedures while troubleshooting.

Testing for faults: dead vs. live

One of the first things you must decide is whether the circuit should be live or dead while testing.

Performing certain tests while a circuit is live can be very helpful. However, some companies have policies that ban (or restrict) testing live circuits while troubleshooting. Before doing any testing, make sure you check your company’s policy. Simutech Multimedia’s simulation-based training provides techniques for testing a circuit while dead and live.

Testing a live circuit introduces certain additional safety hazards. OSHA and NFPA have regulations (such as the NFPA 70E requirements) that apply to testing live equipment. They outline certain work procedures that must be followed, as well as the type of protective equipment required based on the voltage level and the available fault current.

The simulations in Simutech Multimedia’s troubleshooting program allow for testing while a circuit is live as well as dead.

Stay tuned for these lessons in the coming weeks:

Finding opens using a voltmeter on a live circuit

Voltmeters are the best tool to use for finding open circuits, if you can safely turn the power on.

Finding opens using an ohmmeter on a dead circuit

Sometimes you can’t energize a circuit for testing even though the fault is open. In these cases, an ohmmeter must be used.


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