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What is a Continuity Tester?

By Rachel Burkot
Updated May 17, 2024
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A continuity tester is a tool used to determine if a circuit breaker is working properly. Electricity requires a continuous path to be able to function, so if there is an obstacle along this path, the electricity will not work. This tool can help determine whether electricity will be able to flow.

People can use continuity testers to check the wires and cords of circuit breakers to be sure that electricity can get through. An internal battery located inside the tool sends electricity through a prong and down the wires. There is a prong on the other end, and if it receives the electricity — if the path remains unbroken — the tester either lights up or buzzes. If it does nothing, there is something blocking the electricity in the circuit breaker.

To use the tester, an individual should unplug the cord from the electrical receptacle and turn all switches on. The tester should come with an alligator clip, which must be attached to a prong on the cord before connecting the tip of the tester to the other prong. The device will then light up or buzz if everything is working properly. If this does not happen, the person should disconnect the cord from the appliance being tested and test both wires. If they both work fine, the problem is with the actual appliance.

Continuity testers are relatively inexpensive and can be purchased in hardware stores. They come with a battery, a test probe, a test wire, and an alligator clip. The test probe is typically connected to the end of the battery case, while the test wire and alligator clip connect at the other end. When using the device on a circuit, the current must be turned off to properly determine if any electricity is being carried from one end to the other and to determine the problem spot if it is not. This tool should only be used when the appliance is unplugged and the circuit power turned off, or the person doing the testing could be injured.

A voltage continuity tester is another way to determine if a circuit breaker needs to be replaced. Also called a multimeter, this tool works by using the AC mode and connecting a hot prong with the screw on the circuit breaker. This is an easy way to determine if the breaker is generating power, and a voltage tester can identify complicated electrical problems. Overall, continuity testers are useful tools to have when testing electrical appliances and circuit breakers. Whether the source of the problem is a broken appliance or faulty circuit breaker, this device can quickly determine why the electricity is not being generated properly.

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