• SkillCat Team

Measuring Continuity With Multimeter

Updated: Apr 7

Using a Multimeter: Chapter 6


In this module, we will teach you how to use your multimeter to measure continuity. Skip to quiz!


1. Settings


Recall that continuity is the presence of a complete path for current flow. If there is no continuity, something is preventing current from flowing. An open switch, damaged wire, or a blown fuse can break the current flow.


It is common to check the continuity on:

  • Components within a circuit, and

  • Lengths of wire within a circuit

Let’s learn how to set your meter to measure continuity.

To measure continuity, you will need to connect your leads into the correct ports on your multimeter. Your red lead plugs into the port marked with the "))))” symbol. This is the symbol for continuity. Your black lead plugs into the port marked with “COM”.


Before taking any measurements, you need to set your multimeter dial to measure continuity. Rotate the dial on your multimeter until the arrow/dot is pointed at the "))))” symbol. All multimeters use the "))))”symbol for continuity.


On some multimeters, you will need to use the “function” key to measure continuity. Recall each dial position on a multimeter can have multiple measurements. If this is the case, press the function key until the "))))”symbol appears on your multimeter display.


To measure continuity, the circuit must have no power running through it. Turn off the power to the circuit. After that, confirm there is no power by measuring voltage. You must confirm there is no voltage since a capacitor can still supply power. Even if the power is off.


To measure continuity, the multimeter sends a small test voltage through the wire. The multimeter reads the value of the test voltage to determine if there is continuity. If the power is on, the multimeter cannot accurately read the test voltage.


2. How to measure continuity using a multimeter?


Now that your multimeter and circuit are ready, let’s learn how to check continuity.


Start by confirming that your black lead is connected to the “COM” port and your red lead is connected to the port marked "))))”. Set your dial so that the arrow points to the "))))” symbol. The "))))” symbol should appear on your display. Make sure that the circuit has no power.


Before measuring continuity, you want to test your meter to make sure that it works. To test the meter, touch the two metal ends of your leads together. See the picture to the right for an example.

If the meter displays “OL” while your leads touch, then there is no continuity. An “OL” while testing your meter indicates a problem with your meter. Fix the multimeter before making any measurements.


Place your test leads across the area that you want to test. One lead should be at each end of the segment you are checking continuity for. See the picture to the right. In the picture, we are checking the continuity of a light switch.


Unlike other multimeter measurements, continuity is a yes/no test. There is no value to a continuity measurement.

When you measure continuity, the meter will display either:

  • “OL”

  • A low number and a beep sound


If your multimeter reads “OL”, the component or wire you are checking does not have continuity. This indicates that the component you measured has a break in current flow.


If your multimeter reads a low value and emits a beep sound, then the component you checked has continuity. It is important to remember that you only checked the continuity of the component you measured. There could be a continuity problem in another area of the circuit.


3. Conclusion


In this section, you learned how to use your multimeter to measure continuity. In the next section, we will teach you how to measure voltage.


Question #1: "))))” is the universal symbol for continuity on a multimeter.

  1. True

  2. False

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Answer: True

True, the "))))” symbol always represents continuity on a multimeter. This includes the dial and port.


Question #2: You can measure continuity while the circuit still has power:

  1. True

  2. False

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Answer: False

False, the power must be turned off to measure continuity. When the power is on, the multimeter cannot accurately read the test voltage.


Question #3: What does a beep sound and a low value mean when measuring continuity?

  1. The circuit has continuity

  2. The circuit does not have continuity

  3. The meter cannot determine if there is continuity

  4. All of the above

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Answer: The circuit has continuity

A sound and a beep indicate the segment of the circuit has continuity.


Question #4: Where should you place your leads on the component:

  1. One lead on each end of the wire

  2. Both leads on one end of the wire

  3. Only use one lead on one end of the wire

  4. All of the above

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Answer: One lead on each end of the wire

To measure continuity you must place a lead on each end of the wire.


Question #5: What does a “OL” on the display mean when measuring continuity?

  1. The circuit has continuity

  2. The circuit does not have continuity

  3. The meter cannot determine if there is continuity

  4. The range of continuity is above the range of the meter.

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Answer: The circuit does not have continuity

The circuit does not have continuity if the meter displays OL.


Question #6: It is important to test your multimeter before measuring continuity.

  1. True

  2. False

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Answer: True

True, checking if your meter works is an important step before measuring continuity of the system.


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