When your car has a broken wire, it will most likely stop functioning correctly, and this does not only interfere with the vehicle and other appliances, more so when the car is in motion.
Moreover, broken wires usually interfere with the flow of electrical energy, and given that it is separated from another portion of wire it is attached to, this is prone to cause permanent damage since there will be interference with continuity.
Wires can break if they have aged or they have undergone a short. Additionally, they can also break due to corrosion, dry rot, and small creatures such as rats chewing on the wires hence causing them to break.
What Are the Causes of Broken Wires?
Wires can be subject to aging over time, but other problems can lead to wire breaks or shorts. In older homes, wires tend to become damaged by dry rot or erode quicker. Rodents can also chew through wires and cause breakages. Loose or poorly soldered wire connections can come apart, too.
How Can You Find a Broken Wire?
To find a broken wire, you’ll first need to test the device as a whole. This can be done using a digital multimeter. Multimeters are handheld tools that can take measurements of voltage, amperage, capacitance, and resistance.
First, switch off the device you’re testing. Unlike with other circuit tests, the multimeter can supply the power needed to conduct the test. Then, turn on your multimeter and set it to the “continuity” setting. Place the meter leads across the device’s cord.
Place the black end of the multimeter into the round ground port of the device. Place the red in the smaller of the two slotted ports on the device. Make sure the leads are connected to the metal for the multimeter to work correctly.
If the resistance is zero, you’ve found the break. If the resistance isn’t zero, continue searching along the cord until you get a zero reading. The zero reading is the indicator of a broken wire.
How Can A Broken Wire Be Fixed?
After using your multimeter as a wire break detector, you can go about fixing the problem. More often than not, the broken wire will need replacing entirely. You should test the new wire with your multimeter before installing it to check that it, too, isn’t broken.
Some very minor wire breaks can be fixed with wire splices or joints. They can then be soldered and covered with electrical tape. There are various types of wire splice, depending on the types of wires you’re fixing.
How to Locate a Bad Wire Using a Multimeter
Continuity is the ability of a wire or an electronic component to carry applied voltage or current through a circuit. Some circuits intentionally use diodes or resistors to shunt the flow of voltage or current through it. This is to prevent electrical shorts. A loose, poorly soldered, or malfunctioning wire can render a circuit useless.
If a bad wire is suspected of causing a malfunction in any piece of electronic equipment, the cables can be tested easily using a digital multimeter. Digital multimeters are handheld diagnostic tools that measure in several different modes, including voltage, amperage, capacitance, and resistance.
Unplug the device that will be tested out from the electrical outlet or the voltage supply.
Turn the multimeter on and set it to the “Ohms” setting. If the multimeter has a specific “Continuity” testing mode, switch it to that setting in lieu of Ohms.
Place the negative meter lead to one end of the wire and the positive end of the wire’s other end. If the resistance reads “0,” then the wire is bad.
Test wires in this fashion until the location of the bad wire is pinpointed.
How to Locate a Broken Wire
Wires from any electrical circuit basis, but over time, they can become worn and damaged and even break, rendering a circuit useless and sometimes dangerous. A standard multimeter can work as a wire break locator by performing a continuity test on a circuit.
Once you find where the break is, the wire can be fixed or replaced. Remember always to be particularly careful when working with electricity. Make sure the devices are switched off, never work anywhere near water, and wear gloves.
A broken wire can cause an intermittent failure in your car, appliance, or piece of equipment. Especially in a moving vehicle, a broken wire can stop electrical current every time it disconnects from the other piece of wire it is supposed to be attached to, potentially causing a permanent failure.
Still, there are specific strategies you can follow to locate an opening in a wire, even if the broken piece is hidden inside the insulation.
Trace the wire
Locate where the tour wire connector is probably placed and have it removed. This will enable you to examine the damage properly. Afterward, take your multimeter set it on ohms to test continuity.
When you are finally done, switch on your meter; place one of the probes on one of your metal terminals that attach your wires to your connector.
On the other hand, place the remaining probe to any part of your wire that is visible. Shake your wires to examine in case there is any improper connection as you observe the probes you have placed on your terminals.
The reading displayed on your multimeter screen should indicate a resistance of zero. If it shows another figure for resistance, consider the improper placement of your wires on your terminal.
Do the test at the end of your wires too. You are required to connect your multimeter probes on both ends of your wires. For your wires to remain hooked, make good use of alligator clips on your probes, move your wires with keenness at several points. In case there is any breakage on your wires, you are likely to get an inaccurate figure for resistance displayed on your meter screen.
Once you locate where the wire has broken, plug a pin of about 2-3 inches away from where the wire has a breakage. Have your meter probes placed on the pins as you shake the wire where there is damage. Place the other pin on the remaining side of your wire where you doubt there is a breakage.
After your pins are set, place your multimeter probes as you wiggle your wires at that particular point you suspect there is a breakage. This will enable you to find the break in your wire only if the reading value displayed gives an infinite resistance.
However, sometimes it might be difficult for you to access both ends of the wire; in this case, you might opt to use jumper wire around a single end of your wire as well as on a single probe. Either way, you can also place the jumper wire to your chassis ground and have your meter probe connected on it and the other remaining wire to the end of your wire to examine for continuity.
Whenever you are working with pins over the wire insulation, ensure you cover the open spots using electrical tape. This is to prevent moisture from reaching your wires as this could likely cause electrocution, and we all know, prevention is better than cure.
After reading through this article, you now know that tracing a wire using a multimeter is without a doubt a simple process. To do this, all you need are a handful of tools, and you are ready to go.