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A continuity tester (left) can determine if a component is receiving electricity, but cannot measure current like a See more pictures of hand tools.

A continuity tester consists of a battery in a housing, with a test probe connected to one end of the battery housing and a test wire with an alligator clip connected to the other end. It is used with the current turned off to determine whether a particular electrical component is carrying electricity and to pinpoint the cause of a problem.

To use a continuity tester, unplug the appliance and disassemble it to get at the component you want to test. Fasten the clip of the tester to one wire or connection of the component, and touch the probe to the other wire or connection. If the component is receiving electricity and transmitting it, the tester will light or buzz; this indicates that the circuit is continuous. If the tester doesn't light or buzz or it reacts only slightly, the component is faulty.

Caution: Do not use a continuity tester unless the appliance is unplugged or the power to the circuit is turned off.

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