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How can I use a multimeter to detect stray electricity in a house?

How can I use a multimeter to detect stray electricity in a house?

Old 03-04-18, 04:43 PM
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How can I use a multimeter to detect stray electricity in a house?

I'd like to know how to use a multimeter to test to determine if there is any unwanted stray electricity in particular areas of a house.

Items including/similar to a ceramic floor tile, a metal screen door outside the front door, a chair with metal legs, electronic items like a trackpad/laptop/monitor/network video recorder, a desk, an animal. I think that a water leak under the house is causing stray electricity in the house.

I believe I need to use the "current" feature? Looks like an arrow going threw a line then also has what looks like a sound icon on the same setting. However when I turn the meter on it just quickly shows some numbers and goes right to overload. It's an auto range one and I've tried adjusting where the decimal point is. When I touch the two probes together it zeros out which I read is expected and when I push the function button to shift to the sound looking icon it beeps when touched together. I checked that the fuse hasn't blown and it looks intact and seems the multi meter to work when testing a battery which is all I know how to do. Am I doing something wrong, is the meter broken, is there a ton of electricity going threw the house that just holding the probes in the air is overloading it?? Can I use any of the other settings to test surface for electrictity? I've been reading how to use the multimeter but as far as I can understand the other settings are more for an using on circuit in electronic items to test if they're getting the right voltage or something and my manual is barely in English and very confusing.

The house I live in currently has a massive water leak and a lot of water is moving under the house from one side to the other. There a huge faultline in the middle of house where it's splitting in two! There's black mold along the path of what I suspect to be where the water is flowing under the house. Stair step cracks in walls, messed up foundation, and several lights and outlets have stopped working. The grounding prong on a few of my plugs has broken off too which may just be an odd coincidence since I've never seen had that happen to me before and 3 have fallen off in the last few weeks.

Hopefully my landlord has homeowner's insurance...and a good lawyer. Anyway so I'm here and they aren't doing anything about it. My main concern is I've also been getting shocked like if you touch someone/something and get a tiny static electricity shock except they feel stronger than those do and it's been happeneing when I tough various surfaces in several areas of the house. It seems to me like the water is going under the house and has made contact with some electrical wires and is sending stray electricity up threw the probably wet floor into the house. Tile and fake wood (laminate) flooring. I mean I don't have any other reason to say so exactly other than being shocked and assuming the non-functioning outlets and lights is related to the water. I'm mostly concerned about my pets since they're smaller and who knows how it could be affecting them. I put them on rubber mats and spare tires just in case.

I know the best advice would be to "move right now just leave" but that's not possible at the moment. There's not much I can do right now today but I should have this resolved shortly..I'm not the ideal tenant probably..my last landlord ended up with a restraining order for several months against his own (second) home, was inspected by at least 10 city/county code enforcement depts and the city attorney's office, and now the City/County and I own a fairly significant percentages of the dwelling in the form of a leins. I wanted a heater and fire alarms. He threatened to kill my dog. You know the usual..so I was pretty merciless.

Photos are 1.) the screen showing overload on the current setting 2.) the screen when it turns on in case theres some feature there I could use.

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Old 03-04-18, 05:45 PM
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Welcome to the forums.

That meter won't show you anything like you are looking for. I'm not really sure what you are looking for.
OL means open circuit in the ohms mode.

Water under the slab won't show any particular electric characteristic as it's grounded.

There are always stray magnetic fields in a home. They come from devices that use transformers. The value is pretty much too small to effectively test for.
Old 03-04-18, 06:15 PM
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I'm not sure it's under the foundation..since the tile is cracking and looks like it has mold underneath it. I'd say there's water in between the slab/foundation and the tiles. By grounded you mean that the actual earth is absorbing the charge right? Wouldn't some of it go the other way too (to the floor)? What sort of device could I use then? Is there something wrong with the current settings on my multilmeter because it always just says overload unless I touch the two probes to each other.
Old 03-04-18, 06:22 PM
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You'll have to excuse me chase, but you are chasing ghosts. Yes, there are electrical signals all around us but in our homes they are so small they literally couldn't hurt a fly or cause mold or any form of damage.


Old 03-04-18, 06:49 PM
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Daniel; If you can touch a metal surface and constantly get a shock, then there is a problem.
I advise you to learn how to operate that meter. You are showing an Ohms function, that has no value here.
Old 03-05-18, 10:06 AM
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It's hard to find leakage currents using standard test equipment. If there was a ground-fault (open wire in water), it would likely either trip the circuit breaker.

The meter, set to volts, would need to be measured from a metal item to a known good ground (like the ground plug of one of your receptacles, or metal water pipe. You can test it by connecting one end securely to a ground, and put the other probe into the small side of a receptacle. You should see 120v. If you then take the probe and touch the metal screen door, you could potentially see a voltage registered.

Another note though - you may need an analog meter though. Digital meters are notorious for registering "phantom voltage" which exists everywhere and can show 40-60v in many cases, even though there is no voltage there.

I do find it hard to comprehend how metal items in your house would become charged due to underground water. I imagine all that voltage/current would be redirected to ground - not to a person.
Old 03-05-18, 12:47 PM
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I'm not an electrician. You are a renter and are being shocked. My advise would be to call the utility company and the city.
Don't worry about what the landlord wants unless he helps immediately.

Have the utility company check your meter (panel) and if the landlord doesn't like it, he has no say.

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