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I have a 100K potentiometer that reads 104K maximum, but reads 26K at minimum. Is there something wrong with it? I sprayed some contact cleaner to ensure it wasn't due to contamination, but got the same reading. The knob turned smoother though.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Yes. There is something wrong with it. If this is one of the rotary potentiometers with a metal body, you can open it up and carefully check the interior (and possibly repair it.) Just bend the tiny metal tabs to get it open. I probably would not have sprayed it with contact cleaner, though. But that's me. You can also just buy a replacement. \$\endgroup\$
    – jonk
    Jul 18, 2017 at 6:14
  • \$\begingroup\$ Why don't you add your comment as an answer? I did notice there was a brief 0K reading on my multimeter for a split second before settling on 26K. Thanks. \$\endgroup\$
    – user148298
    Jul 18, 2017 at 12:05
  • \$\begingroup\$ Looks as though I don't need to. JYelton dropped in and pretty much covered the same thing. \$\endgroup\$
    – jonk
    Jul 18, 2017 at 16:44

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A potentiometer is effectively a strip of carbon (in a semicircle) across which a contact (wiper) is moved. It may be that the wiper is not properly traveling to the the limits of the strip, or the strip is misaligned (rotated incorrectly) in the housing. It may also be that the strip was manufactured improperly, with a higher resistance in one area than intended.

You might be able to open it and correct a misalignment, but anything else is probably not easily possible. Depending on the cost of the potentiometer, you may be best served by simply replacing it.

Potentiometer diagram

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