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Old 11-23-2013, 06:13 PM   #1
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1950s...Red Wire?


I have a double light switch at the top and bottom of my stairs...like 2 switches at the top and 2 at the bottom. Both control the same sets of lights in the basement.

So when I opened up the box to replace the old switches with some nice new ones I'm greeted with 3 wires on each.

With the black wires connecting to each other from switch to switch

Anyone have any idea what I should do? Are the red wires like old-school black ones or something?

I attempted to wire it up, and it "works" in that the switches in the basement turn the right lights on and off, but the switches at the top of the stairs do absolutely nothing, but blink the lights in the basement (if they're on)....like I'm just annoying the circuit

(See attached, the blue dots represent wires coming from the box, and the triangle is a cap to tie the wires together)

Thanks,
Steve
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Last edited by stevescotthome; 11-23-2013 at 06:17 PM.
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Old 11-23-2013, 06:35 PM   #2
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1950s...Red Wire?


Red wires are regularly used. You have to find the incoming power and the switched black wire. Those go to the black screws. The other two wires go to the other two screws.

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Old 11-23-2013, 07:42 PM   #3
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1950s...Red Wire?


Quote:
Originally Posted by stevescotthome View Post
I have a double light switch at the top and bottom of my stairs...like 2 switches at the top and 2 at the bottom. Both control the same sets of lights in the basement.

So when I opened up the box to replace the old switches with some nice new ones I'm greeted with 3 wires on each.

With the black wires connecting to each other from switch to switch

Anyone have any idea what I should do? Are the red wires like old-school black ones or something?

I attempted to wire it up, and it "works" in that the switches in the basement turn the right lights on and off, but the switches at the top of the stairs do absolutely nothing, but blink the lights in the basement (if they're on)....like I'm just annoying the circuit

(See attached, the blue dots represent wires coming from the box, and the triangle is a cap to tie the wires together)

Thanks,
Steve
part of a 3 way switch set up
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Old 11-23-2013, 10:01 PM   #4
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1950s...Red Wire?


Really, thanks so much for the reply guys

I guess where I'm confused is why there's 3 to begin with?

White line comes from the panel, and travels out to black load which goes to the next device right?

...so...red is then???

How would I find the incoming power...?

Can you recommend a tutorial somewhere here? I'm good with dealing with the wires, but this is my first time having to replace a double-switch...it's like french to me. Well I guess it wouldn't be so bad if the switch I was replacing wasn't 50 years old with no notes on the switch.
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Old 11-23-2013, 10:26 PM   #5
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1950s...Red Wire?


There are plenty of good tutorials on wiring a three way switch, just google it ! , pictures can make it easier to understand .
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Old 11-23-2013, 10:30 PM   #6
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1950s...Red Wire?


Thanks I can google that I just assumed "3 way switch" was like literally a switch that had 3 toggles or something, like up, down, middle

Guess that's pretty dumb though
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Old 11-23-2013, 11:35 PM   #7
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1950s...Red Wire?


no it's not really dumb, i always wondered why they call them three ways when they only control lights in two locations. then the 4 way can be as many as you want as long as there between the 3 ways.
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Old 11-24-2013, 12:22 AM   #8
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1950s...Red Wire?


Quote:
Originally Posted by stevescotthome View Post
I have a double light switch at the top and bottom of my stairs...like 2 switches at the top and 2 at the bottom. Both control the same sets of lights in the basement.

So when I opened up the box to replace the old switches with some nice new ones I'm greeted with 3 wires on each.

With the black wires connecting to each other from switch to switch

Anyone have any idea what I should do? Are the red wires like old-school black ones or something?

I attempted to wire it up, and it "works" in that the switches in the basement turn the right lights on and off, but the switches at the top of the stairs do absolutely nothing, but blink the lights in the basement (if they're on)....like I'm just annoying the circuit

(See attached, the blue dots represent wires coming from the box, and the triangle is a cap to tie the wires together)

Thanks,
Steve
The black wire on the bottom should go to the hot line in.
The reds and whites look like travelors to the other 3 way switchs,
So they should go to same terminals at switchs on the other end,
And the other terminal of each switch goes to the respective light.
The neutrals go to the fixtures of these lights.
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Old 11-24-2013, 12:23 AM   #9
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1950s...Red Wire?


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no it's not really dumb, i always wondered why they call them three ways when they only control lights in two locations. then the 4 way can be as many as you want as long as there between the 3 ways.
In Australia we call them "two way switchs",
because of the two different locations of the switchs.
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Old 11-24-2013, 10:18 PM   #10
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1950s...Red Wire?


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In Australia we call them "two way switchs",
because of the two different locations of the switchs.
i agree with ya! but on this side of the pond we call them 3 ways, why is any body's guess.wonder what ya would call 6 four ways in between?
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Old 11-25-2013, 09:35 AM   #11
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1950s...Red Wire?


A normal switch has two ways, ON and OFF. So three way makes sense.
So does 2 way since you can use it from 2 locations.
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Old 11-25-2013, 04:38 PM   #12
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1950s...Red Wire?


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i agree with ya! but on this side of the pond we call them 3 ways, why is any body's guess.wonder what ya would call 6 four ways in between?
In Australia the middle switch, how ever many there may be
are called "intermeadiate switchs"

Last edited by dmxtothemax; 11-26-2013 at 05:28 AM.
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Old 11-25-2013, 11:09 PM   #13
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1950s...Red Wire?


Steve, did you write down or mark in some way how the wires were originally installed? Knowing that is certainly the easiest way to get things back working correctly. Without knowing that it's going to be somewhat difficult for someone here to help you. Pictures of what you presently have would certainly help.

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