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Old 12-17-2009, 02:54 PM   #1
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2x Three Way Light Switch - switches out of sync


First time post and a new homeowner - please be kind

Hi everyone,

My wife and I recently purchased a remodeled 1950s home with new electrical installed. In one of our basement rooms, we have the lighting (7 recessed lights) controlled by two three way switches which are on opposite sides of the room. Its my understanding that these two switches should both be able to turn on or off the lights as needed whenever either of them is switched, but that isn't what is happening.

Lets call the switches A and B. In my setup, B acts like the 'master' being that if its turned on (up), A can turn on/off the lights normally. But if B is turned off (down) then A cannot turn the lights on in either position.

To recap:
A is up, B is down = Lights off
A is up, B is up = Lights on
A is down, B is up = Lights off
A is down, B is down = Lights off

I assume there is something basic which I can check. I have installed lightswitches & dimmers before without an problems, so I'm not concerned with a little basic troubleshooting but would love some advise on where to start.

Thanks in advance -

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Old 12-17-2009, 03:05 PM   #2
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2x Three Way Light Switch - switches out of sync


Either they're wired wrong, or someone didn't understand that special switches were needed to make it work. Hopefully it's the first and not the second.

The first step is to pull the switches out of the wall. If they have three wires going to them then they're three way switches wired wrong. If they only have two wires, then you need to put in different wiring.

If you do have three way switches and three wires, then here are diagrams of different wiring alternatives:

http://www.homeimprovementweb.com/in...way-switch.htm

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Old 12-17-2009, 03:16 PM   #3
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2x Three Way Light Switch - switches out of sync


Here is a video on 3 way switches let us know what wires you have in the two boxes
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Old 12-17-2009, 03:17 PM   #4
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2x Three Way Light Switch - switches out of sync


Thanks for the quick replies. I'll open the covers tonight an inventory what I have and report back.
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Old 12-17-2009, 09:35 PM   #5
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2x Three Way Light Switch - switches out of sync


There is an easier way to tell if someone forgot to use 3 way switches.
Just look on the toggle handle only single pole switches say on/off. A three switch will be smooth. However ya still have to look for decora.

R
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Old 12-17-2009, 09:55 PM   #6
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2x Three Way Light Switch - switches out of sync


I'm going to go out on a limb here. Mind you there are many ways to wire a three way.

I calculate that the problem is in switch A. One traveler is landed on the common screw, and the common(wire to light/from panel) is in its place. I can't tell you which colors that will be because of different methods used. How ever you can open switch B and note which wires are on the brass screws and then (depending on wireing) make the other switch match.
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Old 12-17-2009, 09:56 PM   #7
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2x Three Way Light Switch - switches out of sync


2 possibilities that I see.
1-half the B switch is bad
2-a traveler and the common is switched on the B switch
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Old 12-17-2009, 11:42 PM   #8
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2x Three Way Light Switch - switches out of sync


Ok, update time.

Both switches are 3-way switches, I verified that they each have 3 wires + ground. The ground is a screw on the left side (If looking at the switch from the front) and there is 1 red wire and 2 black wires coming out of the back of the switch directly (Not screws on the side). Those are then tied up with the in-wall wires via twist caps. (Sorry if I'm not using the right terms here)

All switches are the wide/flat style of switch, not the "traditional" on/off switch.

They look like this, note that they aren't this exact one, they just resemble it from the front: http://www.amazon.com/Lutron-SC-3PS-...1114721&sr=8-9
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Old 12-18-2009, 06:06 AM   #9
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2x Three Way Light Switch - switches out of sync


If you watch the video you should have a 12-3 or 14-3 between the two switches them are your travelers then one box will have a 12-2 or 14 2 witch is your power can you take a pic of the switches pulled out of the wall ? This is a good site that another poster put on here go down to the 3 ways maybe this will help http://www.crsupport.us/144.html
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Old 12-18-2009, 07:20 AM   #10
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2x Three Way Light Switch - switches out of sync


We need to know ALL the wires in the switch box(except grounds) and which ones from which cables are connected to the switch and each other. Look at the switch closely and find the common screw. It will be marked common or be black in colour. We need to know which wire is on the common. Upper right lower left etc. is no good to us. If you have two blacks you should also have two whites unless you have conduit.

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