our old 3 way light switches (connected to a row of 5 recess lights) stopped working so I am in the process of replacing the switches with new ones. I cannot get it working still and upon using a multimeter, I found 3 hot wires (2 in one box and one in the other). I cannot seem to find any answers online as to what i'm doing wrong, it seems that most 3 way switches only has one hot wire. I was able to find the common wire for both boxes, but how do I deal 3 hot wires? Any help is much appreciated
When you removed an old 3 way switch you should have been left with three loose wire ends. I take it you removed both switches.
Ideally you identified the common wire at each switch location. Connect it to the common terminal of the new switch, often the screw is stained a darker color, not green. Connect the other two wires to the other two screws.
If you did not identify the common wire, turn off the power. Unscrew all the lights operated by that 3 way setup. Using your multimeter (and also a long length of single condutor wire) measure between each loose wire at one switch location and each loose wire at the other switch location. You should have come up with exactly two combinations that gave continuity (almost zero ohms) from one location to the other location. Those wire ends go on the non-common switch screw. The other loose ends, one at each box, go on the common switch terminals respectively.
Stop wasting time re-adjusting the pattern. Have several lawn sprinklers, one for each pattern.