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Old 09-22-2012, 02:05 PM   #1
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3-way light problem


We recently bought a house that has a dining room area that has a 3 switch box, mounted near the exit to the back porch. Two (2) of the switches control the porch overhead and wall mount lights. The third switch seeming is not controlling any light; it is wired into the overall electrical system though.

I 'suspect' it 'should' be controlling the overhead light for the dining table ... based on the fact that the switch that does activate is on an adjacent wall some 15ft away; basically in the 'entry' area from the kitchen region.

Due to the proximity of these two (2) referenced switches, leads me to think the defective on is not properly wired. But, not being an expert in 3-way wiring, I plead the '5th'.

I've posted drawings of the various switches within the kitchen-dining-porch fused wiring from the circuit breaker that someone more find useful ... I hope so. Not being an artist, again I plead the '5th'. I tried to colorize with pens for the color of wiring
Black=black wire
Yellow=white wire
Red=red wire
I did not draw in the green (ground) wiring, just to eliminate a crowded image ... but did verify that all wiring was properly connected.

#1=image of the overhead light that I 'think' is controlled by the 2 switches.

#2=the kitchen wall that is closest to the power circuit box. It's switch controls the sink overhead light ... and is on the circuit feed line and switch.

#3=the kitchen stove wall, and the only one that is now activating the table overhead light ... the one that I feel may also be subject to the 3-way aspect....if my interpretation of the non-working switch is part of that circuit. [NOTE: PLEASE NOTICE THE RED WIRING, WHICH I CAME ACROSS IN MY RESEARCH AS POSSIBLY BEING THE CULPRIT; NAMELY SHOULD IT BE IN #3 SWITCH, AND THE ONE (BLACK) THERE RETAKE IT'S PLACE. I DID NOT WANT TO HARM ANYTHING, SO NEVER ACTIVATED THAT THOUGHT.]

4=the three (3) switch which contains the first two (2) that control the outside porch lights ... and the last one, on the right marked with the * that is presently not activating anything.
Attached Thumbnails
3-way light problem-1.-ceiling-light.jpg   3-way light problem-2.-sink-wall.jpg   3-way light problem-3.-kitchen-stove-wall.jpg   3-way light problem-4.-porch-wall.jpg  

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Old 09-22-2012, 02:17 PM   #2
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3-way light problem


There is no three way wiring in any of the diagrams you show. That is, none of the lights can be controlled from two different locations. A three way switch has three terminals.

The back wall diagram at the bottom has a mistake in it.

You have two pigtails from the circle with the B in it going to both switch terminals respectively for the left porch light switch. That can't work; it would have the left porch light on all the time.

You will need to find out where the 3 wire cable (with the red wire) goes. Specifically you need to find out where the black wire in that cable is connected. They make circuit and wire tracers that emit a tone, to help you figure out what wire is what and where it goes.

Are there any lights or receptacles that do not work at all? You might check for something near the middle porch light since that is fed by the same cable that goes with the switch that does nothing.

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Last edited by AllanJ; 09-22-2012 at 02:28 PM.
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Old 09-22-2012, 02:24 PM   #3
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3-way light problem


Sorry ... neglected to define the 'B' and 'W' that clear. Those are the multiple wiring within the box that are connected together with the 'finger nut' ... my words.

EDIT: THE RED WIRE IS NOT EVIDENT IN ANY OF THE OTHER SWITCH BOXES, NOR THE THE LIGHT SUSPECT ... SO SINCE THE OUTDOOR PORCH LIGHTS ARE JUST ON THE OTHER SIDE OF THIS WALL, COULD THEY SEEM TO BE THE POSSIBLE ONES.

Quote:
Originally Posted by AllanJ View Post
There is no three way wiring in any of the diagrams you show. That is, none of the lights can be controlled from two different locations. A three way switch has three terminals.

The back stove wall diagram at the bottom has a mistake in it.

You have two pigtails from the circle with the B in it going to both switch terminals for the left porch light switch. That can't work; it would have the left porch light on all the time.

You will need to find out where the 3 wire cable (with the red wire) goes. Specifically you need to find out where the black wire in that cable is connected. They make circuit and wire tracers that emit a tone, to help you figure out what wire is what and where it goes.

Last edited by doonboggle; 09-22-2012 at 02:28 PM.
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Old 09-22-2012, 02:40 PM   #4
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3-way light problem


Just checked my drawing, and it is as it is here. The red wire you focused is also the one I 'suspect' as possibly being in a wrong switch. As it is now, that switch controls the outside wall porch light, that 'just happens' to be direct over the 3 box switch. (I have not pulled the light on it out yet ... thought I'd post this first ... have to get ladder first.

So I'm wondering if perhaps the electrician that installed the wiring, put it ... the red wire ... in the wrong switch; and further wondering if I reversed it with the 3rd switch on it's right ... the one not working on anything ... would it work. Again, had thought of this,,,,but did not try for fear of shorting out something.


Quote:
Originally Posted by AllanJ View Post
There is no three way wiring in any of the diagrams you show. That is, none of the lights can be controlled from two different locations. A three way switch has three terminals.

The back wall diagram at the bottom has a mistake in it.

You have two pigtails from the circle with the B in it going to both switch terminals respectively for the left porch light switch. That can't work; it would have the left porch light on all the time.

You will need to find out where the 3 wire cable (with the red wire) goes. Specifically you need to find out where the black wire in that cable is connected. They make circuit and wire tracers that emit a tone, to help you figure out what wire is what and where it goes.

Are there any lights or receptacles that do not work at all? You might check for something near the middle porch light since that is fed by the same cable that goes with the switch that does nothing.
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Old 09-22-2012, 03:23 PM   #5
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3-way light problem


Here is the porch light that the red wire from inside goes to.
Why would a red wire be used for a single switch item ... in lieu of my previously ask of why not the normally used black??? Also, please note that the red wire is connected to the normal black light fisture wiring.

I'm still wondering if the installer screwed up somehow.

Please notice that the black wire, used for all of the other switches, in this case is dead-ended.......
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3-way light problem-5.-porch-lite.jpg  

Last edited by doonboggle; 09-22-2012 at 03:27 PM.
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Old 09-22-2012, 10:00 PM   #6
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3-way light problem


Red and black are interchangeable, that is, a red wire can be used anywhere a black wire can be used.

Nist kuj most likely you have found where the wires go. To be sure, measure voltage between the "unused" black wire and neutral at the porch light, with the rightmost switch in your diagram on and off repectively. If you don't want to use the black wire now, tape it over again before closing up the porch light.
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Old 09-23-2012, 02:19 PM   #7
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3-way light problem


Quote:
Originally Posted by doonboggle
We recently bought a house that has a dining room area that has a 3 switch box, mounted near the exit to the back porch. Two (2) of the switches control the porch overhead and wall mount lights. The third switch seeming is not controlling any light; it is wired into the overall electrical system though.

I 'suspect' it 'should' be controlling the overhead light for the dining table ... based on the fact that the switch that does activate is on an adjacent wall some 15ft away; basically in the 'entry' area from the kitchen region.

Due to the proximity of these two (2) referenced switches, leads me to think the defective on is not properly wired. But, not being an expert in 3-way wiring, I plead the '5th'.

I've posted drawings of the various switches within the kitchen-dining-porch fused wiring from the circuit breaker that someone more find useful ... I hope so. Not being an artist, again I plead the '5th'. I tried to colorize with pens for the color of wiring
Black=black wire
Yellow=white wire
Red=red wire
I did not draw in the green (ground) wiring, just to eliminate a crowded image ... but did verify that all wiring was properly connected.

#1=image of the overhead light that I 'think' is controlled by the 2 switches.

#2=the kitchen wall that is closest to the power circuit box. It's switch controls the sink overhead light ... and is on the circuit feed line and switch.

#3=the kitchen stove wall, and the only one that is now activating the table overhead light ... the one that I feel may also be subject to the 3-way aspect....if my interpretation of the non-working switch is part of that circuit.

4=the three (3) switch which contains the first two (2) that control the outside porch lights ... and the last one, on the right marked with the * that is presently not activating anything.
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