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Old 07-06-2010, 05:51 PM   #1
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3 Way switch confusion again, Ugh!


I have a 3 way switch that controls something, I just don't know what. To start to solve the mystery I need help to make sure it is wired correctly. When I removed the switch, 2 wires are hot, a blue wire and a yellow wire. The other yellow wire has no voltage. I assume the 2 yellows are travelers, but I didn't think a traveler carried voltage unless it was connected through the switch. How do I figure out which wire goes where on my switch? How do I know which end of the run I'm on? Thanks.

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Old 07-06-2010, 05:55 PM   #2
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3 Way switch confusion again, Ugh!


More than likely the blue wire is the common and the two yellows are the travelers.

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Old 07-06-2010, 07:29 PM   #3
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3 Way switch confusion again, Ugh!


http://www.google.com/images?client=...ed=0CCAQsAQwAA

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Old 07-06-2010, 08:20 PM   #4
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3 Way switch confusion again, Ugh!


How are you measuring voltage? Are the wires removed from the switch? It would be wise to assume the blue was the common. That way the electrician that wired it would be able to identify it from the yellow travellers. But who know what someone else might have done at the other switch after the original install.

Open the other switch and tell us the wires in there if you want to be sure of the colours.
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Old 07-06-2010, 08:40 PM   #5
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3 Way switch confusion again, Ugh!


Thanks guys. Joed part of the problem is that I don't know that this switch controls. I have no idea where the wires lead. I wanted to start by making sure the end I'm working on is done correctly, then start hunting. The wires were tested removed from the switch. Blue and 1 yellow 119 volts on meter, the other yellow no voltage. It was wired correctly or so I thought, but the voltage doesn't jump from one traveler to the other when the switch is flipped. That doesn't seem right. Any ideas/suggestions appreciated.
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Old 07-06-2010, 11:20 PM   #6
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3 Way switch confusion again, Ugh!


Testing wire to wire is not a good test on switches. None of the wires should be neutral on a three way. Testing to ground would be a more valid test.
Based on the wire colours I would say you are on a conduit system. Take a look at which direction the pipe leaves the box and guess where it might go as your search begins.
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Old 07-07-2010, 10:23 AM   #7
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Yes, a conduit system is required where I live. I took your advice and followed the condiut across the basement to the front door of the house. It now appears to be part of a 4 way switch where 3 switches control a hallway light. 2 of the switches work but this one doesn't. How would you troubleshoot this. Your help is appreciated.
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Old 07-07-2010, 10:40 AM   #8
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3 Way switch confusion again, Ugh!


Open all switches and tell us the wires in each box and where they go if you can tell. You might need to open the light fixture as well but let's do the switches for starters.
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Old 07-07-2010, 12:13 PM   #9
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3 Way switch confusion again, Ugh!


I've included some pics to help. Only odd thing to me is the appearance of that black wire in the second/third picture. The other 2 switches have a blue wire. The second and third pics are the same switch. The bottom right pic shows the switch that isn't working.
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Old 07-07-2010, 12:40 PM   #10
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3 Way switch confusion again, Ugh!


Somethings not right. One of the switches needs to be a four way. There should be four wires attached to it.

Really need to know all the wires in the boxes and how they are grouped into different conduits. Do you know where the light connects into this setup?
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Old 07-07-2010, 02:02 PM   #11
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3 Way switch confusion again, Ugh!


Travelers have Phantom Voltage on them. Use an incand. test light to kill this confusing reading.
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Old 07-07-2010, 02:42 PM   #12
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3 Way switch confusion again, Ugh!


I agree with others, the blue should be the common wire and connected to the common (usually black) screw.

You won't see voltage switch from one traveler to the other until the other 3way is switched if power enters the other switch.

If there are more than two switches, there should be two 3ways and one or more 4ways for things to work properly.
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Old 07-08-2010, 09:23 AM   #13
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3 Way switch confusion again, Ugh!


So it turns out I was wrong in thinking there was a 4 way setup going on. Now I'm back to square one. I have a three way switch, but don't know where the other switch is or what it controls. Any thoughts for a next step? Keep the excellent advice coming.
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Old 07-08-2010, 11:41 AM   #14
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3 Way switch confusion again, Ugh!


First thing you need to do is trace the wires. One thing to start with is find which breaker kills power to the switch and then find what else is on the circuit.

Any sign of renovations on the this area of the house. Could be someone buried something inside a wall or ceiling.

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