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Old 03-12-2012, 11:29 PM   #1
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3-way switch trouble


I have two 3-way switches in my master bath that have never worked properly. The house is very old and has been worked on over the years by many different people with greatly varying levels of skill. I was finally fed up with these switches and tried to fix them. I tried to follow instructions I found online, so with the power off I disconnected all the wires from both switches, then turned the power back on and used my volt-meter to discover which wire was hot. It turned out to the a red wire at switch #1. The other two wires are white and black (and yes, there also is a ground). I connected this hot wire to the darkest screw, connected the white and black to the other two screws and tried to test for continuity at the other switch. I couldn't get a reading on any of the wires at the other end. I tried turning the power back on and testing to see which wire was now hot at the second switch. It was the white wire, so I attached that to the darkest terminal, and attached the red and black to the other two terminals. The switches don't work any better than they did before I started - that is, both switches have to be turned on for the light to come on. What is my problem here? Thank you!

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Old 03-12-2012, 11:37 PM   #2
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3-way switch trouble


If you post a picture of both switch boxes and all wires visible (or describe all the wires at each switch box), we'll most likely be able to solve this problem with you.

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Old 03-12-2012, 11:37 PM   #3
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3-way switch trouble


Did you put in new switches? Could be as simple as that. 3-ways aren't as tricky as they seem. From switch to switch there are two continuous wires....commonly called travelers. The other terminal on one switch is the hot wire, and on the other switch is the load. Plenty of diagrams available in books or online to verify that. If you are sure it's hooked up correctly you could have a bad switch....or two.
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Old 03-12-2012, 11:45 PM   #4
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3-way switch trouble


The white at SW2 was only the hot traveler. Had you toggled the switch the black would have been hot. You still have something mis-wired.
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Old 03-13-2012, 07:12 AM   #5
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3-way switch trouble


Quote:
Originally Posted by saelon View Post
I tried turning the power back on and testing to see which wire was now hot at the second switch. It was the white wire, so I attached that to the darkest terminal, and attached the red and black to the other two terminals.
If the red wire at switch #1 was your ALWAYS HOT wire then yes that goes to the common terminal of switch #1.

At switch #2, the darkest terminal(the common terminal) needs to have attached to it, whatever wire connects to the light fixture.

In my diagram the wire colors do not correspond to your situation.
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3-way switch trouble-load-switch-switch.jpg  

Last edited by hammerlane; 03-13-2012 at 09:49 AM.
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Old 03-13-2012, 08:38 AM   #6
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3-way switch trouble


When you tested at the second switch for hot you found one of the travellers. Flip the first switch and find the other one. Now put those two wires on the NOT black screws. The third wire with no power goes on the common(dark) screw. Or just keep trying a different wire on the common screw. It will only take two more tries to get it.

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