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Old 04-07-2014, 03:39 PM   #1
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3-way switch wiring -- how to fix


While installing new 3-way switches, I somehow got the wiring wrong. I have two switch boxes at the top and bottom of my stairway, controlling a single ceiling light at the top. The top of the stairs switch (A) has a 2 wire cable and a 3-wire cabling coming into it. The other switch (B) at the bottom of the stairs has a single 3-wire cable coming into it. I am guessing the power supply (main) comes into switch A, but it could come into the light fixture. The white wire from the main line is connected to the white wire from the 3-wire cable, suggesting it is Neutral. With the power off I disconnected the black wire from the common screw (black), and then with the power back on I used a voltage tester to confirm the black wire from the 2-wire cable was hot. I then (with power off) reconnected the black wire to Common on the switch. But switch B doesn't with switch A in one position. Unfortunately I didn't label or notice the wires on the previous set of switches. What did I mess up?
Thanks ... Jim

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Old 04-07-2014, 04:16 PM   #2
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3-way switch wiring -- how to fix


Really hard to read what you posted. Can you break it into easier to read format, along with a drawing.

BTW, did it work before you did this work on it?

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Old 04-07-2014, 04:24 PM   #3
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3-way switch wiring -- how to fix


you have no neutral there..
at switch A hook the black from the two wire to the switch point screw..
hook black and red of three wire to traveler screws

switch B hook white to point screw... red and black to traveler screws
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Old 04-07-2014, 06:54 PM   #4
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3-way switch wiring -- how to fix


Three way switch loop.


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Old 04-07-2014, 07:45 PM   #5
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3-way switch wiring -- how to fix


yep........that's it... nice...

op as per diagram.

the only thing is your white is spliced through I believe to the point screw of the switch..and your blk and red are travelers.
the diagram has the white spliced to black of the 3 wire to point screw and red and white travelers (that's how I would have done it but both ways work, and I've seen them wired your way..not a big deal)..
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Old 04-07-2014, 07:48 PM   #6
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Joe, the problem is that they have a MWBC that someone screwed with, along with the issue of how they wired the 3-way.

JimboDIY. If and when you come back through. Can you open up the lights & switches and post pictures of how they are all wired. You will have to probably post a link from Flickr, Dropbox, Google Doc's, Onedrive, to allow us to see them.

Just make sure that you either use flash, or if you have a decent Digital Camera. Make the room well lit, when you take the photos, so we can see the wiring.
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Old 04-07-2014, 08:13 PM   #7
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3-way switch wiring -- how to fix


Quote:
Originally Posted by JimboDIY View Post
While installing new 3-way switches, I somehow got the wiring wrong. I have two switch boxes at the top and bottom of my stairway, controlling a single ceiling light at the top. The top of the stairs switch (A) has a 2 wire cable and a 3-wire cabling coming into it. The other switch (B) at the bottom of the stairs has a single 3-wire cable coming into it. I am guessing the power supply (main) comes into switch A, but it could come into the light fixture. The white wire from the main line is connected to the white wire from the 3-wire cable, suggesting it is Neutral. With the power off I disconnected the black wire from the common screw (black), and then with the power back on I used a voltage tester to confirm the black wire from the 2-wire cable was hot. I then (with power off) reconnected the black wire to Common on the switch. But switch B doesn't with switch A in one position. Unfortunately I didn't label or notice the wires on the previous set of switches. What did I mess up?
Thanks ... Jim
Jimbo.... The wiring and it's feeds do appear to be consistant with what Joed and Unc P advise....

But double checking your testing.... your "bolded" reference does not make clear what you mean.

1) But switch B doesn't? ....WHAT... have any voltage at any terminal common or traveler?

2) In one position??? did you mean in either position.... or what position.

Read it, and see if it makes sense to a third party reading it.

Best


I very/extreemly/ highly doubt any 3 wire mwbc is involved..... but your testing does not make clear what you tested.
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Old 04-07-2014, 10:15 PM   #8
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3-way switch wiring -- how to fix


Quote:
Joe, the problem is that they have a MWBC that someone screwed with, along with the issue of how they wired the 3-way.
How do you figure there is a MWBC involved here. It is a simple three way switch loop like the diagram I posted. With the cables as described there is no other option.
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Old 04-08-2014, 07:39 AM   #9
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First -- thanks to all of you for trying to help me. My apologies -- I was in too much of a hurry and my initial posting wasn't very good.

I can't take a picture right now, so here is more detail:

Switch A:
- 2 wire cable and 3-wire cable entering the box
- white wires connected with wire nut
- black from 2-wire connected to Common screw of 3-way switch. With power on and this wire detached, a voltage tester shows this black wire is hot
- black and red wires from 3-wire cable connected to traveller screws

Switch B:
- single 3-wire cable entering box
- black on common screw, red and white on traveller screws
- with power on, I put one probe of a voltage tester against the box, and then tried the other on each switch terminal. None were fully hot - two showed nothing and the other caused the tester lamp to light very faint
- this switch doesn't turn the light on if Switch A is off.
- switch B can turn the light off if Switch A has the light on

The whole set up was working, although I remember having similar problems with it a few years ago, that I thought I had fixed. So, now it seems I never got it right and I have no record of how the original installer wired it all.

How certain can I be that the 2-wire coming into Box A is the main line?

Neither of the switches has a ground wire from the green screw to the box. Once I figure this all out, I plan to add a ground wire on each switch, unless this is unnecessary.

If this is still unclear, I could take pictures and post them. Or I could simply call an electrician I suppose.
... Jim
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Old 04-08-2014, 07:49 AM   #10
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Now that I look at the diagram posted by joed again, maybe the 2-wire cable entering Switch A is coming from the fixture. The black would still be hot. To verify this is the case, I could simply wire a singe pole switch on the 2 wire cable alone, and see if it controls the light?
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Old 04-08-2014, 08:01 AM   #11
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3-way switch wiring -- how to fix


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Originally Posted by MTN REMODEL LLC View Post
Jimbo.... The wiring and it's feeds do appear to be consistant with what Joed and Unc P advise....
sure it does.....

I think this post is being confused with the guy thats switching half his house off with a three way switch,,, :-)

??? always going after a muliwire branch circuit.... ha ha ha


or tripped gfi.... or lost neutral.....
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Old 04-08-2014, 08:09 AM   #12
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3-way switch wiring -- how to fix


Quote:
Originally Posted by JimboDIY
First -- thanks to all of you for trying to help me. My apologies -- I was in too much of a hurry and my initial posting wasn't very good. I can't take a picture right now, so here is more detail: Switch A: - 2 wire cable and 3-wire cable entering the box - white wires connected with wire nut - black from 2-wire connected to Common screw of 3-way switch. With power on and this wire detached, a voltage tester shows this black wire is hot - black and red wires from 3-wire cable connected to traveller screws Switch B: - single 3-wire cable entering box - black on common screw, red and white on traveller screws - with power on, I put one probe of a voltage tester against the box, and then tried the other on each switch terminal. None were fully hot - two showed nothing and the other caused the tester lamp to light very faint - this switch doesn't turn the light on if Switch A is off. - switch B can turn the light off if Switch A has the light on The whole set up was working, although I remember having similar problems with it a few years ago, that I thought I had fixed. So, now it seems I never got it right and I have no record of how the original installer wired it all. How certain can I be that the 2-wire coming into Box A is the main line? Neither of the switches has a ground wire from the green screw to the box. Once I figure this all out, I plan to add a ground wire on each switch, unless this is unnecessary. If this is still unclear, I could take pictures and post them. Or I could simply call an electrician I suppose. ... Jim
At switch B, swap the black and white wires.
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Old 04-08-2014, 08:36 AM   #13
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Jimbo.... Yes this all makes sense now.... GOOD EXPLANATION (with the exception of your light tester which I can;t address w/o a multi-meter test)

On switch B... your white needs to go to common and your black to the travelor.

Give it a try.... as your testing checks out consistant with Joed and Unc's analysis/drawing.
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Old 04-08-2014, 08:42 AM   #14
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Also... You obvioyusly have metal boxes.... the switch is grounded by screw contact with the box. (Obviously the box is grounded)

Also, I assume you are not backwiring on those switches, and are sure of your travelor verse common screws. (By chance, if you were backwiring, especially on Decora design switches, it is very easy to get the wrong backstab hole for common verse travelor.)

You should be good to go..... now
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Old 04-08-2014, 08:57 AM   #15
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Thanks -- I will try swapping the black and white in B as suggested.

I am not sure what "backwire" means, but am guessing it means pushing each wire in a hole in the back of the switch. That has never seemed as secure as using the terminal screws, which I always use. Since these are brand new switches, with one black and two gold screws (two gold on opposite sides at same level), it seems pretty certain that the black one is common.

I will try the change this evening and let you know.
... Jimbo

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