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Old 06-07-2011, 12:09 AM   #1
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3 way switches. help me before i go insane


so i've decided to relocate and merge an electrical box. to make story short, i have a 3 way switch for the basement.

after some hands on research (existing wires), it seems that the previous owner had installed this configuration

http://buildmyowncabin.com/electrical/img12.gif




anyhow, i putz around.. and now switch 2 (the one away from the power source) can only be turned on and off while switch 1 (switch close to power source and light connection) is in the on position? WTF happened? i've tried numerous combos and now the wiring box looks like a total mess. please help..

one thing to note is that the previous owner placed the black and white cables in opposite positions as opposed to the diagram.

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Old 06-07-2011, 12:14 AM   #2
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3 way switches. help me before i go insane


Can you post a pic of your current wiring (since it is now a "total mess")?

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Old 06-07-2011, 12:15 AM   #3
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Pedro, 1st, there is no "on" and "off" for a 3-way switch.
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Old 06-07-2011, 12:43 AM   #4
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you have a traveler and the switch leg crossed.
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Old 06-07-2011, 06:59 AM   #5
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Cowboy is right. Set it up exactly like the diagram and you'll be good.
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Old 06-07-2011, 07:15 AM   #6
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The diagram will work, but technically shows a code violation of 200.7. The white can only be used as the feed to the switch.
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Old 06-07-2011, 07:28 AM   #7
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3 way switches. help me before i go insane


Your switches may have the terminals physically arranged differently. The common terminal is usually stained a darker color or has "C" engraved near it. If not you will need to look at the switch instructions, or use an ohmmeter (or continuity meter).

Or maybe you have a defective switch.
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Old 06-07-2011, 08:16 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Saturday Cowboy View Post
you have a traveler and the switch leg crossed.
Quote:
Originally Posted by SD515 View Post
Cowboy is right. Set it up exactly like the diagram and you'll be good.

can you be a little more clear which one is the traveler and which is the switch leg on the diagram listed above? thanks

also what do you mean by "The white can only be used as the feed to the switch"??

tx
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Old 06-07-2011, 08:22 AM   #9
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3 way switches. help me before i go insane


If you look at the drawing you will see one of the screws on each switch is black. That screw is the common screw. It is important that the black wire be on that screw for this diagram to work. You need to look at your switches to identify the common terminal. It may not be physically in the same position.
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Old 06-07-2011, 08:24 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jim Port View Post
The diagram will work, but technically shows a code violation of 200.7. The white can only be used as the feed to the switch.
I don't think it is a violation. The fixture has black and white wires connected to it. That code is made so that you don't have two white wires at the fixture.
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Old 06-07-2011, 08:27 AM   #11
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At sw#1, the 2 black wires connected are the hot wires.
This feeds to sw#2, and connects to the common screw.

The white and red of sw#2 are the travelers, and connect to the other screws.

At sw#1 the black wire going to the light fixture is wires to the common screw to feed the light.
The red and white are considered the travallers and connect to the remaining screws.

The white wire from the breaker connects to the white wire going to the light.

Your colors may vary.

The common screw is a darker color, or marked with a C.

Older switches are harder to tell.
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Old 06-07-2011, 08:53 AM   #12
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3 way switches. help me before i go insane


This help?
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3 way switches. help me before i go insane-img12-2-.jpg  
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Old 06-07-2011, 10:18 AM   #13
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Here is the section related to my post re white needing to feed switch.

(C) Circuits of 50 Volts or More.
The use of insulation
that is white or gray or that has three continuous white
stripes for other than a grounded conductor for circuits of
50 volts or more shall be permitted only as in (1) through
(3).
(1) If part of a cable assembly and where the insulation is
permanently reidenti
fied to indicate its use as an ungrounded
conductor, by painting or other effective
means at its termination, and at each location where the
conductor is visible and accessible. Identi
fication shall
encircle the insulation and shall be a color other than
white, gray, or green.
[ROP 526]

(2) Where a cable assembly contains an insulated conductor
for single-pole, 3-way or 4-way switch loops and
the conductor with white or gray insulation or a marking
of three continuous white stripes is used for the
supply to the switch but not as a return conductor from
the switch to the switched outlet. In these applications,
the conductor with white or gray insulation or with
three continuous white stripes shall be permanently reidenti
fied
to indicate its use by painting or other effective
means at its terminations and at each location

where the conductor is visible and accessible.

Note that this section will not be needed since the 2011 will require a neutral at the switch location.
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Old 06-07-2011, 10:30 AM   #14
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On one hand, I agree, I personally would use a re-marked white to feed power to the switch. On the other hand, would it not be allowed, as the re-marked white in the diagram is not being used as a return to the switched outlet? Or would you consider sw 1 (the one with the source feed) to also be an ‘outlet’ as per NEC definition? Curious on your thoughts.
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Old 06-07-2011, 10:38 AM   #15
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I too can see that point Kyle. I use the white as the feed and keep the blk/rd as travellers for consistancy. I don't think I have ever asked an inspector for their take on this.

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