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rugbyboot 08-10-2008 12:26 PM

3 way, two switches, 4 wires all the same color?
2 Attachment(s)
May have bit off more than I can chew today, but I figured I could put it out to you guys before I call the professional.

Its a 3 way switch, two switches at the top of the stairs and one at the bottom. (??) when I took the panel off there were 4 wires connected to the 2 switches at the top of the stairs. (I placed butterfly stickers where the wires were connected)

How should I go about replacing this fixture? is it correctly configured? All the wires are the same color? any help is appreciated!!!

Termite 08-10-2008 02:25 PM

This is one of those instances of an electrical challenge that probably isn't for most DIYers. Without being able to reference what wire does what, it would be best to call an electrician, who will use a multimeter to identify the wires and correctly hook them to the new switches.

The switch on the right had 3 wires connected to it (seems to make sense), but did the one on the left only have one wire connected to it? I'm no good with the really old stuff, but that sure seems odd.

rugbyboot 08-10-2008 02:38 PM

Yep, the one on the left only had one wire attached. Seemed odd to me as well. Thanks for you response!

I am curious but also a bit intimidated.

theatretch85 08-10-2008 04:01 PM


Originally Posted by rugbyboot (Post 147535)
Yep, the one on the left only had one wire attached. Seemed odd to me as well. Thanks for you response!

I am curious but also a bit intimidated.

Ok, did that switch actually do anything? I don't see how it could control anything with only 1 wire attached to it. Are the wire nuts missing or pigtails that were originally there but have been removed? It seems there should be more wire in this box than what I am seeing. Whats with that blob looking thing in the bottom middle of the box? Is that two wires connected together there?

Stubbie 08-10-2008 06:40 PM

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It appears these switches have four screws on them, some of the screws have been removed in that switch on the left only leaving the tapped holes. So now I am thinking these are 4 way switches or dpdt swtiches who knows. I'm with you the switch on the left controls nothing and a wire was just terminated to it. Or this whole thing was miswired from the beginning. It could be that there was an attempt to switch this to three-way switching at some point. I can't tell if that splice you are talking about has three neutrals in it though. Could be they just terminated one of the whites to the switch. They need to ohm out the wires between upstairs and downdstairs switches otherwise we are just placed in a guessing game.
I'd like to know what wires are in the switch at the bottom of the stairs if it also has 3 cables entering it with one unused I'm betting they did this....I see this done on occassion.

theatretch85 08-10-2008 07:12 PM

When I saw the swtiches I also thought they were 4 way switches as well. It appears there are 3 sets of wires in this box, I would assume the diagram stubbie posted is probably what's going on here, at least the pictures seem to fit the diagram, though it wouldn't if the left switch actually did control something (and wasn't just there doing nothing). I agree that we need to know whats going on in the other switch box as well, to be able to make a better guess at what's going on.

rugbyboot 08-11-2008 07:10 AM

The face plate at the bottom of the stairs has 3 switches: one controls the porch lights, one controls a set of wall mounted lights and one controlled the fixture above the stair case. All work except the stair case one. I will try and get a picture of the insides later today. THANKS for the input!

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