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Old 01-18-2009, 06:45 PM   #1
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Ack! Broken 3 ways switches discovered.


So I'm repainting and fixing up the living room. While the covers were off the switches I decided to investigate a 3-way that had stopped 3-waying correctly a couple months ago.

What I found was kind of disturbing:



So I replaced this one with a spec-grade 3-way. Then I decided to pull the 3-way next to it because it looked a little funny too. It was exactly the same way, with the traveler pulling entirely out and the whole body cracked in half. After replacing both of those, the light still didn't 3-way right, so I checked the other end, and across the room, that 3-way was also broken, in the same way!








Name brand too, as you can see.



I wonder was this just a bad batch? Did the electrician do something to cause this? Why is it only the 3 ways? Did it have to do with them using the stabs? This is just a mystery to me.
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Old 01-18-2009, 07:06 PM   #2
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Ack! Broken 3 ways switches discovered.


Bad batch or over tightening. Maybe over heating, doubt it.

I had a couple of P&S switches losing the back plate...
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Old 01-19-2009, 12:28 PM   #3
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Ack! Broken 3 ways switches discovered.


If no charring is present, I'd say installer abuse.
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Old 01-19-2009, 03:43 PM   #4
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Ack! Broken 3 ways switches discovered.


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If no charring is present, I'd say installer abuse.
No charring I can see. That brown stuff seems to be cigarette smoke dust. Wife and I quit smoking last year which is one reason we are now fixing up the house. Smoking inside really is hell on your house.
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Old 01-19-2009, 05:30 PM   #5
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Ack! Broken 3 ways switches discovered.


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No charring I can see. That brown stuff seems to be cigarette smoke dust. Wife and I quit smoking last year which is one reason we are now fixing up the house. Smoking inside really is hell on your house.

Reminds me of when I was working on a pc...the owner smoked alot. It was a mess in that pc.
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Old 01-19-2009, 05:59 PM   #6
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Ack! Broken 3 ways switches discovered.


I had so many Leviton (1453-2) 3-way switches break apart on me like that, I switched to P&S!

I have not had this type of problems with the P&S.

Most of the time, it was due to using a #12 wire, those cheap switches simply could not stand the strain of tightening the screws to hold the wire securely.
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Old 01-19-2009, 06:35 PM   #7
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Ack! Broken 3 ways switches discovered.


Or defective products. . .
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Old 01-19-2009, 06:40 PM   #8
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Ack! Broken 3 ways switches discovered.


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I had so many Leviton (1453-2) 3-way switches break apart on me like that, I switched to P&S!

I have not had this type of problems with the P&S.

Most of the time, it was due to using a #12 wire, those cheap switches simply could not stand the strain of tightening the screws to hold the wire securely.

You know how the threads on the screws are bent on outlets and switches so the screws don't back out all the way...I had a few P&S 3 and 4 ways unscrew all of the way. It was very annoying!
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Old 01-20-2009, 12:25 PM   #9
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Ack! Broken 3 ways switches discovered.


This is perfect for the manufacturer; nobody is going to sue over a structurally weak switch, nobody will die from it, and any complaints can be dismissed by saying, "You overtorqued it!"

I'm in the wrong business. . .
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Old 01-20-2009, 04:45 PM   #10
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Ack! Broken 3 ways switches discovered.


It can't be overtorquing of the terminal screws... look again, they used the stabs!

The only time the electrician for my house used the screws was when he wanted to do the whole "stab + screw saves a wirenut" thing, which is questionable at best.
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Old 03-02-2009, 10:39 AM   #11
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Ack! Broken 3 ways switches discovered.


UPDATE:

Well I did follow up with the Leviton, who asked me to mail them the defective switches, which I did.

Today I got a box UPS from Leviton, with 24 new 3-ways and a 3 pack of GFCIs.

There is a letter from them saying that there was indeed a manufacturing defect where some 3-way switches produced in 1997 had the top rivet rolled too tight, which can cause the breakage pattern like I found. Their files say that none of the defective switches actually got shipped, but apparently I got a few of them. They said I'm only the second report of this "in the wild" so they still believe the problem was contained pretty well.

So I'm happy with this. It's good of them to admit there was a defect, and to send me a box of stuff to make up for the time I spent dealing with this issue.
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Old 03-02-2009, 10:45 AM   #12
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Ack! Broken 3 ways switches discovered.


Levition is a good company. It must have been a defect, their products are still pretty good quality.
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Old 03-02-2009, 10:46 AM   #13
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Ack! Broken 3 ways switches discovered.


Did you install ground wires on your new switches?

I have seen the occaisional broken switch but never took the time to do anything other than replace it. Time is money so I just replace it and move on.

Good job with the follow up and kudos to Leviton for responding
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Old 03-02-2009, 10:50 AM   #14
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Ack! Broken 3 ways switches discovered.


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Did you install ground wires on your new switches?
Most of them did have ground under the screw, I'm not sure why that one in the first picture didn't. Anyway yeah I do ground them.
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Old 03-02-2009, 10:53 AM   #15
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Ack! Broken 3 ways switches discovered.


If only they had not let all those bad gfci's get out....
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