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Old 08-17-2012, 07:24 PM   #1
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Confused on 3 way switch circuits


I have 2 three way switch circuits in a double gang box. One is for the light in the stairway and one for the basement lights of the family room. My problem is, and it has been this way since the house was built 16 years ago, that the light on the stairs is on only if the light in the basement is off. When i turn the light in the basement on it turns off the light in the stairwell and it won't turn back on unless the basement lights are off. I have the hot wire connected via pigtails to the common (black) terminal on both of the switches, the whites are wirenutted together and the reds and other black are hooked up on each of the brass terminals on the seperate switches. I was wondering how to I get these two switches to operate so that the basement light doesn't turn off the stairwell light and I an keep the stairwell light on when i have the basement light on. Thanks in advance

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Old 08-17-2012, 07:54 PM   #2
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Confused on 3 way switch circuits


Did you replace the switches and now they don't work, or did the switch stop working and then you replaced them and it still doesn't work?

You say that you have pigtails going to the commons...did you pig tail the wires or were they already pigtailed?

If YOU pig tailed them, then take apart the splice and put each black wire to the common screws. I'm guessing that you pigtailed the switch legs together, not that hots as you are assuming.

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Old 08-18-2012, 12:31 PM   #3
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Confused on 3 way switch circuits


Carefully inspect the wires again and tell us what wires from what cables are connected. If it was connected as you say it should work. You could have two of the wires crossed between the cables.
Are both switches on the same circuit? One breaker turns them both off?
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Old 08-18-2012, 05:28 PM   #4
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Confused on 3 way switch circuits


Attached is a simple picture of a 3 way circuit.
You stated you have two 3-way switch circuits which means you
have 4 three-way style switches.....right? Two in one location
and two in another? Have you checked to make sure that the
switches are the 3-way type?
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Confused on 3 way switch circuits-3way_switch.jpg  
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Old 08-25-2012, 04:09 PM   #5
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Confused on 3 way switch circuits


The 3 wires coming into the box. One has black white and ground. The other 2 have red, black, and white. I ran the pigtail off the black of the one with the black, white and ground.

They are both on the same circuit so one breaker does turn them both off. But they are 2 separate circuits.

The circuit has always been this way and the switches behaved the way they are now even after I installed new switches.

Last edited by jspencer85; 08-25-2012 at 04:13 PM.
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Old 08-25-2012, 04:54 PM   #6
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Confused on 3 way switch circuits


The red should be a chaser between two 3-way switches that control the light in the stairway. The light in the basement should be on a regular on/off switch. I'm assuming you walk down the stairs and the switch for the basement is just before or just after you enter the room. Is this correct??
How many switches are located at the top of the stairs? Sorry for so many question, but it's going to be difficult to sort out via posts. After you answer the above questions, I'll put it in a drawing. Maybe that will help.
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Old 08-26-2012, 08:25 AM   #7
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Confused on 3 way switch circuits


Quote:
Originally Posted by jspencer85 View Post
The 3 wires coming into the box. One has black white and ground. The other 2 have red, black, and white. I ran the pigtail off the black of the one with the black, white and ground.

They are both on the same circuit so one breaker does turn them both off. But they are 2 separate circuits.

The circuit has always been this way and the switches behaved the way they are now even after I installed new switches.

You mean 3-cables are coming into the 2-gang? Look at my diagram and see if it relates to your set up. On the 3-way switches in the diagram, the black terminal is the comon and the gold ones are the travelers.

I do not show ground wires just for ease of drawing

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Originally Posted by jspencer85 View Post
I ran the pigtail off the black of the one with the black, white and ground.
Thats fine AS LONG AS THIS BLACK WIRE IS THE ALWAYS HOT WIRE like my diagram.
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Old 08-26-2012, 12:48 PM   #8
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Confused on 3 way switch circuits


Looks like hammerlane beat me to the drawing. Looks good!
One small note... his drawing shows 12 gauge wire. I'm sure
your wire is 14 gauge which is fine.

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