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Old 02-13-2009, 12:06 AM   #31
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Help with 3 way switch wiring


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Is there any way to determine where the JB might be, besides ripping down plaster?
Maybe, I've forgotten what you said for continuity on the red, black and white of the 3 way switches. But I think you said that both red and black showed continuity between switches but the white did not. So it's probably between the switches. If it is buried in a wall your just not going to find it without damage eventually.. I'd get up in the attic and see where the cables from that light fixture. Might get lucky. Thing is one of those white wires at the fixture has to be neutral so you might get an extension cord and use a tester to go from the hot pin of the extension cord to the white wires and see if one of the whites will show 120 volts. If not you have no neutral and your going to have to find out why its broken or open. I don't see any way a neutral is in your switch boxes unless that new 3 gang box has one but they all look like switch loops to me with no neutral.

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If it came down to it, would it be OK pull hot from the SP switch loop at the double gang box using pigtails?
No that would just be cobbling on top of cobbling and not code compliant.



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Here's the thing...I don't think there's anything downstream of this fixture that is effected by it not working - and I just mapped every receptacle, light, etc in the entire house. In the original scheme, the blacks were not tied together.
That probably means that 2 wire cable in the ceiling has been abandoned or is another victim of this wiring mistake.

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Old 02-13-2009, 12:48 AM   #32
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Help with 3 way switch wiring


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Maybe, I've forgotten what you said for continuity on the red, black and white of the 3 way switches. But I think you said that both red and black showed continuity between switches but the white did not.
Correct.

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I'd get up in the attic and see where the cables from that light fixture.
Argh. The house is two stories, and the attic (3rd level) is finished.
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Old 02-13-2009, 08:57 AM   #33
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Help with 3 way switch wiring


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Originally Posted by pmoe View Post
Correct.



Argh. The house is two stories, and the attic (3rd level) is finished.
Yeah I reread things a saw that was the case. Look you gotta get a hot and neutral some way some how. The way things are it's hard to tell where there getting the neutral from. It appears the electrician grabbed a hot from the porch light switch loop and powered the 3 - way but I have no idea at this point if you have a good neutral at the ceiling box. Check the white wires at the fixture to a known hot wire as mentioned earlier. If neither one will show 120 volts or let a light glow on a tester you have lost your neutral. If one does show neutral you have a chance to fix this. But without knowing the wiring it is hard to say if you are really going to have the correct neutral for the circuit. It certainly doesn't look like the right hot is being used. But if the electrician found no power available due to some JB or other issue he couldn't find with that 3 -way he wrongly just grabbed a hot of a switch loop and energized the the 3 way. Most likely this will result in a backfeed somewhere hard to say. I don't think you want to abandon that 3 way but without knowing the wiring I see no choice but to rewire the thing. I do not think the 3 way was ever correct from the beginning so you likely cannot get it right no matter what you do without rewiring. Have you tried disconnecting the wires on the three ways and checking continuity to the 3 wire at the ceiling box??

You need to get organized as 220/221 metioned back several posts ago your jumping all over.

1.) Get a voltage tester and at this point just disconnect the 3 ways and remove them. Seperate the wires and get all the wires organized as to the cable they come out of and get rid of all those cross overs of the white wires connecting to different switches. Get the single pole switches working by connecting the switch loops correctly with the cable coming from their contolled lights. Get rid of that green power jumper.
2.) With everything working but the 3 ways see if one of the whites at the fixture box is a neutral as expalined earlier.
3.) If no neutral at the fixture box you have no choice but to rewire or find where it is broken.
4.) I see no white wires connected to anything but switches so I doubt you have a neutral in any switch box.
5.) Without a neutral at the fixture you cannot get this thing to work.
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Old 02-13-2009, 11:48 AM   #34
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Help with 3 way switch wiring


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Thing is one of those white wires at the fixture has to be neutral so you might get an extension cord and use a tester to go from the hot pin of the extension cord to the white wires and see if one of the whites will show 120 volts.
I tried this last night and I was successful using the White from the 12-3 at the fixture.
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Old 02-13-2009, 12:11 PM   #35
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Help with 3 way switch wiring


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It appears the electrician grabbed a hot from the porch light switch loop and powered the 3 - way but I have no idea at this point if you have a good neutral at the ceiling box.
He grabbed it from the upstairs landing light switch loop.

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Have you tried disconnecting the wires on the three ways and checking continuity to the 3 wire at the ceiling box??
Yes.

Upstairs 3 way switch wires to fixture wires:

- White at the switch is continuous with the Black from the 12-3 at the fixture

- Nothing else from that switch is continuous with wires at the fixture

Downstairs 3 way switch wires to fixture wires:

- Nothing is continuous with wires at the fixture

Between switches:

- Red is continuous
- Black is continuous
- White is not continuous

At the fixture:

- There is no hot
- The White from the 12-3 is a neutral

Hopefully that summary makes everything I know at this point clear. I appreciate you guys hanging in here with me.

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4.) I see no white wires connected to anything but switches so I doubt you have a neutral in any switch box.
That appears to be the case, except for one white wire that was originally capped off on the downstairs triple gang box.
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Old 02-13-2009, 04:36 PM   #36
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Help with 3 way switch wiring


Quote:
Is there any way to determine where the JB might be, besides ripping down plaster?
Use logic. Did you look at the landing light JB? Look for patches where old light's may have been. That 3 gang box is noy stock wiring. Somebody messed with it when those SP switches were added. There is obviously a Jbox between the porch light and it's switch.


Quote:
Between switches:

- Red is continuous
- Black is continuous
- White is not continuous

At the fixture:

- There is no hot
- The White from the 12-3 is a neutral
You have all the 3Way switches disconnected during testing, right?

The neutral on the white of the light 3 wire shot down my original theory of the feed being the 2 wire in the light box.


Try this. Being continuous, let's assume that the black and red are travelers. Hook the to the switches to the appropriate terminals and use the whites as common.

Never mind. It's not going to work because you still have no power.

Don't know what elese to add. Sometimes you just gotta refeed stuff.



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Nothing is continuous with wires at the fixture
Then how did it work?

Last edited by 220/221; 02-13-2009 at 04:39 PM.
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Old 02-13-2009, 05:06 PM   #37
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Help with 3 way switch wiring


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Use logic. Did you look at the landing light JB?
No, but the wires from the SP switch to the landing light are going up, and the wires from the adjacent 3 way switch are going down in the same stud cavity.

I tore the double and triple gang boxes out last night.

Looking up from the triple gang box is like so:




If I had to hazard a guess, the 3 way from the double gang box upstairs runs into the middle right box in this photo:



It's just a fluke that I have that photo...I took it while my floors were being re-done. Now I'd have to tear through the first floor ceiling to access those boxes.

Quote:
You have all the 3Way switches disconnected during testing, right?
Yep.

Quote:
Being continuous, let's assume that the black and red are travelers.
Based on the way the switches were originally wired (before the guy came in), I think this is a correct assumption.

Quote:
Then how did it work?
To the best of my recollection...

Many months ago, the problem fixture worked, with a 3 way rotary dimmer at the triple gang, and a 3 way switch at the double gang. I was messing around with wires in that triple gang (I added the switch loop on the right side of the box, and replaced the porch light switch on the left) and things stopped working. I took the fixture down and took pictures and spent a lot of time trying to figure out what was going on.

After months of having the fixture out of commission, I got frustrated and called a guy who in, who jumpered the green wire from the switch loop upstairs and did the other stuff that had the fixture working, albeit it with chewing gum and duct tape.

He left off the medallion and the box, so I took the fixture down again and was going to tidy everything up and re-hang it, when I posted this thread to see if the wiring was actually kosher. And that takes us to the present.

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Old 02-13-2009, 05:26 PM   #38
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Help with 3 way switch wiring


Plaster is not a fun thing to cut all of the time.

Looks like whoever did the 3-ways did it wrong, wires running everywhere, etc. If you do cut up the ceiling or floor, the j-boxes need to be accessible, or run new wire.

This is a good example why j-boxes cannot be buried in walls-or ceilings.

This wiring is from the late 50s to mid 60s. Alot of homes were rewired around that date...using romex or bx.

Grounds were required in the 50s, they were tied to the box. Some places, like kitchens, used three prongs, requiring the ground to attach to the device. 2 prongs were used in bedrooms, living rooms-light load areas.

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Old 02-13-2009, 05:28 PM   #39
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Help with 3 way switch wiring


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Now I'd have to tear through the first floor ceiling to access those boxes.
I believe this is what you are looking for.

The good news is, you know the exact location.

The bad news is that you aren't 100% sure the issue is in those JB's.

People should know better than to cover up JB's.

If everything you've said is correct, the next step is to uncover the JB's and take a look.
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Old 02-13-2009, 07:51 PM   #40
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Help with 3 way switch wiring


I actually think I may have this figured out at least what makes it work.

I need one continuity check before I commit.

I want a continuity check between the red in the fixture 12/3 and the white in the downtairs 12/3

Do this by getting a long wire to reach between the ceiling box and the down stairs. I'm pretty sure the white is joined with the red in one of the junction boxes.

If you have continuity start smiling.....
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Old 02-13-2009, 09:46 PM   #41
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I want a continuity check between the red in the fixture 12/3 and the white in the downtairs 12/3
I will double check, but it appears that red at the fixture is continuous with the white from the 12-2 to the left of the 3 way switch in the triple gang box.
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Old 02-13-2009, 10:13 PM   #42
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That's fine they have crossed the whites in one of those junction boxes.

The 12/3 white in the downstairs 3 gang is being use as one of the switch loop wires wires for the single pole to the left side of the box.

There is one other discrepancy that is a concern....you said the the black of the fixture is continuous to one of the switch boxes and then you said the black is continuous between switch boxes...if you draw that it becomes a ...T...with the fixture at the bottom of the T and the switch boxes at each end. So you should have continuity on the black of both switch box 12/3's to the fixture. Double check that before we start connecting wires.
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Old 02-13-2009, 10:41 PM   #43
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There is one other discrepancy that is a concern....you said the the black of the fixture is continuous to one of the switch boxes and then you said the black is continuous between switch boxes...if you draw that it becomes a ...T...with the fixture at the bottom of the T and the switch boxes at each end. So you should have continuity on the black of both switch box 12/3's to the fixture. Double check that before we start connecting wires.
Black from the 12-3 at the fixture is continuous with White from the 12-3 at the upstairs switch box.

Black from the 12-3 at the upstairs switch box is continuous with Black from the 12-3 at the downstairs switch box.

Confused yet?
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Old 02-13-2009, 10:59 PM   #44
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Ok do you want to give this a shot and see if it works?

If it works I don't agree to continung on with it but I'll leave it up to you.
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Old 02-13-2009, 11:12 PM   #45
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Ok do you want to give this a shot and see if it works?

If it works I don't agree to continung on with it but I'll leave it up to you.
Some kind of code violation? Fire hazard?

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