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Old 05-09-2013, 12:33 AM   #1
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Home Wiring Question


Attempted what I assumed would be a simple job of replacing 30 year old outlets and switches for my mother in law. Most went smoothly but ran into one problem that I can not solve. Any help is appreciated very much.

She has a two gang box with a single pole and 3-way switch. Coming into the rear of the box are two 12/2 wires. I believe the way this was wired up previously is that one 12/2 was wired into the single pole switch, the other 12/2 was wired into the two traveler connections on the 3-way. Between the single pole and 3-way switch was a black wire that was coming out of the back of the single pole switch (the other two 12/2 wires were screwed on) and connected to the common on the 3-way switch.

I thought I replicated this setup but what happens now is that the single pole switch must be turned on for the 3-way switch to work. If the single pole is not turned on then 3-way doesn't work.

I'm assuming they were pulling power off the single pull switch for the 3-way. Any ideas what mistake I made have made and how to rectify? Or asked a different way how would one wire the switches properly in this situation (two 12/2 wires coming in, one single-pole, one 3-way)?

Huge thanks in advance.


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Old 05-09-2013, 12:37 AM   #2
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FYI, it's a single pole switch not a "pull switch".

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Old 05-09-2013, 01:22 AM   #3
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Originally Posted by clintpeck View Post
Attempted what I assumed would be a simple job of replacing 30 year old outlets and switches for my mother in law. Most went smoothly but ran into one problem that I can not solve. Any help is appreciated very much.

She has a two gang box with a single pole and 3-way switch. Coming into the rear of the box are two 12/2 wires. I believe the way this was wired up previously is that one 12/2 was wired into the single pole switch, the other 12/2 was wired into the two traveler connections on the 3-way. Between the single pole and 3-way switch was a black wire that was coming out of the back of the single pole switch (the other two 12/2 wires were screwed on) and connected to the common on the 3-way switch.

I thought I replicated this setup but what happens now is that the single pole switch must be turned on for the 3-way switch to work. If the single pole is not turned on then 3-way doesn't work.

I'm assuming they were pulling power off the single pull switch for the 3-way. Any ideas what mistake I made have made and how to rectify? Or asked a different way how would one wire the switches properly in this situation (two 12/2 wires coming in, one single-pole, one 3-way)?

Huge thanks in advance.
This type of setup can be confusing. The "common" terminal on one of the 3-way switches goes to the incoming "hot" and on the other switch it goes to the fixture. If there is only one incoming power line, all the neutrals should be wired together.

Are you sure the second cable isn't 12-3? If it is indeed 12-2, one of the wires may be a switch leg.

Any chance you can post a picture?
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Old 05-09-2013, 01:46 AM   #4
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The black jumper from the Single Pole to the 3-way Common needs to be placed on the opposite terminal of the Single Pole.

Do that, and let us know what happens, and go from there.
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Old 05-09-2013, 01:34 PM   #5
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The black jumper from the Single Pole to the 3-way Common needs to be placed on the opposite terminal of the Single Pole.

Do that, and let us know what happens, and go from there.

Sirsparky is most likely dead on, IMO.... or double check for your hot feed with a multimeter by testing for voltage between your object wire and ground...and make sure the jumper on the spst is on the hot side of that switch.

Easy mistake to make.... while it's an extra trip to the breaker... I always like to identify for certain my hots when screwing with anything other than a one yoke spst switch.
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Old 05-10-2013, 11:51 AM   #6
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The solution was a combination of getting the common onto the correct terminal on the 3-way and then making sure I had the hot and neutral wires correct. I'd assumed the black was always hot but in this case it was the white. After flipping those and making sure the power being taped from the single pole to the 3-way was on the correct terminal everything worked.

Thanks a lot to everyone who took the time to respond.
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Old 05-10-2013, 11:58 AM   #7
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The solution was a combination of getting the common onto the correct terminal on the 3-way and then making sure I had the hot and neutral wires correct. I'd assumed the black was always hot but in this case it was the white. After flipping those and making sure the power being taped from the single pole to the 3-way was on the correct terminal everything worked.

Thanks a lot to everyone who took the time to respond.
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