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Old 07-11-2010, 05:56 PM   #1
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Light Switch Problem


I'm really hoping someone can help me. I have a hall light that can be controlled by 3 light switches. One of the switches recently started tripping the breaker. I replaced the switch and checked for loose wires, etc. and still no luck. The light works fine when controlled by either of the other 2 switches.

I'm guessing there's a short in the line for that particular switch. We really don't need the 3rd switch so any harm in removing it? Everything else on that circut works just fine except for that switch. We had an electrician out initially but he did not fix the problem as he thought it was a different swithc causing the problem. We could have him back but I'm honestly not willing to pay to rewire that switch assuming that's the problem. Heck, they charge 150 just to work on a multi-switch pannel so I'm sure rewiring something will be big dollars.

Help please. Thanks.

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Old 07-11-2010, 06:17 PM   #2
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Light Switch Problem


if you replaced the switch, I would have to say it is not the switch causing the problem (and in all truth, rarely will a switch cause a breaker to trip).

That means that simply removing the switch is not going to solve your problem and if it appears to solve your problem, there is most likely a hidden problem that might cause a bigger problem sometime in the future.


So, to start with, when you have 3 switches controlling 1 circuit, you will have 2 3way swithces and 1 4way switch. Is the switch you are dealing with a 3 way or a 4 way switch.

(3 way switches will have 3 circuit wires plus a ground wire (if used). 4 way switches will have 4 circuit wires and 1 ground wire(if used))

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Old 07-11-2010, 06:23 PM   #3
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Light Switch Problem


It's a 3 way switch that is causing the problem.
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Old 07-11-2010, 06:33 PM   #4
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Light Switch Problem


then no, you cannot simply remove it. You need to have the 2 3 way switches in a multi-point control.


So, does this trip the breaker when you flip that switch either way or just one specific way (up or down) or is is consistent with when using that switch to turn the light on or off?

I'm just trying to get in my head what specifically could be the problem.


Do you understand how a couple 3 ways and a 4way work together to do what they do? It might help for you to understand that so you might be able to logically deduce where in the circuit there might be a short.
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Old 07-11-2010, 07:34 PM   #5
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Light Switch Problem


It seems to trip whenever you use that particular switch, either to turn the light off or on. One other point I should mention is that we had a bad storm and lost power to the entire house. When it was restored this problem occurred. The rest of the house is fine.

I honestly can't say I'm familar with how two 3 way and one 4 way work together. I certainly can read up on it though.

I'm willing to hire an electrician if you think this is a big job? I know my limitations and how dangerous electricity can be. I would like to do this myself if I can. I'm just afraid if I hire someone they're going to charge me a couple of grand to open up the wall to find this short. That I cannot stomach.

Thanks for all your help.

Last edited by duityourself; 07-11-2010 at 08:05 PM.
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Old 07-11-2010, 08:42 PM   #6
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Light Switch Problem


Quote:
Originally Posted by duityourself View Post
I replaced the switch and checked for loose wires, etc. and still no luck. The light works fine when controlled by either of the other 2 switches.
Is it the four terminal switch or one of the three terminal ones?
The trick is to come up with a schematic that can account for what you're seeing.

You'll need a DVM to troubleshoot this and you should be able to locate the short within a few feet [within 0.1' if you rent a TDR device].
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Time-domain_reflectometer

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Last edited by Yoyizit; 07-11-2010 at 09:50 PM.
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