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Old 06-05-2011, 06:18 PM   #1
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Need help deciphering wiring for 3-way switches


So, during my kitchen renovation, I am replacing an old ceiling fixture (controlled by a pair of 3-way switches) with a set of 8 recessed lights.

Two months ago during demo, I removed one of the 3-way switches (the "downstream" one) that was in a wall that went away. The light (and everything else on that circuit) has been functional during the ongoing demo from the first "3-way" (actually a 2-way) switch.

There are 3 additional lights "downstream" on that same circuit; a switched sink light, a switched dining room light, and a 3-way switched kitchen ceiling fan/light. The ceiling fan 3-way gets its power where the old ceiling fixture does (my problem area) which is shown in the picture below. The other two lights get power at the connection for the fixture I removed which is now my first recessed light.

Today I removed the old ceiling light and installed the recessed lights and I am trying to add that second 3-way switch back to a different wall.

The switch on the left is the "3-way" for my recessed lights. Note it is not a 3-way. Maybe I put this switch in here when I took out the wall and the other 3-way switch?? On the right is the 3-way for the ceiling fan. Not sure what was done here or why but it was working. The red is hot all the time, the black is switched hot. I may have crossed these wires somehow and stopped making changes when I got it working.

What's the deal with wrapping the black around the screw? Is that common? It looks sketchy to me.

After writing this all and thinking through it, I think I need to replace this 2-way switch with a 3-way and then wire them as normal 3-ways. While trying to get this right, I kept thinking the black and red were backwards (crossed) between this switch and the ceiling fixture. Assuming the answer is to put a 3-way back in here, what goes on the other terminal?


Last edited by mystic_cobra; 06-05-2011 at 06:21 PM.
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Old 06-05-2011, 06:22 PM   #2
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Need help deciphering wiring for 3-way switches


The looped black is just a way to continue power to another part of the circuit without making a connection using a wire nut.

What you are calling a two-way is more properly called a single pole switch.

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Old 06-05-2011, 09:05 PM   #3
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Need help deciphering wiring for 3-way switches


I am definately not a licensed technician, but I am personally not a fan of a looped black wire. Technically it is fine, but I dont find it as clean. In addition, I prefer the incoming or source wires on a single pole switch to be on the bottom, and the outgoing or loadwires to be on the top.
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Old 06-05-2011, 11:14 PM   #4
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Need help deciphering wiring for 3-way switches


Thanks for the tips, guys. I figured it out. Once I realized that the single pole switch didn't belong, I was in good shape. I replaced it with a 3-way switch and it all started making sense. Check another project off the list!
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