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Old 08-27-2009, 05:46 PM   #1
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Please Help! 3 way switches controling 2 light fxtures.


I have been doing most of remodeling myself and was very excited after my popcorn ceiling over the stairway was scraped and the ceiling was painted waiting for my 2 new track light fixtures to replace old rusty ceiling fixtures.
I had help of a friend while taking down the popcorn and he removed one of the light fixtures in the hallway, so now I don't know where and how to connect my new track light.

Here is what I did so far:
I had to move downstairs switch for about 1 foot to the right, I cut the drywall and examined the box, cables and wiring, and how were they connected.
There were 2 cables coming into this switch box: 12/3 and 12/2. I sketched the diagram how was everything connected, ran to Lowes and bought few feet of each 14/3 and 14/2 to make extension (was told by employee it was OK to use 14 gauge with 12)so I can connect the ends to the existing ones and make new light switch 1 foot to the right.
However, I am worried about mixing 12 and 14 gauge wires, but they told me that should not be a problem, so I installed new plastic box and connected all the wires to brand new 3 way switch downstairs.
This circuit that my 3 way switches are on controls:
downstairs 3 way switch, downstairs 1 light fixture in the kitchen, 1 receptacle in the kitchen, one ceiling fan in the kitchen, entry hall light fixture, downstairs powder room receptacle and vanity light - and ends with two ceiling light fixtures in upstairs hallway.

Anyway, I installed my 2 new track lights, and to my disappointment, only one track light lighted up. The upstairs light switch works fine too.
The working track light was easy to wire, only one cable coming into box, so I just connected black to black, white to white and cooper to green and it works.
The other track light has so many wires coming out of the ceiling box, I am sure I made the wrong connection.
There are two 3 wire NM cables plus one 2 wire NM cable coming out of it and I am totally confused. What I see coming out of the box is 2 reds twisted together, two whites, twisted together, two blacks twisted together, a black and white twisted together and cooper wires twisted together.
I studied all the info on internet, but I never saw 3 NM cables coming out from 1 fixture box in the ceiling anywhere.
Today I opened the upstairs light switch box and noticed that the 3 way light switch box has only one 14/3 NM cable connected to the switch. Not the 12/3 as I would have expected, like downstairs.

I admit this may be more for me to deal with than I expected, but I am really trying to do everything by myself as I can't afford electrician right now. His estimate was $1500 for this work plus moving another switch in the living room.
I have been laid of since January, so I am on a tight budget still receiving Government checks.

Can anyone help me and advise how to connect properly my track light, please?
Also, should I go and purchase 12/2 and 12/3 cables for my extension for downstairs light switch and redo the wiring? I still did not repair the dry wall downstairs, so it's less of a hassle to do it now if I have to.

I live in the townhome built in 1985, my circuit breaker says 20 on the switch and each 42" track fixture takes 3 GU10 50 bulbs.

Thanks for all your help in advance! It is greatly appreciated!

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Last edited by HelloMotto; 08-27-2009 at 05:55 PM.
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Old 08-27-2009, 05:52 PM   #2
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Please Help! 3 way switches controling 2 light fxtures.


One more time the advice from the big box proves to be wrong. If the circuit is 20 amps wired with #12 wire there should be no #14 in the circuit.

Did you make the extension splice in an approved and accessible junction box or is it buried in the wall? If it is buried it again would be incorrect.

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Old 08-27-2009, 06:00 PM   #3
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Please Help! 3 way switches controling 2 light fxtures.


But upstairs switch has 14/2 cable connected to this switch. So, it is all wrong from the start, right? I can easy replace 14 to 12, but what about the upstairs switch? Thanks.
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Old 08-27-2009, 06:06 PM   #4
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Please Help! 3 way switches controling 2 light fxtures.


Quote:
Originally Posted by Jim Port View Post
One more time the advice from the big box proves to be wrong. If the circuit is 20 amps wired with #12 wire there should be no #14 in the circuit.

Did you make the extension splice in an approved and accessible junction box or is it buried in the wall? If it is buried it again would be incorrect.
Yes, I purchased new junction box and made splice correctly. But yes, I was still worried.
Upstairs light switch is wired with 14 wire, so even professional messed up. I live in the house 5 years now, so I don't know who did wiring originally and if anything was changed before I moved in.
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Old 08-27-2009, 06:38 PM   #5
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Please Help! 3 way switches controling 2 light fxtures.


If you can verify that the breaker size is 15 amps all is good. If not it should be changed to protect the smallest wiring in the circuit which is #14.
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Old 08-27-2009, 07:26 PM   #6
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Please Help! 3 way switches controling 2 light fxtures.


Quote:
was told by employee it was OK to use 14 gauge with 12)
I stopped reading right there.

Homeowners shouldn't do electrical work. They suck at it and someone, someday, is going to have to fix it.

Do it right or don't do it at all. Being broke isn't a good excuse. You spent money on the cosmetics and skimped on the important part.
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Old 08-27-2009, 09:26 PM   #7
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Please Help! 3 way switches controling 2 light fxtures.


I found this web page that shows 7 variations of 3 way switching!
Perhaps if you study this, it may unravel the mystery!

http://www.electrical-online.com/wiringdiagrams.htm

Note: The breaker for this circuit should be changed from 20 amps to 15 amps to protect the #14 wire on this circuit!

Last edited by Wildie; 08-27-2009 at 09:32 PM.
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Old 08-27-2009, 10:29 PM   #8
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Please Help! 3 way switches controling 2 light fxtures.


Thank you all. I will go tomorrow and purchase 12 gauge 3 and 2 wire cables and redo it all over again and perhaps change the breaker with 15amps one, since upstairs switch has 14/3 cable entering the box which is obviously wrong done years ago and I believe it would be costly to change complete wiring on this circuit.

To 220/221, my "cosmetics" -the track lights cost only $67 each, and yes, I am a woman, and yes I work hard, and yes, I have college degree and yes, I don't think that simple electric should be charged $1500 for few hours of work - It can't be rocket science, and yes I know little about home building as I worked for the builder last 5 years, and yes I have been unfortunate enough to get laid off when the whole industry tanked last year, and yes, I decided to spend my free time being productive and do the best I can, and yes I didn't like tacky light fixtures previously installed.

And yes, I think you are being rude. First you don't even take the time to read the whole post , but find it necessary to tell me that I suck for trying to save by doing things myself?

I will try to figure connecting other track light to correct wires myself, but if I can't I will call electrician when I can..cause yes again, I can't afford one at those prices right now. I was just hoping someone could help. I did not expect such an arrogant response.

However, it is comforting that few (Wildie, Jim Port) understand that not everyone is an expert in everything! My thanks to those who sincerely tried to help....

Last edited by HelloMotto; 08-27-2009 at 11:47 PM.
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Old 08-28-2009, 04:29 PM   #9
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Please Help! 3 way switches controling 2 light fxtures.


Quote:
I did not expect such an arrogant response.
Now you know better sweetheart



I am the schmuck that follows behind people like you and fix their messes. I have done it for a long, long time now and have developed an attitude about homeowners and electrical work.

I don't care about your gender or education, IMO you shouldn't be doing electrical work. A smart person knows their limitations.



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My thanks to those who sincerely tried to help....
Hey, I tried to help. It just wasn't the answer you wanted to hear.
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Old 08-28-2009, 05:28 PM   #10
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Please Help! 3 way switches controling 2 light fxtures.


Quote:
Originally Posted by 220/221 View Post

I am the schmuck that follows behind people like you and fix their messes. I have done it for a long, long time now and have developed an attitude about homeowners and electrical work.
LOL, an "old schmuck"? I like you better already.

Well, that's one of the reasons I don't want someone with "know it all attitude" to do for me something I can do myself when I put my mind into it, and than charge me too much. I wasn't born yesterday either and I still can't resist the challenges, regardless of the cost.

I installed the new ceiling fan in my bedroom the other day for the first time in my life, so why I couldn't do simple wiring too? The fan is not wobbling and it's beautiful! $29 at Lowes, ceiling mounted, simple, plain, white...Got estimate from local Light fixture Boutique earlier, similar fan + install $600 - $700.
I read on line about the couple who hired an electrician who installed a ceiling fan "according to all codes" and the fan was wobbling, cost them $300 installation and they are very unhappy.

Yes I spent few days reading on "how to" do it and than it took me the whole day with instructions in my other hand, but I did it and it gave me great sense of acomplishment. Priceless!

By the way, I got my 12/3 and 12/2 Romex cables today at Home Depot and will do it right, because I can...

I told the guy at HD about my problem and all the twisted wires hanging out of the box and my second fixture not wrking....You know what he said? My track light didn't light up because of the black and white twisted together and that's where my problem was. Funny that none of the experts cought that in my post... but than again, not everyone read it all the way.
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Old 08-28-2009, 05:45 PM   #11
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Please Help! 3 way switches controling 2 light fxtures.


The black connected to the white could just be part of a switch loop.
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Old 08-28-2009, 06:00 PM   #12
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Please Help! 3 way switches controling 2 light fxtures.


I tried many combos: fixture white to 2 twisted whites + fixture black to two twisted blacks,
fixture white to 2 twisted whites + fixture black to twisted white and lack, (thought maybe that's how they marked white- hot back in 1985)
than fixture white to UNtwisted black/white and black to UNtwisted black...always mostly likely creating a short. I didnt know I can splice 4 whites together and 4 lacks together, but that's the only combo left to try and I bet he was right.

I have to untwist the black/white, splice all whites together and all blacks together and it should work, unless there is a problem with fixture iself.
If this doesn't work, I will bring the old fixture and try so this way I will know.
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Old 08-28-2009, 06:01 PM   #13
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Please Help! 3 way switches controling 2 light fxtures.


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LOL, an "old schmuck"? I like you better already.
Chicks dig me.

Quote:
Well, that's one of the reasons I don't want someone with "know it all attitude" to do for me something I can do myself when I put my mind into it
I get it. You are woman. I hear you roar.


Quote:
Funny that none of the experts cought that in my post... but than again, not everyone read it all the way

You're not done yet Missy.

Last edited by 220/221; 08-28-2009 at 06:03 PM.
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Old 08-28-2009, 06:11 PM   #14
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Please Help! 3 way switches controling 2 light fxtures.


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Originally Posted by 220/221 View Post
Chicks dig me.

I get it. You are woman. I hear you roar.

You're not done yet Missy.
I thought you said you didn't care about my gender, LOL!
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Old 08-28-2009, 06:18 PM   #15
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Please Help! 3 way switches controling 2 light fxtures.


Never saw a woman electrician yet, but we can do all you guys can.."Roaring chicks"lol. At least I had a good lough this afternoon. Thanks!

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