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irich 11-23-2007 10:46 AM

Is it possible to add a 4 way switch to this configuration?
Hi all,
My house was built in 1972. I am remodeling the basement and want to add a 4 way switch to an existing light that already has 2 - 3 way switches. The problem is that they used 2 wire cables to run between the switches. It seems as though they have a 2-wire from switch A to switch B that connects to the two top screws on each switch . Switch A has the feed coming to it's bottom screw and the white is neutral. Switch B has a 2 wire to the lite fixture with the black connected to the bottom screw on switch B and the white tied to neutral. Is it possible / safe to add a 4 way to this configuration? Any ideas on the best way to go about it if so? Thanks in advance,

J. V. 11-23-2007 11:35 AM

Sure, 4 ways are designed for use with 3 ways. But without my ability to draw this for you here, I am certain someone can help with a diagram. I will keep an eye out on your thread, just to be certain you get the info you need.

Hey Stubb!!!!!!!!!!!

tribe_fan 11-23-2007 12:41 PM

Here is a link to a decent diagram -

Andy in ATL 11-23-2007 04:41 PM

It is very easy to get all twisted wiring three ways. you can't let them whip ya.:laughing: In my one year in comm. work I've seen a surprising number of guys get whipped.:laughing:

All you are doing is cutting the travelers in half and installing the 4-way. Don't make it harder than that!!! Check the very simple wiring diagram provided with the 4-way(make sure you have that before you leave the store) and congratulate yourself on a job well done when finished.


siralex 11-23-2007 05:40 PM

it easy u have these 3 thing (C,L1,L2 ) or (C,W1,W2) u8 will have 4 times so if u are adding exstra switch to ur 3w u can link all the C to gether then u connect each L1 to the light u want to u can call me if u get stuck and i will help u on the phone 07910406496 i wish that will help

irich 11-23-2007 07:20 PM

figured it out...
Thanks for the replies. I think you all missed the point that it wasn't wired conventially with 3 wire between the switches - they used a 2 wire. Anyhow, someone on another board figured out what I was trying to describe and it worked like a charm. Thanks again,


Stubbie 11-23-2007 07:39 PM

2 Attachment(s)

The first thing that I need to get straight is.... you do not mention a 3 wire cable between switches. This cable would have a red wire in it. That red wire would appear in both switch boxes. You don't mention a red wire. You do say there is 2 wire cable between switches. So I made a drawing I want you to look at it and tell me if it's what you have.

The 2nd drawing is the correct way your situation should be wired. Once I know what you have presently I can tell you how to do the 4-way addition.

EDIT: If you have only one 2 wire cable between switches then the only way it will work is if the ground is being used as a neutral..... that ain't good.

Click on the image to enlarge

Andy in ATL 11-23-2007 08:06 PM

Stubbie, I thought of that, and actually typed the word"check to make sure the neutrals in both boxes are on the same circuit" and deleated it. I bonked it and don't know why.:furious: Oh well.


Stubbie 11-23-2007 08:43 PM

Well it appears it is all mute since someone has already told him what to do, however if he has a ground wire being used to carry the neutral from the source in switch box A to switch box B he has a very unsafe situation. Lets hope that problem stays inside the wall where it can't "bite" you.

irich 11-23-2007 08:49 PM

If the ground was being used a a neutral wouldn't I see it tied to a white wire someplace? I did get it working. The 2 wire between switches are (were) being used as travelers on both switches. All the ground/bare wires connected together. what would it look like if the ground was being used as a neutral?


Andy in ATL 11-23-2007 09:04 PM

Irich, How is the neutral gettin from the feed to the light? The only way it is is if a neutral is "stolen" at the other end. Are both 3-ways in a single gang box?

I apologize for dropping the ball earlier. It happens. My curiousity is piqued at this point. I formally ask Irich not to leave me hanging and allow me to see how this is wired correctly.:(


irich 11-23-2007 09:15 PM

follow up...
Andy - Even though it is working I would still like to know it is safe. the 3way switches worked fine for the 14 years I have lived here and I am sure they are original. I'm thinking it is some old school way of wiring??


irich 11-23-2007 09:17 PM

hijacked neutral...
they are not in single gang boxes and switch B's box is where they are picking up the neutral, (from another circuit), to the lite.


Andy in ATL 11-23-2007 09:26 PM

Here is the I see it. In my opinion only, and open to be shot down...If the circuit that the neutral is stolen from is on the same "leg" as the feed circuit, then no harm no foul.

Do you understand what I mean by "leg"? Its about my bedtime but I'll be around tomorrow. Thanks for letting me stick with it. I'm guessin' others will post their opinion so be a little patient and check back.


Edit to add to Irichs edit:wink: I deduced that as soon as you said "hijack":laughing:

joed 11-23-2007 09:45 PM

I think from what I read on the other board he has a carter or California threeway setup.

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