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Old 01-20-2013, 02:49 PM   #31
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strange wiring for three switches?


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Originally Posted by jeffnc
It definitely looks to me like there are some white wires going to the left switch, but there aren't any in your diagram going to that switch. What's going on there?
There is a pigtail for one of the neutrals that goes off that direction. I did not put it in the diagram. The neutral from romex cable #1 (far left) is pigtailed, and it's the pigtail that then joins the mass of neutrals are wired together.

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Old 01-20-2013, 03:07 PM   #32
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strange wiring for three switches?


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I never said a word about wiring a neutral to a switch. What I did refer to is that neutral is supposed to be in the same cable as the travelers. which the poster's are not. The neutral for the light is being acquired in either the far end switch box or at the light itself
If that's what you meant, it might be true. It's hard to tell from the photo - we know there are a couple neutral wires in the photo (left side) that aren't represented in the diagram and I'm not sure where they go. We might be able to assume that simply because there isn't a red wire in sight, something isn't quite right.
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Old 01-20-2013, 03:45 PM   #33
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strange wiring for three switches?


It is true that there is no red wire. This was wired as is presumably in 1960s. The 3 way switch is somehow hooked up without a neutral, as the white and black of a single romex cable are acting as the 2 travelers. I believe it goes to the light, and then the other switch, but that is a guess, not a sure thing.

I understand that this config. is not up to today's code....is it a fire hazard? Or is the answer to this unknown, because we don't know for sure where the different neutrals go? If I understand the issue, presumably one of these neutrals does go to the light.

Also, in regards to the "other neutrals", the original diagram is accurate as far as where wires end up.
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Old 01-21-2013, 09:05 AM   #34
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strange wiring for three switches?


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Originally Posted by rjniles View Post
I never said a word about wiring a neutral to a switch. What I did refer to is that neutral is supposed to be in the same cable as the travelers. which the poster's are not. The neutral for the light is being acquired in either the far end switch box or at the light itself

I believe what rjniles is saying about the non-compliant method of wiring the circuit of the existing middle 3-way switch (what appears to be without the return current carrying conductor in the same cable assembly) relates to the concern for the potential of inductive heating in such cable. [NEC: 300.3(B), 300.20(A), and 404.2(A)]

I asked for clarification in this thread:
Wiring methods: help understanding inductive heating problems
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Old 01-21-2013, 12:02 PM   #35
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strange wiring for three switches?


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I asked for clarification in this thread:
Wiring methods: help understanding inductive heating problems
Good to know.

I know a number of electricians I meet in my daily conversations. They claim to be licensed. I have a hard time believing they understand all this. I know from talking to them that they don't even understand simpler codes than this. I don't know if I should feel better about myself, or worse out of fear because they're out there.

One of them recently told me a GFCI outlet couldn't function properly without the ground connected. (Actually 2 of them told me that.) In another thread, a man claiming to be a plumber connected a toilet without a trap to a storm sewer drain.
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Old 01-21-2013, 01:02 PM   #36
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strange wiring for three switches?


Have to admit, sixspeeds answer went right over my head. I will say, It appears to me that the only difference between the current set up and code is that the 3 way switch is picking up the common wire from a different cable, but it is a cable on the same circuit, and might even be coming directly from the other switch.
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Old 01-21-2013, 01:17 PM   #37
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strange wiring for three switches?


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It appears to me that the only difference between the current set up and code is that the 3 way switch is picking up the common wire from a different cable, but it is a cable on the same circuit, and might even be coming directly from the other switch.
The issue at hand is this.

You have a 3-way switch there. There must be another 3-way switch somewhere else.

This 3-way switch has the main power coming into it. The other 3-way switch does not.

So the main power to the light begins at this 3-way switch. There is a neutral (white) wire coming out of the light that this switch controls (the light isn't there now, but pretend it was. It's supposed to be the single white wire in the receptacle with the wire nut on it). That white neutral wire is supposed to run alongside the black main power wire that comes into this 3-way switch. But it's not there as far as I can see.

The wire from this 3-way switch is really supposed to be a 3 wire cable, with the travelers being black and red (no white). The white wire could then be used as a neutral. That white neutral could then be wired into the big white triangle in your diagram. In that way, there could be the same amount of current current coming into that black wire as leaving along the white wire.

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Old 01-21-2013, 04:00 PM   #38
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strange wiring for three switches?


Quote:
Originally Posted by jeffnc

The issue at hand is this.

You have a 3-way switch there. There must be another 3-way switch somewhere else.

This 3-way switch has the main power coming into it. The other 3-way switch does not.

So the main power to the light begins at this 3-way switch. There is a neutral (white) wire coming out of the light that this switch controls (the light isn't there now, but pretend it was. It's supposed to be the single white wire in the receptacle with the wire nut on it). That white neutral wire is supposed to run alongside the black main power wire that comes into this 3-way switch. But it's not there as far as I can see.

The wire from this 3-way switch is really supposed to be a 3 wire cable, with the travelers being black and red (no white). The white wire could then be used as a neutral. That white neutral could then be wired into the big white triangle in your diagram. In that way, there could be the same amount of current current coming into that black wire as leaving along the white wire.

Okay, after lengthy exploration in the attic, I believe I understand what is going on:
The 3 way switch picks up the common as pictured, and sends travelers to another switch. This switch is connected to the black of 12/2 romex. The white is snipped off and not used. Picture below. From here, power goes to the light, and the neutral and black from the light returns to the original switch, but not until first powering a non-switched light. The return path is romex cable #2. Incidentally, this means, apparently, that power could enter the light from either direction???

Here is still some guesswork involved, but I believe this is accurate. If I want to bring this up to code, is it still true that (theoretically) all I need to do is is replace the 12-2 travelers with 12-3 and wire accordingly?
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Old 01-22-2013, 06:35 AM   #39
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strange wiring for three switches?


No grounds shown for ease of drawing. Dont think you cant get seven(7) conductors under one wire nut so you will have to use a jumper wire.
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Old 01-22-2013, 08:52 AM   #40
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strange wiring for three switches?


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No grounds shown for ease of drawing. Dont think you cant get seven(7) conductors under one wire nut so you will have to use a jumper wire.
Thank you Hammerlane, and everyone else who has contributed. I'm all set! Deeply appreciative of the time you all have taken.
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Old 01-22-2013, 01:41 PM   #41
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strange wiring for three switches?


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And using a 14 ga wire to power a light is not unsafe.
I'll be the first to admit I'm not perfect with my code knowledge, wiring practices, nor advice given here, but I must respectfully disagree with this statement. If a fault current of 15 to 20A were to occur, a 20A breaker would never trip. Meanwhile, the 14ga wire could eventually overheat and catch fire.
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Old 01-22-2013, 02:50 PM   #42
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strange wiring for three switches?


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If a fault current of 15 to 20A were to occur, a 20A breaker would never trip. Meanwhile, the 14ga wire could eventually overheat and catch fire.
What fault current?
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Old 01-22-2013, 02:53 PM   #43
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strange wiring for three switches?


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What fault current?
Lots of causes of fault current. If faults never occurred we wouldn't need breakers.
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Old 01-22-2013, 02:55 PM   #44
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strange wiring for three switches?


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Lots of causes of fault current. If faults never occurred we wouldn't need breakers.
I'm talking about a fault current of specifically between 15 and 20 amps, like the last poster said, obviously.
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Old 01-22-2013, 03:41 PM   #45
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strange wiring for three switches?


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I'm talking about a fault current of specifically between 15 and 20 amps, like the last poster said, obviously.
Are you suggesting that a fault current of 15 to 20A can never occur?

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