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Old 01-08-2011, 12:26 PM   #1
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Three-way light switch problem


I have an issue with a three way circuit for a light in my down stairs hallway.
I have a three way switch for this light which appears to be setup correctly but when turned on trips the breaker.

Near the light itself is a new single pole switch (which I believe should be a three way switch), from some previous upgrade, which works fine and activates the light.

What I need to know is what is the best way to identify the traveler and common wires in this circuit to get this circuit wired correctly again?

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Old 01-08-2011, 12:52 PM   #2
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Three-way light switch problem


how much understanding do you have of circuitry and do you have a multimeter?

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Old 01-08-2011, 01:22 PM   #3
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Three-way light switch problem


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how much understanding do you have of circuitry and do you have a multimeter?
I have a very good understanding and yes I have a multimeter along with all of the other appropriate tools.
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Old 01-08-2011, 01:37 PM   #4
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Three-way light switch problem


Disconnect all wires from switches. In one box there will be a constant hot from the panel. Make all measurements to ground. This should be a black. This constant hot will be landed on the black common screw of the switch. The other two wires(usually white and red) will be your travelers. (white should be marked to indicate that it is a traveler) in other switch box the two travelers can be landed on brass screws, and the other wire is your switch leg which should be landed on the black screw.

http://www.homeimprovementweb.com/in...way-switch.htm
this link has lots of pictures if they help you.
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Last edited by Saturday Cowboy; 01-08-2011 at 01:42 PM. Reason: cause i wanted to
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Old 01-08-2011, 03:16 PM   #5
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Three-way light switch problem


Tell us all the wires in both switch boxes and the fixture.
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Last edited by joed; 01-08-2011 at 07:33 PM.
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Old 01-08-2011, 06:03 PM   #6
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Three-way light switch problem


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Originally Posted by Saturday Cowboy View Post
Disconnect all wires from switches. In one box there will be a constant hot from the panel. Make all measurements to ground. This should be a black. This constant hot will be landed on the black common screw of the switch. The other two wires(usually white and red) will be your travelers. (white should be marked to indicate that it is a traveler) in other switch box the two travelers can be landed on brass screws, and the other wire is your switch leg which should be landed on the black screw.

http://www.homeimprovementweb.com/in...way-switch.htm
this link has lots of pictures if they help you.
I appreciate the help. Just to re-cap. You are saying:

1. Power off the circuit
2. Disconnect all wires from the switches (and the light I am assuming)
3. Power on the circuit with the switch wires 'hanging'
4. Test for power

Now with the wires in the circuit that I am working with there is no red (as you would normally see in a typical 3 wire circuit) and the white traveler is not appropriately marked I believe. I am confident that I can quickly identify the originating hot (black) at the 3-way. What I really needed to identify were the appropriate wires at the single pole (that should be a three way).

My initial thoughts was to power down everything then run a continuity signal test so that I could identify which wires were which. Why wouldn't I perform this test?
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Old 01-08-2011, 07:33 PM   #7
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Three-way light switch problem


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Tell us all the wires in both switch boxes and the fixture.
Start here.
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Old 01-08-2011, 07:34 PM   #8
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Three-way light switch problem


Quote:
Originally Posted by tripower View Post
1. Power off the circuit
2. Disconnect all wires from the switches (and the light I am assuming)
3. Power on the circuit with the switch wires 'hanging'
4. Test for power
more or less
Quote:
Originally Posted by tripower View Post
Now with the wires in the circuit that I am working with there is no red (as you would normally see in a typical 3 wire circuit) and the white traveler is not appropriately marked I believe. I am confident that I can quickly identify the originating hot (black) at the 3-way. What I really needed to identify were the appropriate wires at the single pole (that should be a three way).
No red, this concerns me as it may not be wired correctly.

Quote:
Originally Posted by tripower View Post
My initial thoughts was to power down everything then run a continuity signal test so that I could identify which wires were which. Why wouldn't I perform this test?
This is another good way of determining where wires go to and from. Go ahead and it is probably safer.
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Last edited by Saturday Cowboy; 01-08-2011 at 07:37 PM.
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Old 01-15-2011, 07:34 AM   #9
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Three-way light switch problem


Quote:
Originally Posted by Saturday Cowboy View Post
more or less

No red, this concerns me as it may not be wired correctly.


This is another good way of determining where wires go to and from. Go ahead and it is probably safer.
I just got around to tackling this issue. I am going to open up the boxes, power down and perform a signal test. And try to take some pics if that will help.
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Old 01-15-2011, 09:56 AM   #10
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Three-way light switch problem


Did you just install it or did it suddently trip the breaker when it never used to?

Did you just change a light bulb? Maybe one of the light fixtures shorted out.

Put labels on all wires that you take apart so you know how it used to be connected.
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Old 01-15-2011, 10:07 AM   #11
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Three-way light switch problem


Got it fixed guys I appreciate all the help. It really didn't take that long once I did a signal test and identified all of the wires. Thanks again.

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