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Old 09-08-2012, 10:26 PM   #1
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Three way switch I can't figure our for the life of me


So Im doing a simple light switch swap from the toggle style to the rockers..i know how to wire 3 ways and ive done like 40 already in my house except I cannot get One of them to work no matter what I do. Its a real stumper and its killing me not being able to get this one to work.

Heres the setup.

Power from panel -> box 1(3way switch) -> ceiling light 1 -> ceiling light 2 -> box 2 (3way switch)

Box 1 from panel has 2 white wires tied together (white from panel and white to ceiling light), a black hot wire from panel, and a white and black (Travelers going to box 2)

ok so simple...hot to ground, and travelers to travel screws...

Moving onto BOX 2, I HAVE FOUR WIRES (this is where I get confused) i hook up the 2 travelers and Im left with a white and black, which Im pretty sure go to the ceiling lights...So I hook the black ceiling light wire to the common screw and I am left with a White wire hanging there...no idea where to connect it...I think it is the neutral, and this might be open and its my problem but i have no idea where to place this wire and how to connect it. if anyone has any ideas please help...im totally lost here.. see image below.




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Old 09-08-2012, 10:29 PM   #2
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Three way switch I can't figure our for the life of me


I can easily cap it off, the loose neutral wire BUT, its doesnt solve my issue that the lights dont work even though i believe i wired it correctly.

Also checked the breakers, they are good and full power.

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Old 09-08-2012, 10:31 PM   #3
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Three way switch I can't figure our for the life of me


If it's hooked up correctly it should work.3-way-switch.jpg Is this your wiring?
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Old 09-08-2012, 10:34 PM   #4
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If it's hooked up correctly it should work.3-way-switch.jpg Is this your wiring?
Yes that's the wiring I did. I'm not sure what else I can check.
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Old 09-08-2012, 10:36 PM   #5
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How certain are you about the black and whites? It gets a bit confusing when you only use two colors. Any way you can check the continuity with a meter? And it's always possible you have a bad switch. Perhaps your traveler is going to the light (white) rather than the 2nd switch.
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Old 09-08-2012, 10:41 PM   #6
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Sounds like the 2nd box is supposed to be a 4-way? You sure there isn't another switch for that light somewhere?

Where was that loose white wire connected originally, before you took everything apart?
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Last edited by kbsparky; 09-08-2012 at 10:43 PM. Reason: added 2nd question
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Old 09-08-2012, 10:42 PM   #7
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How certain are you about the black and whites? It gets a bit confusing when you only use two colors. Any way you can check the continuity with a meter? And it's always possible you have a bad switch. Perhaps your traveler is going to the light (white) rather than the 2nd switch.
I have a meter but not exactly sure how to check continuity on the wires. I checked continuity on both switches and they good. I have no idea why they are only black and white. Builder put these In 20 some years ago and the problem happened when I decided to change the old yellow looking switches to the new ones.
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Old 09-08-2012, 10:43 PM   #8
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Sounds like the 2nd box is supposed to be a 4-way? You sure there isn't another switch for that light somewhere?
Positive only 2 switches work these 2 lights
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Old 09-08-2012, 10:51 PM   #9
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and the problem happened when I decided to change the old yellow looking switches to the new ones.
If it worked before you changed anything, I would be 99% sure that you have either miswired the switches, or pulled a wire loose during your change out. Also, the new switches may not have the terminal locations the same as the old. Are you sure the power comes from the first switch? Where was that white wire before you took everything apart......the one in the 2nd box?
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Old 09-09-2012, 12:44 AM   #10
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If it worked before you changed anything, I would be 99% sure that you have either miswired the switches, or pulled a wire loose during your change out. Also, the new switches may not have the terminal locations the same as the old. Are you sure the power comes from the first switch? Where was that white wire before you took everything apart......the one in the 2nd box?
The wire in the second box was actually just dangling there tucked in the back. It wasn't even used in the original installation. No cap no nothing. Just tucked behind

I am also pretty sure I misnwired it but I just don't know what else to do. I know I wired the 3 way correctly. I didn't follow the old switch terminal location, I just pulled all the wires out of the old switches, the old plug in style, and used the sniffer to wire them. Started with hot from box 1 and the travelers to two. Got power at 2 but lights dont light up. Ugh so frustrating
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Old 09-09-2012, 12:58 AM   #11
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The wire in the second box was actually just dangling there tucked in the back. It wasn't even used in the original installation. No cap no nothing. Just tucked behind

I am also pretty sure I misnwired it but I just don't know what else to do. I know I wired the 3 way correctly. I didn't follow the old switch terminal location, I just pulled all the wires out of the old switches, the old plug in style, and used the sniffer to wire them. Started with hot from box 1 and the travelers to two. Got power at 2 but lights dont light up. Ugh so frustrating
I have see this situation many time before so let me give you a very fast short cut on this one due there is a T&E format ( aka two conductor romex set up )

Do you have voltmeter that can read in ohms ? if so set that up to ohms and you may have to move one tester port to to read the ohm scale however let me warn ya very seriously please turn the breaker off complety first then I will give you a short cut.,

As you know the source at the first switch box so take a tape or something to remind you that is a hot soure then unhook black et white conductor it have to be a pair for that cable it can not be other set of cables at all.

Then take a wirenut or just use switch and leave on one postion ( you will find out quick with ohmeter when you ring them out when it is close postion it will show very low numbers of ohms which that is normal ) then go to the other switch box and ring it out once you find the correct pair then that is your traveller and I am pretty sure but not 100 % due some electrician do it differnt is have single black conductor as common so that is your answer on the common conductor.

Then once you indentify it the common will be on black screw while traveller will be on bright brass screw.

Hope that help ya on that.

Merci,
Marc


P.S. I have done this way few time but not very often anymore.
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Old 09-09-2012, 01:35 AM   #12
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I only have the Klein tools multimeter and there's no setting for ohms. It just reads ac or dc voltage and continuity
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Old 09-09-2012, 01:40 AM   #13
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I only have the Klein tools multimeter and there's no setting for ohms. It just reads ac or dc voltage and continuity
Use the last function which it called continuity which that will work so to verify the continuity function properly what you do is take your test lead and touch each other and you should hear it ping or see the meter scale pegged to one end so you know ya got it.

Then do that on the conductors as I posted above the whole thing you should have that done about 15 minuites or less once you understand the instruction real quick.

( For moi it will take me less than 5 min and will have this sorted out quick. )

Merci,
Marc
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Old 09-09-2012, 08:55 AM   #14
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Heres the setup. Power from panel -> box 1(3way switch) -> ceiling light 1 -> ceiling light 2 -> box 2 (3way switch)
Quote:
Originally Posted by S65b40 View Post
Box 1 from panel has 2 white wires tied together (white from panel and white to ceiling light), a black hot wire from panel, and a white and black (Travelers going to box 2)
Regarding the cable that has the travelers.... does it travel from box 1 to box 2 thru each light fixture or does it travel directly from box 1 to box 2? The diagram below shows the traveler cable going thru each light fixture.

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Box 1 from panel has 2 white wires tied together (white from panel and white to ceiling light), a black hot wire from panel, and a white and black (Travelers going to box 2)
In box #1 you say "2 white wires tied together (white from panel and white to ceiling light)" What is occurring with the black conductor which is in the same cable as the white conductor that is going to the light? See diagram below.
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Three way switch I can't figure our for the life of me-3-way-sw-li-li-sw.jpg  

Last edited by hammerlane; 09-09-2012 at 10:08 AM.
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Old 09-09-2012, 08:57 AM   #15
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Three way switch I can't figure our for the life of me


The diagram below shows the traveler cable going directly from box#1 to box #2
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Three way switch I can't figure our for the life of me-3-way-sw-li-li-sw-2.jpg  

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