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Old 12-01-2010, 04:02 PM   #1
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Three way switch problem


I recently moved into a townhome that is about 3 years old. The stairway has one light going to the second floor with 2 switches (one at bottom and the other at the top). The problem is that both the switches have to be on for the light to turn on. To the best of my knowledge, this is not a properly working 3 way setup. In my mind, there has to be something wrong with the wiring. What is the easiest way to troubleshoot this. Each switch has a red common and two black wires.

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Old 12-01-2010, 04:21 PM   #2
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Three way switch problem


Position up or down is not related to on and off while talking about three way switch operation.

If one switch must be in a certain position in order for the other switch to work you have a mis-wired switch.

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Old 12-01-2010, 04:54 PM   #3
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Three way switch problem


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Originally Posted by tucker0104 View Post
I recently moved into a townhome that is about 3 years old. The stairway has one light going to the second floor with 2 switches (one at bottom and the other at the top). The problem is that both the switches have to be on for the light to turn on. To the best of my knowledge, this is not a properly working 3 way setup. In my mind, there has to be something wrong with the wiring. What is the easiest way to troubleshoot this. Each switch has a red common and two black wires.
go here . I did a goodle search it tell's you how to rewire .Also make sure that the switch's are for 3 way switching .?? http://www.google.com/search?hl=en&s...l=&oq=&gs_rfai=

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Old 12-01-2010, 06:52 PM   #4
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Three way switch problem


While that diagram is correct, there are more ways to correctly wire a set of three way switches.
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Old 12-01-2010, 06:55 PM   #5
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Three way switch problem


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While that diagram is correct, there are more ways to correctly wire a set of three way switches.
Don't worry, everyone will have to forget the old and figure out the new ways to wire a 3-way with 4-wire after they adopt 2011
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Old 12-01-2010, 07:11 PM   #6
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Three way switch problem


Won't that be a joy. I thought somewhere the NEC said it wasn't a design manual.
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Old 12-01-2010, 07:17 PM   #7
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Won't that be a joy. I thought somewhere the NEC said it wasn't a design manual.
Well, in this instance it is actually based on safety.

Too many handymen are installing motion detector and other devices that require a neutral, so they are splicing the white wire to ground and calling it a day. So because someone unqualified is doing unsafe work, we have to up our costs to install a neutral at every box.

I love it.
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Old 12-01-2010, 07:26 PM   #8
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Three way switch problem


I like the idea, and have done it that way for years.

I understand how the code could make it a rule, same a kitchens over the years having to have 2 circuits.
You just never know what the next generation of switches and controls are around the corner.
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Old 12-01-2010, 07:44 PM   #9
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I like the idea, and have done it that way for years.
You've ran 4-wire for all your 3-ways? 3-wire down for a switch loop?

I guess you are ahead of the curve
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Old 12-01-2010, 08:09 PM   #10
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Three way switch problem


I see this as another way to create artifical demand for a product like 4 wire cables. After all why can't the designers of these switches, that might never be installed, change their design so it doesn't need a neutral?

Heck we might as well make each device a home run back to the panel in case someone plugs in too many heaters in the future too.
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Old 12-01-2010, 09:26 PM   #11
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After all why can't the designers of these switches, that might never be installed, change their design so it doesn't need a neutral?
These switches are already being installed. And there are already such switch designs without neutrals. Unfortunately, most neutral-less switches are not suitable for the latest and next generation of lamps, because they must allow a small amount of current to flow through when off. This means the CFLs flash and LEDs glow when connected to such switches.

The ironic thing about all this is that it is generally not the three-way circuits that cause problems (usually, one of the three traveler/common wires can be re-purposed for use as a neutral). It is the switch loops that more cause problems in retrofitting the "smart" switches.

I just find it interesting that so many people view this as a "design" choice as if this is the first time codes have been written to mitigate the risk that someone might use a home electrical system in stupid ways. Half the code would go away if it were strictly meant to create an inherently safe electrical system without regards to how it is likely to be used. This includes numbers of outlets, switches and lights in certain locations, separate circuits in kitchens. All of these are to mitigate risk against some potential form of misuse (extension cords, too many appliances, walking around in the dark). The only difference is the frequency and likelihood of misuse.

Apparently, the writers of the codes see the likelihood that these types of switches will become commonplace. I happen to agree.
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Old 12-02-2010, 07:40 AM   #12
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You've ran 4-wire for all your 3-ways? 3-wire down for a switch loop?

I guess you are ahead of the curve
I'm talking about a neutral at each switch location.
I never saw anything about 4 wire feeds to switchs!
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Old 12-02-2010, 07:21 PM   #13
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I'm talking about a neutral at each switch location.
I never saw anything about 4 wire feeds to switchs!
You'll have to use 4-wire to get a neutral to each switch box of a 3-way. You'll have to use a 3-wire to get a neutral down to the switch box if you want to run a switch loop.

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