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Old 04-01-2013, 10:27 PM   #1
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two switches to one fixture


I have a light that has two switches and three wires. Two wires are black, one wire is red. The black wires appear to be hot and ground while the red only becomes "usefull" if connected to both switches. I originally setup the three wires top hot, bottom ground, and the red wire to the third post. This worked for about a month and everything was fine. Suddenly, only one switch truly turns the circuit off or on at one time. It will alternate based off of the switch position but only the one switch will turn off and on the light while the other is basically useless. I tried a couple of different combinations bit I am still having the same problem. Does anyone have an idea what to do?

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Old 04-02-2013, 01:54 AM   #2
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two switches to one fixture


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I have a light that has two switches and three wires. Two wires are black, one wire is red. The black wires appear to be hot and ground while the red only becomes "usefull" if connected to both switches. I originally setup the three wires top hot, bottom ground, and the red wire to the third post. This worked for about a month and everything was fine. Suddenly, only one switch truly turns the circuit off or on at one time. It will alternate based off of the switch position but only the one switch will turn off and on the light while the other is basically useless. I tried a couple of different combinations bit I am still having the same problem. Does anyone have an idea what to do?
Are you talking about wall switches? As in: you have switches in two different locations that control the same ceiling light?

Please post a pic of what you have.

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Old 04-02-2013, 02:05 AM   #3
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two switches to one fixture


Yes, two switches control one ceiling light. I took a photo of both switch areas but removed one switch so the wires can be seen more easily. Both switches are the same. Also took one of the fixture in question. There are only two wires in the fixture, one black and one white.

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Old 04-02-2013, 02:15 AM   #4
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two switches to one fixture


OK, you have two 3-way switches there. You have to find out which of the wires in the switch are HOT. Are there two cables in one of the switch boxes, and only one cable in the other? Do you have a voltmeter?
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Old 04-02-2013, 02:22 AM   #5
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two switches to one fixture


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OK, you have two 3-way switches there. You have to find out which of the wires in the switch are HOT. Are there two cables in one of the switch boxes, and only one cable in the other? Do you have a voltmeter?
No voltmeter but the hot wires make the switch illuminate when it touches the switch; they are the ones that light when the switch is off. They only light if there is a "current" passing through. I get the current whenever the hot and the neutral touch the switch and I believe when the hot and red wire or the neutral and red. As I said, only one of the swithes work at a time.
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Old 04-02-2013, 02:23 AM   #6
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two switches to one fixture


also, there are three cables in each box
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Old 04-02-2013, 02:47 AM   #7
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two switches to one fixture


Alright now, I don't see three cables in either of those boxes, but the view isn't the greatest either, so..

Tell me how many wires, and what color are in each of the cables in the boxes?

You said three cables in each box, so there should be at least 8 individual wires. I want to know what each cable has.
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Old 04-02-2013, 02:53 AM   #8
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two switches to one fixture


BTW: a neutral wire is not to terminate on either of the switches. The neutral (from the source) needs to go to one side of the light. This is done by connecting the source white with the white wire going to the light.
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Old 04-02-2013, 06:43 AM   #9
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two switches to one fixture


diagram 1 is power into a switch with the load(in this case a light) in between the two switches.

diagram 2 is power into a switch with the load after the 2nd switch

diagram 3 is power into the load where the switches are after the load

diagram 4 is power into the load where the switches are between the load

--ground wires are not shown for ease of drawing

--do not pay too much attention to the color of the insulation on the wires...you need to find out their function. As you can see from the diagram, some whites are used for traveler wires between the switches. They should be marked with black tape or marker at their ends to indicate they are not being used as a grounded conductor(neutral)
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two switches to one fixture-1-sw-lo-sw.jpg   two switches to one fixture-2-switch-switch-load.jpg   two switches to one fixture-3-lo-sw-sw.jpg   two switches to one fixture-4-load-sw-sw.jpg  

Last edited by hammerlane; 04-02-2013 at 06:46 AM.
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Old 04-02-2013, 07:44 AM   #10
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two switches to one fixture


The position of the light is like diagram one; as for the insulation color of the wires, two black and one red. The wire color is the same in other rooms, with the only difference being two switches to control the same fixture in the hall. In two other rooms, I left the red out of the equation and the light functioned. I replaced these switches with three ways as the individual who installed before me had three way swiches. When I replaced the switches, I put all the same wires to the same poles as before. Only they used the back and right now I am using the side pole to troubleshoot. If the red is meaningless and can be left out, I could try the regular two pole switches on the light if that would make the swapping of power cease and allow me the ability to control the ligbt from either switch.

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