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Old 04-30-2012, 08:36 PM   #1
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Wiring a 3 way switch


This should be simple but . . .

I am replacing a couple old 3 pole switches with 2 new decorator switches. First switch I rewired exactly like the old one black on black pole, a second black on brass pole on the same side, and red on the pole on the other side.

I rewired the second switch exactly like the old one was too. White on black pole (I know ) red on the brass pole on the same side, and black on seperate pole on other side.

light will turn on and off from first switch but only off from second and will not turn on from first switch if second is turned off.

so I rewired second switch with balck on black pole, white on top brass pole, and red on seperate pole. Nothing changed.

Do I need to test which wires are actually connecte to each other in the wall or what?

thanks for your electrical wisdom

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Old 04-30-2012, 08:49 PM   #2
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Wiring a 3 way switch


if you put the 'common' wires back exactly the same as the old, i'd suspect a defective switch


it does sound like you have the common wire on a traveller screw though.

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Old 04-30-2012, 08:54 PM   #3
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Wiring a 3 way switch


If you can confirm that there is a white tied in with some blacks at the first switch box, I will agree with Techy about a bad switch.
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Old 04-30-2012, 09:25 PM   #4
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Wiring a 3 way switch


I will double check the routing on the 2 blacks on the first switch. If one is faulty would it be the second switch?
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Old 04-30-2012, 09:27 PM   #5
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Wiring a 3 way switch


Just want to double check terms. Common is red? and traveler screw is the odd on on the other side?

Please correct if my assumptions are wrong!

Thanks guys
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Old 04-30-2012, 09:30 PM   #6
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Wiring a 3 way switch


Quote:
Originally Posted by Smudgeboss View Post
Just want to double check terms. Common is red? and traveler screw is the odd on on the other side?

Please correct if my assumptions are wrong!

Thanks guys
Sorry!

Color and position (left, other side) do not point out the common screw or wire except that on newer switches the common screw is usually stained a darker color. The common screw may also have "C" engraved nearby on the switch body.

If you are unsure, use a continuity meter (or ohmmeter, or said functions on a multimeter) to figure it out. The two screws that do not have continuity (have nearly infinite resistance) between them for both switch handle positions are the traveler screws. When measuring continuity or resistance, at least one of the two wires or terminals you are touching probes to should not be connected to anythng else.

(Never touch the meter probes to live parts or live wires when measuring continuity or resistance.)

(Always label the wires you are taking apart so you can at least put it back the way it was.)
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Last edited by AllanJ; 04-30-2012 at 09:39 PM.
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Old 04-30-2012, 09:31 PM   #7
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Wiring a 3 way switch


There is one common screw that is usually colored black. The two brass screws are the travelers. As for what wire goes to common and what goes to the travelers...there really isn't a norm.

It sounded like you had it wired correctly the first time...white on the common at the second switch.

Try this...

Wire the second switch like you had it the first time...white on the black screw (common).

Then go to the first switch and swap the two black wires. It is possible you just mixed up which black went to which screw.
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Old 05-18-2012, 03:16 PM   #8
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Wiring a 3 way switch


after a couple week hiatus I am working on this again. I rewired like k_buz said, it didn't work. I disconnected and tested wires for continuity. Left switch has a red, a black and a white. Right has a red and 2 blacks.
red to red has continuity
black left to bottom black right continuity
white left no continuity anywhere
top black right no continuity anywhere

both switches common to 1 pole continuity in one switch position, and continuity to other pole in other switch position, so I am sure switches are okay

does this help to determine what goes where?

hope so

thanks again
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Old 05-18-2012, 03:31 PM   #9
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Wiring a 3 way switch


You are going to need a volt meter to figure this out.

Take all the wires off both switches.

Find the wire that shows 120V to ground. That goes to the common on the switch. The other two loose wires in the box are the travelers. Wire this switch up.

Then go to the next box.

Find the wire with 120V to ground. That is a traveler.

Go back to the first box. Flip the switch.

Go to the second box. You should have 120V to ground on a different wire. That wire is also a traveler. The one remaining loose wire goes to the common terminal.
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Old 06-01-2012, 04:20 PM   #10
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Wiring a 3 way switch


that did it k_buz. works like it should. I was even wrong about which was the primary power in box. but the testing solved the issue.

Thanks

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