Please Help Me Troubleshoot My 3 Way Switch - General DIY Discussions - DIY Chatroom Home Improvement Forum

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Old 02-19-2010, 10:51 AM   #1
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Please help me troubleshoot my 3 way switch

Hello. I've racked my brain enough and need help. From my best guess, I have a three way switch with the power at the light with one of the switches at the end of the circuit. So... Light-Switch-Switch. The 12-3 wire coming from the light goes to the switch at the top of my stairs. That's right, they used 3 wire from the light to the first switch, with the red being constant hot and the black going to the 3 wire of the last switch (bottom of stairs-end of circuit). My problem is, where does the neutral of the 3 wire traveling from the light to the 1st switch splice to? They used the "white" wire from the last switch for a traveler so it's no longer a neutral.

Currently, the light only works sometimes when I attach the neutral of the 3 wire coming from the light to the neutral of the downstream neutrals. I did my best to create an illustration of the setup. Please see attached and help!
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Please help me troubleshoot my 3 way switch-3-way-switch.jpg  


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Old 02-19-2010, 12:40 PM   #2
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No neutral is involved in a switch leg.

Neutral to lamp---power to bottom switch--two travelers from bottom switch to top switch--

Switch leg(power ) from top switch to lamp.

A side note: use the screws, not the push in connector the push in holes don't line up with colored screws and often cause confusion.

Your drawing looks correct.


Last edited by oh'mike; 02-19-2010 at 12:54 PM. Reason: Thought of something.
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Old 02-19-2010, 01:30 PM   #3
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The only thing you really need to know about 3 way switches are which wires go to the common terminals. The line feed goes to one and the line that goes to the light goes on the other one.
Disconnect all the wires from both switches. The wire that's hot is the feed and goes on one common terminal. Open the box with the light. Whatever color wire that is attached to the black light wire is the common of the other switch. Connect the other wires to any terminal you want, it doesn't matter.
If you plan to delve into minor house electric, pick up one of those electric books. Popular Science, Black & Decker, Home Depot, etc.. They will have many visual setups that can help you to begin to understand how these work.
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Old 02-19-2010, 02:17 PM   #4
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Drawing looks correct IF the black wire on the top switch is on the COMMON screw and the wire with the dashes on the bottom switch is the COMMON screw.
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