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Old 01-09-2010, 01:09 PM   #1
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3-way switch problem


Hi, I'm hoping an electrical genius can assist me in getting a 3-way switch working again. It was working properly prior to me changing the switches for new ones.

I realize this is difficult or maybe impossible to diagnose by internet, so let me know if I'm wasting my time.

The old 3-way switches were subtlely different from the new ones - the black screw was bottom right for both. There is another screw at the top right for both. However, whereas the 3rd screw was bottom left for the old switches, it is now top left for the new ones.

For each switch, I moved black screw wire to new black screw; top right wire to new top right; and then the wires to the bottom left on the old switches, I moved to the top left of the new switches (so they're still on the same side).

Whereas the switch worked properly before, it will now power the light, but only upon certain switch configurations... e.g. if I turn it off downstairs, upstairs won't turn it back on.

I have tried troubleshooting Upstairs. If I move the wire to the black screw anywhere else, it never powers the light. If I swap the other 2 wires, there is no discernable difference - it still powers on only upon certain switch configurations.

If anyone can help me out... thanks!
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Old 01-09-2010, 01:45 PM   #2
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you either have a bad switch (even new ones are bad some times) or you are not selecting the right wires (most likely problem) These switches will have one screw marked differently. Usually a darker copper color. The power goes to this screw at one switch and the light goes to this screw at the other. The other wires are "travelers" which just connect switch to switch on the copper colored screws.
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Old 01-09-2010, 02:21 PM   #3
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It sounds like you did everything right. The important part is to put the "power" and "light" on the proper terminals. The two runners can be attached to either of the other two, with the effect being only to reverse the response relative to physical orientation of the switch.

If you have a meter able to measure resistance, you can check the switches. Confirm the black screw is the common by measuring resistance between black and each of the other two. You should measure open (lots of ohms) between black and one screw and closed (zero ohms) between black and the other. Switching the switch position would reverse the readings between black and each of the other two.

Confirm you have a functioning switch, and confirm you have properly identified the common screw. Repeat this for the old switches to make sure the common is, in fact, black. I would not be surprised to find the black screws got put in the wrong place.
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Old 01-09-2010, 05:54 PM   #4
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If you moved the wire from one black screw to the new black screw then you have a defective switch. Try putting the old switches back in. Or put one back in and try it. Then put the other one back in if it still doesn't work.
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Old 01-10-2010, 11:58 AM   #5
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Thanks everyone for your help. I am absolutely positive that the black screw wires went to the new black screws... it's the first thing I did on both, before the others were even detached.

Unfortunately, I committed the 2nd noob mistake of throwing out the old switches before really checking to see if everything was working. But I will try replacing each current switch with a new 3-way to see if that makes a difference.

Thanks again.
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Old 01-12-2010, 11:12 PM   #6
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Update


Still no success. I tried a new switch at each location - no change. It's definitely the wiring. And I know this doesn't make any sense, but I reiterate that 100% for sure, it was working prior to me changing the switches... and 100% for sure, the first thing I did at each box is put the wire on the old black screw to the new black screw. I am perplexed.

All of the wires at both boxes are black, so the color is no help.

Anyone have any other suggestions?
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Old 01-13-2010, 12:42 AM   #7
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There are 9 tries to get both three way switch working so if you manged to get one working then contracted on the other switch otherwise this what I do from time to time .,

Kill the power and verify it make sure it is dead then get the ohmmeter or toner and take one end and get wirenut and tie them together and go back to the oringal loctation and ring or ohm it out if you hear the toner go off or ohmmeter needle swing to near zero then save that pair that is your shuttle { travaller } the left over wire the third one is your common only if the shuttle ring it out so you may have to try to ring it out or ohm it out second time if first time do not work.

Merci,Marc
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