Replacing 3 Way Switches - Electrical - DIY Chatroom Home Improvement Forum
Advertisement


Go Back   DIY Chatroom Home Improvement Forum > Home Improvement > Electrical

CLICK HERE AND JOIN OUR COMMUNITY TODAY...IT'S FREE!

Reply
 
Thread Tools
Display Modes
Old 05-10-2010, 10:20 PM   #1
Newbie
 
Join Date: May 2010
Posts: 3
Rewards Points: 10
Default

replacing 3 way switches


I have 2 three way switches I am replacing in one electrical box that each control a different light. My problem is trying to figure out where the wires hook up.
I have 4 yellow wires, one red and one orange and two whites nutted together in the box.
Any ideas on what to put where. I've tried all kinds of combinations- I can now get each light to turn on and off at is box I am working at, but each light will not work at the other switch location.
steve57 is offline   Reply With Quote
Sponsored Links
Advertisement
 
Old 05-11-2010, 07:39 AM   #2
Member
 
Join Date: Jul 2008
Location: NW of D.C.
Posts: 5,990
Rewards Points: 2,000
Default


Assuming the color coding is misleading,
for the 'brute force' way of figuring this out, one wire at a time, you'll need clip leads, a VOM, an incand. bulb, a known good ground connection somewhere and a known good 120v connection somewhere.

Last edited by Yoyizit; 05-11-2010 at 07:42 AM.
Yoyizit is offline   Reply With Quote
Sponsored Links
Advertisement
 
Old 05-11-2010, 07:50 AM   #3
Newbie
 
Join Date: May 2010
Posts: 3
Rewards Points: 10
Default

replacing 3 way switches


Thanks for the reply- I figured I'd have to do some major detective work.
I have not done this before- can you walk me through the steps I would need to do to get the correct wires hooked up ?

Thanks
steve57 is offline   Reply With Quote
Sponsored Links
Advertisement
 
Old 05-11-2010, 08:05 AM   #4
Just call me Andrew
 
Join Date: Mar 2009
Location: Albany, NY
Posts: 2,271
Rewards Points: 1,032
Default


Do you know if any of the wires is unswitched (constant hot)? You can figure this out with a non-contact voltage detector. (about $10 at HD/Lowes).

Spread all the wires out so they are not touching (but the ones that were nutted together before you started...leave them alone). Then turn the breaker on and use the meter to see if any of them are hot regardless of the positions of the other switches. Make sure nobody touches the exposed wiring when you are not near them!!!
__________________
Andrew

secutanudu is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 05-11-2010, 08:10 AM   #5
Licensed electrician
 
Join Date: Sep 2007
Location: Maryland
Posts: 12,408
Rewards Points: 3,660
Default


Assumption Alert:

I would start with the red and orange on the common terminals. You will also need to figure out the grouping of the yellow travelers.
__________________
Answers based on the National Electrical Code. Local amendments may apply. Check with your local building officials.
Jim Port is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 05-11-2010, 08:52 AM   #6
Member
 
Join Date: Jul 2008
Location: NW of D.C.
Posts: 5,990
Rewards Points: 2,000
Default


Quote:
Originally Posted by steve57 View Post
can you walk me through the steps I would need to do to get the correct wires hooked up ?

Thanks
It'll take me a while to write up this procedure. It's extremely tedious but, in return, you get certainty as to where each wire goes. In general, you make a guess as to where each wire goes and then test to confirm/disprove.

Of course, with just an ohmmeter and using an extension cord as a test lead, with power off and an assistant, you can open up the other two boxes and check continuity between all boxes. This will confirm most or all of the wire destinations to some level of certainty [depending on the switch positions, and assuming a wire has not been spliced and so has a different color at each end].

Also, if your neighbor's house is just like yours, you can copy what he has.

In any case, do not disconnect any more wires.

Last edited by Yoyizit; 05-11-2010 at 09:13 AM.
Yoyizit is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 05-11-2010, 10:07 AM   #7
Super Moderator
 
joed's Avatar
 
Join Date: Mar 2005
Location: Welland, Ontario
Posts: 18,824
Rewards Points: 23,990
Blog Entries: 11
Default


Assume the existing switches work. DON'T TOUCH ANY WIRES EXCEPT THE THREE THAT ARE ON THE SWITCH. Look at the old switch. One of the terminals should be black or a different colour from the rest. That is the common terminal. Look for the black on the new switch and connect the common wire to it. Ther other two wires don't matter. Change one switch at a time and verify operation before changing the second switch.

If you can't identify the common wire then it will only take three tries to find it since the other two wires don't matter to the operation of the switch.
joed is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 05-11-2010, 12:47 PM   #8
Newbie
 
Join Date: May 2010
Posts: 3
Rewards Points: 10
Default

replacing three way switches


Thanks for the info-- I do have the red and orange wires wired to the common points on the switch- but I am baffled as to how to place the four yellow wires. I know 2 need to go to each switch- but I have tried all kinds of combinations and can't get it right.
Any advice on how to proceed with these 4 wires ?
steve57 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 05-11-2010, 01:00 PM   #9
Member
 
Join Date: Jul 2008
Location: NW of D.C.
Posts: 5,990
Rewards Points: 2,000
Default


Quote:
Originally Posted by steve57 View Post
Any advice on how to proceed with these 4 wires ?
Switch off any breaker even remotely likely to power this setup.

With your double wide box labelled as #1 and the other two boxes labelled as #2 and #3 and the four yellow wires in box #1 labelled as A, B, C & D,
run your ohmmeter with its extension cord from a yellow wire in box #2 to each of the four unconnected yellow wire ends in box #1. But first put your meter on the 240vac scale and check for 'zero' voltage; you never know.

Repeat for box #3.

4 +3 +2 + 1 = 10 tests in all.

If you can't get 'zero' voltage turn off your main breaker and try again.
In principle an AC voltage should not affect an ohmmeter that uses DC current to test the resistance, but the real world is not quite so predictable.




I've never put my test procedure in writing because it's in my head and some of it may depend on instinct.

Since you might have this fixed by now without this procedure, I'll post it in chunks as the need arises. Here are the cases covered so far for an unidentified wire of indeterminate color coming out of a resi. box:

Distant Wire End [E] has on it. . .
120v w/respect to ground [E1] or
ground [E2] or
open [E3] or
other?

Wire Middle [M] has in it. . .
splice, good or bad, with different color on each side or not [M1], or
lamp [M2] or
switch [M3] or
other?

Any other real-life cases are certainly welcome.



Maybe this will turn lurkers into members.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1%25_ru...ternet_culture)
"
The 1% rule states that the number of people who create content on the internet represents approximately 1% (or less) of the people actually viewing that content (e.g., For every one person who posts on a forum, there are at least ninety-nine other people viewing that forum but not posting). The term was coined by authors and bloggers Ben McConnell and Jackie Huba[1] although there are earlier references to the same concept[2] that did not use this name.


The "90-9-1" version of this rule states that 1% of people create content, 9% edit or modify that content, and 90% view the content without contributing.
"

Last edited by Yoyizit; 05-11-2010 at 02:05 PM.
Yoyizit is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 05-11-2010, 02:23 PM   #10
Licensed electrician
 
Join Date: Sep 2007
Location: Maryland
Posts: 12,408
Rewards Points: 3,660
Default


There would only be 2 combinations using the yellow wires. Either you get it right or you would switch one wire and get it on the second try.

Did you check the other switch to see what colors the travelers were?
__________________
Answers based on the National Electrical Code. Local amendments may apply. Check with your local building officials.
Jim Port is offline   Reply With Quote
Sponsored Links
Advertisement
 
Reply


Thread Tools
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are Off


Similar Threads
Thread Thread Starter Forum Replies Last Post
Replacing switches turning into nightmare. RyanD Electrical 19 05-26-2009 06:19 PM
Replacing Switches sweaty Electrical 6 07-26-2008 10:40 AM
Need help replacing switches in four-way circuit magnolia Electrical 3 05-09-2008 09:40 PM
replacing old outlets and switches Nailpounder Electrical 7 04-28-2008 09:36 AM
replacing old lite switches yoeasy Electrical 5 12-04-2005 06:16 PM




Top of Page | View New Posts