Wiring For 3-Way Switch - Electrical - DIY Chatroom Home Improvement Forum

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


Thread Tools Search this Thread
Display Modes
Old 01-08-2015, 11:54 AM   #1
Join Date: Jul 2008
Location: Vienna, VA
Posts: 343
Rewards Points: 326

Wiring for 3-Way Switch

I unsuccessfully replaced a 3-way switch. On the old switch (from 1976), the ground was connected and a white wire was backstabbed to a screw on the left side. On the right side, a red wire was backstabbed on the bottom and another red wire (not cut) was looped around the top screw. I duplicated this on the new 3-way, but the light did not go on.

How do I fix this?
sweaty is offline   Reply With Quote
Sponsored Links
Old 01-08-2015, 12:22 PM   #2
Join Date: Jul 2007
Posts: 2,045
Rewards Points: 1,910

What do you mean by red wire not cut?

Look at the old switch. One terminal will be labeled com or common. Two will be labeled traveler (if not they are the only two left anyway). Look at the new switch and find the same thing. Place the wire that was on the old switch "com" on the new switch "com". Place the travelers to the new switch traveler terminals (doesn't matter which one). Put the ground wire on the green terminal of the new switch.
jogr is offline   Reply With Quote
Sponsored Links
Old 01-08-2015, 12:35 PM   #3
Super Moderator
joed's Avatar
Join Date: Mar 2005
Location: Welland, Ontario
Posts: 20,203
Rewards Points: 31,718
Blog Entries: 11

Did the red wired that was looped go to another switch? If it did that is the common wire. It needs to go to the common screw of the new switch. It may not be in the same position as it was on the old switch.
Also use the screw connections instead of the back stabs. Back stabs are a common source of failure.
joed is online now   Reply With Quote
Sponsored Links
Old 01-08-2015, 12:40 PM   #4
Join Date: Dec 2012
Location: Michgan
Posts: 207
Rewards Points: 214

your issue most likely is that the terminals of your old switch meaning the location of the common and traveler terminals are not in the same orientation as the new switch. Place the traveler wires on the traveler terminals and the last wire on the common terminal. This last wire will either be constant power or the switched leg to the device.

Last edited by rosem637; 01-08-2015 at 12:42 PM.
rosem637 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 01-08-2015, 01:15 PM   #5
Knows Enough to be Danger
Join Date: Jul 2014
Posts: 678
Rewards Points: 1,295

Are you sure it's a 3-way switch?

Like jogr said, check to make sure you have the wires correct. If you have it wired wrong, usually you'd get light sometimes. Does it work if you flip the untouched switch at all?
NickTheGreat is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 01-08-2015, 01:33 PM   #6
Electrician/DIY fanatic
Vegas Sparky's Avatar
Join Date: Jan 2015
Location: LV,NV/Nowhere, UT
Posts: 303
Rewards Points: 606

A red is probably common. That goes on the black screw, and the travelers on the brass screws. You have to figure out which wire is the common with a voltmeter, or try different configurations until it works again. The common is typically your line power in, or switch leg out.

What else is connected to what in the switch box?
Vegas Sparky is offline   Reply With Quote
Sponsored Links

Thread Tools Search this Thread
Search this Thread:

Advanced Search
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
Troubleshoot a 4-way switch circuit: instructions for a 2-year-old pete0403 Electrical 22 09-28-2019 09:54 PM
Simple question regarding Wall Switch wiring kebrein Electrical 6 11-25-2011 07:54 PM
Wiring an Intermatic Wall Timer in a three way switch aitutaki98 Electrical 6 07-23-2011 11:43 AM
Unusual three way switch wiring help r1racer Electrical 9 11-11-2010 08:49 PM
Switch on K&T wiring - OK to pigtail? fdmillion Electrical 4 01-27-2010 09:15 AM

Top of Page | View New Posts