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3 way switch problem

340 Views 5 Replies 4 Participants Last post by  Spg639
Hi all; new to he forum and need advise about 3 way switch wiring. Long story short was attempting to move a 3 way light fixture and when I removed the mud ring, I discovered that there were 18 wires crammed into a 4 X 4 work box. I am not a novice to electrical work and have done several 3 way switch installs. So the problem I am having is when I removed the switches and attempted to locate the hot wire & travelers, I put power to one of the wires in the switch box, and all 3 wires became hot. So I then attempted to switch the power to the other switch box and all 3 of the wires then became hot. Both switches were removed when I attempted to do this. So I found this awesome forum and discovered a thread from Aguerdan dated 11-19-19 and he had the same problem, which was a “California” 3 way and the travelers were hot. So I read the whole thread and he never said how he solved the problem. I assume I will have to pull new 12-3 wires ( no neutrals) in the switch box, and use the neutral wire for a traveler. I can get a neutral in the attic for the fixture. Any help would be great. Thx Shawn.
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If your old switches were single pole or only had two wires each you are right. You will need a 3 wire to both switch from the light. then you need to find which wire has the power.
There are no "3 way light fixtures", only the way in which they are switched. Tell us exactly what you were trying to accomplish. If you were just changing out a 3 way switch for another one, then it would have been done wire-for-wire.

I don't understand what you were doing energizing the switches and having all the wires hot. What else did you do to the wiring?
The power for the 3 way switch was supplied from the light fixture box to one switch then the 2 travelers from that switch box also passed through the light fixture box to the other switch box. I was attempting to separate the wires so I energized one wire going to one of the switch boxes to locate the hot & travelers and when I did that all 3 wires became hot going from the light fixture to the switch box without tying them together. I then attempted to try the other switch box and all 3 wires were hot in that one without tying the wires together. The house was built in the 50’s I think the insulation may be bad on the wires causing them to all become hot.
Are you using a non contact tester?
Get a real meter. Those thing can go off when power just near them.
Hello all; Well I ended up pulling out all of the old wiring & removed the “California “ 3 way, and rewired It the correct way and the light is working fine. Thanks.
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