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Correcting Miswired 3 Way Switch

1756 Views 13 Replies 5 Participants Last post by  captquin
Just found this forum and looking forward to contributing!

Hoping someone can help give direction on a 3-way circuit I’m struggling with. It hasn’t worked correctly since we’ve lived here, so I believe it was wired incorrectly by the previous owner. I am changing one of them to a smart switch and would like to correct the issue while I’m at it. In short, one switch (“switch 1”) has to be in a specific position for the light to work. Switch 2 is the one I’m changing to a smart switch since that box has the natural wire bundle.

Here’s what we have from what I can tell so far:

Switch 1, Manual,
• Wires in box are White, Black, Red, and Ground
• The WHITE wire is hot at all times.
• I have wired this to the common/line terminal on the manual switch.
• Black & red are therefore the travelers. My understanding is that the order doesn’t matter.

• Switch must be in a certain position (“on”) in order for switch 2 to control the light
• If in the “off” the light obviously goes off, but switch 2 can not turn the light on

Switch 2, Smart Switch (TP Link, KASA 3 Way)
• 2 gang box. I have not removed other single-pole switch for inspection. It appears to have a RED wire on one of the terminals if that helps anything. It operates a separate light
• Wires on previous 3 way switch: Black single, 2 reds
• Other wires in box: Neutral wire bundle, black wire bundle
• I have wired the smart switch: black to the to the common (I believe this goes to the light), reds as travelers, white to neutral bundle.

So now the set up operates as it did before with switch 1 having to be in a specific position for switch to work. The smart switch receives power at all times as LED on front is lit up regardless of switch 1’s position.

I have not removed the light fixture or the other single pole switch. I’m wondering if something is jacked up with the red wires in the switch 2 box. There were two red wires connected the original switch 2 but only one to switch 1. Seems like the travelers should be the same. Also odd that there is a red on the single pole switch.

That’s a lot of words. Any ideas on what’s going on and how to wire so that it operates appropriately? I thought about moving the smart switch to Switch 1, but not sure that makes sense with the neutral bundle in the other box.

Thanks in advance
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If it were me I’d figure out the wiring first, then install the smart switch, to avoid smoking it. You can use a continuity tester to figure out if, for example, a red and black wire in one box are the other ends of the same red and black wires in the second box. Take a look at where the individual wires exit the back of the box. Any black/red/white wires that exit the box out the same hole will end up in the same box somewhere else.

You can see which are the two traveler wires and one common wire on a 3-way switch by the screw terminal colors.

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