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· Registered
6 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·
OK, I want to check on these ceiling light switches.
I have diagrams.

I bought this house 8 years ago, and I have not changed anything on this circuit. All the switches do actually work, I'm just not sure if they're done right. Also, I do not know what route the wiring goes around the house; I can only see what's connected in the electrical boxes. I is confoozed.

I have a kitchen ceiling light controlled by two 3-way switches.
On the same circuit, we have:
A second kitchen ceiling light controlled by one switch,
A laundry room ceiling lights controlled by one switch,
A porch ceiling light controlled by one switch,
A porch outlet (with weatherproof covering),
A bathroom ceiling light controlled by one switch,
A bathroom power outlet,
Two bedroom power outlets.

(The two bedroom outlets don't have power, but everything else does. They shorted out a while ago and I have not fixed that part of the circuit.)

The 2-gang box in the laundry room (which happens to be closest to the circuit breakers) holds the switch for the laundry room light and one of the 3-way switches for the main kitchen light (light A).

There are 6 electrical cables in this box, as per the diagram.

The 2-gang box in the kitchen holds the other 3-way switch for the main kitchen light (light A). There's nothing in the other side of this 2-gang box; they just installed a bigger box than they used.

There are 3 electrical cables in this box, as per the diagram.

Another 1-gang box in the kitchen holds the switch for the second kitchen light (light B). It's on a wall that is between the other two switches, but that doesn't itself tell me how the cables are routed.

There are also 3 electrical cables in this box, as per the diagram. This supports my thinking that this switch and its light (B) are in the middle of this line, but it operates independently of light A, so it must be on a different branch. (right?)

My first question is, of course: WTF is up with those wires (in diagrams of box 1 and 2) that aren't connected to any fixtures or nuts? This seems inadvisable.

Second question: In the double-gang box... I guess cable 2 goes to the ceiling light A, and cable 3 goes to the laundry room light...? Even though they are coming into the box from below? Because those are the only cables that have a switch between them and everything else...


Thanks for any comments. :D


· Super Moderator
24,955 Posts
Next time you make a drawing you can leave the grounds out.
box one what I see.
4,5,6 are power in and power out to other parts of the circuit.
3 cable to ceiling light although I can't figure how works without the neutral connected.
2 traveller wires to other 3 way. Other end seems to be #1 in other box.
1 hot and neutral to other three way. Other end seems to be #2 in other box where hot is not needed and is capped.

1,3 power in and power out to other boxes.
2 to ceiling light B.

Bathroom receptacles should not be on this circuit. They should be GFCI on a separate circuit. Could be with receptacles in another bathroom.

· Registered
8,194 Posts
In the first 2 photos, cables 1 and 2 are being used "as a virtual 4-wire+gnd cable" because the builder was too cheap to go get /4 cable as required. The 4 wires are always-hot, neutral, and 2 travelers. That is not legal as far as I can tell, but I'm not entirely sure.

It's definitely a Code violation if thsoe are metal junction boxes; see 300.3(B) for the authorized "fix" to the problem.

The always-hot I mentioned above is the black in cable 2. As is normal for 3-way switches, it goes to nothing and is not used. Assure that it is capped off. I suspect the person brought that out here to be able to support future 3-way smart switches, or something like that. I'm not concerned with that; it's nice to have it, as it means you could take power from here onward to something else. Note that since this wire is not used, the Code-dodgy "using 2 cables instead of a /3 cable" was utterly pointless.

In cable 1 (the 3-way travelers) the white wire **must** be marked with tape, shrink tube or paint to indicate it is not a neutral wire. My own very strong preference is to mark both travelers with yellow tape, because a pair of yellows is quite distinctive and not likely to be mistaken for anything else.

In photo 3, cables 1 and 3 are supply and onward power; in both cases the black is always-hot. The same is true of cables 4, 5, and 6 in photo 1.

· Registered
6 Posts
Discussion Starter · #4 ·

Thank you both. This sounds like it fits in with what I've started to understand about wiring.

Now it makes some degree of sense that they used a double-gang box without actually needing one, since they left an available hot wire to supply a second switch and light or whatever in the empty side of the box. Except they violated code when wiring it up... IDK, is it possible they could have wired it back before this safety provision was in the code? It should be fixed now, though; I'll look in the NEC.

Meanwhile, at least I put a wire nut on the unconnected hot! OMG, I didn't even know it was uncapped until I decided to look and draw the diagrams. o_O Also I will mark the traveller white ends with tape and a written lablel.

joed mentioned that the GFCI outlet in the bathroom should be on a separate circuit from the ceiling lamps. Also I just read someone elsewhere mention that the bathroom outlet circuit specifically needs to NOT serve outlets in other rooms. Point noted; I'll arrange that. And I'll make sure the breaker, wiring, and GFCI outlet are all rated for the same amperage.

While I'm on that thought; should this 15 amp ceiling light circuit also NOT serve the two bedroom outlets in the first place? IDK maybe those outlets are rated for 20 amp and that's why they shorted out like a month after I moved in! I never looked; they're behind the bed and not where I needed to plug things. :p

I have no idea how long ago all this stuff was wired, except that it's newer than the disconnected knob wiring that is still lurking in the corner of the basement.
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