three way lighting


Old 09-02-00, 10:36 AM
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I have three lights running off of two switches in my hallway. When I turn on the swithch up on the 2nd floor only ttwo of the lights come on. When I turn it off on the main floor the light that didn't come on comes on. But I have to shut it off the same way that I turned it on. I can't turn it off from the 2nd floor. And when it does come on the flow of electricity is very weak and the light is barely throwing light. I am remodeling a 1904 old victorian and this one is confusing.
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Old 09-02-00, 12:38 PM
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With the info available I can only give a calculated guess. Past experience tells me that most likely someone changed the three way swithes to new ones at one time or other.

If this was done, I suspect that they miss read the color coding. Most likely in the era of the wiring of your structure their used to be push button style switches. Now most likely their is quiet toggle style switches.

The colors of the old style wiring over time discolored and was not well identified. I suspect that the travelers and the commons were switched around on the terminals when the switches were replaced.

In the old style wiring I think that you will find Hot and two travelers in the first switch and Grounded and two travelers in the second switch.

Usually you can identify the proper commons that should go to the black or copper screws of the switch in each switch box by using a tester and a known remote grounding source like a water pipe. Put your test lead on the remote grounding source and the other test lead touch each of the three wires hanging out designed to go to the screws on the switch but not connected during the test. Find the one that registers 110 volts and remember to connect to the common screw [black or copper] but don't do it yet. Just let them float free. Then go to the next switch and try and locate the one that shows a strong continuity to the remote grounding source with a continuity tester. A lot of times you can find the commons in each switch by finding the ones that are pig tailed off from a junction of several wires. The two that does not come from a junction and most likely are found to be coming from the same cable are most likely the travelers.

Right now the way you are wired the one fixture that is not working is providing a ground path for the other two because your travelers and your commons have been mixed up in your switch boxes.

Just and experienced guess.

Good Luck


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