3 Way switch screw-up

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  #1  
Old 08-17-02, 06:00 PM
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PsyGrad
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3 Way switch screw-up

In my garage there is a 3 way switch, one at the entry door, and one at the exit door, all of which controls a light in the center of the room. The switch box at the entry door is just a regular 3-way switch. The switch box at the exit door, in my opinion was a mess. It had 4 - 3 wire (ground, hot, and neutral) insulated wires coming in to it, a 5th - 4 wire (switch, ground, hot, and neutral) coming in to it. This was a double gang box with two switches, one was the second half of the three way switch, and the other switch just operated a light outisde the garage. Also off that there was an outlet connected to it. I thought this to be a dangerous situation which I wanted to rectify. SO, what I did is I took the whole thing apart, I determined what was the insulated 4 wire for the 3-way switch and connected all black to black, white to white, and ground to ground, stuffed that in to a box, then ran a 4 wire leg to a double gang switch box one of which operates the three way switch (of which I bought a new 3-way switch, and another for the outlet ( I left the outside light hot all the time because it's on a dusk/dawn motion sensor) Now here's the problem, I can't get the 3-way to work correctly. It will switch on and off from certain positions, like if I have the switch on at the entry door I can switch it off from the exit door, but if I have it off from the entry door, I can't do anything from the exit door. I connected the black to where the switch said to (at the bottom), and the switch wire at the top. If I connect the white it will trip the breaker. If I don't it works as stated before. If I reverse the switch and the hot, it still works as stated before, and if I connect the white it does nothing. What did I do wrong, and how can I fix this screw up?
 
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  #2  
Old 08-17-02, 07:58 PM
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Wgoodrich
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Try connecting the black wire to the odd colored screw. The other two wires can interchange with each other on that switch.

Let us know if that helps you. I believe you have the common screw [wire to the odd colored screw of the swich] connected to the wrong wire of the three wires connecting to that switch.

Good Luck

Wg
 
  #3  
Old 08-17-02, 08:21 PM
J
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I think your conclusion that this was a dangerous situation was erroneous. Sometimes complicated wiring is complicated because it needs to be in order to work. That doesn't necessarily make it dangerous. If you made an accurate diagram of how it was before, you may want to consider just putting it back the way it was.
 
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Old 08-17-02, 08:28 PM
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PsyGrad
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I wish I had made a diagram...hindsight is always 20/20. Anyway, the one thing that I have not tried is making the common wire to the odd colored screw...maybe that will work.
 
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Old 08-17-02, 09:04 PM
J
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Whoa. Wg did not suggest connecting the common wire to the odd-colored screw. I'm not quite sure what you mean by "common wire", but it would probably be wrong to connect it to the switch.
 
  #6  
Old 08-18-02, 07:38 AM
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Wgoodrich
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The common wire in this case it the one hot wire that must be in common contact with the other two hot wires.

A COMMON WIRE DOES NOT NECESSARILY MEAN A WHITE WIRE OR A GROUNDED WIRE.

Most often the term common wire is referring to the first sentence discribed.

The common wire will be the wire that provides hot power to the switch system or is the hot switch leg wire going to the light.

The other two wires connecting to the switch are called travelers.

YOu need to consider the alarm John is portraying. You are asking for a major accident in the works that can either hurt you or somebody else or burn down your house. DO NOT GUESS. If you don't know call an electrician. You are working with too dangerous a product to just be connecting any wire to any wire in an experiment.

Be Careful

Wg
 
  #7  
Old 08-18-02, 10:12 AM
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PsyGrad
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Thank you both for the advice! However, at this point there is nothing hooked up to those wires, except the outlet. That, I don't think will burn down the house, especially since the breaker will trip preventing just that. I may have to go back and re-examine the whole thing, take it apart again and start from scratch.
 
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