Help with wiring a 3-way light switch

Old 02-26-03, 12:44 PM
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Help with wiring a 3-way light switch

I am changing the current 3 way switches which are these push button switches that I can't stand to traditional light switches. I'll keep this as simple as possible (so I can at lest follow). I know the red wire goes on the side of the switch with one screw for each light switch. But how do I know which black wire goes to which screw on the other side of the switch. Is there any way to tell?
Old 02-26-03, 01:27 PM
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Your 3-way switch will have 3 screw terminals and if you look closely, one of them will be a different color than the other two (usually black). That is the screw where your "point" wire goes. What is a point wire you ask? It is the wire that either is the "hot" wire or it's the wire that connects to the black wire at your fixture. Unless there is a single 3-wire cable with all 3 conductors connecting to the switch, you can differentiate the point wire from the "travelers" as follows: The (2) travelers will be coming out of the 3-wire cable (plus ground) and the point wire will normally be a black wire coming out of a 2-wire cable (plus ground). The same two traveler wires should be hooked up the same on the other 3-way switch. As long as you get the right wires on the point screws, it doesn't matter which of the other screws the travelers go on. If you have a single 3-wire cable and are unsure which wire goes to the point screw, start at the other switch. Chances are pretty good that the black will go on the point and the red and white will be travelers. Sorry this was so long, but if you still have trouble, keep switching them around and you'll get it eventually. There are only so many combinations. Or post back and give more information about what you have in each switch box.
Old 02-26-03, 01:30 PM
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Thanks for the help

That's true with two black wires and one red there can't be that many combinations. I am sure I will get it, I just didn't want to burn the hosue down. That'll be my next project.
Old 02-26-03, 01:41 PM
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Here is a site, click on 3 ways for pics.
I had someone stop the other day wondering about 3 ways,,, I went to this site and asked which option he wanted,, then hit print and send him on the way,,, really worked slick.
Old 02-26-03, 04:22 PM
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Replace one switch at a time and get it working before you move on to the next switch. That way you know the problem is in the switch you are working on. There are only 3 way you can hook up the one switch. One of them has to be correct. The common wire is the only one that is really important. There are only 3 wire to the switch so after 3 tries you should have the correct wire on the common. The traveller can be switched around and the switch will still work properly. You can 't be sure of anything acording to the colors.
Old 02-27-03, 06:09 AM
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Thanks to everyone!

I want to thank everyone for all of the posts. I got it fixed last night. Once I followed a few diagrams and suggestions it was easier than I thought.

I guess anything new is going to seem a little overwhelming at first.

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