Wiring a 3-way switch

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  #1  
Old 02-02-05, 09:47 PM
Sawdustguy
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Ok, here's what happened.

There are two switches in the kitchen that control the kitchen light.

I replaced both of them, wire for wire. They're the exact same kind of switch, just an updated version.

I held the switch next to each other and switched them one by one.

Here is the problem:

In the one box, there are only 3 wires. blue, and two yellows. The one yellow goes to the black screw and the other yellow goes to the gold screw "Same side" then the other yellow wire goes to the opposite side gold screw where there is only "1" screw.

The other switch has 4 wires. This box backs up to the hallway box which turns on the light in the hall way. This box "In the kitchen still" has two black and two yellow. There is one black wire that goes from the hall box to the kitchen box and attaches to the black screw/back side of the box. The other black wire, attaches to the actual screw. The one yellow wire goes on the one side "gold screw" along with the black screw. The other yellow wire goes onto the opposite side "gold screw" I did the same thing, changed them one by one, BUT, here's where the problem came in...

When I turned the power back on, and turned the switch off, only one of the lights on the illuminated switches was lit. The other was not. I would then go over to the other switch and turn that one off for that light "on the switch" to work. Now, the second problem. As I turned off the switch in the box that backs up to the hallway box, both the kitchen light and the hall light turned off.

I then thought I may have the yellows on the wrong gold screw, so I switched them. Then the hall light would work, but the kitchen light wouldn't work at all, BUT both illuminated lights on the switches worked.

I then put the defective "touchy" switch back on, so the power at least works properly. Do I have a defective switch? Or what happened?

When you have a screw on the side and a hole in the back of the switch that corrasponds with that screw, does it matter whether the wire goes into the back of the switch or to the actual screw? I put them in the back, just as the old one, but you see the problems I'm having. Please help.
 
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  #2  
Old 02-03-05, 08:30 AM
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Saw,

It sounds to me like you have a traveler mix up from what I can gather form your post.

Depending on how confident you are with " Electricity " I would suggest you remove the switches involved in this situation and re-trace the system.

Do you have a VOLT meter?

Anyway you need to find which switch the voltage is coming to and knowing which switches are in the system are a HUGE bonus....because you now know which is the line and which are travelers....

Now......just so I know I need you to tell me how many switches are involved....and the number of screws on EACH....

If you have 3 switches you should have (2) with 3 screws and (1) with 4 screws......if this is the case...let me know...if it is only 2 locations then you should have (2) with 3 screws and it gets even easier...

Let me know.....and ABOVE ALL.........MAKE SURE the electricity is turned OFF until which time you have the switches out of the BOX....and nothing touching anything metal within the box or the ground wire....

let me know and then I will talk you through testing it......
 
  #3  
Old 02-03-05, 08:30 AM
Sawdustguy
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Update

Ok,

Here's what I found out, the "Common" has a hole for the wire on the back of the new switch. Apparantly, I "Assumed" that the hole on the exact opposite side went with the Black screw, but it didn't. It's the hole on the back that is to the left of it and the hole I put the black wire in, should have been the yellow. So basically, I reversed the yellow with the back on the back of the switch.

Going back to her house later today to try it and see what happens.

Something that should be so simple, ends up being a chore.
 
  #4  
Old 02-03-05, 08:34 AM
Sawdustguy
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I just realized that I'm confusing the heck out of everyone because I'm talking about two different issues and one isn't even related to the GFCI. Ugh!! So sorry!!!!

The "Problem Issue" is from replacing a 2 3 way switches in the kitchen.

ATTN: MODERATOR, PLEASE TAKE THE LAST FEW POSTS I MADE BEFORE MR. NELSON AND MAKE A NEW POST ABOUT WIRING A 3 WAY SWITCH.
 
  #5  
Old 02-03-05, 08:34 AM
Sawdustguy
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GRRRR THE LAST FEW POSTS "AFTER" MR. NELSON. OMG AM I HAVING ONE OF THOSE DAYS.
 
  #6  
Old 02-03-05, 08:44 AM
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Yep Saw.........that would be a Traveler issue as the back hole matching the one for the screw will be directly behind that screw on the same side of the screw...lol..........thus if not done that way...Traveler Issue...
 
  #7  
Old 02-03-05, 08:54 AM
Sawdustguy
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Well, at least I'm not going back to her house pulling my hair out attempting to do something and end up getting electricuted!! LOL

I'm so embarrased

Something so simple, becomes something so hard. Grrr.

Thanks again.

I think I'll stick to cabinetmaking!
 
  #8  
Old 02-03-05, 09:02 AM
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there are 3 wires. blue and two yellows. The one yellow goes to ... and the other yellow goes ... then the other yellow wire goes ...
I guess you are having a bad day.

When changing 3-way switches, it is more important to pay attention to screw color than screw position.
 
  #9  
Old 02-03-05, 09:09 AM
Sawdustguy
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Yes John, I am.

I assumed that the hole in the back would be corrosponding with the exact opposite side screw, but apparently, I was wrong. We'll find out in a few hours. Then I'll take a big :Sigh: of relief.
 
  #10  
Old 02-03-05, 09:11 AM
Sawdustguy
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Another dumb question.

What type of tool should I buy to test what the :hot: wires or main wires are, so I know what wire is for what, when there are multipal wires in a box.
 
  #11  
Old 02-03-05, 09:53 AM
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Don't use those holes at all. Then you won't have to wonder about where they connect to. Use a wirenut to connect the two wires to a pigtail, and connect the other end of the pigtail to the screw.

Spend $2 on a neon circuit tester. If your house has no grounding wires, then also buy a $15 voltage "tick" tester.
 
  #12  
Old 02-05-05, 02:20 PM
Sawdustguy
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Well, after pulling a few more hairs out and gaining more gray, I finally got the switches to work.

Thank you ALL for the help you've provided.
 
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