Removing 1 switch in a 4 way circuit

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  #1  
Old 09-28-05, 07:44 PM
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Removing 1 switch in a 4 way circuit

I have a ceiling fan/light inside the front entrance, a switch at the front door, a switch at the top of the landing, and a switch for it at the basement entrance, 3 switches altogether which I believe you call a 4 way circuit. Basically I just want to take the basement switch out of the circuit so I can use it to control some flourecent basement lighting I'm going to install, it will be on a circuit of it's own with it's own breaker, and obviously replaced with a standard switch, I just want to use the current box and not have to install a new one.
 
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Old 09-28-05, 07:47 PM
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Yes, this is possible if the box is big enough to handle all the wires you will end up with in there. The first thing to do is to shut off the breaker, gently pull out the switch without disconnecting any wiring, and describe everything in the box: all the cables, all the wires in each cable, all the connections.
 
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Old 09-29-05, 03:45 PM
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Sorry it took so long to post back, didn't have time to open it up last night. Inside the box there are two 3 conductor cables. The grounds are tied together, the neutrals (white) are tied together, the hots (black) each go to a different terminal on the switch, one red wire is on a 3rd switch terminal, and the other red is capped off.
 
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Old 09-29-05, 04:09 PM
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It's odd that there is an extra red wire in the box, but not a big deal. You have found one of the three way switches. This means that the switch is electrically at one end (or the other end) of the three switches.

Remove the switch. Cap the red wire that was connected to the switch. Connect the two black wires together with a wire nut.
 
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Old 09-29-05, 06:48 PM
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Easy enough, thanks for the help
 
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Old 09-29-05, 09:12 PM
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Bob's instructions are probably correct, but before you remove the old switch, look carefully at the screws. Not counting the green grounding screw, one of the other screws will be a different color than the other two (usually black). As long as one of the black wires is connected to that screw, then Bob's advice is correct.
 
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Old 09-30-05, 10:53 AM
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And since there are still connections in this box you can not cover it over with drywall, panelling or built in shelving etc. You must leave it accessible with a blank cover. Why not just leave the switch alone and not use it?
 
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Old 09-30-05, 12:20 PM
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He's going to use the box for an independent switch. He said that he didn't want to install a new box, so we respected this wish. However, in my opinion, installing a new box, and leaving the old one as is, is by far the preferable solution--by really far. Doing the project the way he laid it out is goofy, and goofy is almost always bad. People do goofy things because they think the right way is too much work, or because they're not quite sure how to do it the right way. Neither of these are very good reasons.
 
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Old 09-30-05, 04:56 PM
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Curious as to why it's goofy? The switch gets zero use as it and the other 2 switches have the plastic switch locks on them because the fan/light has a remote control which is used 100% of the time. I was just going to make use of the current box for my new basement lighting circuit because the current switch doesn't need to be there, I thought it made sense, Not because I thought it was too much work.
 
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Old 09-30-05, 05:29 PM
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When houses are designed, switches are put in place for convenience or because they are required. For example, switches are required at the top and bottom of stairs that run between floors (for safety). If you have three switches to control a light, they're there for a reason.

You will eventually sell the house. maybe it won't be you, but it may be your estate (your heirs). Someone may want to remove that fan and go back to a manual light. They may want that switch to work.

If this were my house, I would either make that box one gang larger and add a new switch, or simply add the new switch near that switch or at some other convenient location.
 
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Old 09-30-05, 07:42 PM
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Then that's what I'll do. I have complete access to the other side of the wall so it'll be an easy job, thanks for the advise
 
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Old 09-30-05, 08:00 PM
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Except in very high-end homes, builders typically don't give you anything that isn't required by the electrical code. So as Bob says, it's likely there is a code-mandated reason for that switch, and no sense creating a code violation.

The other reason I say that it's goofy is that anyone who comes along later would certainly have a very tough time figuring out what he's looking at when he opens the box.
 
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