Yet another 3-way lighting question


Old 03-14-06, 07:51 PM
Inthebasement's Avatar
Thread Starter
Join Date: Oct 2005
Location: Newmarket, Ont
Posts: 18
Yet another 3-way lighting question

I have used the following link as reference for my work (hopefully the link works)

I have hooked up all of my wires as per the diagram and have the following question and perhaps this is how things should work and if so i may need to alter my method for my 3 way switch.

When i turn on the lights using switch 1 on the diagram all lights turn on, when i then go to switch 2 to turn off the lights that switch will work as well (turning the lights on and off)

if i use switch 1 to turn the lights on (top of the stairs) and then go to switch 2 to turn off the lights (works perfect) but then if i run upstairs and flip switch 1 again it will not turn the lights back on.

I hope i am being clear on this, perhaps this is how it should work with the referenced diagram. But what i am really looking for is to use both switches to turn the lights off and on regardless of what the other switch is doing.
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Old 03-14-06, 08:10 PM
bolide's Avatar
Join Date: Jan 2006
Location: PA
Posts: 1,909
The diagram is correct.

Barring a mechanical problem with a switch, my guess is that, you did not follow it.
Most likely, you have the two black wires switched at the first switch and perhaps the second switch also.

How did you identify the common screws?

Check your wiring against the diagram.
If you don't find your mistake, tell us exactly how you wired each switch.

Posting photos of each is usually the best way.
Old 03-14-06, 08:16 PM
Join Date: Jan 2006
Posts: 131
properly wired 3 ways work the way you are looking for. both switches will turn both lights on or off regardless of the position of either switch. did you double check the wiring. you can also do a quick continutiy check on both switches with no wires connected to them. it may be a faulty 3 way. it sounds as if switch 1 is acting as a single pole switch b/c of wrong wiring or it is a bad 3 way.
Old 03-14-06, 08:18 PM
Join Date: Sep 2000
Location: United States
Posts: 18,497
Primary causes for this problem, in decreasing order of likelihood:
  1. You did not correctly identify the "common" terminal on one or both switches. I hope you didn't just assume that the "common" terminal was the one in the upper right as shown on the diagram. Different manufacturers put the common in different places. For most, the common is the black colored screw.
  2. One of your traveler wires is not well connected at one end of the other, or is (much more rare) broken in between.
  3. One of your switches is defective.
  4. You're not pushing the switch lever fully up or fully down on one of the switches.
Old 03-21-06, 01:15 PM
Inthebasement's Avatar
Thread Starter
Join Date: Oct 2005
Location: Newmarket, Ont
Posts: 18
just an update on this you were right with option #1, i made that assumption, and really it is not something i should have done with the electrical. thanks for the help

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