3-way switch wired improperly with single throw switches

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  #1  
Old 10-12-06, 06:20 PM
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3-way switch wired improperly with single throw switches

I have a 1960s ranch house. The wiring is copper, but the previous owners decided to make things look nice by putting in leviton designer flip switches. I bougth the house and was annoyed that the 3 way switch feature wasn't working right. It appears that they installed single throw switches on both ends of a 3 way switch setup- connecting the red runner wire to both ends at the grounding screw(green)-essentially negating the nice 3 way wiring setup!!! So I need to buy some new designer 3-way switches. I just want to make sure I do the wiring safely and properly!!

One box has a 3 wire (red, white, black) and a 2 wire (black, white) entering the box. the 3-wire black is connected to the 2 wire white.

The other box has a 3 wires entering.

I looked in the attic and in the light box- it has one 2 wire power line entering, one 2 wire power line piggy-back leaving to some other power box, and a 3rd 2 wire which is running to the first box.

So I assume the 2 wire running to the first box isn't a power line per say but is the wire used to switch the light off and on?

I went to this site:
"http://www.rd.com/content/openContent.do?contentId=19315"

and I would assume I have the "fig. a power to light fixture" 3 way wiring setup. I figure I could easily reproduce that wiring diagram but I want to be safe and correct in my wiring.

I have an multimeter.

Can I just hook things up without risk if I do make an error since the circuit shoudln't be fully powered at the switch level (sounds too easy)- or should I do some verification of the wiring setup using my multimeter first? I honestly can't use it very well so I need some idea what to test and how to do it? What is the recommended way to do this? Thanks!!!
 
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  #2  
Old 10-12-06, 06:40 PM
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Location: Central New York State
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This is a trivial problem.

At the switch box with the single three wire cable connect the white wire to the common terminal of the switch. Connect the red and black wires to the traveler terminals of the switch.

At the other switch box connect the two wire black to the three wire white. Connect the two wire black to the common terminal of the switch. Connect the three wire red and black wires to the traveler terminals of the switch.

Connect all ground wires to the ground terminals and to the metal boxes.

The light should already be correct.
 
  #3  
Old 10-14-06, 07:50 AM
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thanks for the info!

I felt like it was going to be a reasonably easy fix but I just wanted some assurance I was doing things correctly- I wanted to be very methodical and careful dealing with any wiring!

Anyway, it worked beautifully. It took all of 30 minutes to unhook and wire up the new 3 way switches. Now we can turn on the dark hall from either end!!!
Thanks!!!
 
  #4  
Old 10-14-06, 08:19 AM
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Join Date: Oct 2005
Location: Milwaukee WI
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Originally Posted by wp746911
It took all of 30 minutes to unhook and wire up the new 3 way switches.
That's because you're working smart by doing your research up front.

A lot of problems in the forum here could be solved with nothing more than a pencil, paper and screwdriver. The meter is good insurance.

Good work.
 
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