Good old 4 way switch


Old 10-18-06, 02:26 PM
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Good old 4 way switch

ahh. The good old four way switch. Great for when you dont want to walk to another level to turn off the light at the end of the night, but a pain in the buttock if someone changed the switches and didnt pay attention..

The master switch has 2 black and 2 reds. One black has power and the other black goes to switch # 2. One red goes to switch #1 the other red to #2.

Switch one has a white wire that runs to switch #2. The black wire that goes to master and the red that goes to master.

switch #2 has the white that comes from or goes to, switch # 1, the red that comes from the master and the black in that box goes directly to the light.

I have used commonsense to the point I question my intelligence. I have also followed instructions from other sources online. If someone can figure this out, I will send you a gift certificate to your favorite resturant. I promise!
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Old 10-18-06, 02:43 PM
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You totally lost me on that description. Let's try it again
1. there is no master switch. You have two 3ways (three screws) and a four way(4 screws).
2.Tell us all the wires in the box except the grounds.
3.Tell us which wire is on the common screw of the three way. The screw will be black or marked common.
4.Tell us which wires are in the same cable when you say black and red etc.
Old 10-18-06, 02:53 PM
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I'm confused- the box you're calling the "Master" switch- you mean that's the only 4-way? Does power come into the 4-way box from the panel, or into switch #1? If power does enter the circuit in the "Master" box, and if switch 1 only has 3 wires total, than switch 1 cannot be a true 3-way switch, and can only be a 1-way on/off switch that will be pretty much useless. There are grounds in all boxes too, I hope?


The only way I can see this working is if you use the whire wire between 1 and M as a hot wire, which violates code. As you're a DIY and this won't be inspected, you can probably get away with it, but be aware it's not legal. Paint all the exposed parts of the "hot" white wire blue with a sharpie if you can to ID it.

If I understand you right, this should work:
Old 10-18-06, 03:05 PM
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here's wat it sounds like to me....

Here's the deal-e-o, It sounds like you have a backended three way system. don't worry you can do about seven different combos of three ways. one switch box only has a red, white, black and ground correct? If this is the case the following should also be true but give us what Joed asked for so we can be sure.

in the one box that has only the red, white, and black, put your white on your common screw (black or labeled common) and put the other two wires on the other two screws (doesn't really matter). In the box that has two reds and two blacks, Put reds and blacks (from the same cable) on the top side of the switch (maybe different on some models of four ways) and the other set on the bottom of the switch (making sure that reds are on the same side as each other and visa vis with the blacks) now on the other end of the three way system you should have a hot coming in from the panel tied into a white wire (from 14/3) and the red and black from that 14/3 cable should go to the brass screws on the three way switch. The switch leg (the wire going to the light should go onto the common screw on this switch.
If this sounds nothing like what you ave i apologize to have wasted your time. (It is legal to use a white wire as a current carrying conductor, so long as it is "phased" as such.)

Oh yeah just re-read your post. You may have a switch loop three way which means there is a joint made up in the box of the light that you are trying to control...this makes things a little more difficult so some more clarification would be good, thanx
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