3-Way Switch Help - Kinda Works


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Old 03-12-07, 10:38 AM
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3-Way Switch Help - Kinda Works

I'll try to keep this is short as possible, but also want to make sure I give enough information.

I am in the process of finishing my basement and hooked up a three way switch to control roughly 14 can lights (the cans are pigtailed together). The problem is that if I flip sw1, the lights come on. If I go to sw2 and flip it, the lights go off. Now, if I go back to sw1 and flip it, nothing. If I go back to sw2 and flip it, nothing. Finally, if I go back to sw1 and flip it, the lights on. So, this is how I wired it:

Power (14/2) to sw1; sw1 (14/3) to sw2; sw2 (14/2) to first light fixture - pigtail to other light fixtures (by the way, I found this diagram in a Black and Decker electrical book).

I have the first black wire(14/2) to the common of the light switch. I have the white connected to the white of the 14/3. The travelers (red & black 14/3) are hooked up respectively on both switches. On switch two, I have the black (from switch to light fixure...14/2) on the common. The white from the 14/3 and 14/2 are connected. I hope this is enough information.

Any ideas on what I'm doing wrong?

Thanks.
 
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Old 03-12-07, 10:47 AM
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What you are describing sounds correct. I think that you mis-identified the common and traveler terminals of the switches.

The common will be a single color by itself, usually black or dark, but not green. The traveler terminals will be the same color, usually silver. The ground will be green.

Check your wiring. How did you identify the terminals?
 
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Old 03-12-07, 11:01 AM
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Here is how I identfied the terminals (I bought the switches from Lowes by the way): Of course, the ground is green. There was a darker screw that was labeled on the back as common and for the travelers, I just made sure I had the wires on the same screws on both switches. Could it be possible that one (or both) of the switches are bad? I'll look at how I have it hooked up again when I get home (this will be the third time of done it), but I'm pretty sure I have it hooked up as I described).
 
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Old 03-12-07, 11:04 AM
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Yes it's possible that one of the switches is bad. You can use a meter or a two wire tester to verify proper operation.
 
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Old 03-12-07, 07:47 PM
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If your sure the switchs are good, and absolutley positive you wired it coreccecty then next up would be a physical break in the wire.
 
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Old 03-13-07, 07:18 AM
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Originally Posted by burkej62 View Post
If your sure the switchs are good, and absolutley positive you wired it coreccecty then next up would be a physical break in the wire.
Now that I think about it, the orginal length of 14/3 that I was using was not long enough....so I put up a junction box and spliced into another length. I bet one of the travelers came loose. I forgot that was up there and did not even think to check it. I triple checked the wiring from the switches last night and every looks good. It has to be that box or one of switches is bad. I'll check the box at lunch.

Thanks for all the feedback guys.
 
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Old 03-13-07, 07:32 AM
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I hope the box in your attic is where your problem lies.

You have illustrated one of the drawbacks of using junction boxes in place of wire that is the correct length. Every connection on a circuit is a potential failure point, whether it be a wire nut connection, a connection to a switch or receptacle, a connection to a light or appliance, or a panel connection.

Then there is the human factor. Memory is not 100 percent. Even if you placed the junction box and made the splice, you may forget that you did so, or forget the exact location of the box. Finally, when you sell the property, the next owner won't have any clue about any boxes you placed.
 
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Old 03-14-07, 12:38 PM
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Originally Posted by racraft View Post
I hope the box in your attic is where your problem lies.

You have illustrated one of the drawbacks of using junction boxes in place of wire that is the correct length. Every connection on a circuit is a potential failure point, whether it be a wire nut connection, a connection to a switch or receptacle, a connection to a light or appliance, or a panel connection.

Then there is the human factor. Memory is not 100 percent. Even if you placed the junction box and made the splice, you may forget that you did so, or forget the exact location of the box. Finally, when you sell the property, the next owner won't have any clue about any boxes you placed.
Problem solved. It was the connection in the box. Took the wire nut of the first travler, and the wire was broke. Re-stripped and hooked back up...everything works fine now.

Bob, I am finishing my basement, so everything is still exposed (have not hung drywall yet). I have a couple of boxes that are placed in areas that will will be accessible. I am also using the heck out of my digitial camera so I don't have to rely on memory when it comes to electrical, framing, or plumbing (of which I will pass on to the new owners years from now).

Thanks for all the help guys.
 
  #9  
Old 03-14-07, 02:41 PM
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Chances are that the reason the wire was broken is that you nicked the metal wire when stripping the insulation. Always strip the wire carefully. Then inspect it closely. If you nick the metal, cut it off and try again.
 
 

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