Replacing old three way? switch

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  #1  
Old 05-09-07, 03:03 PM
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Replacing old three way? switch

please help, I'm preparing to sell an old house and thought new receptacles and switches would go better with the new paint. Everything was brown before. All went well until I came to the main stairs. One light with switches at the top and bottom of the stairs. Aha two three way switches or so I thought. I found that the switch on the bottom was similar to a three way - a common and two travelers. this was the easy part. When I came to the top switch the devise was different. Much smaller and has a screw on top and two screws close together on the bottom. I wired them as before and the result is the switch on the bottom only works when the switch on the top has turned the lights on. I have reversed the bottom two lines with the same results. How do I make this work without pulling out all the wiring since the guy before has left very little wiggle room.
 
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Old 05-09-07, 03:21 PM
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You can't go by the position of the screws with 3-way switches. Go by the color. The common lands on the black screw, usually. The position will be different with different brands.

Reversing the travelers will not affect the operation of a 3-way system, though there is some benefit to organizing them so that when all switches are down, the light is off.
 
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Old 05-09-07, 03:50 PM
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Just to carry Mac's post further. "common" he refers to is the "line" on one switch and the "load" on the other switch. The travellers don't care. "Line" is the hot wire from the source, and the "load" is the black energized wire to the light. Line and load go to the black screws.
 
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Old 05-09-07, 03:59 PM
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Replacing old three way? switch

Hi, I was so desparate I read other threads and found out that I could do trial and error. I assumed that the top box was correct and got the correct setup on the second try!
 
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Old 05-09-07, 05:37 PM
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Roger that. Glad it worked out.
 
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