3-way switch half works


  #1  
Old 11-09-07, 01:32 PM
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3-way switch half works

I have two switches that control four recessed lights in my mud room. When Switch A is in the 'up' position, Switch B (and the lights) work fine - when Switch B is up, the lights are off - when Switch B is down, the lights are on. However, when Switch A is in the down position, the lights are off, and stay off no matter which way Switch B is switched.

I've taken both switches out. Both have three wires: White, Black & Red. Both are attached in the same way with the black wire attached to the Common screw. I even bought a new switch and replaced it to see if that was the problem - but the results were the same.

Any thoughts? If it matters Switch A is a dimmer switch and the dimming function does work.

Thanks,
Chris
 
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Old 11-09-07, 01:48 PM
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You haven't told us the ALL the wiring. We can't help you without knowing all the wiring. You obviously have it wired wrong. If you tell us ALL the wiring, we can sort it out.

However, I can tell you this. There are three wires to be connected to each switch. There are six ways to connect the three wires. Because there are two travelers, and because the travelers are interchangeable, there are only three truly unique ways to connect the wires to each switch. This means that there are 9 unique ways to wire the two switches. If you try them all, you will eventually get it right.
By trial and error you can get it right.

Or you can look at the wiring and figure it out. It's really very easy, especially if you make a drawing and understand how three way switching works.
 
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Old 11-09-07, 02:40 PM
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hey... he is right it is difficult to knwo exactly what is wrong with the switching without knowing all the wiring .. but not impossible.. as mentioned you understand that there are two traveller and one common for on switch.. if you say .. as you have that the travellers ( red and white) are connected to the correct screws then you have half the battle right there... providing that for some reason you did not use the travellers as power in the light you are good so the problem must be with the common... there are a few thing we need to know.. one.. how many wire are in your feed box( the bow that has the power wire in it) this should be the bow with the three wire romex and the two wire romex.. let us know whats in there ... then open the second switch .. tells us how many wires are in there.. third open the lights if possible .. tells use whats going on in there.. we should then be able to tell you how it is wired and where the problem is .. because there are really only three ways to wire three way switches

thanks for you time
 
  #4  
Old 11-09-07, 02:56 PM
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If you can open the fixture and tell us the wires there, we can tell you how it should be connected. One or both of the common wires is wrong.
 
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Old 11-09-07, 04:55 PM
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Thanks for everyone's quick replies.

So in each box there are just the three wires (white, red & black). Each switch has the black wire attached to the common screw. I unfortunately don't have access to the light fixtures. There are three of them - recessed in my kitchen ceiling. So if it's wiring in the ceiling that's wrong, it may be something I have to live with.

But it sounds like I may have to try every combination of Common wire attachments (for Switch A/Switch B): White/White, White/Black, White/Red, Black/White, Black/Red, Black/Black, Red/White, Red/Black, Red/Red.

Am I correct that the two traveler wires can be attached to either non-common screw? So I can at least not have to try all those combinations as well?

Thank you.
 
  #6  
Old 11-09-07, 05:15 PM
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You are correct about the travelers. If you have a voltage tester we can at least get one of the switches correct. If you can leave the three wires disconnected from the switches at both ends and turn the power on, test for a voltage to ground on one of the wires. That wire is the power feed and goes to the common screw.
It would be a pretty good guess that the same colour goes to the common at the other end, but it would be a guess and only take two more tries to get it correct.
 
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Old 11-09-07, 06:08 PM
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You can get at the wiring for the recessed lights. it is not easy, but the wiring is accessible, if you want to go there.

However, I would simply use a meter, find the hot (as joed suggested) and then guess at the other switch.
 
  #8  
Old 11-12-07, 07:40 PM
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I actually have the same issue. I've been able to determine the following.

Box 1: Has the power supply coming in.
There is a 14/3 wire going to box 2.
In Box 1:
The hot wire is connected to the common side of the switch.
The black wire from the traveler wire is also connected to the common side of the switch.
The red wire is connected to the opposite side of the switch
The neutral wire from the power supply and the traveler wire are tied together
the ground wires are tied together.

In Box 2
The Black travler wire is connected to the common side of the switch. The red traveler wire is connected to the opposide side of the switch. The black wire from the lights is tied to the common side of the switch. The neutral wire from the travel wire and lights are tied together. All ground wires are tied together.

What do I have to change to make both switches control the lights?

Thanks for any help you can offer.
 
  #9  
Old 11-12-07, 07:48 PM
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Your switches only one COMMON connection. If tell which wire is actually on the common connection we can help you.
The power feed black and the black to the light should be on the common screw's.
 
  #10  
Old 11-13-07, 04:24 AM
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wbecker,

The actual position of a terminal on a switch means nothing. Different switches from different manufacturers, or even from the same manufacturer, may have the terminals in different locations.

When discussing a three way switch, discuss common terminal (there is one of these), the traveler terminals (there are two of these) and the ground terminal.
 
 

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