another goofy 3-way switch


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Old 11-14-07, 08:58 PM
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another goofy 3-way switch

I'm having difficulty straightening out another 3-way switch. The last time that I did this, I just started from scratch, running new wires and all was fine. This time, it's not convenient to do that as the problem is at the opposite end of the house from the circuit panel.

Here's what I have: first switch, orange, blue and yellow.
With the three wires disconnected from the switches, the orange is hot. Before I disconnected, I wrote down what was hooked where... The orange was being used as a traveller, as was the blue. The yellow went to the light, but was pigtailed there and returned onto the other switch.

The second switch was wired with the orange & blue travelers, and the yellow which as I mentioned was pigtailed at the light to the other switch.

The reason that I'm re-wiring in the first place is that I'm updating from non-grounded switches to grounded switches.

Thanks for any advice.

Brian
 
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Old 11-14-07, 09:15 PM
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A couple things need clearing up here. First is that the orange on the first switch can be either a hot or a traveller, but not both... if you disconnect all wires from both switches and the orange is hot, then it isn't a traveller. Secondly, to make sure I'm reading this right, the yellow wire is attached to both switches, and is pigtailed at the light? Oh, and I assume there's a neutral wire in addition to the orange/blue/yellow set...
 
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Old 11-14-07, 10:07 PM
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i will agree with other person expaining here but just stop here for a second.

which switch box is power soruce ?? at one of the switch box location or at the luminaire location ??


if the power incomming at the Luminaire location you can chose any one of the colors for " hot " aka common circuits.

for other two wires you can used for trallavers between the switch loactions.

but I Really advise you to check the luminaire location to verify the connections before you mess around more with the 3 way's

the reason why i say that because at the luminaire loaction you may have some connection mixed up that that location.

Merci, Marc
 
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Old 11-15-07, 04:15 AM
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If all you are doing is installing grounded switches, then put the wires on the same terminals.

Put the wire that was on the common terminal of the old switch to the common terminal of the new switch.

Put the wires on the travelers of the old switch to the travelers of the new switch.

Then connect the ground.

If it's too late, and you forgot what was on the common of the old switch then either guess or examine the wires and figure it out.

There are only three choices for each common terminal, meaning that there are only nine possible ways (that are unique) to connect the wires. By trial and error you can be done quickly.

Or use a meter and examine the bare wires (with no switches intact) and go from there.
 
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Old 11-15-07, 05:07 AM
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I understand that the hot wire cannot be a traveller. That's why I'm having trouble here. I rewired the grounded switches the same as the non grounded were, except that I added the solid copper from the green screw in the box to the green screw on the switch. Then, the light was always on regardless of either switch position. That's when I went back and checked all wires with nothing connected and found that the orange traveller was hot at both ends.
There is a neutral wire in adition to the yellow, blue and orange - it is in the boxes at both switch locations and connected to the one end of the luminere. The other end of the luminere is pigtailed to the yellow wire which runs to both switches. I wrote down what wire was where at both switch locations prior to disconnecting anything.
I've studied the three way switch scematics, but could not isolate any arrangement as being the set-up that I have in this home. It was built in 1966, with an addition added in 1971.
 
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Old 11-15-07, 06:06 AM
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If you made your changes based on location on the switch then you may have made a classic mistake. Different manufacturers put the terminals in different locations. You MUST pay attention to the terminal color to determine which wires are the travelers and which is the common.

Further, if you tested the wires with either switch connected (both must be completely disconnected to make a test) then your test is flawed. You cannot accurately determine which wire is hot if one switch is connected.

Try again.

Remember, there are only nine combinations.
 
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Old 11-15-07, 08:51 AM
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The fixture should be connected to a wire that only runs to one switch. You said it is connected to the Yellow wire which runs to both switches. This can't be correct.
Always hot power goes to the common screw of one switch. Switch hot that goes to the fixture black wire connects to the common screw on the other switch.
 
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Old 11-15-07, 02:43 PM
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If it is a Chicago 3-way (which it seems it may be), one of the travelers will be hot, the other will be the load. The commons connect to just each other.

In the given scenario, blue would be common, orange and yellow the travelers.
 
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Old 11-15-07, 03:31 PM
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Ah, classicsat, what you describe would seem to make sense here, although that term means something else to me.

A classic "Chicago 3 way" I always thought was slightly different: An arguably dangerous situation where in both switches one traveller was hot, the other neutral. The commons each went to opposite leads of the fixture. So up there you could have neutral-neutral, hot-hot (light off in both cases), or hot-neutral when it comes on. Not that this has anything to do with the OP's situation, just thought I'd throw it in.
 
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Old 11-15-07, 06:58 PM
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I did fix it today. I simply took out the hot wire on the second switch - at that point it ws shared with another switch for yet another 3-way set up - the garage light. I ran a new strand to the light, from the second switch, and basically wired it the way the book showed - two travelers each going only to the other switch, one hot on the first switch and one to the light on the final terminal of the second switch. It all works well now.
Brian
By the way, Racraft, I did test the wires with both switches completely disconnected. That's how I knew that there was a problem. Hot existed on both ends of the set-up.
Thanks again to all
 
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Old 11-24-07, 08:34 AM
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removed fixture so that my wife can apply a textured ceiling

Everything has been working fine, but the other day I removed the fixture so that my wife could work on the ceiling - she's applying a textured coating. I went to verify that there was no voltage on the wires after I turned the breaker back on, and I got an irregular voltage reading. I think it was 30 or 40 volts. I attributed it to phantom votage, as I was using a digital, so I got out the old analog, and it too picked up the low voltage (120 with after flipping either switch, but the lesser amount otherwise). What could cause this? A friend told me that it could be due to another switch, fixture or receptacle in that circuit (which includes a garage receptacle, garage 3-way light, and a dining room light that is not connected.) which has a white wire not connected, or improperly grounded. The light works fine, and the wires at the switch locations didn't have this odd, lower voltage reading.
Any ideas?
 
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Old 11-24-07, 09:05 PM
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I always get voltages off my three way switches on the wires. i use one of the little pocket things that light up and beep when there is a voltage. when i was learning my boss always told me that it was just some residual voltage due to the three way switches, and i never questioned it and don't really think about it anymore.

It's just one of those things you work with and never actually question after a while. however, now that I think about it, i'd like to look into what is really going on there :P

Maybe someone here has a proper explanation

but as long as your light is working properly, i wouldn't be too concerned about it. i've never bothered to take the time and test the actual voltage on the wires though, so your case may indeed be different than what i'm talking about.
 
 

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