traveler wire

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Old 10-12-08, 09:06 AM
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traveler wire

I am attempting to replace 3 switches that are all feed from one supply wire. This wire is 3 wire? Black, white ande RED. The red wire is connected(secured) to the metal box that holds the switches. The person who wired it before me apparently had it wired wrong because 2 switches controlled the same lights and each other.
When I test it I get a 120 reading when I put the contact's on the black and red only..
Does this sound right?
 
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Old 10-12-08, 09:13 AM
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When your talking about a red wire, does it have a red coating? (like the black wire only colored red) or does it have no coating? Is it more of a copper red color?
 
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Old 10-12-08, 09:18 AM
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Sorry it has red plastic coating.
 
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Old 10-12-08, 10:43 AM
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That is odd. It's like they used the red wire as a ground wire. That is the only reason that it would be attached to the metal box. That is why your getting 120v from the black and the red wire. This is wrong. If there is a bare copper wire that should be your ground. Is this wired in romex? You may have to do some more investigating to find how this circuit was wired which may include (but not limited to) your service panel.

What are you trying to accomplish? Just changing the switches?
 
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Old 10-12-08, 10:53 AM
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the red wire runs down the wall all by itself. I thought it was witha black and white wire. The red coated wire is stripped inside the box and wrapped around a screw!!
 
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Old 10-12-08, 11:11 AM
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Turn off your main breaker and pull off the breaker panel cover. Where does the red wire connect?

Warning! There are still live parts in the breaker box with the main breaker off.
 
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Old 10-12-08, 11:24 AM
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no romex.
Shouldn't I get 120 on b&W also? I don't.
No 3 wire in service panel. Yes I WAS trying to change switches and fix the problem that 2 switches in the box ( total 3 switches) controlled the same things. The only other 3 wire is in the dining room that has a ceiling light on a switch BUT it is not a 3 way switch. the red and white supply power to the light( w/ blacks tied together. The red and black are connected to the dimmer. The power to the switches that I am having problems with also get their supply from this wire. When I disconnect the red and white wires and leave black connected to the supply I still get 120 at the switches on the red and black!! 50 yr old house- not K&T it's the sticky wire that doesn't have ground
 
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Old 10-12-08, 01:24 PM
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For best advice, please enter your city in the "location" field of your profile.
 
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Old 10-12-08, 04:45 PM
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this house is located in Drexel Hill Pa.
The red wire does not go to the panel box!
 
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Old 10-12-08, 05:13 PM
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It's hard to tell you how to change the wiring on something that is currently wired completely insanely. This means that we can assume nothing.

If it worked before and if you connect the new switches exactly as the old ones were connected, then it cannot fail to work after the replacement. And it will be as safe as it was before, although that might not be safe (see "insanely" in previous paragraph).

I recommend you get an electrically-experienced person in to look at this. And that's probably not your brother in law or father. You need a person with a lot of electrical knowledge, probably a professional.
 
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Old 10-12-08, 06:51 PM
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Yes thank you. I decided today that I would call a Lic elec that has done work for me before.Of course he will tell me I should have called him first and he's right.

thanx again everyone
 
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Old 10-12-08, 08:53 PM
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It's always fun to ask questions. You don't have to tell him that you posted here. Your secret is save with us!
 
 

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