3-way switch problems

Old 05-02-10, 07:18 AM
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3-way switch problems

Do 3-way switches have to be in any sort of "position" before replacing them? Here is my problem:

Replacing two 3 way light switches, pulled out the old ones, connected the new one and made sure the common to common wires were correct (black wire) and red and white wires were oriented the same on both switches.

So here is what's going on: I can turn on the lights with switch 1, I can turn them off with switch 2, but I can not turn them back on with switch 1, I have to turn them on with switch 2 and vice versa.

I can't remember how the switches were positioned before I cut the power off to make the switch, but I'm pretty sure the light were on.

I've tried every combo of wiring, tried switching switches, but when I plug the original switches back in, they work perfectly, even when I replace just one of the switches and leave the 1 old one on it does the same as described above.

Oh and here's another weird thing. So I put back the old switches, I turned both to the "off" (down) position, connect the new switches, both in the "off" position, when I flip the breaker back on, the lights come on, and to turn them off, I have to flip one of the switches to "on" and then no matter what combination of flipping I use to turn on the light with either switch, it's always in the down or off position.

Clear as mud?
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Old 05-02-10, 07:29 AM
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Are you sure you identified the common correctly on the new switch? It may not be in the same place as the old switch. The common will be the odd colored screw. Usually it is a darker color.
Old 05-02-10, 12:11 PM
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It is sometimes easier to understand if you just replace both 3-way switches with two new identical 3-way switches. Short answer is you have 2 wires reversed.
Old 05-02-10, 03:23 PM
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Three way switches do not have to be down to be off.
Old 05-02-10, 07:08 PM
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For one three way switch there is three tries to get it working correct however if you replace both three way switches then total of tries will be 9 { nine } tries but once you know which one is common and traveller then it will be pretty easy to pinpoint it.


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