tricky 3-way


Old 12-12-00, 06:23 AM
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I have a three-way switch connected to a halogen fixture. When I turn on the switch at the end of the ciruit the light comes on, then goes dark. No circuit breaker is tripped when this happens and the light can no longer be turned on and off using this switch, unless I turn the other switch for the fixturn on and off. I put a ciruit (neon) tester on the switch before turning it on and it was hot, but after turning on the switch it no longer was. Both switches appear to have the right wires going to the right terminals and are not loose. The only thing I noticed that didn't look right is that the ground wire in the affected switch is not connected to anything, it is just sitting inside the receptacle. The receptacle is plastic and does not have any type of screw or strap to connect the ground to. Any ideas?
Old 12-12-00, 11:08 AM
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The following are suggestions only for a 120 volt rated light fixture. Please confirm you have the right voltage to the light fixture that the fixture is rated.

Sounds like a loose connection to me. While there is no load on the circuit you have voltage and the connection is making contact. Then when you energize the fixture creating a load on that circuit the connection fails.

If I am right, I would look at replacing the switches by testing both side of the switch to see if you have voltage to the grounded leg if you have a grounded leg in that switch box. If you do not have a grounded leg in that box then run a wire from the grounded leg of the nearest receptacle across the floor extending the grounded leg to the switch areas. Test the common hot going to the light fixture at the switch and check for voltage. If you have voltaged then go to the light fixture and test from the hot to the grounded leg extension. Somewhere you should find a dead wire that should be hot in that switch system. If you don't then you may have a loose connection in the white. If so then connect that grounded leg extension to the white of the fixture and turn on the light. If it works then start back tracing to see where you lose your grounded leg in your circuit somewhere before it gets to the light fixture.

Before you do anything make sure this light fixture is a 120 volt rated fixture if not and this fixture is a 240 volt rated fixture then strongly reconsider you wiring design.

If your fixture is truly a 120 volt rated fixture, then your problem is most likely in a loose wire nut or a switch with a bad contact point.

Good Luck


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