Need help with 4-way switch

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Old 10-27-10, 07:29 PM
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Need help with 4-way switch

I've stared at these switches for quite a while today (2 3-way switches, and one 4-way switch). They all work, but don't quite work the way they are supposed to...If switch 1 is off, switch 2 is on and switch 3 is on, (lights are off at this point) then they will each toggle on and off seperately and each will turn the light on and off. If all 3 switches are in the off position (lights are on at this point) then switch 1 and 2 will not turn the light off. They haven't worked right since the electrician put them in. (he moved out of town shortly after wiring my house, so no calling him back in). I've taken some pics, and if anybody can see anything that I should try, please let me know...If you look closely at the pics, you will see that the white wires are covered with black tape. Here's a link to pics: http://tsa1.fatcow.com/imagaa/SWITCHES.JPG
 
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Old 10-27-10, 07:41 PM
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The first thing I will say is that position as far as OFF and ON mean nothing regarding a 3w or 4w switch.

You are going to need to figure out if the 4w is switched top/bottom or left/right. The travelers from each cable should land on the same color screws. If you feel comfortable temporarily removing the 4w and wire nutting the pairs straight thru we could see if the problem is with the 3w's or the 4w.
 
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Old 10-27-10, 08:06 PM
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Thanks so much for your reply. all of the screws on the 4 way switch are the same color of brass. I'm not too good in the electrical skill, but high on bravery. My interpretation of your reply is..... hook the red wires together, and hook the taped black wires together.... Is that correct?
 
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Old 10-27-10, 08:23 PM
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Ok...didn't wait for a reply on that one...just thought about it a little, and did according to my interpretation. No, the 3 way switches do not work correctly.
 
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Old 10-27-10, 08:34 PM
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If you bypassed the 4-way as suggested and the 3-way switches don't work, then the next step is to check the 3-ways. Each 3-way will have a pair of "travelers" and either a feed (120V) or switchleg (leading to light(s)). The two screws on the top of the switch (when positioned vertically) are for the travelers and the remaining screw is for the feed or switchleg (depending on which 3-way you are working on). Look deep in the box where the wires enter and make sure the two wires on the top of the switch are coming from the same sheath, then simply connect the third wire to the other screw. Do the same thing to the other 3-way and that should fix the problem. If so, reconnect the 4-way with one pair of travelers on the top and the other pair on the bottom.
 
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Old 10-27-10, 09:24 PM
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Thanks for helping me with this....It appears that my feed and leg are one in the same..Perhaps that's why they don't work?......Hope somebody out there can actually picture what I'm about to say here....This does not fit any of the wiring diagrams that I've looked over today.

When looking deep into those boxes, here's what I found in the 1st 3-way switch (#1 in pics) box. The switch is fed by 2 cables. One of them is a 3 wire, and the other is a 2 wire (not including grounds). From the 3 wire cable, the black wire is connected to other black wires, and not to the switch. The red and white(with black tape) wires are attached to the bottom 2 terminals. From the second cable, the black wire is connected to the 3rd (or black) terminal on the switch and the white wire is connected to other white wires (not connected to switch).
In the other 3-way box (#3 in pics), only one cable goes to the switch. The red and white (with black tape) are on the bottom 2 terminals, and the black is on the 3rd (or black screw) terminal.
 
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Old 10-27-10, 09:48 PM
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Post Deleted.


..........
 
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Old 10-27-10, 09:53 PM
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Hello Charlie 101

If you are comfortable using a voltmeter or a neon tester. Follow these easy steps (for 2 -3 way switches).

1) Turn the power OFF and physically remove both switches, and take off the wires from the switches only, leaving 6 exposed wires (3 in each box).

2) Turn the power ON and identify the HOT wire (it will be the only one of six). Measure between each wire and the metal boxes or GROUND WIRE until you find it. Then turn power back OFF.

3) The HOT wire found in step 2 is the COMMON, and goes on the DARKEST screw of the switch. The other wires can go on either of the two remaining screws. Wire this switch back up and put it back into the box.This switch (#1) is now correct and you can focus on the other box (#2).

4) Turn the power back ON and identify a HOT wire at switch box(#2).Then toggle the (#1) switch and identify another HOT wire at box (#2).The COMMON wire at this (#2) box is the wire that was NOT HOT .

5) Turn power OFF, and wire up the second switch. COMMON, wire goes on the DARKEST screw of the switch and wire up the two HOT wires to the two other screws.

Let us know how you made out with your wiring project.

Have A Nice Day
Linesman
 
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Old 10-27-10, 09:55 PM
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I'm not sure what a DPST switch is, but the 4-way doesn't have on/off printed on it...It says 4-way on one of its sides, and 26A? on the other side.
 
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Old 10-27-10, 09:59 PM
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Hi Linesman,
That sounds sensible to me.... It's getting a bit late for wiring here, but I'll search out that voltmeter in the morn...
 
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Old 10-28-10, 12:13 AM
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I'm not sure what a DPST switch is
Sorry Charlie101, my mistake. Moot point. I hadn't looked at the pictures when I wrote that. I deleted my post after I saw 4 way on the side of the switch.
 
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Old 10-28-10, 01:28 PM
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No problem at all ray2047...Thanks for trying.
 
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Old 10-28-10, 01:32 PM
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Here's where I am right now....I have a little GB tester with a light on it.... I have located a hot wire (the black wire in switch #3 in pics), but the light also dimly lights for the red wire in both boxes??? I dug out the old multi meter, the black wire is measuring somewhere between 110 and 125 volts, and the red wire is measuring somewhere between 40 and 60 volts....not sure what to do at this point.
 
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Old 10-28-10, 03:09 PM
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Place the black that reads closest to 120 volts on the COMMON terminal. The other two wires will be the travellers.

At the other end the Common will be the wire that does not read close to 120 volts at any time. The voltage should alternate between two wires when the first switch it thrown. The two wires with voltage sometimes are the other end of the travelers.

Test for proper operation from both ends.

After this we just need to get the 4w installed correctly.
 
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Old 10-28-10, 03:49 PM
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.When I got through the steps, it was wired exactly as it was when I took the pictures. Still not working... When I got to step 4 in the directions given by linesman, the two traveler wires each had 60 volts when the switch was in one position, but when turned to the other position only one of the traveler wires had voltage...That doesn't seem right. Would this mean a bad switch? or have something to do with that extra voltage hanging around in those other wires when I did step 2?...
 
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Old 10-28-10, 07:17 PM
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Hello Charlie101

The two traveler wires should have power on them, but only one traveler
wire
, when the switch is "up" and then the other traveler wire when the switch is "down"..
As outlined in step #4..It could be a bad switch not switching power from one traveler wire to the other.

Since you said it never worked from the begining
maybe the electrican who put in the switch(s) got a bad one....

In step #1 with all wires taken off of the 2 3 way switches there should only be
one wire that has 120 volts -- I am not sure where the 60 volts are comming from on the other 2 wires..
Maybe it is phatom voltage..

Next step I would buy 2 new 3 way switches..

Once we get the 3 way switches working we can work on the 4 way switch.

Hope this helps. Let us know how your project comes out

Have A Nice Day
Linesman
 
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Old 10-28-10, 07:43 PM
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Sounds like you have what is referred to as a "dead-end 3-way" configuration, at least that's what I've heard it called. Basically, the circuit is switched and fed from the same 3-way switch, as opposed to being fed at one end and switched at the other. This is the reason that the white wire has a piece of black tape (to distinguish it from its usual application--a neutral). Based on what you explained, it sounds like it is connected properly. I would either suspect that your travelers are not connected properly, or you have a bad switch. To reitirate, your travelers are the red and white, which belong on the top two screws of each switch (switch oriented vertically) Should be copper screws. Third (common) screw should be black and should have black wire connected.
 
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Old 10-28-10, 07:59 PM
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Yes Mossman,
That's exactly how it's hooked up...except the switches may be upside down...as the travelers are on the brass bottom screws and the common is on the top black screw. I'll have 2 new switches sometime tomorrow, and hopefully this will all come out good.
Thanks again..
 
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Old 10-28-10, 08:48 PM
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Charlie101

I think this is what Mossman, is talking about.
Your power wires might be comming in from the light, instead of the switch.
But either way Only one wire will have power out of the 6 wires connected
to the 2 -3 way switches... Let us know if the new switches work..
Then we can work on the 4 way switch...



Hope this helps. Let us know how your project comes out

Have A Nice Day
Linesman
 
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Old 10-28-10, 09:00 PM
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That also confused me a bit, as the hot wire was in the switch on the right in this pic, where I would think it would be the one labeled "power" on the left......but I DO understand now...lol

I thought I wrote a post earlier thanking you all for sticking with me on this, but I can't see it here, so, don't know exactly what happened to it...but thank you all....I see lights at the end of this tunnel....pun intended...
 
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Old 10-28-10, 10:06 PM
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Your switches are all Pass & Seymour brand switches.

These 3-ways should have the word "COMMON" molded into the front plastic for the terminal that is the truly the common (sometimes people remove the screws and don't put them back where they were). From P&S photos online, your wiring for the 3-ways is correct.

Your 4-way is from their "hard use" line.

With pen and paper, I could NOT come up with any combination of miswiring that would result in what you have detailed
thus far.

Looks like bad switches as mentioned.
 
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Old 10-28-10, 10:35 PM
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I found a great picture that made sense to me here: 4-Way Switch Installation - Circuit Style 1

I guess I didn't look at the writing molded into the plastic...as I only looked at them close up when the power was out and the lighting pretty poor...lol ...I never even thought to look at them while they were disconnected....but then, I never thought to bypass the 4-way switch in the 1st place...these common sense things escape me sometimes.......
 
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Old 10-28-10, 10:35 PM
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this looks like your existing layout...

 
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Old 10-29-10, 03:20 PM
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Yahoooooo!!!!!
I replaced the switch that I thought was bad (the one that gave the funny readings in step 4 of linesman's directions) with a new one, and the 3-ways worked! ....Then I just wired the 4-way the way it was originally wired, and all switches are working properly!
Thank you all for the help!
 
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Old 10-29-10, 04:53 PM
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Hello Charlie101

Glad that the new 3 way switch worked for you
and you got it all wired up and working right...

Have A Nice Day
Linesman
 
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