35 volts at light when 3 way switch is off


Old 01-03-11, 02:41 PM
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35 volts at light when 3 way switch is off

I have a recepticle in the ceiling that was wired with 2 hots (one black one red) 1 neutral and a ground. It was wired this way in case we wanted to install a ceiling fan down the road. As of now there is only a ceiling light up there. When I test the black wire which is connected to a standard single pole switch the voltage is 120 and when the switch is off it is approx 5 volts. (I am assuming the 5 volts is just multimeter error)

The red wire is connected to two way switches and reads 120 when on but when I turn the switch off it reads 35 volts? When I turn off the breaker they both read 0.

The voltmeter is a digital one as I heard these can provide problems with readings. Just not sure why the black would read 5 and the red 35 when off??

I connected the light to the 3 way switches that show 35 when off and the light works fine. Any safetly issues here with the 35 volts showing up? Is this caused by the traveler wires between switches? Is this normal?

Thanks for the help.
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Old 01-03-11, 03:04 PM
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This is probably a phantom voltage reading from the digital meter. Try to repeat the test with a switched-on lamp/trouble light plugged into the receptacle. The lamp filament in parallel with the meter will eliminate the phantom reading.
Old 01-05-11, 06:41 AM
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Ben suggestion is a good one
...sometimes 3 way switches will "bleed" a little voltage from the live traveler, especially if they are old switches. The old Despard style switches are somewhat famous for that. If Bens solution does not fix you up and it is a concern for you...buy a good commercial quality switch, like a Hubble switch, from a Electrical supply house ( you will not find them at Home Depot) and the problem should clear up.

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