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Need help with a 3 way switch please! Replacing ceiling fan with chandelier

Need help with a 3 way switch please! Replacing ceiling fan with chandelier

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  #1  
Old 04-10-11, 05:08 PM
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Post Need help with a 3 way switch please! Replacing ceiling fan with chandelier

This is driving me insane!

Ok - here's the situation. There was a ceiling fan in the kitchen. There is a double gang switch by the back door. The light switch on the left works an outside light. The switch on the right worked nothing. Both of those are single pole switches.

On the opposite wall is a single gang with a 3 way switch. This worked the light on the ceiling fan. I used the pull chain to work the fan. All was fine until I decided to replace the ugly fan with a hanging light. When I took the fan down, a pigtail wire fell on the floor. I don't know what it connected. Here's what's in the ceiling box: 4 cables, one of which is a 3 wire. So I have 4 black, 4 white, 4 ground and 1 red.

Since I thought 3 way switches are supposed to be in pairs, I thought I might as well make the non-working switch in the double gang another 3 way, as it should be (I think?). I hooked it up just like the way the existing 3 way is wired, and then neither switch worked. So I put the single pole switch back on.

Here's how the single gang 3 way switch is wired: the only cable in the box is a 3 wire. Red on common, white on the same side, black on other side. All 3 are hot when I checked with my voltage detector.

Here's how the double gang is wired: In the box I see 3 cables. From L to R: 2 three wire, 1 two wire. The black from the first 3 wire is capped with the red from the second three wire. The red & white goes to the non-working switch on the right.
The black from the second 3 wire goes to the switch on the left, and then to the switch on the right. The white is capped with the white from the 2 wire. The black from the 2 wire goes to the switch on the left. This works the outdoor light.

Pictures:
Kitchen Wiring pictures by natalielins - Photobucket


If this is supposed to be a true 3 way setup, how do I wire the double gang switch (I bought a 3 way switch) and how do I connect the light on the ceiling so that both switches work?

Here's what I've tried so far.
I connected black to black, white to white. Light stays on and neither switch turns it off/on.

I connected the light black to ceiling red, white to white, ground to ground.
If I connect the light this way, the previously non-working light switch turns the light off and on. The single switch no longer works.

I don't really care if this is set up as 3 way, but if only 1 switch is going to work, I need it to be the single switch. I've looked for diagrams online, and this doesn't seem to be a switch - light - switch setup, as there's only 1 red in the ceiling. So, I'm guessing that the mystery pigtail is pretty important.

Please help!! I'd really like an overhead light in my kitchen again!!
 
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Old 04-11-11, 07:10 AM
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Wiring

Can you determine where the power source enters the picture? I suspect the power comes to the ceiling box on one of the 2-wire cables and then goes to the back door double gang box with another 2-wire cable. Can you verify whether or not this is true?
 
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Old 04-12-11, 08:57 PM
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I believe that is the case, but haven't been able to confirm. I guess I'll have to get up in the attic and see if I can tell which one is the incoming power source and which one goes back to the double switch. I wasn't even sure if power came to the ceiling box, or to the switch first. Most of the rooms in this house has the light switch wired to work a receptacle, not an overhead light, although I doubt the kitchen was set up like this. The LR and 2 bedrooms are like that, and that's another thing I eventually want to change.
 
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Old 04-13-11, 05:56 PM
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I'd love to help, but the pictures you posted are thumbnail size and don't help very much. A sketch would be nice. In the meantime, all three wires on the 3-way should not be hot. Something is not connected properly. Two wires at the most (sometimes one depending on what side of the circuit you are on and the switch position) should be hot at any time. If you have only one 3-wire in the single box, then you have what is called a "dead-end" 3-way circuit. But without knowing where that 3-wire goes (ceiling box or wall), then it's a little difficult to help you at this point. Again, a sketch would be ideal.
 
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Old 04-13-11, 06:25 PM
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Here are the pics The o/p posted



 
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Old 04-14-11, 12:12 AM
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Thank you, and thanks to Justin for posting the pics. They were large files so I wanted to size them down a bit....guess I went too far! I will do my best to do a sketch and post it!
 
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Old 04-14-11, 06:30 AM
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You could just upload the full size pictures. I am willing to go to photobucket.

You shouldn't need to go up in the attic to find your hot. Just use a meter. They can be about $10 for a analog one.
 
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Old 04-16-11, 10:51 AM
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Kitchen Wiring pictures by natalielins - Photobucket

Here are the larger photos. I have a voltage meter but have never used it. That can help me determine which is power in and which is power out?

Thanks!
 
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Old 04-16-11, 12:40 PM
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It can determine power in. More precisely a cable that is always hot. Almost always this is a 2-conductor cable. Start by labeling how every thing is hooked up so you can easily reconnect. Now disconnect all wires. Measure between black and white of each 2-conductor cable.. If a cable is hot you should get 120v ( ~ 5%).

I have a voltage meter but have never used it.
Set the meter AC voltage on the 200 volt range. Your exact range may vary. Plug one probe into to the Common jack and the other into the jack marked with a V. Color of probe doesn't matter for AC.
 
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Old 04-23-11, 02:53 PM
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The light is now working, and I have a 'true' 3 way switch setup! Thank you for your help!

Just out of curiosity (since I basically guessed at wiring the switches and fixture and prayed for the best), testing with the meter should be done with the power on, correct? To determine which wire is hot? I was too chicken to do this!

I googled it and everything I found said to turn the breaker off first. So, if there's no power, how can it measure which is hot? Thought I'd ask since one day I may need to do this and don't want to fry trying!
 
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Old 04-23-11, 03:51 PM
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Power must be on for testing. You can buy alligator clips to slip over the probes then clip on with the breaker off then turn the breaker on. Much slower but safer. You can speed it up a bit with two cell phones and a helper you trust with your life. Tell the helper each time you want the breaker off and then again when you want it on.
 
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