Problem involving lights and 3 way switch


Old 06-04-11, 08:59 PM
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Join Date: Jun 2011
Location: us
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Problem involving lights and 3 way switch

I've got two separate lights in my kitchen that are both powered by two 3-way switches. Either switch powers both lights (connected in series??). I had to replace one of the 3 way switches and now only one of the lights works. The 3 way switches appear to be wired correctly - I've already swapped out each of the switches with a new one and tried every possible variation of wiring just to make sure I didn't screw anything up.

Currently both 3 way switches seem to be wired correctly and only one kitchen light comes on. The other light shows zero (well about 2 volts really) voltage - this is the part that makes no sense to me. I would have thought first a wiring problem, then maybe I blew the ignitor or both bulbs but there's no power coming out at all.

Is there something obvious I missed here? Any way to troublshoot? Thanks
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Old 06-04-11, 09:47 PM
Join Date: Oct 2010
Location: USA
Posts: 126
First, refer to a 3-way wiring schematic, unless you wire one up every other day you are apt to forget what goes where. Leviton includes one with their switches, if I had it handy I would scan it in, check their website. Next, shut off the the power and check to see if you have continuity between your lines and check to see if any are continuous to ground (not likely as this would have tripped your breaker).

In a three way switch you are breaking continuity of the hot leg, which means that if your two lights were in series you would have all lit or none at all. Somehow you have isolated power from one of the lights. Test out your hot legs to see if the two lights are truly in series and double check your connections at the fixtures.
Old 06-04-11, 09:54 PM
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Join Date: Mar 2006
Location: USA
Posts: 32,644
You did mark the wire to the common, dark screw, when you changed out the switch and put it on the common of the new switch didn't you?

You need to give us full information on how many 2 wire cables (black and white) and how many 3 wire cables (black, red, white) in each of the switch and ceiling boxes and how they are connected. We also need to know at which box the power source comes in.

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