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I'm having trouble w/a light in my stairway that is operated from 3 locations

I'm having trouble w/a light in my stairway that is operated from 3 locations

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  #1  
Old 01-02-12, 08:51 AM
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I'm having trouble w/a light in my stairway that is operated from 3 locations

This is my fault but I still do not know what to do about it. What happened was I changed the 3 switches with new white ones because I painted the area etc.. I removed each switch and drew a diagram of how each wire was connected and I made sure I replaced each switch with the proper replacement switch. The switch at the bottom of the stairway is a regular 3 way and the switch at the top hallway is also a regular 3 way but the switch at the top of the stairs is a 4 way or at least has 4 wire connections.

I turned the 4 way switch off at the top of the stairs and realized that that position makes nothing work.

Any Ideas? thanks.
 
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  #2  
Old 01-02-12, 09:28 AM
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drew a diagram of how each wire was connected
Wire position can vary from switch to switch. With 3-ways what is important is that the wire that was on the common (odd colored screw) of the old switch goes to the common on the new switch. Is that what you did?
 

Last edited by ray2047; 03-16-12 at 09:20 PM.
  #3  
Old 01-02-12, 09:31 AM
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Fade, this is a common problem and often created by the mfg using different screw positions.

First step is to tell us what wires you have coming into each box. Something like a three wire (RBW) and a two wire (BW) at the 3-way switches and then 2 three (RBW) wires at the 4 way. There can be other arrangements, that's why we ask.

While you are looking, also note on the 3 way switches the color of the screws or a designation for the "C" common.

Bud

Ray was faster .
 

Last edited by Bud9051; 01-02-12 at 09:32 AM. Reason: slow typing
  #4  
Old 01-02-12, 09:55 AM
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Thanks for the quick response but I can not get to the switches until after work this evening. I will look and post the info as soon as I can though. Thanks again.
 
  #5  
Old 01-02-12, 10:08 AM
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Ray I'm 95% sure I got the wires in the right position. I was very careful when I changed them out but I guess I could have made a mistake. I have experience with 3 way switches though I don't fully understand the mechanics of how it works but I have never messed around with a 4 way switch in my life. I bet it's something with the 4 way.

Also the house was built in 1854 and the wiring was added and updated many times but there is no ground wire at all.

Anyway, I'm going to look at it later and post what I find. Thanks.
 
  #6  
Old 01-02-12, 11:08 AM
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There is a filing cabinet with 3 drawers...

One person places bills in the first drawer, manuals in the second, and contracts in the third.

Another person places manuals in the first, contracts in the second, and bills in the third.

And that is the way it is with manufacturers of 3-way electrical switches.

One manufacturer will make the top right screw the "common".

Another manufacturer will make the bottom left screw the common.

So if you have an old switch with is made by one manufacturer, then buy a new switch made by another manufacturer, a wire which was connected to the top right screw might now need to be connected to the bottom left screw! Or the top left screw!

Hopefully you still have your old switches?
And hopefully you still have the package/instructions (wiring diagram) for the new switches?

Here is a diagram of 2 3-way switches with a 4-way switch in the middle...

 
  #7  
Old 01-02-12, 11:18 AM
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Here is a 3-way switch with the "common" terminal on the lower right. Notice the colors of the screws. On the back of the switch, it may say "common" by that screw..



Here is a 3-way switch with the "common" terminal on the upper right...




The "common" needs to be on the correct screw. The other two "traveler" wires can be on either of the other two screws - does not matter.
 
  #8  
Old 03-05-12, 05:22 PM
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I'm still having this problem and I thought I would do something about it

Thanks for all the help earlier guys but I had an emergency and never fixed my problem and I wanted to resolve this before I get to used to it.

This is a rough sketch how each switch is wired. Here's a description of what happens. When the 4-way is in the off position both 3-ways work as any normal 3-way would. When the 4-way is in the on position neither 3 way works. If you were me how would you proceed?



Thanks again.
 
  #9  
Old 03-05-12, 05:45 PM
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Try to pair the travellers on the 4 way, not by color but by cable.
 
  #10  
Old 03-16-12, 08:35 PM
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Wow I finally fixed the switches today.

It was the 4 way switch which was what I thought and I just changed the wires on one side and it's working great now.

Thanks for the help guys, seriously, I really appreciate it.
 
  #11  
Old 03-17-12, 05:49 AM
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Thanks for the feedback.

.....................
 
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