replacing 3-way switches troubles

Reply

  #1  
Old 07-31-12, 02:19 AM
Member
Thread Starter
Join Date: Jul 2012
Posts: 4
replacing 3-way switches troubles

I've read articles explaining the 3-way switch; how it works, and how to replace. I've watched videos on You Tube til I can almost recite the words, but to no avail... I can't get my 3-way switches to work correctly. I started out replacing the switches but when I took all of the wires off of the old switch it looked different from the others in my house that I'd replaced... Didn't have a replacement that looked the same so off to the hardware store I went. No problem, the man explained. Hook the common here, (dark screw), and the travelers here and here, (brass screws). One problem, I'd already removed the wires from the old switches, and now I didn't know which was the common and which were the travelers. I took a guess and when one plug was up and the other down, I couldn't turn on the light without putting the other plug in the up position also. Tried several combinations... Frustrating!!!
Watched more YouTube...my boxes don't look quite the same. Take a look. I'm including 2 pics of each box, so you can see inside the boxes. One of the boxes has only 1 grouping of wires. I just need someone to help me figure this out. I know I should be able to turn the light on on 1 side of the room and off on the other side. I also know that the switch on 1 wall will point up when the switch on the other side should be down. Can someone please help? Thanks!
 
Sponsored Links
  #2  
Old 07-31-12, 03:40 AM
chandler's Avatar
Banned. Rule And/Or Policy Violation
Join Date: Dec 2005
Location: USA
Posts: 39,968
Welcome to the forums! What color wires do you have going to each switch? In most instances you have a bare (ground), white, red and black. Again, in most instances the black wire is your line/load and will go to the dark screw. The red and white can be attached to the other two screws in any order, as they are just travelers. Don't get caught up on which switch is up or down, as three way switching sometimes will have one down and one up and the lights on or off. The main thing is to have them work independently of each other. If you need to, take a picture of each switch box with the wires pulled out (don't remove any caps on pairs of wires) and post the pix. http://www.doityourself.com/forum/el...your-post.html
 
  #3  
Old 07-31-12, 09:02 AM
Nashkat1's Avatar
Member
Join Date: Mar 2012
Location: USA
Posts: 8,470
Take a look. I'm including 2 pics of each box, so you can see inside the boxes.
Your pictures didn't appear for some reason. See How To Put Pictures In Your Post.

One of the boxes has only 1 grouping of wires.
That "1 grouping" should be a 3-conductor cable with four wires in it - black, red, white and bare copper. Is that what you see? If so, the other box should either have two cables like that, or one cable like that and two 2-conductor cables (3 wires - black, white and bare copper) or, rarely, one 3-conductor cable and one two-conductor cable.

If you tell us what you have, we can help you from there.
 
  #4  
Old 07-31-12, 09:26 AM
Member
Thread Starter
Join Date: Jul 2012
Posts: 4
pics

Here are the pics I thought I attached to my post. I think where I get confused is when I look at the diagrams and videos online both boxes seem to have 2 cables (w/wires) running to and from the switch, but only one of the boxes in my room has the two cables. The other box has only one cable w/three wires coming out. ??? The pics show the two boxes up-close to the box and a wide view. Thanks.

Name:  photo(2).JPG
Views: 362
Size:  36.4 KB Name:  photo(5).JPG
Views: 331
Size:  37.9 KB Name:  photo(3).JPG
Views: 323
Size:  23.2 KB Name:  photo(4).JPG
Views: 320
Size:  33.2 KB
 
  #5  
Old 07-31-12, 11:40 AM
Nashkat1's Avatar
Member
Join Date: Mar 2012
Location: USA
Posts: 8,470
only one of the boxes in my room has the two cables. The other box has only one cable w/three wires coming out.
That's fine. In the box with two cables, how many wires, by color, are in each cable?

The pics show the two boxes up-close to the box and a wide view.
Thank you. Can you also pull the wires forward and take a picture or two that show how the wires are connected? We need to see the splices (the wires going into each wire nut), or have you describe what each of those looks like.

We're trying to figure out how the system is wired. Thanks.
 
  #6  
Old 07-31-12, 02:31 PM
Member
Thread Starter
Join Date: Jul 2012
Posts: 4
labeled pic

Name:  photo(7).jpg
Views: 353
Size:  22.7 KB
This is a pic of the box that I thought had 2 cables. When I pulled the wires out of the box like you asked, I found that there are 3 cables, 1 on the left and 2 (one in front of the other) on the right. There are 10 total wires in this box; 3 of the 10 are plain copper grounds. I have labeled the others by color and side of the box they are coming from. I'm learning a lot doing this. Thanks for your help. So just so you have what you asked for:

Box w/3 cables:
3 - white wires
3 - black wires
1 - red wire
3 - copper ground wires

Box w/1 cable:
1 - white wire
1 - black wire
1 - red wire
1 - copper ground wire

Another view looking down on the wires pulled out of the box.
Name:  photo(8).JPG
Views: 654
Size:  31.5 KB
 

Last edited by dixielee; 07-31-12 at 02:32 PM. Reason: thank you needed
  #7  
Old 07-31-12, 03:00 PM
Nashkat1's Avatar
Member
Join Date: Mar 2012
Location: USA
Posts: 8,470
Excellent!

In this box, with the three cables, you have one 2-conductor cable feeding unswitched power from the panel, one 2-conductor cable feeding switched power to the ceiling, and one 3-conductor cable connecting this switch to the other switch.

The splice where the black and the white wire are connected is where the black hot wire is tied to the white wire going to the other switch. (Note: that white wire should be tagged with a short piece of black tape or a black permanent marker to show that it is being used to conduct ungrounded power; same at the other box, when we get there.) The splice with two white wires connected together is where the neutral from the panel is being tied to neutral for the ceiling.

The three wires with curls on the ends go to the terminal screws on the switch. (Bet you knew that.) The black and red wires from the 3-conductor cable are the two traveler wires. They connect to the two brass-colored screws on the switch. The other black wire, from the 2-conductor cable, connects to the black screw on the switch.

At the other box, mark the white wire with tape or a marker and connect it to the black screw on the switch. Connect the red and black traveler wires to the two brass-colored screws.

That should be all. Mount the switches in the boxes, turn the power on and try it.
 

Last edited by Nashkat1; 07-31-12 at 03:29 PM. Reason: clarification.
  #8  
Old 07-31-12, 04:00 PM
Member
Thread Starter
Join Date: Jul 2012
Posts: 4
Yeah!!! It works!!! Thank you, thank you, thank you! ...for your help and patience. You're appreciated.
 
  #9  
Old 07-31-12, 08:33 PM
Nashkat1's Avatar
Member
Join Date: Mar 2012
Location: USA
Posts: 8,470
Glad it worked out for you, Dixie, and thank you for coming back to let us know.
 
Reply

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are Off


Thread Tools
Search this Thread
Display Modes
'