3-Way Switch Help

Old 08-31-12, 12:53 PM
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3-Way Switch Help

Hi. I have 2 3-way switches on my living room light & it's never worked correctly since I moved in. Hopefully the pics will work. In the 1st pic, there are 3 wiring sets coming to the box & the wires aren't right. I'm a wiring novice, but it seems to me that all of the same colored wires should go to the same connections & move on down the line is series...there is currently no black wire to this switch & I'd have to splice one in (there is already a splice in the junction box for all 3 incoming cables. The 2nd pic is the other 3-way switch to the light. As it is, everything in the house works (& the house isn't burning down) except for the living room light & the switch in the 2nd pic must stay on for the other to work, basically making the one in the 1st pic a single switch. Hope all of this makes sense. Any thoughts on how to make these switches function as true 3-ways? TIA.Name:  1st Pic.jpg
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Old 08-31-12, 01:12 PM
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Welcome to the forums!

3-way switches have one point, or "common," terminal and two traveler terminals. flipping the switch toggles the connection between the point screw and each of the traveler screws. The point terminal often has a black screw while the traveler terminals have brass screws.

A 3-way switch system works by having the ungrounded conductor from the panel (the incoming "hot" wire) connected to the point screw on one of the switches, the load wire for the light connected to the point screw on the other light, and the traveler screws connected, switch-to-switch, with a pair of wires.

In your pictures, the point terminal on the 3-way switch in the first picture appears to be the lower screw, with the red wire stab connected behind it. In the second picture, it appears to be the lower screw again, with a black wire terminated to it.

In order for us to help you, we will need to know where the power is coming in from the panel, where it goes to the light, and which cable runs from switch to switch.

NOTE: This may be as simple as swapping two wires on the second switch, once we know what's what.

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