Need Help with 3 Way Switches Tripping Breaker

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  #1  
Old 12-30-12, 07:19 PM
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Need Help with 3 Way Switches Tripping Breaker

Would appreciate any advice on my dilemma, not sure what to do next. I'll take you through the events so far as maybe you'll catch something I haven't thought of.

1. Son tripped over lamp cord and pulled the cord out of the outlet. Outside of the lamp being broke, didn't seem to do much harm. Outlet is a split receptacle, top is connected to the two 3 way switches. One switch shares a box with an entry light switch the other shares with the ceiling fan switch and another switch we never figured out what it runs, we assume another split receptacle.

2. Later, out of habit (nothing now plugged into that outlet), we flipped the switch and it tripped the breaker. Same thing with the other switch. I taped the switches so we wouldn't trip the breaker again.

3. Replaced the outlet thinking that was the source. Now the breaker turns immediately off when I try and switch it on.

4. Unplugged everything on that circuit and replaced both 3 way switches and replaced the breaker. Still, the breaker trips immediately when I try and turn it on.

5. Oops, I did not break the tab off the new outlet due to it being a split receptacle. Pulled the outlet out, took off the tab and now I'm back to where I started, the circuit works providing both 3 way switches are off as before. Flip one of the switches to on, trips the breaker.

Any ideas greatly appreciated. Thanks.
 
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  #2  
Old 12-30-12, 07:29 PM
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No idea......I would start by removing receptacle since that's the source of your problems.

Normally when something like what happened to the receptacle happened you would just change the receptacle. But now you went and replaced the three way switches. You've now introduced several areas where the problem can be. If the problem isn't at the receptacle then you've got a switch wiring problem. Maybe a pinched wire in the box.
 
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Old 12-30-12, 08:20 PM
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replaced both 3 way switches
Are you sure you moved common on the old switch to common on the new switch based on screw color not position on switch? Are there two or more white wires in either of the switch boxes.
 
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Old 12-30-12, 08:37 PM
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When I changed them I labeled the common wire and the wire that was on the same side of the common before taking them out. I will be double checking my connections though. I did notice the single side traveler was at the top rather than bottom, meaning the traveler was across from the common rather than the other traveler. I assumed it wouldn't make a difference in how I wired it. I moved the traveler that was on the single side from the old one to the single side of the new one.
 
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Old 12-30-12, 08:58 PM
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The ONLY wire that is important on a three way switch is the common or odd colored screw.
 
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Old 01-01-13, 06:35 AM
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Did the 3ways work before the incident ?
 
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Old 01-01-13, 07:51 AM
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It is possible you have a ground touching a hot and creating a dead short. Make sure your wires are neatly dressed in the box.
 
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Old 01-02-13, 09:50 AM
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Thanks all. Well, I pulled all the switches and the outlet out to check the wiring, everything looked okay. Circuit works okay unless I turn on the switches then it trips. To answer the earlier question, the three way switcher were working prior to the lamp event.

Question - is it possible that a bad switch can trip the breaker. Reason I ask is I replaced the switches before I realized I didn't break the tab off the split receptacle, so the circuit was tripping immediately when I turned it on. Once I got that fixed it was back to the original problem. I'm just not sure if I may have knocked out the new switches or if a bad switch alone with trip the breaker.

Outside of that I must have a short that I cannot see. What would my options be at this point?
 
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Old 01-02-13, 10:06 AM
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A meter would help you check for continuity between hot and ground. Mark all the wires before you remove them from the switches.
 
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