Swapped out switches--Can't solve problem.

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  #1  
Old 01-27-13, 08:30 AM
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Swapped out switches--Can't solve problem.

I replaced three switches in a three-gang box. Two of them are three-way switches. The third controls another fixture. The switches are identical to the ones I removed (I wanted to change the color). I thought I connected all wires exactly as they had been, and all three switches work properly. The problem is, I no longer have power farther down the line (a half-bath and hall lights are on the same circuit). I can't tell what wire is the one that continues on to the bathroom and beyond. I have played trial-and-error with the third switch and I think I tried every combination. The best I can do is, the switches work, but there is no power farther along the circuit. One combo did give me power down the line, but the new switch controlled it (On turned on the correct fixture; OFF turned on the hall light. Any chance you can help with that cryptic information?
 
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Old 01-27-13, 08:35 AM
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Did you undo any splices when replacing the switches? Are all the wires connected? A picture of the inside of the switch box might help.
 
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Old 01-27-13, 08:36 AM
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Welcome to the forum...

For future reference......three way switches have an odd or dark color switch on them. It is important to get the correct wire back on that screw. The other two screws are of no importance.

I'm guessing that there was more than three wires on one of the switches.....is that correct ?
They probably had two wires on one screw.....is that correct ?

You may need a voltmeter to test circuit. Do you have one ?
 
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Old 01-27-13, 08:43 AM
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I didn't undo any splices; I simply replaced the switches with identical ones. Obviously, I didn't re-connect them exactly the same, because it doesn't work. I'll get a picture; it just looks like a cramped jumble of wires to me. The biggest problem is, I don't understand how a circuit like this works, so at this point I'm just swapping wires and hoping. It occurs to me now that I have only been swapping wires on the third switch, I guess it is entirely possible that I reversed a couple of wires on one of the other two in the box.
 
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Old 01-27-13, 08:47 AM
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I am aware of the common screw. I have tried every wire on it, including the hot wire--but, as I said, only on the one switch. There was no screw on any of the switches that had more than one wire on it. I do have a voltmeter, which is how I identified the hot wire into the third switch in the box.
 
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Old 01-27-13, 09:01 AM
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Hmm. Now I'm wondering if there actually were two wires on one pole--one on the screw and one pushed into the quick-release hole. I didn't notice it being wired that way, but that could be the problem.
 
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Old 01-27-13, 09:05 AM
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...but, on the other hand, I am positive that no switch had more than three wires.
 
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Old 01-27-13, 09:05 AM
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It certainly could have been that way. The device would just act as a splice point instead of a wire nut.
 
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Old 01-27-13, 09:30 AM
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If it was that way, which screw would it likely have been? Maybe I can experiment with that. if I can figure which wire continues to the bathroom/hall. As I said, I don't understand the circuit, so I don't know what pole would allow the current to continue without being switched.
 
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Old 01-27-13, 09:36 AM
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Any pole that has a back stab and a screw would serve as a splice which means all of them however it is likely the pole that had a constant hot.
 
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Old 01-27-13, 09:52 AM
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So, if I can identify the wire that continues to the bathroom/hall and connect it to any pole that has a constant hot, it will continue along the circuit without being switched?
 

Last edited by cstricklen; 01-27-13 at 11:51 AM. Reason: Spelling
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Old 01-27-13, 10:31 AM
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Basically......that is correct.
 
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Old 01-27-13, 10:46 AM
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If they did it by using the back stab that is not best practice. In addition to causing confusion for novices such as yourself the back stab is not that reliable a connection. Connect the bathroom/hall wire and the hot wire to a pigtail and the pigtail to the screw on the switch.

and connect it to any pole that has a constant hot,
It would be unusual for there to be more then one hot wire. You can find that by measuring from each disconnected wire to ground or neutral.
 
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Old 01-27-13, 11:49 AM
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Thanks!

Yes, Ray, when I said "any" hot wire I meant the hot on any one of the three switches. It turns out it had been wired with two wires on one pole, using the back stab for one of them. (There weren't four wires because that third switch is not being used as a three-way.) So I took a guess on which wire continued to the bathroom/hall and got it right on the second try. I pig-tailed it to the hot and, Voila! Thanks very much for your help, guys. All that to get brown switches instead of white.
 
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Old 01-27-13, 12:38 PM
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And most of my customers hated brown switches. Glad you got it. Thanks for letting us know.
 
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Old 01-27-13, 01:49 PM
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Needed the brown switches for the oil-rubbed bronze switch plates and cherry cabinets.
 

Last edited by cstricklen; 01-27-13 at 01:50 PM. Reason: spelling
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