broken switch?

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  #1  
Old 09-27-13, 06:07 PM
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broken switch?

Hi guys new here to diy. I have a switch that I think is bad? Ok... house was built in 60 in va. In the basement there is a light at the top of the stairs and one at the bottom. I have a switch at the top that recently quit working. It will not turn off the lights (on or off position) there is another switch at the bottom of the stairs that must be on for the other switch to work (prior to the top switch going bad) if thats whats wrong? Anyone know of this kind of thing? Inthink I need to replace the top switch but is it a 2 or 3 way? Thanks in advance
 
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Old 09-27-13, 06:23 PM
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Welcome to the forums!

You have a set of three ways that are mis-wired. Open up the boxes and pull out the switches. Look and see what wires you have (not counting the grounds) and post the wires and screw colors on the switches. The color of the screws are more important than screw position on the switch. Pictures are also very helpful.
 
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Old 09-29-13, 12:30 PM
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pics

Upstairs switch (the bad one) 3 sets of wires 2 two wires and 1 three wires.im going to try to explain this the best I can - (line in?) Black wire to common, white wire to other 2 wire set white. Second set black wire to red 3 wire set. 3 wire black and white to switch. Light fixture- 2 sets of wires in and out. One 2 and one 3 wires. 2wire black to 2 wire black. 2 wire white to 2 wire white to light. 3wire black to 3 wire black. 3 wire white to 3 wire white. 3 wire red to 3 wire red to light. Ok downstairs switch (looks newer than the other one) 1 set of 3 wires. Black wire to common. White wire and red wire to switch. The commons on both swtches have different color screws. There Is also other lights that are always "hot" controled by pullstrings coming off of the 2 wire set coming from the light thats controled by the switches.
First pic- upstairs switch (bad one) second pic is downstairs fixture. Third pic is downstairs switch. Fourth pic is a drawing of the upstairs switch.
I am headed out to lowes to get 2 new switches to put in. This morning I came down the steps and the bad switch was making a buzzing sound in the normal "off" position
 
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Old 09-29-13, 12:46 PM
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The three-way switch in your first picture is very old and could probably use a replacement. The switch in the third picture looks like a four way switch that is being used as a three way. Does it have four screw terminals.... not counting the ground ?
 
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Old 09-29-13, 01:51 PM
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No it only has three screws also there are no ground wires has the old metal insulated cable
 
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Old 09-29-13, 05:40 PM
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Ok guys I think I figured it out. I got 2 new 3 way switches and installed them. That fixed the first problem. Then I swapped the red and black wire on the downstairs switch. That fixed my 3 way problem. Both locations work as they should. My new question would be is this safe (not a fire hazzard)? I know that the wires are not what they should be (original wiring) but its working. Doesnt seem to have affected any other lights or outlets on circuit. I have 100 amp service with 4 pull fuses and 8 screw fuses (2 per pullout) as far as I can tell all light and outlet are on one fuse block and are currently working. I also have a 3 way setup in halway upstair would it be safe to trace wires and swap the switch so it works properly? Thanks
 
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Old 09-29-13, 08:59 PM
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No it only has three screws
OK. Since you replaced the two switches, the question is moot.
also there are no ground wires has the old metal insulated cable
Interesting, because there's no metal-jacketed cable visible in your pictures.

I got 2 new 3 way switches and installed them. That fixed the first problem. Then I swapped the red and black wire on the downstairs switch. That fixed my 3 way problem. Both locations work as they should. My new question would be is this safe (not a fire hazzard)?
Glad you got it working However, since no one, including you, knows the function of each wire in each box, your question can't be answered.

I also have a 3 way setup in halway upstair would it be safe to trace wires and swap the switch so it works properly?
Sure, so long as you identify the function of each wire and use approved wiring methods.

I have 100 amp service with 4 pull fuses and 8 screw fuses (2 per pullout)... there are no ground wires
Do you have any 3-slot receptacles in your house or are they all 2-slot? Do you have any GFCI receptacles?
 
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