Replace two 2-way switches w/ two 3-way switches

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  #1  
Old 11-13-13, 02:04 PM
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Replace two 2-way switches w/ two 3-way switches

Hello all,

Rookie electrical apprentice here!
Hopefully you can help solve my light switch issue!

I have a hallway that has two 2-way light switches on either end which control 4 pot lights on the ceiling. I believe they are 2-way switches as they do not work independently of each other...here's where it gets a little complicated!

If both switches are up, the lights are on. If I turn off light switch one, the lights turn off. The only way to turn them back on is to turn back on light switch one. If I turn off the lights using light switch two, switch one still in the up/on position, the only way to turn them back on is to turn on/up switch two.

Essentially both have to be in the up position to turn all lights on, and whichever switch turns them off, is now the 'master' switch and must be switched to turn them off.

Can I be correct to assume that I'm simply missing a traveler wire? If so what is the proper procedure to connect both switches? I'm assuming I will need to run another cable between the two switches? And of course change out each switch to a 3-way to accommodate the traveler?

Thanks all for taking the time to read/contribute to a solution!


Regards,

Matt
 
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  #2  
Old 11-13-13, 02:58 PM
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Welcome to the forums!

I have a hallway that has two 2-way light switches on either end which control 4 pot lights on the ceiling. I believe they are 2-way switches as they do not work independently of each other...
There are no 2-way switches. There are single-location, or on/off switches - often incorrectly called single-pole switches - 3-way switches and 4-way switches (excluding automated switches). It's unlikely that you have a pair of on/off switches there. It's more likely that you have a pair of 3-way switches that aren't correctly wired.

Some questions: What do the lights do if both switches are flipped down? If the switches are toggles does either one have ON and OFF molded onto the toggle?

If the answers are "The lights are off unless one of the switches is up." and "No," then you probably have two of the three wires transposed on one of the switches. In that case, turn the power off and pull both switches out of their boxes. Leave all of the wires connected the way you find them and tell us how many cables come into each box, how many wires of what color are in each of those cables, and how each wire is terminated or spliced. In particular, which wire is connected to the common terminal and which two wires are connected to the two traveler terminals. We can work from there.

Can I be correct to assume that I'm simply missing a traveler wire?
It's more likely that the wires just aren't connected to the proper terminals.

what is the proper procedure to connect both switches?
We'll work that out. There are at least three ways yours can be wired, depending on how the wiring is installed. If you want to read ahead, you can look at How Light Switches Work and pick up a copy of Wiring Simplified - a great resource for any apprentice in this trade.
 
  #3  
Old 11-14-13, 09:08 AM
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Hi Bill,

Thanks kindly for the detailed response!

Some questions: What do the lights do if both switches are flipped down? If the switches are toggles does either one have ON and OFF molded onto the toggle?
You we're correct with your response. If both switches are down the lights are off. And no to the toggle inquiry.

I will have a look at the wiring tonight, and update you when I can.


Regards,

Matt
 
  #4  
Old 11-15-13, 10:17 AM
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Hello,

So to answer your above questions, here are the results of my findings:

tell us how many cables come into each box
Switch 1 = 3 cables
Switch 2 = 1 cable


how many wires of what color are in each of those cables
Within Switch 1:
Cable 1 = 3 wires - Red, Black, White
Cable 2 = 2 wires - Black, White
Cable 3 = 2 wires - Black, White

Within Switch 2:
Cable = 3 wires - Red, Black White


how each wire is terminated or spliced
Within Switch 1:
Cable 1 & 2 & 3 Whites - All three white wires are spliced together
Cable 1 Red - Terminated on switch (gold terminal screw)
Cable 1 Black - Terminated at common on switch (black terminal screw)
Cable 2 & 3 Blacks - Spliced together - 'runner' black wire then terminated on switch (gold terminal screw)

Within Switch 2:
Red - Terminated on switch - single terminal screw on left
White - Terminated on switch - top terminal screw on right
Black - Terminated on switch - bottom terminal screw on right (common)


I hope those details assist / help you out...let me know if you require any additional details or clarifications!
 
  #5  
Old 11-19-13, 03:33 PM
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Wow, I can't believe you haven't had a reply in four days! I've been traveling and otherwise busy, but here's my take on what you have, and what you can try:

The most reasonable set of functions for the three cables you have is that one of the two 2-conductor cables is power in from the panel, the other one is power out to the light, and the 3-conductor cable is the traveler cable between the two switches.

Given the connections you've described, though, that isn't the case. If it were, having the black wires in the two 2-conductor cables spliced together would send power directly to the lights and neither switch would do anything.

OK, plan B: Kill the power. Disconnect all of the terminations and splices. Push all of the wire ends apart. At switch box one, push the wires for each cable in the same general direction.

Before turning the power back on, use a wire nut to join the black and red wires in the 3-conductor cable together at one of the boxes. At the other box, test those two wires for continuity.

Take the wire nut off and separate the wires again. Turn the power on and test for 120V AC between each black wire and its white wire, and between the red wire and its neutral. Also test between each insulated wire and ground. Let us know what you find.

BTW, there isn't any left, right, top or bottom on a switch. On your two switches, there are one common terminal, marked black, and two traveler terminals, marked brass.
 
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