3-way switch


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Old 07-17-14, 06:34 AM
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3-way switch

This just seems wrong so, I've turned off the breaker for the circuit controlling this 3-way switch.

At switch 1, I located the one "hot" wire and connected it to "common" and the travelers, one each to the other two (non-ground) screws. At switch 2, I again located the "hot" wire and connected it to "common" and the travelers, one each to the two (non-ground) screws. The light did not come one so, I first reversed the switch 2 travelers. Nothing happened. So, at switch 1 I reversed the two travelers and the light DOES come on, but my "sniffer" alerts that the whole box is now energized. That is when I turned off the circuit breaker.

What am I doing wrong? (besides not having an electrician do this "small" task. I know. I know. I want to learn this.)
 
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Old 07-17-14, 06:48 AM
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At switch 2, I again located the "hot" wire and connected it to "common" and the travelers
At switch 2 you have the travelers (black and red) and the black wire to the fixture. The black wire to the fixture goes on the common screw. The white neutrals get tied with a wire nut and feed through at each switch box.
 
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Old 07-20-14, 08:36 AM
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CasualJoe...

Thanks.
I've learned that the problem 3-way switch, on circuit "5", also controls two double outlets and the back porch light. The back porch light has its own switch I'll call "3" for clarification (hopefully).
The two double outlets on circuit "5" are not controlled by any switches - they stay "hot" regardless of the position of switches "1" and "2" (and "3").

Switch 1 has the whites joined and are pushed into the back of the box. The other two wires both are the same color - cloth wrapped that appear to be of the same color.
Switch 2 has black "hot" and another black and red wires.
"Hot" for both switches are connected to "common."
I'm not sure which connection to make for the travelers on either switch.

The only time I've succeeded with having the light come on, the entire switch 1 box is energized. The sniffer beeps even when it is placed on the wall a foot or more away from the box and when placed on the plastic parts of the switch - a large area is energized. Clearly, that is wrong and I turned off the breaker for the controlling circuit.

When I reverse switch 1 travelers, the light does not work and the large energized area is no longer triggering the sniffer.

I feel as if the logic to the correct connection is just out of view to me....
 
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Old 07-20-14, 01:11 PM
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First of all get rid of that sniffer! Did these switches ever work?
Geo
 
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Old 07-20-14, 01:30 PM
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You sound like there is a wire missing in sw 1. You should have three, not two along with the whites.
 
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Old 07-20-14, 02:17 PM
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Yes, get rid of the sniffer. I correctly wired a 3 way a few weeks ago and was measuring 43 volts in the off position. My sniffer would detect it also. Someone on this board explained that you can get phantom voltages, I assume induced voltage. A digital meter will detect these, but not an analog. In addition, I have seen plenty of faulty 3-way switches, so I always test even new ones with an ohmmeter.
 
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Old 07-20-14, 04:12 PM
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The house has knt. I had the main service upgraded to 200A with breakers. Beyond the breakers, into the house, everything is as when I moved in.

Geo, yes, the original switches worked for the 10+ years I've owned the home (built 1930), until recently malfunctioning. The lights controlled by the two 3-way switches began to come on partially (flickering) "by themselves". The old switches look like something out of the '60s (fat, dark brown).
I purchased two, new, 3-ways from the local big-box; the common is labeled on each.

PC: The box at the top of the stairwell (switch "1") has two switches: 1 3-way that is controlling the stairwell lights (again, switch "1") and, a (2-way?) that controls only the outside porch light by itself. The wiring is run through the walls.

I've not touched the wires connected to the outside porch light switch.

The 3-way switch ("1") that is the problem, has two cloth wrapped wires plus a black, "hot" wire.
In the rear of the box I can see two white wires connected to each other.
They have not been touched.
The "hot" black is connected to "common" on the new switch.
I have attached the two cloth wrapped wires one each to the traveler connector screws (not to the green ground) of the new switch.
I've reversed the cloth covered wires on switch 1 and re-reversed them in trying to solve this problem.

Switch "2", at the stairwell bottom, is a box with one (now new) 3-way switch and a two-position, grounded receptacle. The receptacle has ONLY black and white wires attached; it is on a different circuit (circuit 6 - I've not moved any wire attached to circuit 6).
The new 3-way switch has a "hot" black, a red, and a black.
The wires to this box are run through metal raceway that lead in part, back to the breaker box.
This 3-way switch has the "hot" black attached to the common.
The other black and the red are attached to the travelers. Here, I also have reversed and re-reversed the traveler wires in attempts to figure this out.

Circuit 5 is remaining off while I have stepped away from the work.
 
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Old 07-20-14, 04:15 PM
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Handy: thank you. I liked the simplicity of the sniffer. Time to get out the analog.
 
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Old 07-20-14, 05:08 PM
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If you have a multimeter set it to ohms,shut the power off, take the 2 wires you think are the travelers at one end and wirenut them together, go to the other switch location and locate those 2 wires using the multimeter touching 2 wires at a time ,when you have a reading those will be your travelers.the remaining 2 wires will be you common.
Geo
 
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Old 07-20-14, 07:33 PM
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"Hot" for both switches are connected to "common."
You shouldn't have a "HOT" wire feeding both 3-way switches. Perhaps one of them appears to be hot, but is a traveller.
 
 

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