4 way switch issues

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  #1  
Old 08-07-14, 04:13 PM
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4 way switch issues

I moved into a new house recently and found that 3 switches in the living room all on different walls do not turn any light or receptacles on. After taking the covers off I found two 3 way switches and a 4 way as well. That tells me that the switches are on same circuit and powered the same thing, I assume. How do I go about trying to find where these wires go to? I'd like to get thrm working again or else remove them completely but I'm not sure what to do at this point.
 
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Old 08-07-14, 04:27 PM
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Here's a picture of a 4 way circuit. This may give you some insight.
 
  #3  
Old 08-07-14, 05:03 PM
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Thanks for that. I know how things are wired but there's no fixtures that I can see that these switches would be controlling. I know they have power because I checked with multimeter and sparks were flying and burnt the nodes on my meter.
 
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Old 08-07-14, 05:50 PM
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You may not be looking for fixtures, but a receptacle that is switched for a table or floor lamp. You will need to check both the top and bottom receptacle.
 
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Old 08-07-14, 06:12 PM
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I have checked all receptacles top and bottom with a lamp. The switches do nothing in regards to any receptacles.
 
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Old 08-07-14, 06:16 PM
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Someone may have replaced a receptacle and not broken the tab on the brass side and it is overriding the switches. A toner would help sort this out.
 
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Old 08-07-14, 06:36 PM
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What's a toner? I'm not too familiar with some testing equipment. If there's some steps i could take to make figure this out please let me know.
 
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Old 08-07-14, 06:46 PM
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I would stay by turning off the breaker that controls this area to see what goes dead. While the power is off remove the cover plates and look at the wire colors on the switch. Also look to see if you see a red and a black on the brass side of the receptacles or n the back of the receptacle boxes.
 
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Old 08-07-14, 06:52 PM
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I have done that and the 2 three ways have a red and the 4 way has two red, two blacks. From what I've found there is 4 receptacles and 4 light switches (3 of them are controlling 1 unknown unit) in this circuit.
 
  #10  
Old 08-07-14, 06:55 PM
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I moved into a new house recently and found that 3 switches in the living room all on different walls do not turn any light or receptacles on.
Ask the builder to ask his electrical sub.
 
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Old 08-08-14, 08:56 AM
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I have no contact information for the seller. The realtor did all the talking between the two parties.
 
  #12  
Old 08-08-14, 09:36 AM
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Is there a way to test if a 4 way switch has power so I can then shut breakers off and retest until it has no power to determine what circuit the switch is on?
 
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Old 08-08-14, 10:10 AM
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If the 4-way has a ground you can use a multimeter the check between each hot and ground. For this to work both 3-ways must remain unchanged. Changing a 3-way will change which 4-way wire is hot.

How the better way is at the 3-way switches. One of those should have a 2-conductor cable (black and white) which will show hot between the white and black.
 
  #14  
Old 08-08-14, 11:06 AM
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One 3 way has a black and red from one romex to each brass screw on left side. The black screw (by itself) has one black wire from another romex (either going to breaker or unknown fixture). Looks like there is a couple white wires that are just spliced together in back of box. All the boxes in the house are metal and the bare grounds are tied to screw that's in back and bottom of the metal box.

The other 3 way has 2 blacks (one from standard switch next to it and the other is wire tied to black coming from its own romex). These 2 black wires are on black screw. On the other side of switch it has a red to one screw and black to the other screw coming from same piece of romex.

The 4 way switch has a red to each screw on right side and a black to each screw on the left side.

The 3 way that has two black wires attached to black screw is a little different to me. Since there is 2 black wires attached to common screw, that tells me that these 3 switches are in the middle of the circuit and are fed power from the switch next to it. Still doesn't need 2 black wires to common screw does it? I'm confused, please help lol
It would be easier to draw the diagram or upload pics for you to look at.
 
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Old 08-08-14, 11:22 AM
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There should only be one wire per screw.

To find the breaker turn on the single pole switch and watch for the fixture it controls to go off when the breakers are flipped.
 
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Old 08-08-14, 11:26 AM
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There's no fixture that these switches control that I can find so finding the breaker that way does not work.
 
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Old 08-08-14, 11:40 AM
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The 3 way that has two black wires attached to black screw is a little different to me.
One of those are probably from the 2-conductor cable that is the constant hot. Measure from there to ground and see if you have ~120 volts.
 
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Old 08-08-14, 12:01 PM
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So unhook all connections to the switch and then test each of those 2 black wires? One test lead to the black copper and the end end just touching the metal box or the screw in back of metal box that bare copper ground is connected too?
 
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Old 08-08-14, 12:06 PM
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I'd try testing with it connected. Just test to the screw that has two wires and ground be it box or bare wire.
 
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Old 08-08-14, 12:12 PM
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Ok I will try that. Last time I tried testing 3 way switches sparks were flying when testing one lead to screw and the other to the grounded box.
 
  #21  
Old 08-08-14, 01:28 PM
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I tested both 3 ways and 4 way switch. I determined the breaker and that they're on same circuit for sure (which I assumed). Everything seems to be wired correctly between the 3 switches. The only thing that needs to be done is figuring out where the fixture is that the power is going too. I'd like to remove or replace faulty fixture so there aren't 3 switches that have power and nothing that is working off them. Being a new house that I just moved into to id like to take care of this matter. I determined which 3 way switch of the two that goes to the fixture by testing the common screw for AC and then flipping the switch and it had no reading telling me that this 3 way goes to fixture because if it was power from panel then it would always be hot no matter the configuration of switches. How should I go about finding the fixture now?
 
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Old 08-08-14, 01:57 PM
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Is there a blank plate on the ceiling for a fixture rough in? A fox and hound toner may be needed since you seem reluctant to ask the persons that wired the home.
 
  #23  
Old 08-08-14, 03:07 PM
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I can't get a hold of the people that lived here before. We bought the house through a realtor and they live out of state. No signs of a fixture anywhere.
 
  #24  
Old 08-08-14, 03:17 PM
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If someone else has the same model house we if they can tell you what the switch operates.
 
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Old 08-08-14, 03:22 PM
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One 3 way has a black and red from one romex to each brass screw on left side. The black screw (by itself) has one black wire from another romex (either going to breaker or unknown fixture).
Just in case you were unsure.... this IS the fixture or load side of the circuit. This switch is usually closest to what it supplies.
 
  #26  
Old 08-08-14, 09:48 PM
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Yeah usually closest and it's on the wall in loving room at doorway going into kitchen. It's not for the kitchen though because the 3 switches for that work. The 3 switches are all on living room walls going out doorways. I'm thinking maybe an old fan/light combo that may have been in living room at one time but is not there anymore and no signs of one in attic.
 
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