2 Light Switches, 2 wiring setups

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  #1  
Old 10-18-14, 01:10 PM
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2 Light Switches, 2 wiring setups

Yikes, you guys. Appreciate your help with this one...

On a staircase going down to the basement is a pair of light switches. (Picture below!) Switch2 controls the light at the bottom of the stairs. Switch1 hasn't functioned in years (after an electrician apparently disconnected it to move a junction box in another part of the house), but it used to be used to turn off the power to our detached garage from the house (old time security feature, I suppose). The house was built in the early 1950s.

The toggle on S2 recently broke -- probably the spring since the toggle wouldn't stay in the up position. In any case, I decided to replace both switches with rocker-type toggle switches. Was able to change S2 just fine although the black wire was really an exposed length along the sheathed wire and not an end piece. The old switch only had a black wire and a white wire. So, I left the green ground screw on the new switch empty. It's functioning A-OK.

The issue is with S1, which I did not expect to magically start working, but I still want the wires to be set up correctly. The old switch had three connections. Black wire at top left, white wire at bottom left, red wire at bottom right (This is the left-side switch in the picture below). I have the same type of toggle switch to install here with 1 hot, 1 neutral and 1 ground connections. I attached all three of the wires as red to neutral, black to hot and white to ground. Thinking on it now, I'm pretty sure this is wrong. Do I need to buy a special type of rocker switch for this? Do I just cap off the red wire? Again, for now this switch is dead / disconnected from any electrical connections, but I want the setup to be correct in case it is ever reconnected in the future.

Thanks!!

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  #2  
Old 10-18-14, 01:49 PM
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The left switch is a 3-way switch. See if there is a corresponding one in the garage. If not Remove the right switch, cap the wires with wire nuts. Use a cover plate with one blank and one switch opening. No reason to install a new switch if it isn't needed.

If you do decide to install a new switch on the left one of the old screws should have a letter "C" or "common" next to it. The wire on that screw goes to the odd colored screw on the new 3-way switch.
 
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Old 10-18-14, 02:20 PM
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Ray,

Thanks for your help! Yes, there is a switch in the garage which still functions to turn the power on/off in there -- it definitely used to function opposite of the switch in the house. In other words, yep this is a three-way setup.

Unfortunately, there is no "C" or "Common" on the original (dead) switch in the house. I'm pretty sure the red wire is the common. First, I will check the switch in the garage to see if it has any markings that would let me know for sure.

I will go buy a 3-way rocker switch unless my mom just wants a blank and to cap those wires since the switch doesn't work anyway. Didn't realize that it was a different type of switch when I was at the store the first time.

Thanks again!
 
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Old 10-18-14, 04:11 PM
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Looking again at the switch the top left seems to be a different color so that is probably your common.
 
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Old 10-18-14, 05:58 PM
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Ray is correct. The upper left terminal is the odd/or darker terminal. Two are always identical screws and a third one is always different..... usually darker.

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