3-way switch--poles switch?

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Old 05-28-15, 01:05 PM
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3-way switch--poles switch?

Hello,
I've been struggling with a 3-way switch dilemma for nearly a week and can't seem to find an answer online.

I have 2 3-way switches hooked up to a receptacle. Both switches work fine, and that receptacle gets power just fine. The problem starts when I put a tester on it and find that the neutral becomes hot when I turn switch 'A' on (copper side becomes cold) and reverses when I turn switch 'B' on.

Does a 3-way switch basically switch from pole to pole, positive to negative?

Thanks.
 
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Old 05-28-15, 01:21 PM
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I'm guessing you are using a plug in tester. Test using and analog multimeter instead.
 
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Old 05-28-15, 01:33 PM
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Nope, using a multi to test.
 
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Old 05-28-15, 01:56 PM
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We will need to know the wiring at both switches.
 
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Old 05-28-15, 03:27 PM
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I rarely respond to any questions concerning three-way switches because they are absurdly simple.


Does a 3-way switch basically switch from pole to pole, positive to negative?
No, because with alternating current there is no positive and negative. Even if you are using a direct current source (battery) the three-way switch does not change from positive to negative.

The ONLY thing a pair of three-way switches do is to offer an alternate path for the electricity to flow upon depending on the positions of the individual switches. Power comes into the common contact of one switch and leaves from the common contact on the other switch. The power will traverse on ONE of the "traveler" wires between the two switches and which traveler is used depends upon the position of the handles of the two switches.
 
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Old 05-28-15, 05:19 PM
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Old 05-28-15, 05:26 PM
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Yep, that's the circuit. Be sure to connect the white power lead to the silver-colored screw on the receptacle and the black from the switch to the brass-colored screw.
 
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Old 05-28-15, 06:46 PM
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Yet when I hook this up the receptacle will alternate between neutral being hot and the hot being hot.

I know 3 ways are "absurdly simple" which is why I'm here: I've done this so many times there shouldn't be a problem, yet here I have alternating poles.

I'm near losing sleep over this stupid problem. Grrrrr.
 
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Old 05-28-15, 06:56 PM
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I'll tell you what's even more strange...the outer metal frame around the switch has zapped me a couple times when the neutral pole registers as being hot.

I'll add that these are 20 amp switches that I have replaced with new ones (in case there was some manufacture error) as well as the receptacle.
 
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Old 05-28-15, 07:25 PM
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The size of the switch has absolutely nothing to do with this. You said you're getting a shock ?

If the switch is in AND grounded how would you get a shock unless you are missing a ground.
 
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Old 05-28-15, 07:59 PM
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Pjmax
I have no idea. I'm not a spring chicken...everything was grounded.



UPDATE: took all the wiring out of the junction box and hooked it up...now it works fine.

Which makes me mad because I have no idea what the problem was.

Thanks...all!
 
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Old 05-28-15, 08:06 PM
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.... no spring chicken here either.

It's working but I'm not convinced that you aren't missing the ground to that box.
 
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Old 05-28-15, 08:20 PM
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I hope where it says "to receptacle" on your diagram is where the receptacle is, and not the junction box. Otherwise it looks like you might have a California 3 way.
 
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Old 05-30-15, 01:13 PM
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UPDATE UPDATE: Found the problem!

The hot wire from the power had a slit down the side of it and was grounding itself out to the metal junction box. All boxes are metal, all have been grounded properly, but that explains why it switched from neutral to hot and back.

So weird...

I was about to call a priest and a rabbi to bless my garage.
 
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Old 05-30-15, 02:21 PM
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Since there was nothing wrong with your drawing it had to be in the actual application. Glad that you found it and thank you for letting us know the real problem.
 
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Old 05-30-15, 02:31 PM
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All boxes are metal, all have been grounded properly, but that explains why it switched from neutral to hot and back.
Almost.... if the box was truly grounded.... the black wire would have touched and tripped the breaker.... or should have.
 
 

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