Help troubleshooting 3 way switch

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  #1  
Old 09-29-15, 05:53 PM
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Help troubleshooting 3 way switch

I'm totally stumped on figuring out this 3 way switch. I've found a ton of diagrams, but nothing quite looks like my situation. Thought this would be somewhat simple, but no luck. The wires are hot at the fixture but no light. Any help would be awesome.Name:  2015_09_29_20_37_49.jpg
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  #2  
Old 09-29-15, 06:11 PM
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Welcome to the forums.

Yes.... confusing. Looks like a three way switch loop.

Does the three wire cable at switch one go to the light ?
Does the three wire cable go from switch one to switch two ?
 
  #3  
Old 09-30-15, 06:18 AM
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Pretty sure the 3 wire does go to the light. This is what's confusing me. I'm not entirely sure which cable goes where.
 
  #4  
Old 09-30-15, 08:31 AM
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There's only one 3-wire at the light. That's what's throwing me as well.
 
  #5  
Old 09-30-15, 08:50 AM
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If your diagram is drawn correctly it shows a working circuit.

The only thing you didn't show is what color wire is on the dark colored screw on each switch.
 

Last edited by PJmax; 09-30-15 at 03:54 PM. Reason: removed pic
  #6  
Old 09-30-15, 10:04 AM
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The dark colored screw is the bottom right on each switch. Someone suggested I switch the red and white on switch 2, but it made no change.
 
  #7  
Old 09-30-15, 04:02 PM
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Yes... you should switch the red and white on switch 2.

Do you have a meter ? We need to walk thru the circuit.

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Cable 4 at switch 1 is cable 6 at switch 2.
Cable 3 at the light is the same as cable 5 at switch 1.
Cable 1 and cable 2..... one is a two wire feed in and the other is a two wire feed out.

With a meter check from white at switch 2 to ground.
 
  #8  
Old 09-30-15, 04:03 PM
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Edit: PJ and I posted at the same time. For now follow his instructions.

The wires are hot at the fixture but no light.
How did you determine that? If you used a non contact tester then your result is meaningless. You need to label all the wires and how they are connected then disconnect them for testing. On each of the 2-conductor cables measure from black to white using a multimeter, preferably analog. On the 3-conductor cable measure from red to white and black to white.

More measurements and questions but do this first then we will move on.
 
  #9  
Old 09-30-15, 05:56 PM
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I'll buy a meter tomorrow and report back. I may have to Google a bit to make sure I'm reading it correctly, but I'll see what I can muster.
 
  #10  
Old 09-30-15, 06:08 PM
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All you need is an $8-$15 analog multimeter. Do not get a digital multimeter.
 
  #11  
Old 09-30-15, 06:25 PM
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Sounds good. What's the problem with the digitals?
 
  #12  
Old 09-30-15, 06:34 PM
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What's the problem with the digitals?
Unless you get a very expensive one they can sometimes give misleading reading. If your familiar with their quirks you know when to ignore a reading but for beginners it is just easier to use a meter that despite being cheaper is less likely to give a misleading reading.
 
  #13  
Old 10-01-15, 06:56 AM
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White @ switch 2 (which is now on top) is showing 0 Ohms when held to ground
 
  #14  
Old 10-01-15, 07:14 AM
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When you refer to connections on the switch use the term common for the odd colored screw and traveler for the two similar colored screw. Position of common on switch can vary so saying position isn't helpful in most cases.
White @ switch 2 (which is now on top) is showing 0 Ohms when held to ground
Good, because you could have blown your new meter. PJ wanted a voltage reading with the wire disconnected and breaker on.
 
  #15  
Old 10-01-15, 07:56 AM
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Voltage reading looks like about 125 with the wire disconnected and breaker on
 
  #16  
Old 10-01-15, 08:38 AM
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On each of the 2-conductor cables measure from black to white using a multimeter, preferably analog. On the 3-conductor cable measure from red to white and black to white.
The only things hot are the white @ switch 2 and the bundle of two blacks + one white at the fixture.
 
  #17  
Old 10-01-15, 08:58 AM
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No sweat. I totally appreciate the help. I know my limits on electrical knowledge and I'm always SUPER careful. I'm not taking any chances.
 
  #18  
Old 10-01-15, 10:00 AM
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If I touch one probe to black and the other to white where you have circled, there's nothing. If I touch the black to one probe and the other to ground, there's voltage.
 
  #19  
Old 10-01-15, 10:35 AM
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No luck. Could the issue be on an outlet somewhere along the same circuit?
 
  #20  
Old 10-01-15, 12:05 PM
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Correct, there are two 3-conductor cables at switch 1. The red on lower left was wire-nutted from the get-go. The light hasn't worked since we purchased the home a few months ago.
 
  #21  
Old 10-01-15, 12:45 PM
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Okay, lets wait for PJ for now. Did it ever work?
 
  #22  
Old 10-01-15, 05:00 PM
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We are working with a switch loop. All voltage measurement are made to ground. There is no neutral at either switch.

Yes... there are 2) three conductor cables at switch 1. It would make sense that the red wire was capped at both ends. That's why I'm assuming that is the cable between switch 1 and the light.

So you put the wire on the common at switch 2. Good. I mentioned that previously.

That would mean with switch 2 in one position.... red would be hot to ground and in the other position... black would be hot to ground.

Now go to switch 1. Same thing. The colors should work the same way at switch 1 as 2.
When the red wire shows hot to ground at switch 2..... it should be the same at switch 1.
When the black wire shows hot to ground at switch 2..... it should be the same at switch 1.
(we're just checking the two travelers...... not the common wire.
 
  #23  
Old 10-02-15, 05:42 AM
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That would mean with switch 2 in one position.... red would be hot to ground and in the other position... black would be hot to ground.
Perfect

Now go to switch 1. Same thing. The colors should work the same way at switch 1 as 2.
When the red wire shows hot to ground at switch 2..... it should be the same at switch 1.
When the black wire shows hot to ground at switch 2..... it should be the same at switch 1.
Not so much. I'm not getting anything hot here now. It was previously, so I must have something off in the fixture. I'll re adjust in a bit.
 
  #24  
Old 10-02-15, 08:39 AM
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At switch location 1...... you have a white wire splice. See if you have 120v from that white wire to ground.

If yes..... then you have confirmed my wiring.
If no..... then the switch 2 three wire cable does not go directly to switch 1.
 
  #25  
Old 10-02-15, 09:31 AM
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yes, you're wiring is confirmed. The white that's 120v is from the wire with the red capped.
 
  #26  
Old 10-02-15, 09:53 AM
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Ok.... so then the diagram is correct. The travelers at switch 2 should match the travelers at switch 1.

While you're checking..... check from the white wire connection to the black wire connection at the light. Make sure there is 120v. We're looking at cable 1 and 2.
 
  #27  
Old 10-02-15, 11:18 AM
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The black at cable 1 is 120v everything else up there is dead. That's if I go black to ground. If I go black to white, it's only showing about 50v
 
  #28  
Old 10-03-15, 05:33 AM
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Any other suggestions? Should I buckle down and call an electrician?
 
  #29  
Old 10-03-15, 08:56 AM
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I'd say call an electrician. Sometimes it is too difficult to troubleshoot by remote control.
 
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