Three Way Switch Wiring Issue

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  #1  
Old 04-12-16, 07:20 PM
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Join Date: Apr 2016
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Three Way Switch Wiring Issue

Hello All,

I recently moved into a house that is 10 years old that had the living room prewired for a ceiling fan. The fan has one switch associated with it and the light has two three way switches that aren't working correctly. The wiring of each switch are:

Switch 1
  • 2 black wires
  • 1 red wire
Switch 2
  • 2 red wires
  • 1 black wire
I've tried a bunch of different wiring combinations, but the closest I can get it to working correctly is if switch 1 is on switch 2 can turn light on or off, but if switch 1 is off switch 2 does nothing. To accomplish this, the wiring has the odd color wire to the common post and the others to the travelers:

Switch 1
  • Common Post: red wire
  • Travelers: black wires
Switch 2
  • Common Post: black wire
  • Travelers: red wires
Is there an easy way to determine how the switches should be wired, or do I have to keep playing the guess and check game?

Thanks!
 
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  #2  
Old 04-12-16, 07:36 PM
Tolyn Ironhand's Avatar
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Location: Twin Cities, MN
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Welcome to the forums!

It would be easier it you had a meter and can figure out which wire is the hot. They are only about $12.
Do you have conduit or cable?
Perhaps some pictures would help?
 
  #3  
Old 04-12-16, 07:41 PM
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I actually do have a multimeter, I'm just not super familiar with how to use it. Basically without trying all 720 wiring combinations () I need to test for the hot wire with all wires disconnected from the switches, correct?
 
  #4  
Old 04-12-16, 07:56 PM
Tolyn Ironhand's Avatar
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Set the meter to at LEAST 120 volts (AC ~) It would help to have the wires disconnected so you done read anything on the travelers. It is easiest to read from hot to ground, one probe to each wire. You should get 120 volts. This will need to be done with the power on so be careful!

Many cases the hot wire will be a black that is grouped with other black wires with a wire nut, and a pig tail feeding the switch. This will go to the common of the first switch.

If there is a 3 wire cable with a black, red, white, and ground that is connected to the switch(s) that will likely be the travelers and they go on the brass/gold screws.

If the odd red wire is of another cable it is likely the switch leg, and the goes on the common screw of the other switch.

However you didn't mention if you have conduit, if so all bets are off.
 
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