Wiring issue Please help

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  #1  
Old 04-26-16, 04:45 AM
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Wiring issue Please help

I'm trying to replace two switches in a 1940's home to make a light work. I will post a image of the layout if someone could help me. Both Switches are 3 way. The upstairs Works fine when i flip the switch. But when i wire the downstairs It will either pop breaker, or work fine but then the upstairs switch will no turn the light off or on? Name:  Untitled.jpg
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  #2  
Old 04-26-16, 05:43 AM
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It seems as though you are attempting to wire the light in between the two switches as per your diagram which is fine. However a bit confused as to what how you are attempting it.

If the wiring in fact is that the light is in between the light then try this layout here.

Remember the hot must go to the common on one switch (dark colored screw) and the wire going to/from the light black wire must go to the common screw on the other switch. Note: picture fails to show that the white wire being used as a hot from the light to the second switch (traveler) should be coded with black tape or marker to indicate it is a hot wire and not a neutral.
 
  #3  
Old 04-26-16, 10:56 AM
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When replacing 3-way switches you must always mark the common wire, the wire to the odd colored screw. You then connect that wire to the common of the new switch which may or may not be in the same location as on the old switch. I'm guessing you didn't mark the common, correct?

I see no way for what you have drawn to work. Lets start with the basic info. Answer all the questions below and we will go from there. Questions refer only to the two switch boxes and the ceiling box.
  • Is this cable or knob and tube?
  • If cable is there a 2-conductor cable in any box that when disconnected measures ~120v from black to white using a multimeter. (A non contact tester won't work.) If you do have such a cable which box.
  • If cable which boxes, if any, have 3-conductor cables (red, black, white).
 

Last edited by ray2047; 04-26-16 at 11:22 AM.
  #4  
Old 04-27-16, 02:24 AM
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I snapped some photos hopefully it will show a little more. Thanks again for all the help Imgur: The most awesome images on the Internet

http://imgur.com/a/br4BG
 
  #5  
Old 04-27-16, 03:08 AM
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Your pictures are very scary. No way I would try to use the existing wiring.

Here is one of your pictures. See my notes below.

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"A" Shows the white of a cable cut off not used. I don't know what is going on with that but it is not code.

"B" Shows a bare wire hooked to what appears to be a traveler screw. Never should a bare wire be hooked to anything but a ground screw.

"C" The wire on the left traveler screw shows a wire with way too much insulation stripped off. A short waiting to happen.

The condition of your wiring is very degraded and I be scared to reuse it plus it is hard to say what is going on. I'm not even sure you have the wires for a standard 3-way setup. Maybe someone else can try to help you out but if I had to fix that I'd go from scratch all the way to the breaker box and abandon what is there.
 
  #6  
Old 04-27-16, 12:31 PM
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Yes they do look horrible the house was built in the 40's and nothing was updated hardly. Yes the odd thing that bare wire you see 'B' gets juice, Is that normal for a ground? The other two wires Are traveler wires the one stripped to far is the black that runs to the main power source downstairs switch, The other is a White traveler wire, well you can't tell if white or not due to them being so old
 
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Old 04-27-16, 01:51 PM
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I Made a pic of the way it's laid out, But i'm lost why Bare wire is getting some continuity from Hot? Is that normal? Name:  16751240.jpg
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Old 04-27-16, 02:11 PM
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The bare wire has to go it is unsafe. Here is a diagram that is closest to yours that is correct. By comparing them you should be able to see your problem.

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As stated you can't have a bare wire.

Power must come in via a 2-conductor cable with black being hot and white neutral. You can't cut off the white neutral and grab a neutral from somewhere else which they seem to have done.

This seems to have been repaired by someone totally incompetent. I think I can see red K&T wires in the picture so it may have been correct to today's standards when first wire though there were often often unsafe wiring practices used such as grabbing a neutral from the nearest circuit.
 
  #9  
Old 04-27-16, 02:26 PM
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Yes it all looks good but i notice white should be Ground at light and Black should be going to the Common. So i will try to switch the two wires at light. But Still Why do i only have a Bare, White, Black at upstairs switch? I will check A/c real fast to see whats putting juice out
 
  #10  
Old 04-27-16, 02:40 PM
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So i swapped them Two around at light. Now i get White wire at light-Bare wire upstairs switch. Black wire at light Hot from downstairs switch, BUT also Continuity From the bare wrapped in Copper upstairs behind another switch.
 
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Old 04-27-16, 02:42 PM
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i notice white should be Ground at light
Was that a typo? It should be neutral. (As stated on the diagram grounds aren't shown.)
But Still Why do i only have a Bare, White, Black at upstairs switch?
Ignorant repair person probably. It can't remain and you really can't just replace it with an insulated wire. It might work but it would be very wrong and I can't say how safe.
 
  #12  
Old 04-27-16, 02:58 PM
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As I pull down the light from downstairs i see three wires from one side then three from the other. He has a White or red can't tell, Black and bare and the same from other side.

Black--------><---------Black
Red/Or/White-------><--------Red/Or/White
Bare----->Light white wire ////////Bare-------->Light black wire
 
  #13  
Old 04-27-16, 03:14 PM
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So i checked Voltage With all wires off switches and lights, The switch downstairs is correct as it's common wired to black screw. The Light i get No juice from None of the wires not even the bare. Upstairs switch i get zero juice, The Switch upstairs that's used for another light with the bare wire and copper tied has a black wire that has juice.
 
  #14  
Old 04-27-16, 03:28 PM
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I Connected the downstairs back up I now get power going to black wire on light that's connected to a bare wire When i flip switch i get no power, Seem right? Besides the bare wire smh! I noticed the wire coming out of the wall behind switch the main wire only has a Bare and a black wire coming up. He has the black which is hot to common but bare is tied with other bare wires
 
  #15  
Old 04-27-16, 06:56 PM
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I have to tell you..... that wiring is frightening. A solid bare or a stranded bare wire is NEVER used to carry hot or neutral. I see a bare stranded wire connected to one of the switch terminals. That has to go.

If I didn't know any better I'd say it looks like your neutral is being obtained from a ground wire.
That's another issue.

I'm not sure we can help you on this one. This really needs some up close and personal investigation.
 
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Old 04-27-16, 08:16 PM
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Bottom line you need to rewire the whole circuit all the way to the breaker panel. It would be irresponsible to try to help you repair what you have. We will be glad to help you do this from scratch.
 
  #17  
Old 04-27-16, 08:37 PM
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I just replaced Two ceiling fans upstairs and Both had same wire layout, One wire coming in Black with Bare coming off that. I wired White to the bare and there both working fine?Name:  13095914_981801485243083_5146869699502188748_n.jpg
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Last edited by Thomas David; 04-27-16 at 09:07 PM.
  #18  
Old 04-27-16, 10:08 PM
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Hey believe me i would if i owned the house. I would do all wires and a new sub panel. But i rent and my landlord doesn't want to put any money into the home. Plus every outlet has this same wiring setup, not sure if this is what was used in the 40's? But here is photos of the fan i put in the wiring. Black wire with bare running from it, Bare wire is going to White Neutral wire and black goes to the black side. Name:  13094253_981821295241102_6646011555152655541_n.jpg
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Old 04-27-16, 10:43 PM
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You have got to be kidding me. Do you realize how much of a liability issue this is with you doing unlicensed electrical work in an unowned house ?

This is really serious. You should not be doing wiring work in there.
 
  #20  
Old 04-27-16, 10:51 PM
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I'm changing a broken fan that is more of a hazard from falling over my kids heads. Not sure whats the hazard? The entire house is wired like this so at one point it was up to code or we wouldn't be living here. Inspector was here 4 months ago and didn't say a word of the wiring? So I'm kinda lost. My landlord fully knows I'm fixing the light. I do all types of repairs, plumbing unlicensed and much more. Our state laws maybe a little different than yours? As i read the code here a BARE Neutral wire is not against the code?
 
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Old 04-27-16, 11:31 PM
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As i read the code here a BARE Neutral wire is not against the code?
Then you are not reading code for the U.S. Neutral can NOT be bare. Only ground can be bare.
Inspector was here 4 months ago and didn't say a word of the wiring?
Then he knew nothing about electricity or didn't see any of the open junction boxes you have shown us.
 
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Old 04-29-16, 05:24 PM
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That does not look like it was ever even close to code.
 
  #23  
Old 05-02-16, 12:53 AM
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I actually recognize this because I have seen it. It is old per-code wiring.

They used to wire a 3-way switch by running both the hot and the neutral to each of the three-way switches. Each common switch terminal went to one of the lamp terminals. The lamp changes polarity depending on how the switches are set. In in one off position both the screw shell and the center contact of the lamp socket are hot.

The "advantage" was that outlets could be placed between the switches.

I would bet that the bare wires once had insulation. But it is possible they thought it was not necessary.

That house needs a thorough rewiring job.
 
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