Connecting New Outlet to 3way switch

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  #1  
Old 08-30-16, 04:53 AM
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Connecting New Outlet to 3way switch

I recently bought a new house and would like to install a new 15amp outlet in a hallway. Where I want to install it is on a wall that is the other side of a wall that has stairs going down to my basement. On the basement stair side is a 3 way switch. One switch is up top and the other at the bottom of the stairs.

The upstairs switch would be directly above where I want to install my new outlet, just on the other side of the same wall. I do not know how the 3 way switch is wired with respect to where the source power comes in to the 3 way circuit.

My question is, can an outlet be connected to either 3way switch regardless of where the source power comes to that circuit or can an outlet only be conncted to the switch that receives the source power? Is there any way to look at the switch and determine how it might be wired up?
I want the new outlet to be always live and not powered by any switches.
 
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Old 08-30-16, 08:00 AM
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You are going to have to pull the switch out of the box and see what is in there send a pic or 2 so we can see what you have,if there is only 3 conductors in the box,forget it.
Is the basement ceiling finished? If not it would just as easy to fish a new cable up the wall taking a feed from a fixture in the basement that has a feed in it.
 
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Old 08-31-16, 06:27 AM
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I would have thought that both 3 way switches would only have 3 conductors in the box, plus any neutral and ground connections.

I will try to get a picture of the insides of the box I am trying to connect to. The basement is finished but it is just a drop ceiling so I might be able to connect to a fixture down there. I will have to take a closer look.
 
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Old 08-31-16, 06:52 AM
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To tell which box has the power first turn of the breaker, disconnect the Common wire in each switch box, turn the power back on and use a tester to see which of the wires you disconnected has power.

Mod Note: Do not use a non contact tester. They are not accurate enough. Use a multimeter (or neon test light or solenoid tester). Measure between the common and ground,
 

Last edited by ray2047; 08-31-16 at 11:44 AM.
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Old 08-31-16, 11:48 AM
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My question is, can an outlet be connected to either 3way switch regardless of where the source power comes to that circuit or can an outlet only be conncted to the switch that receives the source power?
Only to a box that contains a hot and a neutral. Note not all white wires are neutral. If there is a two conductor cable after noting how it was connected disconnect and test with a multimeter for ~120v between black and white.
 
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Old 09-01-16, 04:27 AM
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OK. Thanks guys. My main question got answered, which was can either switch of a 3 way circuit provide continuous power to an outlet. It sounds like only the one with the source power can do that. It was kind of what I thought, hence the reason I asked the question.

JIMMIEM provided a nice and easy way to determine the source power and Geochurchi's idea of using a fixture in the basement might also work well. There is a light fixture quite close and now that I look at it, it wouldn't surprise me if that fixture is actually supplying the source power to the switch I wanted to use. I know that they are all on the same breaker. I will need to go into the drop ceiling to see.

Great ideas. Thanks again.
 
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Old 09-01-16, 05:24 AM
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JIMMIEM provided a nice and easy way to determine the source power
Not if he was referring to a non contact tester and he seemed to be. That is why I added the mod note.
 
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Old 09-01-16, 06:44 AM
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No problem. I don't own a non contact tester so I will be using a multi-meter anyway, but keep the safety tips coming.

By the way, can I test this by touching one lead to the hot (black) and the other to the grounded box or do I need to get at a white wire with the other multi-meter lead.
 
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Old 09-01-16, 10:49 AM
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Either a known good ground or neutral is fine.
 
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Old 09-02-16, 05:35 PM
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Best to go for the neutral (white ) conductor you should always have power from hot to ground but a white conductor may not always be neutral.
Just Saying.
 
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