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# Home Switch Problem

#1
01-17-17, 07:51 PM
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Join Date: Jan 2017
Posts: 2
Home Switch Problem

Hello experts! I live in United States and I really need your help in regards to an issue I'm having with one of my switches. The right-most switch is where the problem occurs. This switch used to turn on a light leading into the basement stairway and is a 1-way switch. The middle and the left-most switches are both 3-way. Before the problem occurred, I could turn on/off the light leading into the basement corridor with either the 3-way switch downstairs or with a 1-way switch upstairs (right-most switch) (image attached). Currently, right-most switch upstairs stopped turning on the light leading into the basement stairway and I want to figure out where the problem occurred. The voltage on the "hot" black wire comes as 120V and there is also a red wire and a bundle of white neutral wires which carry no voltage. My first confusion is how can it be that a 1-way switch and a 3-way switch downstairs both worked together to turn on a light leading into the corridor? Second, if one wire upstairs is the "hot" black wire then how (what instrument) can be used to determine exactly the source of the red traveling wire. In other words, how can I find the other end of the red wire so that I can test for continuity?

P.S. The red and black wires which I indicated in the image below with arrows, are twisted together and only that way a light leading into the upstairs turns on by toggling the middle switch.

#2
01-18-17, 05:49 AM
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Join Date: Nov 2012
Location: USA
Posts: 4,173
It's a bit hard to figure out what you are saying,seems like the single pole was controlling the 3 way,with the red and black twisted together does everything work correctly i.e. downstairs 3 way and upstairs 3 way.
Geo

#3
01-26-17, 08:27 AM
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Join Date: Jan 2017
Posts: 2
Geochurchi,
Yes, the middle 3-way switch upstairs (shown below) and the middle 3-way switch downstairs are connected via travelling wires and do work fine (tested for continuity). Together they make the light leading into the upstairs turn on/off. However, this proper functioning of the upstairs light happens when the black and the red wires are twisted together (shown below). In the box they were tucked away toward the back side and weren't connected to any of the switches. Now, the problem is with the 1-way switch (right-most switch upstairs) and the 3-way (right-most switch) downstairs. They stopped turning on/off the light leading into downstairs basement corridor. The question is how to determine the source of the red traveling wire which was connected to the 1-way switch before I removed it? All I know right now is that the black wire is the "hot" 120V wire and I have no idea where the red traveling wire is coming from. One possibility is that it could be coming directly from the ceiling lamp itself. Is there any instrument which can help me determine this? Another question which still confuses me is how could have a 1-way and a 3-way switch turned on/off the same light?

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#4
01-26-17, 08:37 AM
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Location: Maryland
Posts: 14,997
If the single pole switch cuts power going to the 3 way both will turn the light off. If the single pole is off the 3 way will not work as there is no power.

#5
01-26-17, 10:02 AM
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Join Date: Nov 2012
Location: USA
Posts: 4,173
I am confused, how many 3 way switches in total,2 for downstairs and 2 for upstairs?what was the reason you removed the single pole switch in the first place?The way I picture this setup would be a 3way at the top of the stairs going down stairs and a 3 way t the bottom of those stairs ,and another set of 3 ways for stairs going up to stairs that lead up to a second floor,can't see where the single pole fits in.
Geo

#6
01-26-17, 12:32 PM
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Join Date: Mar 2006
Location: USA
Posts: 33,597
Just opinion: In a case like this I wouldn't even try to figure it out. I'd disconnect everything, determine where each cable goes and which is power in. Then I would wire it according to standard practices.

#7
01-27-17, 12:38 PM
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Join Date: Nov 2012
Location: USA
Posts: 4,173
Ray,I would agree,if I were doing that it would be the best way,however this is a a do it yourselfer and it could get confusing.
Geo

#8
01-27-17, 01:18 PM
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Join Date: Mar 2006
Location: USA
Posts: 33,597

If this is a three way we need to see the wiring on the other end.

We need to determine if there is a 2-conductor power in cable in the box shown at the beginning of the thread. A power in cable when disconnected will show ~120v from black to its white. (A non contact tester can not be used.)

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