3 way switch off can't hook up the new one

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  #1  
Old 01-21-17, 09:56 AM
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3 way switch off can't hook up the new one

Ok. I thought this was going to be easy, but ..

So, I took off the old toggle switches on a 3 way switch with two switches and the old switches are pretty old (1970's). I cut the 3 wires and now don't know where to put them on the new 3 way switch.

I have a black, red and white wire.

Any help greatly appre.
 
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Old 01-21-17, 10:21 AM
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Can you see any insulation color left on the old switch near the odd colored screw? If not it will be trial and error.
 
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Old 01-21-17, 10:55 AM
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Do you have a 2-conductor cable (black, white) and a 3-conductor cable (black, red, white) in both switch boxes or just one switch box?

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Old 01-21-17, 10:59 AM
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Ok guys it's 3 wires in this switch box, I haven't opened the other one yet and would rather not right now I'm getting frustrated.

Anyways, I've put both the black and red in the COMMON black screw and NEITHER made the switch work right.

If I switch the other switch on the circuit then this switch will work.

I'm assuming now that the WHITE is the HOT??

THE OLD TOGGLE that I took out had the BLACK wire going to the right top backstab! One this old switch there are 2 backstabs at top and one at the bottom left.



HELP!
 
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Old 01-21-17, 11:52 AM
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If the black and red do not make it operate correctly the only other option is the white on the common. No need to make any changes at the other switch. If you do you will make this much harder.
 
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Old 01-21-17, 07:35 PM
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Thanks pcboss and ray! I figured it out shortly after. I had to kill the power so I couldn't get on my comp. and then I had to go somewhere.

Yes, it was the white wire that was the common. Then there was another 3 way switch I had to fiddle with in the same enclosure. That one somehow I got on first try. It had 2 reds and a black. One of the REDS was a common, but I just winged it and got it first try. Everything works and I've now replaced the old toggles with new fandanggled rockers!

Now if I could only figure out how to get the darn switch plates flush with the wall! But they look ok anyways. I did them the best I could for now.

Here's what they look like all done ... and working correctly! Yippee!

You can see in the 2nd pic how the plate is not flush with the wall, but I think that walls are a little bowed also. It doesn't look as bad as in the pic as in real life cause you don't zoom in on it lol. Anyway to get them more flush maybe? I didn't tighten the switch screws too tight because I think it would be harder to get the plate on, but they are solid and don't move around. The switches were a little hard to get to go in straight to the wall also. There's a lot of wires in behind them that had to squeeze in the best I could for now.

Now I've got 3 more switchplates and switches to replace. One more in the kitchen with 3 switches. One is a 3 way and I believe 2 are single pole. Then there's a 3 switch in the livingroom with the same config I think. Then there's the GFCI's still for the kitchen sink, plus a GFCI on the right of the kitchen sink with 2 single pole switches that I'm changing to rockers and then the 2 bedrooms I'm changing to single pole rockers to operate the half hot outlets. Gonna be busy!

You can also see in the 2nd pic the crappy old laminate wood flooring in the livingroom that I'm going to eventually change out hopefully within a year or so. Lots to do in this little 1000sf house!

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Old 01-21-17, 07:51 PM
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Do the boxes stick out beyond the wall?
 
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Old 01-21-17, 07:55 PM
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When replacing a three way switch you don't have to "wing it". Every three way switch has a dark/odd colored screw from the other two. If you move the wire from the dark screw on the old device to the dark screw on the new device it will always work.
 
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Old 01-21-17, 08:15 PM
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Do the boxes stick out beyond the wall?
Hmmmm, maybe ... not sure.
 
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Old 01-21-17, 08:20 PM
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When replacing a three way switch you don't have to "wing it". Every three way switch has a dark/odd colored screw from the other two. If you move the wire from the dark screw on the old device to the dark screw on the new device it will always work.
Thanks PJmax, that's what I thought also, but I couldn't see a "dark" screw on these old toggle switches. To me they all looked sort of like dirty copper or brass.
 
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Old 01-21-17, 08:36 PM
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The old switches may just say "common" on the back instead of an odd colored screw.
 
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Old 01-22-17, 12:24 PM
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I'm wondering why the white was used as a common now when there was white, black and red in this cable.

Should I bother to change it so that black is the common? Of course I'd also would have to change the other 3 way switch also correct?

Then I have to figure out where the POWER comes in. It's either at the other switch or the ceiling light which is a hanging chandelier type with 5 semi enclosed lights.
 
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Old 01-22-17, 12:41 PM
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Should I bother to change it so that black is the common
1 - Is it broke? Fix it.
2 - If it's not broke, leave it alone. Gee.
 
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Old 01-22-17, 02:52 PM
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The code requires the white to be the feed to the switch. Leave it alone.
 
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Old 01-22-17, 03:20 PM
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The code requires the white to be the feed to the switch. Leave it alone
Ok, but what code? I thought that the black was the feed. Also, should the white have a black mark on it?

By the way, the other 3 way switch cable in the same box was red, red, and black wire. I've never seen that before!

Thanks
 
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Old 01-22-17, 04:30 PM
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Yes.... the white should have an identifier or tape on it.

There are dozens of ways of wiring a three way circuit.
Power at one end...... lights at other end.
Power and lights at one end.
Power at light.
Power at light with three way switch loop.

The list goes on. Each wiring method can use the colors differently.
There is NO three way wiring standard.

The ONLY standard used is the the common wire on the common terminal MUST remain on the common terminal.
 
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Old 01-22-17, 04:41 PM
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Just to add to what Pete wrote: In my file of 3-way circuits I have 18 different diagrams and even then the colors may not match the members and I may have to add modifications to match what the member has. However they all have one thing in common. Power goes in one common and out the other common. Remember that rule and you can usually figure it out.
 
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