Help with 3 gang switch change out


Old 02-28-17, 09:55 AM
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Help with 3 gang switch change out


I opened up another switch that I want to replace the 3 old toggles out with 3 new rockers. It's a 1971 house, so I think these are the originals. Anyways, I opened it up today and I'm getting a little confused again.

This is a 3 gang switch box with:

One 3 way switch and two SP switches. I can see 4 cables coming into the box. TWO are 14/3 wire (red, black, white).

I don't really understand why there are TWO 14/3's in this box, but .... I'm not an electrician! LOL

Oh yeah - ALL THE NEUTRALS, save for one are PIGTAILED?! Isn't this a NO NO?

Here's some pics.

Also, to me the last SP switch is using all BLACKS, so it's obvious one must be being used a a neutral. Whoever wired this I'd say wasn't a great electrician? Is the bottom where all the wires come in on the SP switches the HOT?

Can you also see how they fed the POWER (i'm assuming it's hot) across the bottom of the two SP switches? What the heck?

I'm assuming at THE VERY LEAST I should make a PIGTAIL for the bottom black wires on the SP switches?

How do I determine the HOT on the 3 way switch again? I'm ASSUMING it's either the red or the black?

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Old 02-28-17, 10:52 AM
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It would be normal for all the neutrals to be tied together. The only time they are not is when multiple circuits (on different circuit breakers) are involved.

White wires are *not* always neutrals, they are sometimes used for switch loops and as a current carrying conductor in three way circuits, which is what you have on the left. White wires used as current carrying conductors are supposed to be marked with colored tape or paint to indicate they are not neutrals, but this step is often skipped.

Neutrals are never switched and you will never see a neutral wire going to a standard (non timer or dimmer or wifi) switch.

So, with all that out of the way, just duplicate the wiring you see for the two single pole switches. Rather than run a jumper across to bring the power to both, it is better practice to use a wire nut to join short wires from the two switches with the wires from the cables.

On the three way switch, one screw will be a different color. Mark the wire that goes to that terminal and make sure to connect that wire to the black screw on the new switch. The other two wires can go to either terminal. Mark the white wire that goes to the three way switch with red or blue or black tape (anything but white or gray or green) to show it is not a neutral.

Good luck with your project!
Old 02-28-17, 08:47 PM
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Good luck with your project!
Thanks again for all the info!

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