3-way Switch Wiring Help

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  #1  
Old 09-23-19, 07:35 AM
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3-way Switch Wiring Help

Hey all - figured I check in with the experts on an issue I'm having (you guys have always been super helpful so thanks in advance).

My father-in-law and I put recessed cans in kitchen (obviously, most of the wiring was done in the attic). We used the remodel cans so they had the push in connectors. We basically wired them as follows:



We simply connected the 3 remaining cans in series following the one above. Based on the schematics I've looked up (where power is coming to the 1st switch and then going to the 2nd switch via 12-3) the following must be true:

Hot wire coming into 1st switch will go to the copper/black screw
Travel wires can be connected to either brass screw on both switches
The line going directly to the lights from 2nd switch should be connected to the copper/black screw
All neutrals are tied together
All grounds are tied together

Am I getting this right? My lights aren't turning on. After messing with the switches for a while, I'm finally at a point where I think it has to be something going on with how the cans are wired in the attic. Another interesting thing, we did wire a separate can to it's own switch - just a typical single pole switch - and that also wasn't turning on.

*I have verified that the line that I believed was supplying power, is actually supplying power...If it helps, I'm using patriot remodel 6" cans from Menards.

Any thoughts are appreciated!
 
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Old 09-23-19, 08:18 AM
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The drawing and description as provided are fine. It should work.
 
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Old 09-23-19, 09:16 AM
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I was hoping you'd say that. Thanks!

I'll hop up in the attic tonight and try to figure out where we went wrong.
 
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Old 09-23-19, 04:05 PM
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I do have an update - I did check a lot of the wiring in the attic (not all of it quite yet). I have verified that the light sockets ARE getting power - the switches seem to bring power exactly how you would expect. For some reason the bulbs are still not lighting up. I've tried 2 different sets of flood lights and I got nothing. I did attempt to pull the little tab down a bit in the socket so that I'd have a good connection.

Any thoughts?

I still have more wiring to check but even on that lone floodlight, I'm getting power but no light.

***Additional Edit: I checked AC voltage at one of the sockets and it's reading about 8 volts AC - I have officially double-checked that I'm getting 118 volts AC through my line in...
 

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Old 09-23-19, 04:20 PM
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How are you determining you have power? Are you measuring hot to neutral? If not you could have an open neutral.
 
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Old 09-23-19, 04:37 PM
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I do have another update (please also read the post just before this one):

The socket on it's own switch and wiring is only getting 5 volts AC. Again, I verified that I have 118 coming from my line...
 
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Old 09-23-19, 04:41 PM
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How are you determining you have power? Are you measuring hot to neutral? If not you could have an open neutral.
When I read hot to neutral, I only got 60 volts. When I read hot to ground, I got 118 volts...Is this bad?
 
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Old 09-23-19, 04:53 PM
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Problem with the neutral maybe.
Please describe exactly how you wired the lights.
Also check the voltage at the second three way from common to neutral.
 
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Old 09-23-19, 05:17 PM
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I should add that when I tested neutral to hot and only got 60 volts, I had completely unconnected the 3-way and only measured the line in - so if I'm reading you correctly, it sounds like I would have an open neutral before that line is even going to any of my new can lights, correct? Otherwise hot to neutral on the line in should be 120ish volts?

Please describe exactly how you wired the lights.
From the second three-way switch, I have a 12-2: black wire going from black/copper screw to black push-in connector in 1st light; white wire wire-nutted to other white wire in box and then going to white push-in connector in 1st light. Ground wire nutted to other ground in box and then going to ground push-in connector in 1st light.

From the 1st light to second light, I have 12-2 - black going from push-in in 1st light to push-in in second light; white from push-in in 1st light to 2nd; ground from push-in in 1st light to 2nd. Repeat through to the last light, which is at the end of the series.

 
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Old 09-23-19, 06:54 PM
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Misunderstanding. I thought you were measuring voltage at the lights. I thought you might have wired the lights in series instead of parallel. I have seen it before.
60 volts h-n and 120 h-g on the incoming power line seems to be a neutral issue. Look for a loose neutral connection some prior on the circuit.
 
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Old 09-24-19, 02:48 PM
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Got it - I stated "series" but I guess I meant in the sense of the entire 12-2 wire (if that makes any sense).

So I looked into the items I have on that same circuit. Power seems to be coming from the breaker, through 2 outlets, then through a light with a dedicated switch. Following that light is where I'm connecting power to my new switches and can lights.

I used an outlet tester and verified that those outlets are wired correctly (no open neutrals according to the tester). This leaves me with the light. I pulled the light off and it looks messy. It even looked like there was a neutral tied into a hot wire....How should this wiring look? I believe power is going into the light and through it, and the switch is branched off on its own. So just to be clear, I'm trying to get that light / switch figured out so I have the proper power going to my new switches and lights that will come after this "problem" light.

I will add that I'm going to have someone with more experience help me out this weekend but I wanted to try and knock out as many possibilities as I could for now. Thanks again for your time and knowledge!
 
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Old 09-24-19, 04:29 PM
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It even looked like there was a neutral tied into a hot wire...
Not a neutral. A white wire attached to the hot wire. It's a switch loop sending power to the switch on the white and bring switched power back on the black.

Not all white wires are neutrals.

There should be other whites that are neutrals connected together and to the white wire for the fixture.
 
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