Multi-location controlled lights


Old 06-09-01, 10:51 PM
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Have a house built before grounding was required. There are 3 locations that have switches that turn two connected lights on and off; 1 in garage, 1 in kitchen and 1 in back workroom attached to garage (last built). They all worked. Decided to replace with new switches. When replacement began, found one old (3-way?)switch (probably 1952 vintage) with three wires, one black & 2 white. Switch had two terminals (screws)on top, one was brass, and a third (black)on the bottom. The new replacement 3-way switch was installed one wire at a time. Light switch works, but now the lights cannot be turned on & off at each location independently as before. The other two switches have not yet been replaced. Cannot figure out what changed? Any suggestions on what should be checked, redone, etc.?
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Old 06-09-01, 11:35 PM
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Your new 3-way switch is not physically identical to the original. Having the wires in the same physical location on the switch body doesn't necessarily make the _electrical_ connections the same. Sadly, there isn't really a standard.

What you have to do is sort out which of the terminals is supposed to be the common and which are the travellers. The easy, but tedious way is to swap one pair of wires at a time on the new switch. There are a limited number of combinations.
Old 06-10-01, 01:46 PM
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Because the switches are physically different looking, it made it hard to figure where the terminals should be connected. Thanks for the suggestion. I at least have some idea of where to start. I appreciate you taking the time to answer.
Old 06-12-01, 01:52 PM
Gary Tait
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What you need to get is a continuity, either the type that
is essentially a flashlight with a wire and probe instead of
a switch, or a multimeter, prefferably one with an audible tone.

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