Correcting wrong wiring

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Old 08-06-20, 12:39 PM
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Correcting wrong wiring

I've discovered that the switches controlling our deck lights were not properly wired and wonder if it's possible to fix that without pulling cables.

There are two doors to the deck. Next to each door is a decora light switch. Each switch is a 3-way with a black, a white and a red.

There are two deck lights. I assume each switch is supposed to control both lights, but switch-2 is pretty much non-functional. Door-2, in our laundry room, is sealed so switch-2 isn't really used. But somehow it got thrown the other night and the two outdoor lights stopped working. I've found that:

-- Switch-1 activates the lights if Switch-2 is in the ON position
-- Switch-1 does not activate the lights if Switch-2 is in the OFF position, which appears to be why the lights did not work
-- Switch-2 does not activate the lights if Switch-1 is OFF

The switches are wired identically. The red wire is attached to the terminal on the left side of the switch. The black is attached to the top terminal on the right.side and the white is attached to the bottom terminal.

There is a GFCI below Light-1 and positioned between Switch-1 and Switch-2. It's working normally. Light 1 is mounted on a box where a number of wires junction. Light-2's box has only one incoming cable with a black and a white.

Thanks
 
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Old 08-06-20, 03:32 PM
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Terminal location means nothing. The only important terminal is the COMMON terminal which is most time black in colour.
This might be fixable. Without disconnecting any wires, pull the switches out and post pictures of the wire connections.
 
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Old 08-06-20, 03:59 PM
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Light 1 is mounted on a box where a number of wires junction.
This is where you need to concentrate your efforts. As Joed posted, take note which wires of each switch go to the common terminal of each switch. The other two switches are just travelers and only need to be connected to the other switches traveler terminals. This may need to be done in the junction box. One common wire needs to be connected to the hot feed and the other common is connected to the lights as the switch leg.
 
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Old 08-07-20, 06:13 AM
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-- Switch-1 activates the lights if Switch-2 is in the ON position
-- Switch-1 does not activate the lights if Switch-2 is in the OFF position, which appears to be why the lights did not work
-- Switch-2 does not activate the lights if Switch-1 is OFF
But you said these were both 3-way switches. 3-way switches don't have an "ON" or "OFF" position.
 
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Old 08-07-20, 07:57 AM
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Here are pix. I pulled both switches but photographed only Switch-1 because they are the same make/model and the wiring is identical. Looking at the switch:
-- Right side: black attached to brass and white attached to black terminal
-- Left side: red wire attached to brass

Right side

Left side
 
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Old 08-07-20, 08:45 AM
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Are the black, white and red attached to the switch all coming from the same cable? I see more connections in the back of the box but can't make out how they are connected. If one of the wires is coming from a two wire cable, that wire goes on the black screw.
 
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Old 08-07-20, 01:00 PM
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Joed, the black, white and red wires are from two cables. It's a small box with three cables and somewhat of a rat's nest. This is an old house that has had many things done to it over the years.

Switch-1:
Red is from Cable 2
White is from Cable 2
Black is from Cable 3

Cable 1:
Black connects to Cable 2 black
White connects to Cable 3 white

Cable 2:
Black connects to Cable 1
White connects to Switch
Red connects to Switch

Cable 3:
Black connects to Switch
White connects to Cable 1 white

Switch-2 has just one cable with a red, a black and a white.

BTW, while pulling Switch-1 the top screw securing it to the box broke. The stub is virtually flush with the box tongue so I can't get a vise-grip on it. Any other way to take it out?
 
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Old 08-07-20, 03:13 PM
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Switch-1:
Red is from Cable 2
White is from Cable 2
Black is from Cable 3 - Put on the COMMON/black screw
Switch-2 has just one cable with a red, a black and a white.
Put the black on the COMMON/black screw.
 
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Old 08-08-20, 07:31 AM
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Joed, I reversed those two sets of wires and the problem is now fixed. Thank you very much!
 
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Old 08-08-20, 11:26 AM
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I see the white and black were wrong in the picture. Was it the same on the other end?
Glad you got it working.
 
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Old 08-08-20, 02:01 PM
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Both switches were wired identically. So on each one I moved the black to the common terminal and the white to the brass terminal above it. So, one set of wires reversed on each switch. Now works perfectly with each switch able to turn on or off the lights. The problem went unnoticed for the 12 years we've been here and probably many more before that. Thanks again.
 
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