Light always ON , 3 way switch


  #1  
Old 02-14-24, 08:11 AM
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Light always ON , 3 way switch

Hey guys,

Strange issue. I installed two pendant lights and a chandelier in a new build home. There were new junction boxes in the ceiling and nothing special, no pigtails inside, just black white and copper-ground.

I installed the pendants fine, and they switch ON and OFF fine. I installed the chandelier essentially the same way, but it always stays ON.

I assume that it is connected to a 3-way switch configuration , as there is one unused switch left near the dining room (its a 3 way), and one unused one in the kitchen (3-way).

No matter the position of these two switches, the light never goes OFF.

The light is connected on the same circuit as the pendants and the main kitchen ight and living room lights. Everything works fine when the breaker is on, except that chandelier cannot be turned OFF.

All I tried so far was switching the common hot(not common , I mean hot) and traveler at one of the switches.

Any ideas here?

Are there any quick tests I can do?

I opened the connection at the light again and everything looks good, must be the switches???

Thanks guys, always loved this forum

(PS , I thought an explanation for this might be that neutral was not getting to the light, so I double checked that connection in the light connection in the ceiling and it is good)
 

Last edited by jack_bg; 02-14-24 at 10:32 AM. Reason: spelling
  #2  
Old 02-14-24, 12:40 PM
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Jack-

It sounds like the hot you are connecting to the light in the fixture box, is actually the hot source. If that's the case it needs to be routed down to one of the switches as depicted in the first diagram above.

But if the hot source is coming to a switch first, as depicted in the second diagram, then you should see fewer wires in the fixture box, than in the first case.


 
  #3  
Old 02-14-24, 01:04 PM
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The OP said only two conductor w/ground at all boxes.

It will not be directly a switch wiring problem.
You need to look at the wiring at both boxes. It's going to come down to the ceiling light connected to the hot splice.. IF... the chandelier actually comes there.

What color wires did you have on switch 1.......
common =
traveler =
traveler =

What color wires did you have on switch 2....
common =
traveler =
traveler =
 
  #4  
Old 02-15-24, 12:26 PM
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Sounds like you're not sure, so here is a diagram that shows travelers and common. Never bought a new house. Seems like something wrong though, if the builder leaves behind a mystery as to what is connected to what. I think you can buy a new house without installed fixtures, but isn't the electrician supposed to leave some information around?

Maybe not. Doesn't seem right though. I guess I'm missing something. I guess you assume then, it would be straight forward to find the switch(s) for a fixture. A little trial and error. That would bug me.
 
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Old 02-15-24, 12:38 PM
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Yes zoesdad,

You are correct , it is kind of a guessing game, and those switches are just my assumption. I am frustrated as well, I received no schematics, plumbing or electrical and didnt even have a framewalk where I could see without the drywall.

It is an interesting question though as to what the builder is supposed to do though. I may consult with lawyer.

I will provide some pictures of the switches though.

quick question though, switching the leads for the travellers at either switch doesnt matter, correct? thats my understanding (only switching common and "a" traveller can be incorrect)

thanks
 

Last edited by jack_bg; 02-15-24 at 12:42 PM. Reason: spelling
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Old 02-15-24, 01:44 PM
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just black white and copper-ground.
@ ZD..... if there are only two wire cables... there cannot be a red at the ceiling box.

Wiring the switches wrong will either cause a dead light issue or dead in certain positions.
A switch wiring problem can not cause the lights to be always on.
 
  #7  
Old 02-15-24, 02:25 PM
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Yea, I just meant with the pic to show where the traveler wires are on a 3-way switch as opposed to where the common wire was on the 3-way switch. Probably should have cropped off the rest of the pic, because as you say it doesn't match this case and confuses the issue somewhat. My bad.

quick question though, switching the leads for the travellers at either switch doesnt matter, correct? thats my understanding (only switching common and "a" traveller can be incorrect)
I believe that is correct.
 
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Old 02-15-24, 03:41 PM
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If you had a three way switch not behaving...by not behaving... that means won't turn off or on in a certain position.... you could swap wires around.

In this case the light never goes off. Changing any switch wires will not change the function of the light. It will always be on.
On the surface... it appears the chandelier is not connected to these switches.
 
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Old 02-16-24, 10:35 AM
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I'm distinctly remembering now options for the pendants and paying for them(just the placement and junction boxes), but cannot recall the same for the dining room.

It is very possible that the junction box there is none functioning, or has to be wired/rewired by an electrician before working correctly.

not sure why there would be any power going there at all in that case but beside the point.

I will post some pictures of the switches.
 
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Old 02-16-24, 10:55 AM
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Switch 1 (Kitchen). In a junction box with 3 other switches.
 
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Old 02-16-24, 10:56 AM
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Switch 2 - Dining Room. Also in another junction box with 3 other switches.
 

Last edited by jack_bg; 02-16-24 at 01:23 PM.
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Old 02-16-24, 11:00 AM
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Trying to answer PJmax's question using my photos above (as well as visual inspection)
What color wires did you have on switch 1.......
common = Black
traveler = Black
traveler = Pink / Red

What color wires did you have on switch 2........
common = Black
traveler = Black
traveler = Pink / Red
 
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Old 02-16-24, 12:50 PM
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additional view of Switch 2 (dining rm)
 

Last edited by PJmax; 02-16-24 at 03:29 PM. Reason: resized/labeled
  #14  
Old 02-16-24, 03:21 PM
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My brain has 2 speeds these days: slow and stop. I'm trying to figure out what's going on at the black screw on switch 2.

I think on one switch the black screw should be line-in (hot). On the other switch the black screw should be the hot to the light. I think that's right. So, if that is in fact line-in on switch 2, then where is it continuing to. If it continues as the black inside the fixture, then I think you would in fact see the light on all of the time.

But I guess more likely it could just continue to source another device that has nothing to do with the 2 3-way switches. I think that would be OK.

Maybe someone else will chime in. Could be wrong.

I think if you removed that wire from the black screw on switch 2, the light should be off in the fixture.


 
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Old 02-16-24, 03:30 PM
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I agree. I would take the wire off the switch and see what happens.
 
  #16  
Old 02-17-24, 06:35 AM
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Take all the wires off both switches and see if the light goes off.
 
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Old 02-17-24, 08:52 AM
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I took that black off as per zoesdad and PJmax,

It is a stripped section that wraps around the brass screw and continues to another switch on the right,

What happens is, it cuts off lights to the kitchen (main , pendant and garage hallway) and the stairway light leading from dining room to upstairs.

the dining and foyer area remain functioning and the Chandelier still remains ON, never going off.


( I think this means power is not getting to the kitchen switch box/junction box ?? but again , no effect on chandelier)
 

Last edited by jack_bg; 02-17-24 at 09:23 AM.
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Old 02-17-24, 10:06 AM
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its very puzzling that that switch "passes" power to the kitchen , how could that be???? if there is always power to the kitchen regardless of switch position.

I left the wire in tact, so the black connection to the other switches remains.
 
  #19  
Old 02-17-24, 10:44 AM
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Doesn't that mean then that those two 3-way switches are actually controlling the kitchen and stairway, and not the chandelier? Seems that way to me. I have 3-way switches for my kitchen, one at each doorway to the kitchen.

If you removed the wire from the terminal depicted with the arrow in post 12, and the kitchen then lost power, then it seems to me that terminal on that 3-way switch, must be supplying the power to the kitchen. But as you say, why doesn't the switch position on either 3-way switch turn off the power to the kitchen?

Also, you have other switches that apparently control the pendants. Very confusing.

I don't know if this could happen , but is there anyway those 3-way switches are wired incorrectly. I think on the back of the switch there might be wording that identifies the travelers vs the common. I was just wondering if there are 2 problems here, the 3-way switches control the kitchen not the chandelier, and they are also mis-wired so that the output terminal is always hot.

I don't know if that miswiring is possible, I am slow and have to do diagrams for everything.

Just thought, are those 3-way switches you posted actually a pair? Are there others around? Just a thought. You probably wouldn't have missed others.
 

Last edited by zoesdad; 02-17-24 at 10:56 AM.
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Old 02-17-24, 12:05 PM
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Thanks zoesdad.
 

Last edited by jack_bg; 02-17-24 at 12:35 PM. Reason: Duplicate
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Old 02-17-24, 12:09 PM
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Thanks zoesdad, I know, hahaa.

No, those 2 mystery switches have abosolutely no effect on wether the kitchen lights work, in any position, when the wire is connected as shown in post 12. I will try some other tests. Below is the switch config.

disconnecting the black from SW2 kills A,B, D, and F

E,H, and the actual chandelier still have power though, with the chandelier stating on again no matter what.

KITCHEN (4 switches in one box)
======A====\====B====\====D====\====SW1====
A: this is a 3 way for the hallway light to the garage, the other one is beside the small garage door
B: this is a normal switch that turns pendants off and on
SW1: This is a mystery 3 way switch that I believe is supposed to control the chandelier along with SW2
D: this is 3 way that controls the main kitchen light, the other one is beside the patio door


DINING ROOM / Living room (4 switches in one box)
====E====\====F====\====SW2====\====H====
E: this is a 3 way controlling the foyer hallway light, other one is at front door
F: 3 way for stairs , other one is at top of stairs
SW2: mystery 3 way I believe controls the chandelier long with SW1
H: normal switch controlling living room light


 

Last edited by jack_bg; 02-17-24 at 12:35 PM.
  #22  
Old 02-17-24, 12:59 PM
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OK - I already typed the following but didn't read your last post yet. I'll read it.

If the 3-way SW1 is for a hallway there should be another 3-way switch at the other end of the hallway. So that if you enter/exit the hallway from either end, you can turn ON/OFF the hall light from the 3-way switch at that end. It doesn't seem likely to me that the other 3-way switch for the hallway would be SW2 in the dining room. Could be wrong.

If the chandelier is in the dining room, then I think you would have two 3-way switches if you can enter the dining room from 2 different doors. You could have a 3-way switch at each entrance to the dining room where you can turn on/off the light (chandelier in the case) from either entrance to the dining room without having to walk through a dark room to get to a switch.

I think that's correct.
 
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Old 02-17-24, 01:21 PM
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Yes , so the hallways are 3 ways but theyre not linked to sw1 or sw2
​​, they are paired with other switches

You can come to the dining area from the kitchen or from the foyer /dining area so thats why those two unused 3 ways I assume are paired and for the chandelier.
 
  #24  
Old 02-17-24, 01:52 PM
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This is a really big mystery. Since it is not that much work, I would put the wire back on SW2 and then remove the hot wire from SW1 just as a sanity check. That should cause the same results as removing the wire from SW2. But, as you say, it still wouldn't explain why either position of SW1 or SW2 doesn't turn OFF the power to the kitchen if in fact, as it appears, the hot terminal on SW2 is supplying power to the kitchen, which in itself is a mystery.

But maybe something could be learned from that test.


 
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Old 02-17-24, 02:40 PM
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No.... removing the wire from switch 1 is not the same. Only one black wire there.
At switch 2 you have two black wires. Power in and power out.

You have a semi difficult project there. You may need an electrician for help.
The wiring is more than likely in place but that light was set up for always live.

You need to locate the two wire cable going to the fixture box.
It's not hard but you need an idea of what you are looking for.
 
  #26  
Old 02-17-24, 03:50 PM
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Pete is that correct?

There is only one wire on the hot terminal on SW2, it is a middle-spliced wire.

If you remove that wire from the black hot terminal on SW2, power is lost in the kitchen. Thus, the power must be coming through the black terminal on SW2.

Assuming that SW1 and SW2 are actually connected, then if the middle-spliced wire on SW2 is actually the line-in, then SW2 would be feeding SW1, and thus the hot wire from SW1 would be feeding the kitchen.

But if instead, the line-in wire is connected to the hot on SW1, then SW1 would be feeding SW2, and the hot on SW2 would be the wire feeding the kitchen.

It seems to me either way, if you disconnect the hot on SW1, power should be lost in the kitchen. If it is not, then SW1 and SW2 are not really a pair. I was just thinking it is just a way to verify that SW1 and SW2 are actually connected together.

Might be fuzzy thinking here - lol, my 80th is coming up rapidly - it is becoming very hard to focus.
In fact it's time to eat then sleep - lol!

 
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Old 02-17-24, 03:59 PM
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The black wire removed from sw2 is a continuous wire with some insulation stripped in the center, and just looped around the screw.
 
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Old 02-17-24, 04:38 PM
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Live power in and live power out on switch 2 tells us that switch is the hot supplied switch.
There is no problem there.

If those two switches are a three way pair.... then switched power out to the light is at switch 1.
Go to switch 1 box. Carefully pull out the devices and give us a picture or two so we can see the switches, splices and inside the box. See if the black wire on the common screw actually leaves the box.
 
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Old 02-17-24, 05:55 PM
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kitch1 sw1 is at far right



 
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Old 02-17-24, 06:43 PM
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the above 4 pictures are all from the kitchen switch box. The unused sw1 is far right. Ive managed to determine that the two blue sheatthed cables (2 wires each) are for the pendants and the one of the white sheathed ones in the left corner (two wires only) is for the bathroom, will continue until the light goes out.
 
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Old 02-17-24, 06:47 PM
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Your pics are excellent.

Some questions
It looks like all 4 common/black screws are connected together. Yes/no ?
I see a big splice of white wires w/wirenut. Probably also a wirenut on grounds.
Any other wirenuts in that box ?

 
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Old 02-17-24, 06:59 PM
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Yes the whites are together with a wire nut, and all the grounds are twisted together without.

No other wire nuts.

And yes the black is just run from one switch to the next(could this be the lead coming from sw2 that kills kitchen power?).

If all kitchen power is gone and the chamdelier remains on, doesnt that then mean that the power is being passed from the sw2 dining room junction box and thats where I should findd the cable going to the chandelier???
 
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Old 02-17-24, 07:17 PM
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You have two black wires on switch 2 common. One is always live in and the other is always live out.
It's just a hot splice. The live out is the kitchen and whatever else went dead.

At switch 1..... the common should be switched out to the light but you are telling me that all four switch commons are tied together and we know they are hot. You can't feed hot in at both ends.

Either those switches are not associated or you are missing something.
 
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Old 02-18-24, 04:56 AM
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It is very possible that those switches are not associated, but I am expecting at least one to be for the chandelier.

Because , all other lights work properly regardless of these switches. These switches have no function, and there is a chandelier. There is not other nearby switch that would potentially control the chandelier.

Im assuming the chandelier isnt wired directly to the breaker, I think thats a safe assumption.




 
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Old 02-18-24, 05:14 AM
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actually, think I found the cable for the chandelier.

So switch H(dining room switch box), which is for the living room light, had a black plugged straight into the back which leads to a 2 -wire cable.

Earlier I had disconnected one wire from that switch and the living room light went out but chandelier stayed on, when I disconnected the hot-in for that switch , the chandelier went out.

So it makes sense to me that its always ON.

I think the intent was to have that light maybe go on and off with the living room switch, which I think I can do, buy tying that lead with the living room one at the top of switch,

BUT, as it was setup, the light had nothing to do with sw2 or sw1.

Ideally I want to at least connect it to one of those, sw2 , or sw2 paired with sw1, now I need to figure out how.

 

Last edited by jack_bg; 02-18-24 at 06:01 AM.
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Old 02-18-24, 06:10 AM
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Can it be that everything was setup correctly, its just that this chandelier wire was supposed to be tied to sw2 and wasnt?

Does it need to beswitched with a wire already connected to sw2 or just connected potentially ????
 
  #37  
Old 02-18-24, 12:09 PM
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Jack -

Got a question about switch "H". Above pic.
 
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Old 02-18-24, 02:04 PM
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Living Room / Chandelier switch

Thanks for the responsiveness zoesdad. In the picture above, the blue square is the lead for the living room light. When I disconnected (cut) it, the living room light stopped working (however , the chandelier remained ON).

The wire plugged into the back of the switch (red square) comes from a 2-wire cable and is for the chandelier. That one remained ON even when the top wire was cut.

The bottom disconnected wire (yellow square) is the hot/common, so when I finally disconnected that one, the chandelier finally went out.

Does that answer your question.? It makes sense to me, unless Im missing something.
 

Last edited by jack_bg; 02-18-24 at 02:15 PM.
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Old 02-18-24, 02:39 PM
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Im assuming the chandelier isnt wired directly to the breaker, I think thats a safe assumption.
You mean to a switch. It has to connect to a breaker or it would be dead.

Switch 2 is a three way switch with the proper 3 way switch wiring.
It does not make sense for the chandelier to just connect to one 3 way switch.
A single pole switch.... .yes.

No idea what switch H is .
If it's in those pictures.... ID it.

There is not supposed to be two wires on one terminal. A wire in the push-in and a wire on the screw is not code accepted or proper.
 
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Old 02-18-24, 02:50 PM
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Thanks PJmax

Sorry, it is confusing indeed. Switch H is a standard on/off switch (from a shcematic before) on the dining room junction box , along with sw2.
In this picture its the rightmost, with sw2 immediately to its left.(it controls the living room light)

I believe that the chandelier is intended to be on the 3way pair (sw1 and sw2). That is what I want, and want the chandelier to be operable from both

No idea why there are two wires on one terminal, and didnt know it was not code, but probably mistake /sloppy job. Absolutely not me.


KITCHEN (4 switches in one box)
======A====\====B====\====D====\====SW1====
A: this is a 3 way for the hallway light to the garage, the other one is beside the small garage door
B: this is a normal switch that turns pendants off and on
SW1: This is a mystery 3 way switch that I believe is supposed to control the chandelier along with SW2
D: this is 3 way that controls the main kitchen light, the other one is beside the patio door


DINING ROOM / Living room (4 switches in one box)
====E====\====F====\====SW2====\====H====
E: this is a 3 way controlling the foyer hallway light, other one is at front door
F: 3 way for stairs , other one is at top of stairs
SW2: mystery 3 way I believe controls the chandelier long with SW1
H: normal switch controlling living room light
 
 

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