3 way wiring problem

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  #1  
Old 10-10-01, 03:48 PM
elling6
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Here is the problem.
I have a light in kitchen/dining area that is activated by 2 different switches. I can turn the light on or of with either switch but I cannot turn on with one switch and turn off with with the other. I looked at the problem and discovered two interesting issues.

First : the lead switch (from power supply)is a two way switch. I know this needs to be a three way.

Second : the power supply line is spliced from a three way switch directly beside this two way switch.

I think I can wire the three way connection by replacing a 2 wire with a 3 wire cable but I am not sure of the best way to get a power to the lead switch. Is there a simple solution for a not so handy electrical guy?

Jeff
 
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  #2  
Old 10-10-01, 04:01 PM
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Tapping power from a switch, especially a 3-way switch, is often a bad idea.

To help us sort this out, we need a lot more details. I can't even promise that this problem is even fixable.

Start by telling us everything about every cable and every wire in this switch box, and every connection. When in doubt, provide more detail than you think we need.
 
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Old 10-10-01, 04:33 PM
elling6
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3 way switch problem

I will try to explain as clearly as possible.

I will call switch #1 the adjacent 3-way switch. It has 2 cables - (1) 2 wire and (1) 3 wire. It functions correctly as does the partner switch that activates a light in the garage.The power line is attached to the common (black wire of 2 wire cable). There is a red and black wire attached to the remaining 2 connections. I believe this goes to the partner switch. The 2 remanining white wires are tied together.

I will call switch #2 the problem two way switch. It has 2 - 2 wire cables. One of the cables goes to the light and the other goes to its partner 3 way switch (call this Switch #3). I cannot tell which cable goes to the light and which to switch#3. A black wire is spliced with the common black wire of switch #1. It goes to the top screw. The white wire is attached to the remaining screw. The black wire of one cable is tied off. The white wire of the other cable is tied off.

The light has two - 2 wire cables . The black wire from one cable is attached. The white wire of the other cable is attached. The others are tied off.

Switch #3 has two -2 wire cables. The black wire of one cable is attached to common. The white wire is tied off. The black and white wire of the second cable is attached to the remaining screws.

Hope this is clear
Jeff
 
  #4  
Old 10-11-01, 05:53 AM
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Jeff,

Excellent information, clearly presented! Wouldn't it be great if I could now figure this out?

First, a clarification. In your terminology, does "tied off" mean "not connected to anything"?

Here's my guess (and I think this situation is very bad). You'll need to test my guess with a multimeter.
  • I think the cable from switch#2 to the light is providing only hot to the light (on the white wire). Note that there is no connection to any neutral wire for this light in this box!!!
  • I think the 2-wire cable connected to the travellers of switch#3 is a power cable (i.e., one hot and one neutral). Depending on the position of switch#3, this switch is supplying either a hot or a neutral to the light. When it supplies a hot, the light is off (because both connections to the light are hot). When it supplies a neutral, the light is on (if switch#2 is up).
If my guess is correct, this is a real hack job. You need a voltmeter to test. A whole series of tests would be required. Even if this guess is wrong, there is no sane explanation of this wiring, especially with all those tied off wires, and no clear indication of how the light gets a neutral.
 
  #5  
Old 10-11-01, 03:14 PM
elling6
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3 way switch problem

What I mean by "tied off" is it has a wire nut on the end or nothing at all.
I wanted to clarify how the power wire is connecting switch #1 and swich #2. The black wire to switch #1 has the insulation removed in 2 locations. There is a section removed about 1" from end - this goes under the screw. The other section of insulation is removed at the very end. This goes to the wire nut along with the black wire of switch #2. There is a third short section of wire that is also tied with the other two by a wire nut. The other end goes to the top screw of switch #2.

I removed all connections to switch #2. I capped all 4 wires (with wire nuts) going to switch #2. Of course the light activated by switch #2 did not work but switch #1 funtioned correctly just as before. This suggests I can just get a new line to switch #2 and wire the 3 way switches correctly. At least it seems reasonable to my mechanical engineer mind. I am putting a new fixture up anyhow which is what prompted me to fix this problem to begin with - this and the constant reminder from my spouse that "the switch does'nt work right".

Your opinions are welcome and appreciated!

Jeff
 
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