3 way switches


Old 01-29-02, 08:06 AM
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Unhappy 3 way switches

I bought two new 3 way switches for my lights upstairs, to match new paint, I was going to replace them but my wife got to it before I did and she removed both switches at the same time without connecting new switches. I do not know how to wire them back. The switches power 4 lights, the power is coming from above. The first box has two 12-2 wires coming into it, one black and red wire are connected together, the wires that were connected are two black and one white, the second switch box has the red, white black and neutral wires. When I connected the wires, guessed, the switch downstairs has to be " on" for the upstairs switch to work. When I turn "off" the downstairs switch, the upstairs switch does not work. What am I doing wrong?
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Old 01-29-02, 08:49 AM
Join Date: Dec 2001
Location: Calgary Canada
Posts: 697
Go to this web site they have a very good diagram for you to follow.

Old 01-29-02, 09:45 AM
Join Date: Sep 2000
Location: United States
Posts: 18,497
Be nice to your wife.

Your symptoms indicate that you have misidentified the common wire at one or both switches.

I am a bit confused, probably just terminology. You state that the first box has two 12/2 cables, but then you talk about red wires. A 12/2 cable has no red wires. Can you clarify? Are there two 12/2 cables plus a 12/3?

You say the second box has "red, white black and neutral wires." By "neutral" I assume you mean a bare grounding wire? If so, the term "neutral" is incorrect for this wire.
Old 01-29-02, 11:00 AM
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Yes there are two 12-2 wires coming into first box, from the lights, from this box there is a 12/3 wire that goes between the first and second box.

Yes you are correct I meant ground wire instead of neutral. I have checked out the link that Gard recommended and none of the diagrams correspond to what I am seeing in my house. Any other suggestions? Call an electrician right?

Thanks for the replies.
Old 01-29-02, 11:41 AM
Join Date: Sep 2000
Location: United States
Posts: 18,497
I'm still a bit confused. You say "two 12-2 wires coming into first box, from the lights." How do you know those two cables are coming from the lights? Are your walls open such that you can follow the cable? Or are you making assumptions?

Try this:[list=1][*]At the second switch box, connect the red and white to the two traveler screws, and the black to the common screw. The common screw is the one that's a different color (usually black).[*]At the first switch box, connect the red and white from the 12/3 to the two traveler screws. Connect either of the 12/2 black wires to the common screw; connect the other 12/2 black wire to the black of the 12/3 with a wire nut. Connect the two white wires from the two 12/2 cables to each other with a wire nut.[/list=1]That should work. Note that I didn't even ask you to figure out which of the two 12/2 cables is the power cable and which is the cable to the light. It really doesn't make any difference given the wiring scheme I described above.
Old 01-29-02, 12:18 PM
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Okay, I will try what you suggest, thanks for your help. I will let you know how it turns out.

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