Need a big, strong man to help me!

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  #1  
Old 02-05-02, 05:21 AM
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Wink Need a big, strong man to help me!

i bought a home in which a homeowner totally screwed with the wiring, and now it seems i am carrying on the tradition. i have replaced all the switches in the house, except for a pair of three way switches- one toggle and one dimmer. yesterday, i decided to fix them. the toggle never turned the lights on and off, the dimmer did. on investigation, i found the the toggle was a single pole, not a three way switch. so, i replaced it. turned the power back on, now the dimmer wouldn't work in synch with the toggle switch. so, i took the dimmer switch out and determined that it was a single pole as well. so, i put in a three pole dimmer. now, both switches will not work. i am so frustrated. i really need some help.

in both boxes, for the toggle and dimmer, i have two sets
of wires. one set has a white, black and red, the other set has a whilte and black wire only. the white wires from both are tied off together. i have tried every combination and can't get the lights to work. i am sure it is an obvious oversight and i am feeling really stupid. i really hope someone can help me. i have out of town guests this weekend and would like to have some light.

On the three way dimmer switch itself, on one side it has a green ground wire and a black wire. on the other side, it has one black and one red wire.

on the toggle switch, it has two gold screws and one black screw.

i was so frustrated that i took out the other three way switches in my house to determine how they were wired. i have done this so many times and i on this one i am stumped. please help me!
 
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  #2  
Old 02-05-02, 08:28 AM
T
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lala,

Check out this website. It should have the information you need to hook-up a 3-way switch.

http://www.easy2diy.com/tutorials/diy0155/index.asp
 

Last edited by thinman; 02-05-02 at 08:49 AM.
  #3  
Old 02-05-02, 08:38 AM
rhhjr
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Don't know what happened to this identical post and my reply from yesterday, but here goes again: I think you have the conceptually simplest 3-way wiring layout (at least for me). At each switch, attach the black wire of the 2-wire cable to the common terminal (don't asssume; look for COM or COMMON stamped on the switch). Attach the red and black wires of the 3-wire cable to the other two screws in any configuration. Leave the white neutrals tied together as they are now. I'm sure you think you tried this once already, but try again. If still no light, replace the bulb. If still no joy check for incoming line voltage on the black and white wires of one of the 2-wire cables in either switch box. Let us know.
 
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Old 02-05-02, 10:17 AM
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Thanks RHHJR!

I will take your instructions home with me and try again.
One quick question, one of the three way switches is a dimmer.
It has four wires, one side has a red and black wire, the other side has a black and green "ground" wire. I can't find anywhere on the unit that says that which of the wires is the common terminal. Any advice? Thanks for your help.
 
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Old 02-05-02, 11:06 AM
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I advise you to have the circuit operating with standard 3-way toggle switches before you include the dimmer.First, connect #14 THHN stranded leads to the 3-ways. Each 3-way will have a Black lead connected to the Common terminal and 2 Red leads connected to the "Pivots".The color-codeing will help in the future when replacing the switches.If my understanding is correct each switch outlet box has a 2-wire cable and a 3-wire cable, the 3-wire cable joining the outlet boxes. At each switch Wire-nut the Black switch lead to the Black of the 2-wire cable and the 2 Reds to the Black and Red of the 3-wire cable. If this works then you may procede with connecting the 3-way dimmer. The "odd" Red lead suggests the Common lead. Test Black 2-wire to Black 3-wire then Black 2-wire to Red 3-wire with a test-lamp socket to determine which "set" completes the circuit ,then connect 2 of the dimmer leads across the 2 identified wires.The dimmer must operate "On and Off" before you connect the 3rd dimmer lead. Good Luck!!
 
  #6  
Old 02-05-02, 11:16 AM
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PATBAA

Not to sound stupid, just so that I understand:

1. Join the black wire on the two wire cable with the black wire
from the three wire cable and attach these to one of the gold screws?

2. Take the red wire from the three line cable and attach it to the black screw?

3. I have one "empty" screw, what do I attach to it?

Note- I do not have a second red wire- only one coming from the three wire cable. On the two wire cable, I have a black and white wire only.

Thanks for your help!
 
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Old 02-05-02, 01:21 PM
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I'ts my understanding that at each switch-box you have 3 wires to connect to a 3-way switch. One wire is the Black wire of a 2-wire B/W cable,the 2nd wire is the Black of a 3-wire B/W/R cable, and the 3rd. wire is the Red of the B/W/R 3-wire cable. If this is correct then at each switch connect the Black of the 2-wire cable to the Red of the 3-wire cable-the fixture should be "On".If it does next connect the 2 Blacks together at each switch to operate the fixture.If this "works" then wire-nut a Red "lead" wire to the Black of the 3-wire cable at each switch.Each switch box now has 1 Black and 2 Reds for connecting to the 3 terminals of the 3-way switches.After you have defintely determined the Common or "Pivot" terminals of the 3-way switches simply connect the Black's to the "C" terminals and the 2 Reds to the other 2. You have the option of using Red marking tape to identify the Blacks of the 3-wire cables as "Red" wires which results in 1 Black and 2 "Reds" at each switch.The only White wires in the box will be Neutrals.
 
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Old 02-05-02, 04:19 PM
Wgoodrich
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Well I'd say you are totally confused by now. Thought I would try to lead you through your connections. However I am taking some for granted like what and how many cables are in the light box.

The following should work for you if what I am taking for granted in the lacking info is correct.

The switch box that you are installing your three way switch that has a black and two brass screws, connect the black of the cable that only has a black and white wire in it with no red wire in it.

The connect the black and red of hte other cable in that same box to the two brass screws not caring which is connected to which of the brass screws. Biggy is connecting the black or the two wire cable [black and white wire only in cable] to that black screw.

In the second box where you want to install your dimmer [hoping you have not blown out the dimmer by a short circuit while trying ot wire it up to now] Connect the black wire of the cable that only has the black and white wire in it but no red wire in that cable to the black wire found on the same wire as the green screw is found on that dimmer. Then connect the black and red wire of the cable that has black white and red in it connecting that black wire and red wire to the remaining to wires of the dimmer that is not green. The green wire connects to the bare wires coming from both cables if present. If no bare wires are coming out of those cables then wire nut off the green wire of that dimmer.

Let us know if this helps

Good Luck

Wg
 
  #9  
Old 02-06-02, 05:09 AM
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Thank you kind gentlemen!

All of your posts gives me enough ammunition to get the job done. It's been a monsoon in Houston for the past couple of days, but I think Thursday is supposed to be dry and clear. I will attempt my connections then (my breaker box is on the outside of my house, thankfully I have enough common sense not to fool with the breakers in the pouring rain). I'll post back with notes of my success. Thanks again.
 
  #10  
Old 02-07-02, 05:26 AM
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still in the dark

Ok, I still don't have any lights working. I took the directions home and did exactly what was said. Hooked the black of the two wire cable to the black screw. Hooked the red and black wire from the three wire cable to the two brass scews on both switches. I opted to hoook up two three way switches first to see if I could get power and to see if I could get the lights to work. To my dismay, however, still no light.

When I started this fiasco, there was a single pole dimmer on one of the switches and a single pole switch on the other what should be the brother to the three way switch. The dimmer worked the light fine. The switch would not turn on the light.

The dimmer unit is in the same box as another dimmer that controls a separate light. When I removed
my troublesome dimmer to replace it with a three way, it was pig-tailed to one of the wires in the ajoining dimmer. Well, this didn't make sense, and I thought this may be one reason why the three way pair was not working. Now it appears that what ever wires I disconnected from the pig-tail were there for a purpose.
I am an idiot.

Does anyone have any advice?
 
  #11  
Old 02-07-02, 08:30 AM
rhhjr
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It was smart that you chose first to get things working with two 3-way switches before complicating things with the dimmer. First, I would be more comfortable if you were referring to the COMMON screw of the 3-way switches rather than a particular color as where you attached the black wire of the 2-wire cabes. But I'll assume you've wired them correctly, and here are some more ideas: Could there be a four-way switch also in the circuit ? (probably not). Is the bulb burned out ? (probably not, since you refer to lights, plural). The two wire cable to the light is probably OK since the light used to work, right ? So my hunch would be that you have no incoming line power. Try to get the black and white wires of one of the 2-wire cables to light a test lamp (the other 2-wire cable obviously goes to the light). If neither one does, then the info from your last post explains it: the original 2-wire cable feeding the circuit has been deenergized for some reason, and power was being "jumped" from another circuit sharing the same box. If you do have 120 volts on one of the 2-wire cables, shut off the power and measure the resistance of the black to white of the other 2-wire cable with them disconneced from the switch. You should get something approximating the resistance of a light bulb (one 75 watt bulb is maybe 10 ohms when cold). While you have your ohmmeter out, you could verify continuity of the 3 wires of the 3-wire cable. But my money is on lack of incoming power to one switch or the other.

You are not an idiot.
 
  #12  
Old 02-07-02, 09:56 AM
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Initialy you mentioned 2 switch-boxes, each with one 2-wire cable and one 3-wire cable. If these are for two 3-ways then at each box there should be three wires for connecting to the switches,none of them White, 2 Blacks and 1 Red. Of so then at each box wire-nut the three leads together. If the lite does not work then at each box wire-nut a lamp socket between the B-B-R leads (still together) and the White(s).DON'T fool with a neon tester-use the same lamp type that is in the fixture.If the lamp lites at both boxes check the fixture.You mention a single-pole dimmer that "worked the lite" (ceiling fixture) and a switch that did not and that the SP dimmer was 'pig-tailed" with another dimmer which suggests one box is a 2-gang switch box.Possibly the 2 dimmers were wired (via leads) to the "Live" lead. If one box is 2-gang I suggest you examine both boxes and give us an exact description of the cables in both boxes.
 
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