3 way switch


  #1  
Old 10-27-05, 07:17 AM
jamos
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3 way switch

Hello. I have a 3 way switch wiring question. It appears a work-around of sorts was performed by previous home owner, so things in one gang box don't appear as the manual show them to.

One of the two light switches are wired w/: 2 black, 1 red, 1 white pony-tailed in back; where, white is neutral, red & 1 black are travelers, and 1 black is hot. The other switch is where my confusion lies: it is wired w/: 1 red, 1 black, 1 neutral white pony-tailed in back, and one 3" wire connected b/ween two of the terminals on the switch. In this set up the 1 black is hot, 1 red is traveler, 1 white is nuetral, but there is not a second traveler wire; rather, the 3" wire connected b/ween 2 of 3 the terminals is there.

My question is: The second box has one less black wire than the first, must I re-create the previous homeowner's work-around in order get things to work, and is this a common "non-specs" practice by those who know what they are doing? Thank you. JJA, WV, USA.
 
  #2  
Old 10-27-05, 08:13 AM
J
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"pony-tailed" is not an electrical term, so please clarify. And even if you meant "pigtailed", it probably wouldn't be right either.

You say "white is neutral", but how do you know that? White is not always neutral, and many problem occur when one assumes that it is without further evidence.

Can you clarify what you mean by "pony-tailed in back"?

Also, did you give us a complete inventory of all the wires in each box? That is, does the first box contain two black wires, one red wire, one white wire, and no more?
 
  #3  
Old 10-27-05, 09:32 AM
jamos
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Thank you for your time and rapid response. I apologize for adding confusion using incorrect jargon. The following summarizes all wiring in both boxes related to the 3 way switches: Box 1: 2 black, 1 red, 1 white; Box 2: 1 black, 1 red, 1 white. I understand Box 1 just fine. I do not understand Box 2 since it has only 1 black wire leading to the switch (Box 2 does also house a 2way switch). Box 2 does however have a 3" stand-alone piece of wire bridged b/ween 2 of the terminals on the 3-way switch. I am hoping to learn if I should re-create this set up or if there is a better way to do things. Thank you, JJA, WV, USA.
 
  #4  
Old 10-27-05, 09:56 AM
J
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Okay, now I have all the wires. Please describe all the connections.

Although you may understand box 1, I don't. And I can't understand box 2 unless I also understand box 1.

We also need all the wiring and connections at whatever is being controlled by these two 3-way switches.

I also find it hard to believe that box 2 has only three wires, but supports both a single-pole and a 3-way switch. That seems impossible. We need to know all the wires and connections in each box, not just the ones connected to the switch.

These things are wired as complete systems. You cannot understand one piece alone without understanding the whole system.

By the way, you didn't say what your problem was, or what you are trying to accomplish. Or does everything work just perfectly and you're just seeking to understand it?
 
  #5  
Old 10-27-05, 11:50 AM
jamos
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Thank you very much.

Box 1: 3-way switch is connected w/the following wires: 2 black, 1 red, 1 white.

Box 2: 3-way is connected w/the following wires: 1 black, 1 red, 1 white, and a 3" wire bridging 2 terminals on the switch.

Box 2: Single-pole switch connected w/: 2 black, 1 red, 1 white.

Box 2: also has 1 black and 1 white wire not connected to anything in the back of box. These wires aren't connected to the 3-way or single-pole of Box 2.

I am replacing switches for aesthetic purposes only. My problem is that the 3-way switch of Box 2 isn't connected to 2 black wires as it is w/Box 1, and the 3" wire bridge (presumably in lieu of 2nd black) is confusing things, too. Thank you.
 
  #6  
Old 10-27-05, 12:41 PM
J
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Still not enough detail.

A 3-way switch has three screws (not counting the green grounding screw). In box 1, you said that four wires are attached to it. How exactly? Be sure to identify the color of the screw each wire is connected to.

Same thing for box 2.

Do the wires connected to the single-pole switch in box 2, and the wires connected to the 3-way switch in box 2, come from different cables? Or is your house wired with conduit instead of cables? If so, do they come from different conduits?

In box 2, for the two wires in the back not connected to anything, do you mean that they are not even connected to each other?

I will say that bridging two screws on a 3-way switch is a very unusual thing to do. But so far, I don't have enough information to guess why.

If the old setup worked perfectly, then you could just connect the new switches exactly as the old ones. If you pay close attention to which wire or wires are connected to the common terminal on each switch (usually the black-colored screw), it cannot fail to work at least as well as the old setup, and it will be at least as safe (but of course we don't know if the old setup was safe).

If you really want to completely solve this riddle, we will still need the wires and connections at whatever these switches control.
 
  #7  
Old 10-27-05, 01:14 PM
jamos
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Thank you.

Box 1: 3-way switch: 2 black wires connected to the 2 screws on the same side of switch, 1 red wire connected to single screw on the other side (nothing connected to green grounding screw). I am sorry, I was mistaken, the white wires are not connected to the switch, rather they are connected to each other in the back of the box.

Box 2: Single-pole switch: 2 black wires connected 2 screws on switch (nothing connected to grounding screw)

Box 2: 3-way switch: 1 black wire connected to 1 of the 2 screws on same side, 1 red wire connected to single screw on other side of switch (nothing to grounding screw), 1 black stand-alone wire bridged b/ween either (either b.c. Im not at home): red wire/single screw and black wire/2 screws OR black wire/2 screws and no wire/2 screws.

Do the wires connected to the single-pole switch in box 2, and the wires connected to the 3-way switch in box 2, come from different cables? YES.

In box 2, for the two wires in the back not connected to anything, do you mean that they are not even connected to each other? YES.

Thank you. If this isnt enough info, I won't continue to bother you. Best, JJA, WV, USA.
 
  #8  
Old 10-27-05, 03:56 PM
J
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I am sorry, I was mistaken, the white wires are not connected to the switch, rather they are connected to each other in the back of the box
Your previous information said that there was only one white wire in the box. Now you seem to be saying that there are more than one. So how many are there? Two?

1 black stand-alone wire bridged b/ween either (either b.c. Im not at home): red wire/single screw and black wire/2 screws OR black wire/2 screws and no wire/2 screws
Let me know when you find out.

As previosly requested, I need to know the color of the screws on the 3-way switches. Specifically, I need to know which of the screws is black in color, or at least a different color than the other screws.

And what exactly is controlled by these two switches anyway? Before we're through, I'll need the information about the wiring and connections there (as twice-previously requested).

I realize that all my detailed requests for information are very tedious and annoying, but we can do nothing without accuracy and precision. Approximate information is not sufficient. If you elect not to continue, that's okay. I wish you good luck.
 
 

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