4 way light switch suddenly not working all the time

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Old 09-27-12, 01:29 PM
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4 way light switch suddenly not working all the time

We have an upstairs hallway with two ceiling light fixtures and three switches, one at either end of the hall and the third at the bottom of the stairs, Have lived in the house for 19 years and all of a sudden the switches work sometimes but not all of the time. I bought new switches (two three post, one four post) and wired them as the previous ones were wired. I still have the same problem and have no idea how to begin troubleshooting. Any suggestions?
 
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Old 09-27-12, 02:48 PM
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the switches work sometimes but not all of the time.
Can you explain more fully. Have you checked the light for loose connections. At both the light and switches have you removed and inspected any wire nuts for corrosion or loose wires.

Just to be sure we are on the same page:
and wired them as the previous ones were wired
Explain what you did more fully. You should not go by the position of the wires on the old switch because the manufacturer of the new switch may have used a different pattern. For the 3-ways did you put the house common from the old switch on the common of the new switch regardless of the position. Common is the odd color screw usually dark (never green).
 
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Old 09-27-12, 05:36 PM
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Welcome to the forums!

To add to what Ray posted, when you said that
I bought new switches (two three post, one four post) and wired them as the previous ones were wired,
you didn't say that you moved each wire from its functional position on the old switch to the same functional position on the new switch. In a 3-way switch system, the common or point terminal - usually distinguished by a dark-colored screw - on one of the two switches is connected to the hot wire from the panel. That same terminal on the other 3-way switch is connected to the wire feeding ungrounded (hot) power to the lights. The other two terminals - usually bright brass colored - are connected to the two traveler wires that go from one of those two switches to the other.

When a 4-way switch is added, it interrupts the pair of travelers and switches power between the two wires. One pair, from one cable, is connected to one end of the parallel, or straight, switch connections, and the other pair is connected to the other end of those parallel connections. I suspect you got that right, because doing it the other way connects a dead short and, in the best possible outcome, trips the breaker and opens the circuit.

Check the connections at the lights.
 
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