switches pi**ing me off.

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Old 07-03-13, 09:33 PM
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switches pi**ing me off.

so a little backround on me. IT specialist and network/security administrator for 10 years. recently getting into the electrical trade. took 2 classes at the local community college. recently hooked up own transfer panel and sub panel to power my house during outages. so im not a complete noob here but, this problem really has me stumped for something that seems really cut and dry maybe i just need another pair of eyes, thus why im here.

so heres the deal, there is a light in my friends house that is controlled by 2 3 way switches the only issue is that the functionality of the light is dependent on the position of the other switch. seems like a classic case of travelers and commons being terminated improperly right? not exactly.

box #1
3 way switch with 14-3 incoming black to common red/white to travelers

box #2
2 3 way switches one controls the light in question 1 controls a different light that works just fine.
14-2 wire appears to be feeding both switch commons.
14-3 going switch that isnt working red/white go to travelers
heres where it gets a little weird.
the black wire from the 14-3 cable that is mentioned above is wire nutted with the both the white wire from the apparent power source and the white wire which is used for the travelers of the functioning switch.
i found the fact that a black wire was tied to a white wires very odd and was always told it was bad practice.

the light itself is a chandelier and is in a position where i cant access the box without cutting through drywall

anyway problem still needs to be solved.

so from my knowledge i can say that power is coming in thru the 14-2 entering the common going out thru the travelers entering the second switch travelers thru the 14-3 in the 1st box the being looped back by black in the common of the that switch then going to the light and returning on the black which is spliced with other neutrals in the 2nd box.

for the LIFE OF ME! i cant f***ing figure out how to wire this SOB up where it will function properly. im 90% sure that although box #2 may have had some bad practice issues is wired correctly. box number 1 i have configured the wires in everyway possible and nothing.

another interesting thing is that when in box 1 if i tie the white to the common and the black/red to the travelers the breaker trips i go down to reset trips again immediately.



so tell me am i just having a brain fart or retard moment or what!? ive just spent the past 2 hours fondling this problem when im pretty sure i should be well above and beyond and simple 3 way screw up. anyway i guess im just stupid so i was hoping one of you guys with more experience could provide some insight.

cheers!
happy birthday America!
 

Last edited by ray2047; 07-04-13 at 05:27 AM. Reason: Modify title spelling.
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Old 07-03-13, 09:52 PM
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Welcome to the forums.

You're missing something. Box 1 seems ok. At box 2 you are telling us that there is a three wire and a two wire. If the three wire just goes to box 1 ....... where is your light connection ?

That two wire coming in is either feed or light..... can't be both.

If I have that incorrect then we need to know what cabling appears in the boxes.
 
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Old 07-03-13, 10:02 PM
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well what i think is going on is that the travelers from box two are going to the light then passing thru the box light being spliced whatever then continuing to box one going thru those travelers then back to the light via the common in a switch loop fashion.
 
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Old 07-03-13, 10:05 PM
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also thanks i think im gonna get alot of good knowledge from here maybe help some others out as well.

14-2 in box 2 is DEF the feed i tested it with a meter
 
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Old 07-03-13, 10:09 PM
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You may be right......the three wires cable meet at the light.
Then without being able to remove the light fixture you are playing a guessing game because it sounds like they changed traveler colors at the light.

I don't understand the issue at the chandelier. A light fixture should be removable without cutting sheetrock.
 
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Old 07-03-13, 10:17 PM
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this is the same hunch i had too which is why i reconfigured box 1 switch about a hundred different times. i feel like the key to this may be in the fact that when i tie white to the common and red/black to the travelers breaker trips and wont reset until i change the configuration. any insight on to why this may be? because in my experience even when travelers/commons get mixed up ive never seen that cause a short circuit.

its a very old house made in the mid 50's i believe there isnt a very clear way to access the box maybe ill take a look at it again and see if i can get in there
 
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Old 07-04-13, 12:48 AM
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the black wire from the 14-3 cable that is mentioned above is wire nutted with the both the white wire from the apparent power source and the white wire which is used for the travelers of the functioning switch.
The problem isn't at box 1.... it's at box 2.

You can't connect a traveler to neutral.

Try this......this makes the most sense. Since they apparently were using white and red as travelers..... connect the black of the three wire to neutral only. Yes.....you're right in that a black doesn't get connected to a white...... but in switch wiring it was "anything goes."

If that works ......tape that wire white so you know in the future it's neutral.

An electrical box is sealed from all sides except the fixture side......so to see that wiring you would have to drop the chandelier.
 
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Old 07-04-13, 04:06 AM
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alrighty ill try it tomorrow ans post the results thanks bud!
have a good 4th!
 
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Old 07-04-13, 08:38 PM
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I think PJ meant to say
If that works ......tape that wire white so you know in the future it's not a neutral.
If the black wire in the 14-2 cable is pigtailed and connected to the common on each of the two 3-way switches, then that should be the hot wire in the feed cable from the panel. It may, in fact, come from a ceiling box, but that doesn't matter right now. The first thing is to determine whether it's a line feed or a load feed.

To determine that, disconnect both wires in the 14-2 and test to see if they are carrying 120V.
 
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