3way/4way Light Switch Setup:

Reply

  #1  
Old 01-01-14, 01:45 PM
Member
Thread Starter
Join Date: Jan 2014
Posts: 18
Received 0 Votes on 0 Posts
3way/4way Light Switch Setup:

Hi All,

First post in regards to a problem that is driving me insane.

Currently we have an upstairs recessed ceiling light that is controlled by three switches. One 3way at the bottom of the stairs, one 3way at the top of the stairs, and one 4way on the top floor outside of the office.

The 3 way(Switch #1) at the bottom of the stairs has the following.

1 - Red Wire
1 - White White
1 - Black Wire
1 - Ground

The 3 way switch(Switch #2) at the top of the stairs has the following.

2 - Black Wire
1 - White Wire
1- Ground

The 4 way Switch(Switch #3) outside of the office on the same level as switch #2 has the following:

2 - White
2 - Black
1 - Ground

Currently it seems as if there needs to be some sort of ancient Mayan code input with the switches in order to get the light to go on, or off. We would like(if we could) to have it so that no matter what switch one toggles the light goes on and off. So if I'm leaving the office, I flip switch #3, light is on, enter bedroom, flip switch #2, light goes out. Wake up in middle of night, flip switch #2, light goes on, go downstairs, turn it off with switch #1 etc etc.

First can our setup even do what we want? Second, if it can(because it currently isn't) what can I do to start trying to remedy the situation? It seems like one of the travelers and/or common is wired wrong, I just don't know where to begin.

Thanks in advance.
 
Sponsored Links
  #2  
Old 01-01-14, 01:52 PM
PJmax's Avatar
Group Moderator
Join Date: Oct 2012
Location: Northern NJ - USA
Posts: 54,149
Received 474 Votes on 444 Posts
Welcome to the forums.

You've got some issues there. You should have a three wire cable between your first three way to your four way switch and then another three wire cable from your four way switch to your last three way switch.

That would give give you 2 three wire cables at the four way switch. It sounds like someone took the hot from one end and the neutral from the other end and tried to create a switch loop. Pretty creative but technically not correct.
 
  #3  
Old 01-01-14, 02:09 PM
Member
Thread Starter
Join Date: Jan 2014
Posts: 18
Received 0 Votes on 0 Posts
From what you're saying it seems as if these switches should be going in some sort of order?

So, 3way -----> 4way ----> 3way ?

Mine is setup as the following:

3way ----> 3way ----> 4way

The 4 way switch is the last in line. I can see in the 4way switch a wire connector nut wayyyy in the back I didn't see before. It has 2 red wires both connected together. I'm assuming they are coming from the other switches.
 
  #4  
Old 01-01-14, 09:17 PM
PJmax's Avatar
Group Moderator
Join Date: Oct 2012
Location: Northern NJ - USA
Posts: 54,149
Received 474 Votes on 444 Posts
If you see a red wire carried thru the four way switch location then that is correct. That means you do indeed have 2 three wire cables at the four way switch which is in the middle.

The 3 way(Switch #1) at the bottom of the stairs has the following.
1 - Red Wire
1 - White White
1 - Black Wire
1 - Ground
That's good. Please confirm the red wire is on the odd or dark colored screw of that switch.

The 3 way switch(Switch #2) at the top of the stairs has the following.
2 - Black Wire
1 - White Wire
1- Ground
What color wire is on the dark screw ? It should be black.
Can you disconnect just the wire off of the odd color screw and confirm that it is hot.
 
  #5  
Old 01-01-14, 11:06 PM
Nashkat1's Avatar
Member
Join Date: Mar 2012
Location: USA
Posts: 8,470
Received 1 Vote on 1 Post
From what you're saying it seems as if these switches should be going in some sort of order?

So, 3way -----> 4way ----> 3way ?
Yes.

Mine is setup as the following:

3way ----> 3way ----> 4way
If the cable going to the light fixture comes from a box with one of the 3-way switches in it, then it is set up to work the way you want it to. If that cable comes from the box with the 4-way switch in it, then it won't work without being rewired.

The physical location of the switches doesn't matter. The order in which the switches are connected to the incoming line feed, to each other and to the load is all that matters.

The 4 way switch is the last in line.
The last in line before what?

I can see in the 4way switch a wire connector nut wayyyy in the back I didn't see before. It has 2 red wires both connected together. I'm assuming they are coming from the other switches.
Assuming won't help you correct this. Testing with a multimeter -- preferably an analog one -- will.
 
  #6  
Old 01-02-14, 03:48 PM
Mr.Awesome's Avatar
Member
Join Date: Oct 2013
Location: Canada
Posts: 592
Received 0 Votes on 0 Posts
Regardless of location, your 4 way is the center of the setup.
Your 4 way makes sense to me. Your bottom stair 3 way makes sense to me. Your top floor 3 way makes no sense to me. Is there a marrette/wire nut in the top stair box?

This picture is the only way I forsee this working with the information given (2 black 1 white at top stair 3 way). Old smart guys, please comment.

Name:  wtf.jpg
Views: 2877
Size:  19.8 KB
 
  #8  
Old 01-02-14, 07:09 PM
Member
Thread Starter
Join Date: Jan 2014
Posts: 18
Received 0 Votes on 0 Posts
Post

Bottom 3 way





Top 3 Way





Uploaded with ImageShack.us

4 Way





Btw I take no credit for this wiring job, lol.
 
  #9  
Old 01-02-14, 07:13 PM
Member
Thread Starter
Join Date: Jan 2014
Posts: 18
Received 0 Votes on 0 Posts
Welp, I tried to post pictures of the exact setup but it doesn't feel like letting me.

Here's how it is currently:

Bottom 3 way. Red wire, black screw, black wire, brass screw, white wire brass screw.

Top 3 way. Black to brass, black to black and white to brass. There is a nut with a black and white wire that I managed to fish out but I can't make heads and tails which black on the switch is from that nut.

Top 4 way.

Black to black, white to brass. Both sides.

I take no credit for this work lol.
 
  #10  
Old 01-02-14, 07:20 PM
PJmax's Avatar
Group Moderator
Join Date: Oct 2012
Location: Northern NJ - USA
Posts: 54,149
Received 474 Votes on 444 Posts
Anytime you post more than 5 links in a post.... it goes to moderation.

I think I know what you problem is. Four way switches come in two wiring formats and it's confusing to know which you have.

Pertaining to the four way switch.........
Right now.... you have a black and a white wire on each side.
Try putting both blacks on one side and both whites on the other side.
It doesn't matter which black goes on the top or bottom screw. Same with the whites.

Be sure to change the wiring with the power off. Let us know what happens.
 
  #11  
Old 01-03-14, 04:53 PM
pcboss's Avatar
Forum Topic Moderator
Join Date: Jul 2002
Location: Maryland
Posts: 14,975
Received 35 Votes on 30 Posts
The wires should loop clockwise around the screws and should not have a sloppy fit as currently. there is a strip gauge to show how much needs to be stripped. Several wires are stripped too long.
 
  #12  
Old 01-04-14, 12:19 PM
Member
Thread Starter
Join Date: Jan 2014
Posts: 18
Received 0 Votes on 0 Posts
Ok, did this, turned power back on. Now no switch can turn on or off the light.
 
  #13  
Old 01-04-14, 12:26 PM
PJmax's Avatar
Group Moderator
Join Date: Oct 2012
Location: Northern NJ - USA
Posts: 54,149
Received 474 Votes on 444 Posts
Ok.... then the four way switch was wired correctly. That leaves a wiring issue at the three way switch with the 2 blacks and the white on the switch.
 
  #14  
Old 01-04-14, 02:29 PM
Member
Thread Starter
Join Date: Jan 2014
Posts: 18
Received 0 Votes on 0 Posts
I agree but my first concern is just getting the light switch working properly then I will address the bad stripping. I swear the people who built this place...
 
  #15  
Old 01-05-14, 07:36 PM
Nashkat1's Avatar
Member
Join Date: Mar 2012
Location: USA
Posts: 8,470
Received 1 Vote on 1 Post
I agree but my first concern is just getting the light switch working properly then I will address the bad stripping.
The first concern and priority in electrical work is safety. I'm guessing you agree with that. That's why the exposed lengths of conductors need to be trimmed so that the insulation ends at the point where the termination begins, a.s.a.p. Do those as you're making the corrections needed to make the switches work properly and you'll not only have a safer setup, you'll only have to work in each box once. A win/win?

From what you've described, it sounds like this light is wired as a switch loop feeding a dead-end 3-way set. If there is only one 2-conductor cable in all three boxes, that is definitely the case. To confirm that, and to determine exactly which connections need to be changed, the surest way is to turn the circuit off, drop the light fixture, and see how the wires are connected there.

We also need to know the number of cables and the number of wires, by color, in each box. In particular, tell us this for the upstairs box that has the 3-way switch in it:
Top 3 way. Black to brass, black to black and white to brass. There is a nut with a black and white wire that I managed to fish out but I can't make heads and tails which black on the switch is from that nut.
If my guess is correct, this is where the switch loop comes in. It also sounds like the switch loop is connected backwards at the light.

Let us know what you find at the light.
 
Reply

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are Off


Thread Tools
Search this Thread
 
Ask a Question
Question Title:
Description:
Your question will be posted in: