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# Need help identifying light switch wiring

## Need help identifying light switch wiring

#1
02-08-15, 06:07 PM
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Need help identifying light switch wiring

Hello everyone:

I have a bit of a wiring puzzle going on here that I'm hoping someone can help with with. Here's the scenario:

There are a total of four lights (we'll call them lights A through D) being controlled by five switches. One of the lights (Light B, because it appears to be the 2nd light in the series) is being controlled by two 3-way switches. The other three lights are each being controlled by their own dedicated switches. There are three light switch boxes. The first one is pictured in the first picture and contains a dedicated switch for light A and a three way switch for light B. The second light switch box is in the second picture and contains a three way light switch for light B and a dedicated switch for light C. The third light switch box is not pictured because it simply contains one dedicated switch for light D.

If you look at the first picture, the switch on the left is a dedicated switch for light A and the switch on the right is a 3 way switch for light B. I have been able to identify one hot wire (when the breaker is on), which is the bottom black wire going to the left switch for light A. The left switch will operate light A as wired. The right switch has the traveler wires connected to the traveler terminals, but I don't know where any of the other wires should go.

And then if you look at the second picture, I was able to positively identify the traveler wires in this box by connecting the wire nut and test for continuity from the other switch box. And the the white wire that is connected to one of the black wires with a wire nut is the same white wire from the first picture. None of the wires in this picture are hot when the breaker is on.

So at this point, I can only get light A to work. I am unable to figure out how to connect the remaining wires so that I can get light B to work with the two 3-way switches (one in each box), nor can I figure out how to wire the switch for Light C.

Can anyone help?? I would really appreciate it!!

Last edited by PJmax; 02-08-15 at 08:31 PM. Reason: added numbers to wires
#2
02-08-15, 08:39 PM
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Welcome to the forums.

Did you just open the boxes and immediately remove all the switches without marking the wires ?
I numbered the wires to eliminate the wiring guessing game.

Wire 8 has a double stripping. That looks like that wire should be hot and was connected to both switches. Can you confirm it's hot..... check from black to ground.

In the second picture you have the travelers 3 and 4 wirenutted together. Is that the only splice you changed or made in that box ?

The problem here is there are extra wires which means two wires on a screw or one on a screw and one on a back stab.

#3
02-08-15, 08:55 PM
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Hi PJmax:

With the breaker on, I'm not able to detect any power in the second box (wires 3, 4, 6, 7 and 8) whatsoever. I would think that wire 8 would be hot as well, but it's not and I don't know how to make it that way.

The traveler wires were wirenutted together to confirm that they are the same wires from the first box. Yes, that's the only change I made to that second box. I know that wires 3 & 4 need to go to the traveler terminals on the 3-way switch for that box. I'm just not sure how to connect the other wires.

Thanks again!

#4
02-08-15, 09:05 PM
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There is going to be a little back and forth as we ID the wiring. I'm pretty sure I know what's been done.

In box 1.... put the white wire #2 on the common of the three way switch.

I'm fairly certain black wire #1 and #8 are the same wire. Can you confirm that ?
You could connect the #1 end to hot and then check #8 end.

#5
02-09-15, 03:24 AM
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I have connected white wire #2 to the common terminal of the 3-way switch.

With the breaker back on, I see no difference with indications. Light A switch still operates Light A. Light B switch does nothing (both travelers are connected as is the the white to common). And there is still no power in box 2.

#6
02-09-15, 04:12 AM
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And there is still no power in box 2.
If you are using a non contact tester give it to your kid to play with and get an analog (not digital) multimeter. A cheap \$8-\$15 one is all you need. Non contact testers have very limited uses as warning that voltage may be present but not if it really is.

Last edited by ray2047; 02-09-15 at 07:08 AM.
#7
02-09-15, 04:34 AM
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Your power should be coming in on the double stripped wire which is jumpered to the three way switch's black screw. Test it to a grounding wire with your meter.

Box two probably won't have power since it is a "load" switch until all the connections are correct in box one.

#8
02-09-15, 07:57 AM
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Hi Chandler:

So the double stripped wire (8) is in box two. There is currently no power on it. Box one has Light A Switch wired as shown in the original pictures and Light B switch wired with the red and black traveler wires (3 & 4) connected to the traveler terminals (as shown) and the white wire (2) connected to the common terminal. There is still one my black wire (1) that's not connected to anything. I'm wondering if that should be connected to the one of the terminals on Switch A.

Chandler, are you saying that if I will get power to the wire #8 if I connect it to the common terminal on the 3-way switch?

#9
02-09-15, 08:12 AM
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I told you what to check last night.........................

I'm fairly certain black wire #1 and #8 are the same wire. Can you confirm that ?
You could connect the #1 end to hot and then check #8 end.

#10
02-09-15, 08:25 AM
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I'm assuming that when you check #8 you'll find it live. You will need to make a permanent connection at the first box.

In box 2...
#3 and #4 will go back on three way switch as travelers.

#8 is the hot for both switches. You can connect that one wire to both switches like it was or connect two tails to it and now you'll have a single power wire to each switch. Power will be on the common screw.

That leaves #6 and #7. We know one of them is light C..... not the three way controlled lights.

With power on you could connect either 6 or 7 to see what comes on. The extra wire may be a hot out line and may need to be connected to the other hot wires.

#11
02-09-15, 09:10 AM
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So here's what I currently have. Box 1, Switch A - wired as pictured. Switch B - 3 & 4 to the traveler terminals and 2 to the common terminal. Wire 1 remains unconnected.

Box 2 - 3 & 4 connected to the traveler terminals on 3-way switch #2. Wire 8 is connected to the common terminal of 3-way switch #2. The second connector on wire 8 was connected to a a terminal on a single pole switch while wire 6 was connected to the other terminal on that switch. With the breaker back on, there is still no sign of power anywhere inside of box 2.

Could it be that wire #1 in box 1 needs to be connected in order to get power to box 2?

#12
02-09-15, 09:12 AM
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Yes..... I've posted three times how to check that.

I'm fairly certain black wire #1 and #8 are the same wire. Can you confirm that ?
You could connect the #1 end to hot and then check #8 end.

#13
02-09-15, 10:19 AM
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Ugh! I've misread that every time! I'm sure you're very frustrated with me by now. I'm very sorry!

So I connected wire 1 to the same screw as wire 5 in box 1.

Box 2 remains unchanged: 3 & 4 connected to the traveler terminals on 3-way switch #2. Wire 8 is connected to the common terminal of 3-way switch #2. The second connector on wire 8 is connected to a a terminal on a single pole switch while wire 6 is connected to the other terminal on that switch.

Now there is power in box 2, but it's on wire 6. There's no power on wire 8. I'm confused by the fact that the single pole switch that should be controlling light C is now actually acting like a 3-way switch for light B, along with the 3-way switch in box 1. The 2nd 3-way switch in box 2 does nothing.

#14
02-09-15, 11:39 AM
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FIXED!!

I moved wire one in box 2 to share the common terminal on the 3-way switch. I think took wire 7, the only remaining unconnected wire, and connected it to the single pole switch. Everything now works as designed!

Thanks very much for your help and guidance!

#15
02-09-15, 11:50 AM
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Take a good look at your wiring..... a good way not to do it. There should never be two wires connected to the same terminal..... or one wire on one screw and one wire pushed in on the same terminal.

Glad you got it working.

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