Replacing 3 light switches

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  #1  
Old 11-22-15, 03:55 PM
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Replacing 3 light switches

Hello everyone! Sorry, this is going to be a long one.

My wife and I recently purchased a home (our first!) and we are in the process of replacing all of the light switches and electrical outlets, as the old ones were...well, old and painted on and didn't look good. Anyway, most of them have been replaced but I have run into 3 switches that are giving me issues, each just slightly different from one another.

Switch 1: Located in the hallway, next to the kitchen. The box has two switches in it, and three romex cables coming in, each with a white, black, and ground wire. One switch is a simple two-way switch for controlling one of the two kitchen lights. That one has already been replaced. The other switch controls the other kitchen light, it is one of two switches that do so (the other switch is in the kitchen). I was thinking I would need a three-way switch, but there were no red wires to be seen. Instead, the switch is wired as follows: One black wire connected to the top-right screw, one black wire connected to the bottom-left screw, and one white wire connected to the top-left screw. The other white wire is simply coiled up in the box and not attached to anything. The two ground wires are twisted together and wrapped around a screw in the box. What type of a switch do I need to replace this, and how should I wire it?

Switch 2: Located in the hallway, at the top of the basement stairs. It is the only switch in the box, and it controls the basement stair light. It is one of two switches that do so, the other switch is at the bottom of the stairs. This box has a whopping four romex cables coming in, each with a white, black, and ground wire. This switch is wired as follows: one white wire is going to the bottom-left screw, two white wires are twisted together and attached to the top-right screw, and a black wire is attached to the bottom-right screw. The remaining three black wires are taped together using electrical tape, the remaining one white wire goes out the back of the box, and the four ground wires are split into two sets of two, which are twisted and wrapped around screws in the box. What switch do I need to replace this one and how should I wire it?

Switch 3: Located further into the hallway. This switch controls...something, but we don't know what it is. We have tried flipping it on and off many times but nothing seems to happen. There are no power outlets nearby it could be controlling, and we are stumped. It is in a box along with another two-way switch that is used to control the hallway light, which I have already replaced. There are a total of four romex cables coming in, each with a black, white, and ground wire. One of those romex cables goes to the two-way switch. The other switch is wired as follows: one white wire goes to the bottom-left screw, one white wire goes to the top-right screw, and one black wire goes to the bottom-right screw. The remaining white wire are coiled around the romex cable itself, the remaining two black wires are taped together with electrical tape, and the ground wires were split into one and two, the two were twisted together and wrapped around a screw in the box, and the one was wrapped around another screw in the box. What switch do I need to replace this one and how should I wire it?

I have pictures of the current wiring if that would make things easier. Thanks for reading and for helping out!
 
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Old 11-22-15, 04:05 PM
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Welcome to the forums and congrats on the house.

We have single pole switching and three way switching.... no two way.

Switch 1 is a three way but they used 2) two conductor cables instead of a three wire cable. Be sure to mark the wire that is on the dark/odd colored screw. Location on a three way doesn't mean anything.

We don't discuss grounds in our troubleshooting. We know they are there and should be connected accordingly.

If you have three wires on a switch (two wires on a single terminal counts as one wire) then ID the dark/odd colored screw and put the same wire on the new switch. The other two wires make no difference.

If you have two wires on a terminal.... they should be connected to a short piece of wire, a tail, and then connected to the switch.
 
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Old 11-22-15, 05:16 PM
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Just a tech note while switches that only control lights from one location are referred to as single pole (SPST) technically 3-way switches are single pole also (SPDT).
 
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Old 11-23-15, 05:59 AM
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Thanks for the help! I have a couple more questions now.

I realize you don't discuss grounds, however, I am not sure how to wire them accordingly. The old switches did not have ground screws, but the new ones do. Currently all the ground wires are wrapped around screws in the box. Is this acceptable, or do they need to be reconfigured somehow?

For all the extra wires in the boxes, should I just leave them? Or should I gather them by color (all the blacks together and all the whites together) and cap them with a wire nut?

Lastly, you mentioned for the two wires going to one terminal to connect them to a short piece of wire, a tail, and then connect to the switch. Does this mean wrapping one end of a wire around the other end, and connect just the single other wire to the screw?

Thanks again!
 
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Old 11-23-15, 08:58 AM
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If a box is plastic the ground is pigtailed to each switch. If the box is metal the ground is connected to the box. It is optional to pigtail to the switches unless there is a metal cover plate.
For all the extra wires in the boxes, should I just leave them?
What extra wires? There shouldn't be any unless you removed something. Yes, pictures please. Keep them under a width of 1000px but large enough to easily see. http://www.doityourself.com/forum/li...rt-images.html
Does this mean wrapping one end of a wire around the other end, and connect just the single other wire to the screw?
Use a wire nut to connect them to a single wire the same size and color insulation.
 
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Old 11-23-15, 09:28 AM
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Okay, hopefully this works.

Name:  Basement light box 2.jpg
Views: 140
Size:  34.7 KB

This is the most complicated box, a close up view. This is Switch 2 from the original post. Four romex wires all coming in to one switch. Off to the right hand side you can see three black wires simply taped together with electrical tape. That would be an example of the extra wires I am referring to.

Edit to add: Also, the boxes are metal, and the cover plates are metal also.
 

Last edited by mmayes; 11-23-15 at 10:03 AM.
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