Remodel - wiring 3 way switch's for recessed lighting


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Old 02-14-17, 03:43 PM
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Remodel - wiring 3 way switch's for recessed lighting

Hi all, I just bought a house and it was built in 1986. It has 2 - three way switches, however they do nothing as of right now. My belief is that they were once used for switching plug(s) on/off, such as lamps, because there is no overhead lighting. They are hot according to my volt detector, however I have gone to every plug in the living room with a lamp and I get nothing. Really, this is no big deal to me because what I would like to do is put in recessed lighting. The switches are located in the same cavity I would like to put the lights if this is possible. I drew some very mediocre pictures to explain further, as well as took a few pics of the wires behind the switches. My question is if this is possible to wire and keep the 3 way switch capabilities.
The 3rd and 4th pic are of the front door switch, the last is of the one at the stair case.

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Last edited by PJmax; 02-14-17 at 04:04 PM. Reason: cropped/enhanced pics
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Old 02-14-17, 03:47 PM
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Welcome to the forums.

I have gone to every plug in the living room with a lamp and I get nothing.
Does that mean every receptacle is dead ??

Ultimately.... all the lights need to come from one switch box. They can't be split to both.
 
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Old 02-14-17, 04:08 PM
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In your first picture.... I see two black wires and one white wire on the switch. Locate the odd/dark colored screw. ID that wire. It will be one of the black ones.

Are the red and white wires connected in the second picture ?

In your third picture..... I see red, black and white on the switch. What color is on the odd/dark screw terminal ?
 
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Old 02-14-17, 04:28 PM
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I took some better pictures. All the receptacles work perfectly. The first two pictures are of the switch at the door, the last two are of the switch at the staircase. The switch on the right in the last two pictures just lights up the actual staircase so I didn't pull that one out. All of the screw colors looked the same to me, shape/color. Yes the white/red are connected it seems.
Thoughts?
 
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Old 02-14-17, 04:31 PM
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These are the better pictures I took of the two switches.
 
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Old 02-14-17, 04:44 PM
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Here are a few more pictures showing what I'm trying to do.
 
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Old 02-14-17, 06:26 PM
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They are hot according to my volt detector, however I have gone to every plug in the living room with a lamp and I get nothing.
If that is a non contact tester give it to your kids to play with. They are far to prone to false positives to be useful for serious testing. You need an analog multimeter. A cheap $8-$15 one is fine. Digital multimeters can sometimes give false readings which can confuse an amature so best to use an analog.

What does the wiring at the receptacles look like? Do any of the receptacles have the tab on the brass side removed. For now look at the receptacle closest to each switch.
 
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Old 02-14-17, 06:49 PM
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You have a three way switchloop there.

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The green/three wire cable dead ends at the other switch.
The red/two wire cable goes to the switched device.
The black of the two wire cable goes to the dark/odd screw terminal.

So that circuit was added in later to switch something that is currently live.
 
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Old 02-15-17, 07:11 AM
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PJ,
If the 3 wire dead ends at the other switch, and the 2 wire is going to the receptacle, does that mean the power is first ran through the receptacle, then the switches?
Ray,
There is only one receptacle on that wall behind the couch. So I'm guessing that's what it would go to, but I will check tonight. I'm borrowing a multimeter tonight as well, what should I be looking for?
I'm completely fine not having the 3 way function, and just having two separate light switches for each set/row of lights if that's possible too.
 
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Old 02-15-17, 07:44 AM
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does that mean the power is first ran through the receptacle, then the switches?
Yes.............. that is correct.
 
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Old 02-16-17, 07:25 PM
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Likely original use of the 3-way switches

I would guess that if you opened all the receptacle boxes in the room, you would find at least one that had originally been configured to be half switch controlled and the other half hot all the time. And, for some reason, someone decided to instead configure that receptacle to be hot all the time. They would just have put a wire nut on the unneeded wire.

Alternatively, they may have replaced the receptacle at some point in time and didn't bother or know to remove the tab between the upper and lower halfs. That would leave them both hot all the time regardless of switch position.
 
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Old 02-16-17, 07:37 PM
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they may have replaced the receptacle at some point in time and didn't bother or know to remove the tab
Good point..... our members here run into that issue all the time.
 
 

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