3-way & single pole switch troubleshooting

Old 05-26-19, 08:33 AM
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3-way & single pole switch troubleshooting

So, I need help/confirmation with a problem involving three 3-way switches and a single pole switch that are all on the same circuit/breaker.
The three 3-way switches operate recessed lights in a living room, another set of recessed lighting in the kitchen, and a dining room light. The problem involves(involved) the living room lighting and a single-pole switch light at the front porch.
To be clear, I honestly don't know if the problem always existed & I somehow failed to notice it for years,or if the
problem started after I replaced the switches. I think it started after I replaced the switches but cannot be 100% positive.
Anyhow, at one location, there are 6 sets of wires (3 sets of which are always hot). At this dining location, the dining room & kitchen lighting each connected to the of the sets of wiring like a normal set of 3-way switches. The one for the living room was originally connected to two sets of wiring, & I believe the remaining two sets of wires were connected black to Black, etc. I think I messed something up when I reconnected the switches

At the second location was the second 3-way switch for the living room recessed lighting, which had a set of the 3-way romex wiring with the red wire. There was then standard romex/non 3-way wire (b,white, ground).
The problem being that after everything was reconnected... although all the 3-way switches worked correctly, the single pole switch for the front porch light would not turn on unless the living room light was on & the front porch light was also dimming with the living room lights.
I was assuming it was a problem with the way the wires were connected at the first location. An electrician came to the house for other stuff, & I ended up asking him to reconnect them, figuring he'd be able to figure it out much quicker& be faster.

Ultimately, he said the problem was that there was no neutral wire running to the 2nd location.
....(either he said the light, or the light switch.. he pulled new wires to the outdoor light). I didn't understand what he explained because there were no wires missing from the romex at the light or the switch.

Long buildup- but here's my question/problem. After he spent 3-4 hours trying to pull new wires to that location (at $ 40 hr) & left for the day, I realized the living room lights then wouldn't turn on unless the front porch light was on. When he returned to fix it, he said that the traveler wires had just gotten swapped/switched.

So, my question is... if the traveler wires were merely swapped when the living room lights wouldn't turn on unless the front porch light was on ... wouldn't the original problem have simply been that one or more of the traveler wires were swapped.. and or, other misconnection at the switch?

I'm simply wondering because some of the sets of wires were labeled in the box at the first location. There were 3 sets of wires containing a black wire that were always hot. In addition to the living room, dining, & kit sets of wires, one of them was labeled as power. (oddly, i don't think the power one was one of the sets of wires that contained an always-hot black wire)

I want to know for my own purposes... bcuz I'm not going to ever hire the electrician again if he 1) couldn't figure it out without running new wiring and or simply made a mistake thinking new wires had to be pulled if they didn't... and charging me $200+ for unnecessary work pulling new wires.

Anyone able to tell me how to ask, confront, or what to think about the situation?

​​​P.S. Just adding a detail in case it helps/matters at all. My lighting is traditional lights with retrofitted led's. I replaced all the switches so they'd all match, & wanted to swap out the dining room switch because it was the kind that had a small light when off, but it caused my dining room chandelier to always stay on, but just very dim, once I had put led bulbs in the chandelier.

After installing the new switches (specifically for led lighting), the kitchen & dining room lights would do some weird flickering when turning them on sometimes & I would have to turn the dimmer down very slightly to make the flickering stop. After the electrician worked on things, that problem went away. Then, after he swapped the traveler wires so the living room lights would work when the front porch light was off, I've been having the flickering problem with my living room lights now & I have to adjust the dimmer.
This aspect also makes me think whatever the electrician did... also wasn't the correct fix.



Last edited by mrg214; 05-26-19 at 08:44 AM. Reason: adding additional details
Old 05-26-19, 10:01 AM
Tolyn Ironhand's Avatar
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I've been having the flickering problem with my living room lights now & I have to adjust the dimmer.
Flickering with dimmers and LEDs normally indicates the dimmer does not work well with the LED, even if they say they are compatible. I will typically use electronic low voltage dimmers (trailing edge) for better performance.

It is not 100% clear but do all the lights and switches work properly now?
Old 05-27-19, 07:46 AM
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yes, they all work now .. with the exception of the haunted house type of flickering in the living room, which didn't happen before, and was somehow stopped/fixed with the kitchen & dining rm lighting.
the lighting & bulbs & switches in the kitchen & living room are exactly the same.
idk... because of it suddenly stopping in two rooms (operated by two different switches)... it just seems to somehow be related to wiring changes, rather than the switches or lighting. ( and i also tried swapping the living room switch with one of the other ones).
I can't help but wonder if it's something related to where a set of lights is in the circuit?


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