Trouble with 2 switches, 1 light


  #1  
Old 06-12-20, 10:44 PM
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Trouble with 2 switches, 1 light

We just bought an older home that has a problem with the garage light. The garage has 2 illuminated light switches, A and B. Switch A works no matter what position Switch B is, but Switch B only works when Switch A is in the On position. They both appear to be two-way switches, and are connected with 3 red, black, and white wires (there are no unused wires), in the same positions for both. Can I reconfigure the wiring? Do I need to get new switches? If so, how would I configure their wiring? Thank you!
 
  #2  
Old 06-12-20, 11:18 PM
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I think you are saying there is a red black and white wire at each switch. It reads as if you might have 3 red wires.
The problem sounds like the wrong wire is on the COMMON terminal of switch A.
Do you have any way to measure voltage?
 
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Old 06-13-20, 12:34 AM
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Welcome to the forums.

There are single pole switches and three way switches...... no two way.
A three way switch system is two switches operating the same light.

We can't tell if you have three wires only.... red, black and white.... or two sets of three wires.
 
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Old 06-15-20, 06:37 PM
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Clarifying my post

LOL, you guys can tell I'm a novice at this, can't you? Sorry for the confusion. I have two switches that are both single pole switches. They both have attached to them one red wire, one black wire, and one white wire. The two switches are wired identically.
 
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Old 06-15-20, 08:42 PM
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Going to need a little more clarification.
A single pole switch has two screw terminals for connecting wiring. (not including ground screw)
It may also have two push-in connections on the back.
The push-ins and screws are not to be used at the same time.

A picture of the switch wiring would be very helpful..... How-to-insert-pictures.
 
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Old 06-16-20, 03:18 PM
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There are no push-in connectors on the back of the switches

<img src="https://cimg4.ibsrv.net/gimg/www.doityourselft.com-vbulletin/1500x2000/img_20200616_133918753_8db03ba56e05744c2fe33dc2c59ebd2c75e4783b.jpg" width="1500" height="2000"/>
<img src="https://cimg6.ibsrv.net/gimg/www.doityourselft.com-vbulletin/1500x2000/img_20200616_133937997_244e64c3bdaa4b91af95e8cf714f5224649d9301.jpg" width="1500" height="2000"/>
<img src="https://cimg7.ibsrv.net/gimg/www.doityourselft.com-vbulletin/1500x2000/img_20200616_133952666_f6479e90be59ab5a9bb381e2aa6d6f801da501de.jpg" width="1500" height="2000"/>
 
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Old 06-16-20, 03:27 PM
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There is your problem. Those are not three way switches. You have the white wire connected to the ground screw. You need three way switches. They will have three screws and a green ground.
 
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Old 06-16-20, 05:05 PM
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I'm not so sure about that joed.

I see a plastic box but no ground wire. It looks like someone may have used three wire cable with no bare ground and the white as ground. A lighted switch requires the yoke of the switch to be grounded. White is neutral only and not to be used as a ground.

Check the cable where it comes in the box for a bare ground. It may have gotten cut off.
 
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Old 06-16-20, 05:54 PM
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Could be but he says two switches control the light and one has to on for the other one to work. This should be a three way setup.
 
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Old 06-16-20, 07:44 PM
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Hmmmm..... I thought it was two switches in one box.

Makes more sense to be two separate three way switches with the wrong switches being used.
Also.... I wrote a ground is needed for the light. That is incorrect..... ground is not needed.
 
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Old 06-17-20, 01:14 PM
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There IS a ground wire!

You were right! There is an unattached ground wire at the back of the box!

So now I have four wires for each switch: the ground, a white, a red, and a black. What next?

Than you so much for helping me!
<img src="https://cimg1.ibsrv.net/gimg/www.doityourselft.com-vbulletin/1500x2000/img_20200617_112811765_6c2064a45f341053d4ec98c3a2f71edd8b5983a6.jpg" width="1500" height="2000"/>
The unattached ground wire!
 
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Old 06-17-20, 01:49 PM
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Ok.... so you'll need to extend that ground wire to connect to the switch.
Use any method that's easy..... wirenut, crimp, etc.

You'll need to remove the wires from both three way switches.
Three way switches have two brass and one dark connection screw.
If you don't have them.... get them.
You will need a way to check for voltage. You'll need to check from all three wires to ground at both ends. Only one wire should show as hot.
 
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  #13  
Old 06-17-20, 01:55 PM
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Those switches you have now are not three ways. You will need to get some three way switches.
 
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Old 06-17-20, 04:42 PM
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Hot wire?

The hot wire goes to the dark connection screw? Would that be the same for both of the light switches in the garage?
 
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Old 06-17-20, 04:54 PM
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Picture for wiring question

So the hot wire (in this case) would go to the lower right screw and the ground to the upper left, and the other two?

<img src="https://cimg5.ibsrv.net/gimg/www.doityourselft.com-vbulletin/161x450/3ws_994d6f5c35d991f8749ca45592c84db00c474cf3.jpg" width="161" height="450"/>

 

Last edited by PJmax; 06-17-20 at 07:20 PM. Reason: resized/labeled pic
  #16  
Old 06-17-20, 05:43 PM
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There is only one wire that is always hot on a three way setup.
The other common connection is the switched hot to the fixture.
At the second switch the hot will toggle between two wires when you flip the first switch. Those two wires are the travellers.
 
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Old 06-17-20, 07:25 PM
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We have to take this one step at a time. Usually the travelers are the same colors at both ends...... but in this case they will probably not be as you only have a single cable at both ends.

When you find the single hot wire...... it will go to the dark color/common screw. Then the other two wires will get connected as traveler wires. After this switch is wired.... make sure the power is on and go to second switch.

At the other switch..... you will need to check from all three wires to ground. Find the hot wire. Now move switch #1 to other position..... find the second hot wire. The two wires that checked as hot are the travelers. The wire that checked as dead is the common/load/light wire.
 
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Old 06-22-20, 10:05 PM
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Extending the ground wire

<img src="https://cimg0.ibsrv.net/gimg/www.doityourselft.com-vbulletin/1500x2000/img_20200622_151607310_14e672f91d0ff52325868dc7742fe81085610fec.jpg" width="1500" height="2000"/>
Extending the ground wire
 
  #19  
Old 06-22-20, 10:10 PM
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Ready for the breaker!

Identified the hot wires, all ready to go!


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  #20  
Old 06-22-20, 10:25 PM
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Success!

I can see my shadow (from my garage light)!

I am living proof that if I can do a project like this, anybody can! I wasn't scared about the idea of trying, but my lack of electrical knowledge had stopped me before. After I stumbled on doityourself.com - I was actually searching for forums for novices like me - I read a few posts and was really impressed by the answers. And I have to say this site worked just as I had hoped in solving my two-way light switches challenge. Clear answers, and I got the impression that the guy helping me was really patient, which made me much more comfortable with the process. My first visit to the site for advice gets an A+!
<img src="https://cimg8.ibsrv.net/gimg/www.doityourselft.com-vbulletin/1500x2000/img_20200622_162853154_5cc24338e7272ed7125f7eef6209c9365c219a3b.jpg" width="1500" height="2000"/>
Both switches work now, no matter what the other switch is doing! Yay!
 
 

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