PDA

View Full Version : Troubleshooting two 3-way switch setups



Thatguy
05-07-2009, 06:50 AM
This assumes two travelers between the switches.

Assign each switch a number.
With switch #1 & switch #2 down, light is on or off?
With #1 up & #2 down, light is on or off?
With #1 down and #2 up, light is on or off?
With #1 & #2 up, light is on or off?

In principle, with the answers filled in, the problem(s) can be pinpointed.

Test cases welcome. . .

sakkyoku
05-21-2009, 01:15 AM
This assumes two travelers between the switches.

Assign each switch a number.
With switch #1 & switch #2 down, light is on or off?
With #1 up & #2 down, light is on or off?
With #1 down and #2 up, light is on or off?
With #1 & #2 up, light is on or off?

In principle, with the answers filled in, the problem(s) can be pinpointed.

Test cases welcome. . .

off
off
on
off
Looks like I'm the first test case. How do I fix it?
Thank you in advance.

hj
05-21-2009, 06:33 AM
It appears that one of the travelers is connected to the common on one of the switches, therefore there is only one configuration where both are "on" to let the lamp operate.

Thatguy
05-21-2009, 09:16 AM
Sw#1 is working like an on/off switch when #2 is up. When sw 2 is down there is no continuity.
Either a traveler is not connected or it's like HJ said.

Set both switches down so the controlled lamp is off.
Assuming two travelers, like in most of the diagrams in this link
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Switch
if you run a wire from the common of one switch through a 100w incand. bulb to the common of the other, the test light and the controlled (incand.) light should go on, equally faintly if they are both the same wattage. You can then safely put a piece of wire in place of the test bulb and you should get full brightness on the controlled light.
If not, the wires feeding the common switch terminals are incorrect.

You'll need an extension cord and clip leads.

Never and I mean Never try anything that comes close to this. This is very dangerous and should never be attempted

Thatguy this will be deleted should you ever post anything like this again. If you disagree PM me and we will discuss the safety issues involved.

sakkyoku
05-21-2009, 04:11 PM
I had switched a traveler and the common on both switches.

golong27
06-17-2009, 03:41 PM
next case...

off
off
off
on

I'm replacing the old dirty switches with new white ones and have two different 3-ways with the same behavior.

switch #1 is the end of the circuit and #2 is in the middle.

thanks in advance.

Thatguy
06-18-2009, 08:45 AM
Check the switches using an ohmmeter as to operation and terminal labelling.

Check that the common switch terminals go to the right wires and not one of the travelers.

There is a slight chance that hooking up the switches incorrectly will damage a good switch so I'd run the light bulb test, but it is a bit inconvenient.

NEVER use a light bulb tester for checking voltages

Donwe
11-05-2009, 02:40 PM
Ok, here's mine.

off
on
off
off

Thank you for your time.

Thatguy
11-05-2009, 03:03 PM
Ok, here's mine.

off
on
off
off

Thank you for your time.
Assuming you have wired the switch common terminals [different color than the other two] and traveler terminals [same color] correctly, one of your travelers is open or one switch is internally defective in that there is no continuity between the common terminal and the traveler terminal when the switch is thrown to that position.
It's an SPDT switch.
http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/b/b6/SPDT-Switch.svg/325px-SPDT-Switch.svg.png

Donwe
11-05-2009, 04:52 PM
Thank you that was very helpful.

hj
11-05-2009, 05:07 PM
We do not know what the wire colors are in your circuits, but the hot and "hot" to the light go on the bright brass terminals. The travelers, which might both be the same color, but should be the only two left when the proper wires are on the common, attach to the two dark colored terminals. They can be connected to either one.

Thatguy
11-05-2009, 06:32 PM
The travelers may have phantom voltages on them, so use a 120v incandescent bulb to check for voltages. Most testers will respond to phantom voltages.

NEVER use a light bulb tester for checking voltages

Jim Port
11-06-2009, 06:49 AM
We do not know what the wire colors are in your circuits, but the hot and "hot" to the light go on the bright brass terminals. The travelers, which might both be the same color, but should be the only two left when the proper wires are on the common, attach to the two dark colored terminals. They can be connected to either one.

Normally the traveller screws are brass colored. The common is typically the dark colored screw.

Donwe
11-06-2009, 11:49 AM
OK, so it was a bad switch, thank you again:)

Here's a better one, I have three switches controlling an overhead kitchen light, switch one is a three way and is where the circuit starts and I have confirmed the hot leg is connected to the common post, switch two is a four way, and switch three is a three way. the problem is switches one and two will only control the light if switch three is on, any ideas?

Thatguy
11-06-2009, 12:05 PM
OK, so it was a bad switch, thank you again:)

Here's a better one, I have three switches controlling an overhead kitchen light, switch one is a three way and is where the circuit starts and I have confirmed the hot leg is connected to the common post, switch two is a four way, and switch three is a three way. the problem is switches one and two will only control the light if switch three is on, any ideas?
Post what you believe to be the schematic.

Donwe
11-06-2009, 12:38 PM
--- s === s === s --- o

Thatguy
11-06-2009, 12:45 PM
--- s === s === s --- o
Your schematic leaves something to be desired, but I think a traveler for sw 3 is missing
or the 4-way is wired incorrectly or is bad.

BTW, 'on' is not defined for 3-ways and 4-ways; that's why they are not labelled like other switches.

hj
11-06-2009, 04:16 PM
All it takes is for the common and a traveler to be interchanged and the circuitry will not operate properly. Mixing "line 1/A and 2/B" on the four way can also cause weird operation.

Donwe
11-08-2009, 12:02 AM
All it takes is for the common and a traveler to be interchanged and the circuitry will not operate properly. Mixing "line 1/A and 2/B" on the four way can also cause weird operation.

Thats what it was, once I isolated the traveler pairs and re-connected everything works just fine, Thank you!

alth
12-21-2009, 06:21 PM
Hi there hope you can help:

Will a 3 way switch with the following configuration work for my stairs to basement, and if it will how can I fix it:

Live Feed
l
l
Switch #1 ---- Switch #2------ Light # 2
l
l
l
Light #1

When Switch #1 is on and Switch #2 is off Light #1 works but Light #2 does not

When Switch #1 is on and Switch #2 is switched Light #1 turns off and Light #2 turns on

When Switch #1 is off and Switch #2 is switched nothing happens

Thanks for the help!

Thatguy
12-21-2009, 06:54 PM
Are both lights supposed to go on and off together?

Billy_Bob
12-21-2009, 07:19 PM
Yes, that's called a California or coast 3 way...

http://www.hometoys.com/htinews/feb98/articles/kingery/fig6.gif

This an illegal and very dangerous wiring method and should never be undertaken.

alth
12-21-2009, 09:15 PM
Yep, Both lights should go on and off together.

and Ill give that a shot Billy Bob. another problem is that I cant change the wiring to Light #1 as the wall was completely finished by the previous owner, will this make a difference?

Billy_Bob
12-22-2009, 08:19 AM
Yep, Both lights should go on and off together.

and Ill give that a shot Billy Bob. another problem is that I cant change the wiring to Light #1 as the wall was completely finished by the previous owner, will this make a difference?

You would just need access to the wire going to that light.

And of course be able to wire everything else like in the diagram above. This is an illegal and very dangerous wiring method and should never be undertaken
Or wire it in the traditional manner. Many ways to do this...

Thatguy
12-22-2009, 08:27 AM
Yes, that's called a California or coast 3 way...

http://www.hometoys.com/htinews/feb98/articles/kingery/fig6.gif
Do you then say you have 3 travelers instead of 2?

alth
12-22-2009, 09:44 AM
Off the top of my head I think I do have 3 travellers... Will update when I get home

alth
12-28-2009, 07:53 AM
Thanks for your help everybody... the california circuit was the way to go

should something go wrong your little a$$ will be in a very tight situation.

This is an illegal and very dangerous wiring method and should never be undertaken

timmer62
03-06-2010, 05:35 PM
S1 down, s2 down, light off
S1 up, s2 down, light off
S1 down, s2 up, light off
S1 up, s2 up, light on

any ideas how to resolve?

thanks

mgabbard
11-23-2010, 10:12 AM
This assumes two travelers between the switches.

Assign each switch a number.
With switch #1 & switch #2 down, light is on or off?
With #1 up & #2 down, light is on or off?
With #1 down and #2 up, light is on or off?
With #1 & #2 up, light is on or off?

In principle, with the answers filled in, the problem(s) can be pinpointed.

Test cases welcome. . .


Hi there,

I have a relatively new home (10 years old) and am replacing the standard rocker switches / receptacles in my house with decorator models room by room. Everything has been easy so far (3-ways, 4-ways, 2-ways, etc) , but am having trouble figuring out what's up with one 3-way in one of my rooms. The old switches I marked the common and the travellers, and on the new decorator switches I connected the commons to the common pole and the 2 travellers to the traveller poles. But the switches are behaving strange.

#1 down, #2 down - lights are on
#1 up, #2 down - lights are on
#1 down, #2 up - lights are off
#1 up, #2 up - lights are on

So when #1 is up - no matter what #2 is (up or down) it still completes the circuit. And when #2 is down, no matter what #1 is (up or down) it still completes the circuit as well. Very strange. It's like they are wired in parallel.

These are brand new switches and I have jiggled the wiring to make sure there are no shorts in the wires.

Any guidance you can give you be most helpful. I've been looking at this one too long and need a fresh set of eyes.

Thanks!

...M

Jim Port
11-23-2010, 10:31 AM
Regardless of UP or DOWN a 3 way will reverse the current condition of OFF or ON. Your setup is working properly.

Thatguy
11-23-2010, 01:27 PM
Jim Port
Electrical Contractor
This message is hidden because Jim Port is on your ignore list.
View Post
Remove user from ignore list

[So much for freedom of speech! :D I guess this comes under freedom of listening or not. . .]

I found it is much easier to predict the results given the schematic instead of the other way around, but I can't resist a good puzzle.


#1 down, #2 down - lights are on
#1 up, #2 down - lights are on

Taking only the case shown above, if you step through on a piece of paper all 3 ways of hooking up the 3 terminals of a working #1 switch to 3 wires and with switch #1 in both positions [6 diagrams in all] I don't see how this outcome is possible unless you have #22 wiring with 3 travelers.

An "impossible outcome" means that we are assuming something that is not true.
What's good about these is that we will probably learn something new. Plus, nobody else wants these budget-busters. :D

To find out what it is I'd say check #1 switch with an ohmmeter. If it checks good something has changed inside the walls and that's a separate troubleshooting procedure involving a voltmeter and incand. bulbs.

There are many different wiring diagrams for this, but I can only find two schematics. In any case it's a source in series with a load in series with an SPST switch made up of two 3-way and zero or more 4-way switches.

Jim Port
11-23-2010, 04:18 PM
How would something have changed within the walls? All the wiring should be in accessible junction boxes. If the box was buried there would be no way to make a change to it.

The example posted is the way that 3 ways work. There is nothing to troubleshoot.

roncarter
07-21-2011, 04:59 AM
This assumes two travelers between the switches.

Assign each switch a number.
With switch #1 & switch #2 down, light is on or off?
With #1 up & #2 down, light is on or off?
With #1 down and #2 up, light is on or off?
With #1 & #2 up, light is on or off?

In principle, with the answers filled in, the problem(s) can be pinpointed.

Test cases welcome. . .

1 dn 2 dn = off
1 up 2 dn = off
1 dn 2 up = on
1 up 2 up = on

I replaced porceline sockets (working properly) with can lights and found that I MUST have made an error, and now I seem to be missing the nuetral for 4 of the new lights. If I hook up a jumper wire from the nuetral at sw#1(where feed comes from) the 4 lights work but trips the breaker in one of the variations of switch configurations as follows:

1 dn 2 dn = off
1 up 2 dn = trip
1 dn 2 up = on
1 up 2 up = trip

hj
07-21-2011, 06:05 AM
Switch 3 is probably, but not necessarily, the miswired one, and there are several ways it could be miswired. One problem is that you would have to test switches 1 and 2 under ALL possible configurations to ensure that 3 is actually the misfit.

roncarter
07-21-2011, 02:56 PM
I now have all 3 switches working so they can turn the lights all off and on, BUT... the bulbs (all same wattage) are dim. and if I remove any bulb, the rest of the lamps go off.

DonL
07-21-2011, 04:26 PM
Ron,

That will save you electricity, being wired in series.

Nice Job.


Have a Great evening.


DonL

roncarter
07-21-2011, 07:10 PM
Thanks DonL, but they aren't wired in series. At least not in what might be considered the "normal" series circuit.

It seems that one or more of them are 'hung' on travelers, rather than the neutral and hots. I have 4 boxes to go check to see where I hooked up wrong! All of the boxes are attached to the original ceiling joists 14" above the new 5/8FC ceiling, which obviously makes it very difficult to get to for troubleshooting purposes. I posted here to pick ya'lls brains about where I might start looking to possibly save some aggravation.

Sinestro
08-19-2011, 03:41 PM
Assign each switch a number.
With switch #1 & switch #2 down, light is on or off?
With #1 up & #2 down, light is on or off?
With #1 down and #2 up, light is on or off?
With #1 & #2 up, light is on or off?

off
on
on
on

The weird thing is, if the downstairs switch is on, then the upstairs switch can't turn off. Both on and off keep the light on.

This one has been baffling a friend and I for weeks. Any help would be appreciated.

ActionDave
08-19-2011, 08:11 PM
It would be my bet that the upstairs switch is not functional due to miswiring, bad switch or it just plain never worked.

Sinestro
08-21-2011, 06:46 AM
It would be my bet that the upstairs switch is not functional due to miswiring, bad switch or it just plain never worked.

The downstairs switch does the same thing though. Turn on the upstairs switch and you can't turn it off downstairs.

This all worked until we took down a wall and one of the other light switches

LLigetfa
08-21-2011, 07:01 AM
My very first electrical wiring was with two 3-way switches. I think I was around 10 or 11 at the time. My father couldn't figure it out and hired an electrician to help. Unfortunately the electrician couldn't figure it out either and while they were gone to buy more fuses, I took up the challenge.

It was so simple that I could not believe two grown men could not figure it out. I just followed the schematic on the side of the box the switch came in. Also, not having any more fuses, I just screwed a lighbulb into the fuse panel to test. Since it was in series, it was dim but had I got the wiring wrong, rather than blow a fuse, the bulb would be bright.

When my father and the electrician returned with the fuses, they thought I was pretty bright too.

ActionDave
08-22-2011, 09:06 PM
The downstairs switch does the same thing though. Turn on the upstairs switch and you can't turn it off downstairs.

This all worked until we took down a wall and one of the other light switches

Alright then. You have a miswired switch. Nothing more than a WAG but I bet the power came to the light first and after the remodel work a wire was crossed.

Sinestro
08-23-2011, 07:50 AM
Alright then. You have a miswired switch. Nothing more than a WAG but I bet the power came to the light first and after the remodel work a wire was crossed.

Apologies as I am a bit of a Luddite, but what is a WAG?
Also, I have read on here that you guys use a "light bulb test". What does that entail?

jwelectric
08-23-2011, 08:41 AM
Also, I have read on here that you guys use a "light bulb test". What does that entail?

Anyone who answers this question will have their post deleted.

Light bulb testers are death in a socket and unsafe advice will be deleted.

nukeman
08-23-2011, 08:59 AM
WAG = Wild A** Guess

Sinestro
08-23-2011, 09:11 AM
Anyone who answers this question will have their post deleted.

Light bulb testers are death in a socket and unsafe advice will be deleted.

Oh lord thanks. Is there a safe way to test out which wire is which? I have no idea which wire is which.

LLigetfa
08-23-2011, 09:22 AM
Anyone who answers this question will have their post deleted.

Light bulb testers are death in a socket and unsafe advice will be deleted.Does that include my little pocket screwdriver with a neon bulb in the handle one end of which is wired to the tip and the other end to the pocket clip that touches the hand?

jwelectric
08-23-2011, 01:20 PM
Oh lord thanks. Is there a safe way to test out which wire is which? I have no idea which wire is which.

Oh lord thanks. Is there a safe way to test out which wire is which? I have no idea which wire is which.
Most untrained people who dabble in electrical work should never use a meter for any reason. Let me repeat, most untrained people who dabble in electrical work should never use a meter for any reason!
What most people don’t understand is that the meter they hold in their hand is one of the most dangerous tools they have

Most people as well as a lot of trained electricians think that the fuse in a meter will protect them from harm. In 99.9% of the cases the fuse only protects the current function of the meter. See the drawing on the meter in the posted picture.

Meters come with a category rating marked on the meter. For testing voltage in a 240 volt panel with a maximum short circuit of 25ka and a fault clearing time of .033 second I will use nothing less than a category IV meter. After I am about 30 feet from the service disconnect (this is measured along the path of the conductor) I will drop to a category III meter. The meter must have a rating of at least category II for me to check the voltages on switches and receptacles. A meter rated at category I can be used by the electronics tech as I won’t use one.

ANY METER THAT HAS NO CATEGORY RATING GOES IN THE TRASH INCLUDING NON-CONTACT AND LIGHTED METERS!!!!

The one thing I can promise is that once one has been involved in a flash over their respect for electrical energy will change, mine did.

I have said for years you can tell when someone knows what they are doing by looking at their tools. The use of meters tells me just how qualified someone is doing electrical work. I have turned many away just because of their meters.


http://i3.photobucket.com/albums/y63/jwelectric/My%20Photos/categoryratings.png

Sinestro
08-23-2011, 01:38 PM
Most untrained people who dabble in electrical work should never use a meter for any reason. Let me repeat, most untrained people who dabble in electrical work should never use a meter for any reason!
What most people don’t understand is that the meter they hold in their hand is one of the most dangerous tools they have

Most people as well as a lot of trained electricians think that the fuse in a meter will protect them from harm. In 99.9% of the cases the fuse only protects the current function of the meter. See the drawing on the meter in the posted picture.

Meters come with a category rating marked on the meter. For testing voltage in a 240 volt panel with a maximum short circuit of 25ka and a fault clearing time of .033 second I will use nothing less than a category IV meter. After I am about 30 feet from the service disconnect (this is measured along the path of the conductor) I will drop to a category III meter. The meter must have a rating of at least category II for me to check the voltages on switches and receptacles. A meter rated at category I can be used by the electronics tech as I won’t use one.

ANY METER THAT HAS NO CATEGORY RATING GOES IN THE TRASH INCLUDING NON-CONTACT AND LIGHTED METERS!!!!

The one thing I can promise is that once one has been involved in a flash over their respect for electrical energy will change, mine did.

I have said for years you can tell when someone knows what they are doing by looking at their tools. The use of meters tells me just how qualified someone is doing electrical work. I have turned many away just because of their meters.


http://i3.photobucket.com/albums/y63/jwelectric/My%20Photos/categoryratings.png

Boy thanks I appreciate the warning! Which brings me to my next question. Since I am unqualified to do this, about how much does it normally cost to troubleshoot and fix 3way lighting issues? I want to make sure I don't get fleeced. Thank you again for your help.

jwelectric
08-23-2011, 04:01 PM
how much does it normally cost to troubleshoot and fix 3way lighting issues? . The best way to answer that question is to say, as much as the market will bear.

The hourly prices will as much as $25 different within 50 miles radius of where I live.

If I am paying an electrician $30 an hour it will cost me over $40 an hour to give it to him. Therefore I must receive at least $55 an hour for that man to come out with a profit.

Any service call I go on will waste at least half a day so if I don’t get at least $250 for that service call I am going broke real fast.

It will cost as much as you are willing to pay.

jwelectric
08-23-2011, 04:21 PM
Check out this link for more about testing for voltage

http://www.iaei.org/magazine/2008/07/multimeter-accident-prevention-plan-an-electrical-inspectors-survival-guide/

ActionDave
08-23-2011, 10:34 PM
Boy thanks I appreciate the warning! Which brings me to my next question. Since I am unqualified to do this, about how much does it normally cost to troubleshoot and fix 3way lighting issues? I want to make sure I don't get fleeced. Thank you again for your help.I can't tell you how much the job will cost, but I can tell you that if you find an established electrical contractor that has been around your area for a good while and has good references the price will be fair. Most of these guys do not have the biggest add in the Yellow Pages.

Nita Younger
09-04-2011, 08:58 PM
Hello All, I am up late obsessing about what I must have done wrong: I just replaced 7 switches, all lighted. As I finished up I noticed one of the switches wasn't lit & isn't working at all. There are 2 3-ways in that box. All the blacks twisted & wire nutted with pigtails (I'm assuming those are the 'Common'. All the Whites & Gnd's also wire-nutted. I added pigtails to ground the switches. BTW there was nothing wrong with the switch I replaced; I was just replacing them all after the downstairs 3-way shocked - there was a bad nick in the common.

So here is my diagram:

With switch #1 & switch #2 down, light is = off
With #1 up & #2 down, light is = on
With #1 down and #2 up, light is = off
With #1 & #2 up, light is = on

This is a 1974 Bi-Level, at the front door are 2 3-way switches controlling 2 lights - 1 entry & 1 downstairs hall. At the bottom of the stairs are 2 switches (1 3-way) controlling the downstairs hall & a room. At the top of the stairs are 3 switches (1 3-way controlling the Entry) & 2 single poles controlling other lights.
I assumed the switch was bad & replaced it, no luck. I then rewired in 3 different ways, no luck. My neon tester shows the wires are hot. But I agree with jwelectric in that those other testers scare me to death. At least now I know why - lol.
Thanks

Update,
Fixed now. Found an old simple continuity tester, shut of the circuit breakers, with the clip on the black screw (in switch #2) both travelers were on. Finally dawned on me that the problem wasn't in switch #2 - sure enough a traveler & the common were switched in switch #1.

mestanton11
12-29-2011, 07:37 PM
I am trying to figure out a couple 3-way switches for which the wires are routed peculiarly through conduit buried in concrete. In switchbox 1, I have 6 wires, 2 black, 2 white, blue and red. One black is the hot, the other black and one of the whites go to Light 1. The blue and red are travelers. The old switch was wired so Light 1 black was wired onto the post with the blue traveler.
The second switch (I have no idea of the route the wires took to arrive there) contains the blue, red, white, another mysterious hot black and another black and white to Light 2.
Maybe something like this:
___W____________________________________
l l
O [S2]======R/blue==i=[S1]---Hot
L1 __B___l l l
B l lW
O L2
O is light, B is black, W is white.
S1 had black wire to light pigtailed to blue traveler wire.
S2 had blue wire jumped to black light wire. I figured out the juice could travel to both lights that way. Unfortunately, if switch 1 is flipped to blue, light 1 is always on. I must be missing something. It did work correctly before I took it apart. There are 2 circuits in switchbox 2 which I separated. There is also in that box an extra white wire. I don't know which one belongs to which circuit. Sorry for lame picture.
Thanks for any help or references.
Picture is screwed up by posting. Sorry. Basically light 1 is wired through switch 1 and light 2 is wired through switch 2.

jwelectric
12-30-2011, 03:27 AM
In order for a three way switch to work it must be wired correctly.

Each switch will have one screw that is marked with the word “common”. Sometimes this screw will be darker color than the other brass looking screws
The common screw will ALWAYS have either the supply (hot) or the switch leg (the wire going to the light). The common of one switch gets the supply while the common of the other switch gets the switch leg.

The other two screws are travelers between the two switches. There should never be anything connected to these screws but the travelers which goes from one switch to the other. They do not get pigtails of any kind nor are they wired to any other wire.

The neutral is always connected so it is not switched. I like to teach that the neutral goes straight to the load with wire nuts.

There is no way to wire two lights to a set of three way switches where one light is connected to one switch and the other light is connected to the other switch.

I beg your forgiveness but I can’t make heads or tails out of this.
___W____________________________________
l l
O [S2]======R/blue==i=[S1]---Hot
L1 __B___l l l
B l lW
O L2

When you figured that you could light the second fixture by jumping the hot to a traveler you also figured out that this just won’t work the way you want it to work.

The two conductors going to the two fixtures (switch legs) will need to be connected together in order for the two switches to turn them both on and off at the same time. There is no way to control both lights by jumping from the common to the travelers.

mestanton11
12-30-2011, 11:11 AM
Well, that's where I got stuck. I've wired quite a number of 3-way switches in my time, but this one is a poser. It did work, before I took it apart. Thanks for responding.

rgrovier
01-07-2012, 01:14 PM
Going crazy ... Appreciate any comments or advice anyone can provide. Here's my situation:

Had: 2 sets of 3-way switches on 1 breaker as follows:
Set 1: Stairs - Dimmer at bottom, Rocker switch at top. Installed Lutron Maestro Dimmer/Companion set. No problem.
Set 2: Hall - Dimmer by bedroom, Rocker switch by stairs. Tried to install Lutron Maestro Dimmer/Companion set. Can't for the life of me get it to work. Even exchanged with the set installed in Set 1. No change - the run that worked continued to work (therefore not the switches). Tried to go back to 3-way Rocker switches at both ends thinking I would "dumb it down" and then go from there. Can't get them to work.

Here is where I'm at with the Rocker switches: Diagrammed the up/down results as follows:

Starting with Both Down, lights are OFF.
Change Switch 2 to UP, lights ON.
Change Switch 1 to UP, lights remain ON.
Change Switch 2 to Down, lights remain ON.
Change Switch 1 to Down, lights turn OFF.

In a second test:
Starting with Both UP, lights are ON.
Change Switch 2 to Down, lights are ON
Change Switch 1 to Down, lights turn OFF.
Change Switch 2 to UP, lights are ON.

In a third test:
Starting with Both UP, lights are ON.
Change Switch 1 to Down, lights are ON
Change Switch 2 to Down, lights turn OFF.
Change Switch 1 to UP, lights are ON.

This is the way it looks using the schematic first posted in this thread:
Down/Down - Off
Up/Down - On
Up/Up - On
Down/Up - On

Kevin S.
01-08-2012, 01:49 PM
This assumes two travelers between the switches.

Assign each switch a number.
With switch #1 & switch #2 down, light is on or off?
With #1 up & #2 down, light is on or off?
With #1 down and #2 up, light is on or off?
With #1 & #2 up, light is on or off?

In principle, with the answers filled in, the problem(s) can be pinpointed.

Test cases welcome. . .

Here's my situation. Any thoughts?

Off
On
Off
On

Thanks!

DonL
01-08-2012, 02:55 PM
Here's my situation. Any thoughts?

Off
On
Off
On

Thanks!


Short Between the headsets ???

firecap04@gmail.com
01-16-2012, 05:30 PM
I have an issue...probably overlooking something easy.

i replaced 4 lights controlled by 2 three way switches. The issue is that one switch does nothing at all. The other works fine.
Could it be as simple as a bad switch or can I have wires crossed?

Thanks!

jwelectric
01-16-2012, 06:57 PM
I have an issue...probably overlooking something easy.

i replaced 4 lights controlled by 2 three way switches. The issue is that one switch does nothing at all. The other works fine.
Could it be as simple as a bad switch or can I have wires crossed?

Thanks!

or can I have wires crossed

firecap04@gmail.com
01-17-2012, 06:36 AM
That's helpful. Thanks

jwelectric
01-17-2012, 06:48 AM
In order for a three way switch to work it must be wired correctly.

Each switch will have one screw that is marked with the word “common”. Sometimes this screw will be darker color than the other brass looking screws
The common screw will ALWAYS have either the supply (hot) or the switch leg (the wire going to the light). The common of one switch gets the supply while the common of the other switch gets the switch leg.

The other two screws are travelers between the two switches. There should never be anything connected to these screws but the travelers which goes from one switch to the other. They do not get pigtails of any kind nor are they wired to any other wire.

The neutral is always connected so it is not switched. I like to teach that the neutral goes straight to the load with wire nuts.

how about this

firecap04@gmail.com
01-17-2012, 05:39 PM
That explains it for me. Thank you

MeasureTwiceCutOnce
02-01-2012, 01:04 PM
(IGNORE THIS POST: Problem apparently gone) This one seems a mystery. Went to one of my empty rental properties where I was unaware of any previous problem, and noticed some lights not working. Tenant had turned one breaker off. I turned it on and that breaker controlled two 3 way switches in different rooms that control parallel lights on back patio. There's also a pigtail on what may be the feed (didn't test yet) which likely goes to a single pole in the same room as one of the two 3-ways (or perhaps a receptacle also). Problem is, with breaker on, patio lights stay on all the time no matter what combination is made with the switches (i.e., on, on, on, on). Had to turn breaker back off and haven't gone back to diagnose yet (travelers SEEM to be wired OK at quick glance), but is there an obvious solution here??? UPDATE: For no apparent reason, everything is now working properly. Tenant must have come back to do something, but it wasn't obvious. Anybody ever seeing an on/on/on/on condition is still welcome to reply.

Amy Broderick
07-15-2012, 03:43 PM
This assumes two travelers between the switches.

Assign each switch a number.
With switch #1 & switch #2 down, light is on or off?
With #1 up & #2 down, light is on or off?
With #1 down and #2 up, light is on or off?
With #1 & #2 up, light is on or off?

In principle, with the answers filled in, the problem(s) can be pinpointed.

Test cases welcome. . .

Off
On
On
On

Please help!

ActionDave
07-15-2012, 10:18 PM
You have a common and a traveller miswired somewhere in the circuit. Do you know where the power comes to the circuit first? At the light or one of the switches?

Amy Broderick
07-19-2012, 10:43 PM
Thanks for the reply ActionDave! The power comes to switch #1 first.

jal
08-11-2012, 03:37 PM
Here is mine
off
off
off
on

Switch 1 regular 3-way has the incoming hot wire - tested with a NCV detector
Switch 2 is a dimmer with 3-way
Tested the travelers with an ohm-meter - they are good

Before this replacement
Switch 2 was a dimmer where it only had two screws and a traveler and the common were connected to the same screw
Switch 1 was a regular 3-way
and the behavior was
off
on
on
on

what is going on?
thanks
JAL

jal
08-11-2012, 05:23 PM
Continuing with the above : I put the old 3 way switch and a new 3 way switch (no dimmer)
I get
off
on
on
on

just more info any help appreciated
JAL

jwelectric
08-12-2012, 10:23 AM
just more info any help appreciated
JAL
Anything other than this and the switch will not work


In order for a three way switch to work it must be wired correctly.

Each switch will have one screw that is marked with the word “common”. Sometimes this screw will be darker color than the other brass looking screws
The common screw will ALWAYS have either the supply (hot) or the switch leg (the wire going to the light). The common of one switch gets the supply while the common of the other switch gets the switch leg.

The other two screws are travelers between the two switches. There should never be anything connected to these screws but the travelers which goes from one switch to the other. They do not get pigtails of any kind nor are they wired to any other wire.

The neutral is always connected so it is not switched. I like to teach that the neutral goes straight to the load with wire nut .