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Thread: Explain this 3 way

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  1. #1
    DIY Junior Member DirtIsMoney's Avatar
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    Default Explain this 3 way

    I have an existing 3 way in my house that is wired like this:

    Staircase..
    My feed is in the 1st floor fixture with a 3 wire going down to the 1st floor switch.
    3 wire from 1st floor switch to 2nd floor switch.. and a 2 wire from the 2nd floor switch to the second floor fixture?? I removed switches to remodel before realizing how it was wired.. An explanation would be appreciated.

  2. #2
    DIY Senior Member dlarrivee's Avatar
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    This isn't something that should be explained over the internet.

    You shouldn't have messed with it, and now you need to hire a professional to fix it for you.

  3. #3
    Retired Defense Industry Engineer jadnashua's Avatar
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    It can get confusing...you'll need to search some 'common' diagrams on 3-way switch installation. You'll need a meter to figure out where your hot leads are before you start to connect anything back together.
    Jim DeBruycker
    Important note - I'm not a pro
    Retired Defense Industry Engineer; Schluter 2.5-day Workshop Completed 2013, 2014

  4. #4
    Electrical Contractor/Instructor jwelectric's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by DirtIsMoney View Post
    I have an existing 3 way in my house that is wired like this:

    Staircase..
    My feed is in the 1st floor fixture with a 3 wire going down to the 1st floor switch.
    3 wire from 1st floor switch to 2nd floor switch.. and a 2 wire from the 2nd floor switch to the second floor fixture?? I removed switches to remodel before realizing how it was wired.. An explanation would be appreciated.


    I don’t think this can be fixed without a toaster, hair dryer and a DVM. I am sure that that guy will be along shortly to explain all this to you.

    Two lights on two different floors wired as you have proposed is impossible.

  5. #5
    Homeowner Thatguy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by DirtIsMoney View Post
    3 wire going down to the 1st floor switch.
    3 wire from 1st floor switch to 2nd floor switch
    2 wire from the 2nd floor switch to the second floor fixture??
    Each insulated wire goes to neutral, hot, a switch or the lamp. The colors will help some but with an incand. bulb, wire labels, an extension cord, clip leads and a DVM you can figure this out. But it's tedious.

  6. #6
    Electrical Contractor/Instructor jwelectric's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Thatguy View Post
    Each insulated wire goes to neutral, hot, a switch or the lamp. The colors will help some but with an incand. bulb, wire labels, an extension cord, clip leads and a DVM you can figure this out. But it's tedious.
    You left out the toaster and hair dryer. How can they fix this without a toaster and hair dryer?


    Colors mean a lot especially the neutral and the return leg from the switch but it can’t be done without a toaster, hair dryer, drop cord, some clips, and a DVM.

  7. #7
    Moderator & Master Plumber hj's Avatar
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    Default 3 way

    You need a voltmeter, and the knowledge of how to use it, before you can decipher which is the line, which is the load, and which are the travelers in order to make the circuit work properly. With the right knowledge, experience, and equipment, it could be done in a matter of minutes, otherwise it can be hours of frustrating hit and miss trials.

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