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Wiring a 3-way switch

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stessier
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Wiring a 3-way switch

Post by stessier »

I am replacing 2 broken 3-way switches in my house. The way they were wired when they still worked wasn't right because there was a configuration where Switch 1 being off made Switch 2's position always off.

To try and figure it out, I swapped the two non-hot wires (not sure what they are called - just Line?) on Switch 1 and that made it so that Switch 1 worked as expected, but Switch 2 had a position where Switch 1 was always off.

Given wiring diagrams I've seen, it seems like I should be able to use the knowledge I have from those two tests and logic to figure out which wires need to be switched so they perform as expected. But for the life of me, I can't figure it out (and really don't want to spend the time to try all possible combinations).

Anyone have a resource they could point me to or another way to figure it out?
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Re: Wiring a 3-way switch

Post by coopasonic »

Good news: I learned this in high school!
Bad news: It was 33 years ago and I don't remember a damn bit of it.

Good luck!
-Coop
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stessier
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Re: Wiring a 3-way switch

Post by stessier »

Hmmm, more reading and I realize I don't know which are the Hot vs. Traveler wires. I'm going to have to figure that out without killing myself.

Edit: Ahhh. Yeah, going to have to try and not kill myself.

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Unagi
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Re: Wiring a 3-way switch

Post by Unagi »

stessier wrote:
Tue Sep 15, 2020 11:16 am
I am replacing 2 broken 3-way switches in my house. The way they were wired when they still worked wasn't right because there was a configuration where Switch 1 being off made Switch 2's position always off.

To try and figure it out, I swapped the two non-hot wires (not sure what they are called - just Line?) on Switch 1 and that made it so that Switch 1 worked as expected, but Switch 2 had a position where Switch 1 was always off.

Given wiring diagrams I've seen, it seems like I should be able to use the knowledge I have from those two tests and logic to figure out which wires need to be switched so they perform as expected. But for the life of me, I can't figure it out (and really don't want to spend the time to try all possible combinations).

Anyone have a resource they could point me to or another way to figure it out?
So, if this was a video game, I would go back, and instead of swapping the two non-hot wires, I would swap one of the hot and non-hot... (realizing you don't even know which is which)
Or maybe I'm over simplifying it. But, yeah, please don't kill yourself.

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The Meal
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Re: Wiring a 3-way switch

Post by The Meal »

Good news: when we moved into our home a few years ago, I had to do this exact thing, and I was able to figure it out!

Bad news: that was a few years ago.

Useful information: the internet was helpful.

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stessier
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Re: Wiring a 3-way switch

Post by stessier »

Unagi wrote:
Tue Sep 15, 2020 1:04 pm
stessier wrote:
Tue Sep 15, 2020 11:16 am
I am replacing 2 broken 3-way switches in my house. The way they were wired when they still worked wasn't right because there was a configuration where Switch 1 being off made Switch 2's position always off.

To try and figure it out, I swapped the two non-hot wires (not sure what they are called - just Line?) on Switch 1 and that made it so that Switch 1 worked as expected, but Switch 2 had a position where Switch 1 was always off.

Given wiring diagrams I've seen, it seems like I should be able to use the knowledge I have from those two tests and logic to figure out which wires need to be switched so they perform as expected. But for the life of me, I can't figure it out (and really don't want to spend the time to try all possible combinations).

Anyone have a resource they could point me to or another way to figure it out?
So, if this was a video game, I would go back, and instead of swapping the two non-hot wires, I would swap one of the hot and non-hot... (realizing you don't even know which is which)
Or maybe I'm over simplifying it. But, yeah, please don't kill yourself.
Yeah, I thought of that and started diagramming out the change and what it would tell me. That's when I realized that I need to know which line goes to the breaker panel. Without that, I could be working on the middle switch and never know it. So I'm going to try and measure voltages. I have the equipment, I just don't like working around bare wires with 15 amps.

Stupid part is that these switches are 8' apart. Probably be easier just to wire nut all the wires behind one switch and then put a blank plate on it so it works like a single switch. :D
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LordMortis
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Re: Wiring a 3-way switch

Post by LordMortis »

I need to bookmark this thread. A woodchuck tore through a three way switch between my house and my garage a few years ago, set up to turn the garage light on and off from the house or garage. The original wiring wasn't right, or so my old man said, which left him trying to figure out how the previous owner got a three way switch to work. We blew too many fuses and a half day's work before giving up with the intent of hiring an electrician as some future date...

Maybe this has all the answers and I can revisit without bringing in an electrician.

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stessier
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Re: Wiring a 3-way switch

Post by stessier »

LordMortis wrote:
Tue Sep 15, 2020 1:44 pm
Maybe this has all the answers and I can revisit without bringing in an electrician.
The video I linked above seems to be the straightforward way to do it. It's only 3 minutes long.
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Unagi
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Re: Wiring a 3-way switch

Post by Unagi »

Well, I learned that a woodchuck does chuck 3-way switches.

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Re: Wiring a 3-way switch

Post by Daehawk »

You're going to need a hammer, a blowtorch, and a burrito.

WAIT!...no thats something different. 3 ways I cannot remember.
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Re: Wiring a 3-way switch

Post by hitbyambulance »

electrician career path still sounds interesting to me....

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Re: Wiring a 3-way switch

Post by Daehawk »

hitbyambulance wrote:
Tue Sep 15, 2020 3:18 pm
electrician career path still sounds interesting to me....
It is a path of least resistance.
https://www.gofundme.com/please-help-di ... -wife-died ....Help for me to take care of stuff . Wife died Jan 3 2019 after 31 years. My soulmate.
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GroovAtroN, stop asking
I guess Ray Butts has ate his last pancake.
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Re: Wiring a 3-way switch

Post by hitbyambulance »

Daehawk wrote:
Tue Sep 15, 2020 5:08 pm
hitbyambulance wrote:
Tue Sep 15, 2020 3:18 pm
electrician career path still sounds interesting to me....
It is a path of least resistance.
not bad, not bad

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