View Full Version : Electrical question #8
11-05-2004, 01:00 AM
You are asked to help your friend who tried to replace very old three-way switches
with fancy new decors. After his first attempt the stairway light wouldnít work,
he started to switch wires around and finally gave up. You say to yourself:
I better start from scratch. You remove both switches and have three wires
in each box. Colors of wires canít tell you anything. You can use only his friendís
screwdriver with neon voltage indicator and few other hand tools.
What do you do to connect these switches?
Wolfdog please wait with your answer and give other chance to respond.
Anyway you are to expensive :D
11-06-2004, 09:52 AM
This question has very little to do with HVAC, but I thought that people working in maintenance field would find it interesting.
I know for sure that for some guys, 3-way switches are pain in the neck due to lock of understanding of how they work and how they are wired.
11-06-2004, 10:33 AM
You have two switch boxes with three wires in them correct? In one of those boxes a wire will be "hot". With your volt tester check which one. Cap it for now. the other two wires in that box are called the "travelers", they go to the other box. At the other switch box you will have the two "travelers" and the other wire in that box will go to the light fixture. Go back to the switch box where the live wire is. Twist the two "travelers" together go to the other switch box and ohm two wires until you get continuity the two wire you get continiuty on will be the "travelers". On three way switches you will see three wire terminals two are colored alike and one seperate. The two colored alike on the switch are the "traveler" wire terminals. I think you can figure out the rest
11-06-2004, 10:43 AM
Man thats to easy.One box will have the hot,the other will
have the switch leg for the light.Once you find which one
then the remainder will be your travlers.
Two people with a volt ohm meter it becomes an easy fix.
11-06-2004, 10:58 AM
Originally posted by simpleman
Man thats to easy.
I know but you would be surprised how many people have no clue about it.
11-06-2004, 11:20 AM
Some time ago I was talking with one of managers from big real estate company.
He was telling how maintenance people in one of rental property had hard time to wire 3-way switches.
He asked me how I would do it. I told him what I would do,
and he said; but what else these maintenance man could have done besides that.
I was thinking , what other method could they use but nothing was coming to my head.
He suggested to them to go to apartment below, take covers of the same switches and see how they are wired. :)
11-06-2004, 11:39 AM
[Edited by sigma on 11-06-2004 at 11:41 AM]
11-06-2004, 11:40 AM
Originally posted by -80guru
I think you can figure out the rest
I donít have to. I know how it is done. This question is for others, who have problem with these switches , to learn something.
Now what would you do if you didnít have ohm meter, just voltage tester?
11-06-2004, 01:43 PM
OK, I will answer this myself.
With your voltage tester find which wire is hot. Shut the breaker off. Connect this wire to different color screw
on the switch (not green). Two other wires (travelers) connect to the remaining screws
Make sure that wires in second box are not touching each other or box. Turn the breaker on. Find out which wire in second box is hot. Flip the switch that you just installed and check which wire is hot again. Now you have your two travelers.
Shut the breaker off. Connect two travelers to same color screws on the second switch and remaining wire to remaining screw. Screw switches into the boxes, put covers back and youíre done.
11-06-2004, 05:36 PM
Sigma, your being wasted in apartment maintenance!
Get into rack systems.
Once you learn them, write a book.
You have a way with words.
11-06-2004, 06:24 PM
You are probably right in first part of your statement.
About writing a book, it would be hard to do for someone
who never took a single English class in this, or any English speaking country.
11-09-2004, 08:38 AM
Went to replace a bad 3 way dimmer last week.
Took old one out.
Noticed that the wife did not get the right replacement switch.
Went to the store to replace it.
Camr home and installed the correct switch, it did not work.
Switched wires around, threw breakers, still would not work....
I could not figure it out.
While I was gone to the store, the power went out in my neighborhood.
It was daytime and I did not notice.
Chased my tail for thirty min......
When the power came back on, everything worked fine
to solve that problem I would first hand my cell phone to my friend and have him call an electrician while I service his hvac equipment with a light connected to another source
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