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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jun 2009
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    8

    Default 3 way light switch - light inop

    I have a can light in a hall ceiling with 3 way switches. It quit working. I changed light bulb and two 3 way switches. Still not working, I checked the power at the light, then the switches. No power at the light or one of the switches. The lead switch has power but the light does not work from it. I don't know what is next to do other than call an electrician. Can you help?

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jun 2007
    Location
    Fayette County, Ohio
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    Default Re: 3 way light switch - light inop

    Although the routing may be different all 3-way switches are wired like this


    On the common of the one switch (1 in the drawing) there is always power, that power always feeds through the switch to one of the two travelers as the switch is flipped the power goes to the other traveler. The two travelers go to the second switch. One of the travelers is always powered. Which one depends on the position of switch 1. Switch two's common connects to the light. flipping switch two changes the connection of the common from traveler 1 to traveler 2. Neutral is always connected directly to the other side of the light.

    I hope that helps with your trouble shooting. Two things to remember 1] not all 3-way switches have the common and travelers in the same position on the switches so you need to check the marking and 2] sometimes the problem is a loss of neutral rather than power.

    Jack
    Be sure you live your life, because you are a long time dead.-Scottish Proverb

  3. #3
    Join Date
    May 2009
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    21

    Default Re: 3 way light switch - light inop

    very nice drawing by jack. He also mentions wiring of travelers can be differant from switch to switch. This is especially true of rocker(decora) switches. I have seen 20 yr R.W.s stab the travelers in the wrong holes.( I had to look in a mirror to see that R.W.) If you can always use the screws and follow the color of the screws.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jun 2009
    Posts
    8

    Thumbs up Re: 3 way light switch - light inop

    Thanks,

    I used a drawing like Jacks and that is how my wiring is. The light was working and when I changed both switches I moved one wire at a time to the same position on the new switch.
    I have power at switch 1 (Jacks drawing) but not at switch 2 or at the light. I have toggled the switches every way and still have no power at the light.

    I checked the neutral wire and it is wrapped good and has a wire nut.

    Kerry

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jun 2007
    Location
    Fayette County, Ohio
    Posts
    5,557

    Default Re: 3 way light switch - light inop

    You have to look at the markings on the switch. Just because there are screws in the same place doesn't mean the screws have the same function. On one switch the travelers may be on the two top screws on another they may be on the two screws on the same side.
    Jack
    Be sure you live your life, because you are a long time dead.-Scottish Proverb

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jun 2007
    Location
    Fayette County, Ohio
    Posts
    5,557

    Default Re: 3 way light switch - light inop

    Here's a little tutorial on 3-way switches. The drawing is one switch shown in the two operating positions.

    With the switch in one position "C" is connected to traveler "1" with the switch in the other position "C" is connected to traveler "2"

    Switch one should have power at "C" at all times, with the switch in the first position you should also have power on the screw for traveler "1" only and in the second position you should have power on the screw for traveler "2" only. If you have power on the hot lead and one traveler in one position and power on the hot wire but no traveler then you have the hot connected to one of the traveler screws. If you never get power on either of the travelers then the switch is bad.

    Once you have the first switch checked out and the power to the travelers is working switching with the position of the switch, move on to the second switch. You should have power on one of the travelers to the second switch if you don't you have an open or break in the travelers. If you do have power on one traveler flip switch one and you should have power on the other traveler. Now check "C" on switch 2, you should have power with the switch in one direction and no power with the switch in the other. Now flip switch one and again you should have power on "C" in one position and no power on "C" in the other. If during this test only one set of combinations provides power to the "C" wire (the one going to the light) then you have the "C" wire connected to a traveler screw instead of the "C" screw. If you have power on the travelers but never see power on the "C" terminal then the switch is bad.

    I hope that helps with your trouble shooting.

    Jack
    Be sure you live your life, because you are a long time dead.-Scottish Proverb

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jun 2009
    Posts
    8

    Default Re: 3 way light switch - light inop

    Problem now: I have power at switch 1 on all 3 screws, (new switch). No power at light or switch 2. I switched the black from the common to screw 1.

    I have two 12/2 wires at switch 1 and one for the traveller with red, black and white. The three white wires are connected with a wire nut. At switch 2 is a 12/2 and the one with RB&W.

    The two black wires and a jumper wire are connected with a wire nut, the jumper is connected to the common on switch 1.

    What do I need to do now?

    I added pictures of switch 1.

    Kerry
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  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jun 2007
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    Fayette County, Ohio
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    Default Re: 3 way light switch - light inop

    The red and black wire (of the red/black/white cable) are the travelers and should be connected to switch 2 just as they are on switch 1. the black wire from the light should be on the remaining screw of switch 2 and the whites wire nutted together.
    Jack
    Be sure you live your life, because you are a long time dead.-Scottish Proverb

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jun 2009
    Posts
    8

    Default Re: 3 way light switch - light inop

    Thanks Jack,
    That is how switch 2 is hooked up. Why would I have power on all 3 screws on switch 1?

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Feb 2009
    Posts
    693

    Default Re: 3 way light switch - light inop

    Look on the back of the three-way switch one screw should be marked COMMON.

    In box #1 tie the black that is wire nutted to the two other 12-2s to that termination on the switch.

    Tie the other black and red in the 12-3 to either of the remaining posts on the switch.

    On the other end tie the black from the 12-2 to the COMMON term on the switch and tie the black and red in the 12-3 to the two other posts on the switch.

    Done.

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