+ Reply to Thread
Results 1 to 10 of 10
  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jun 2008
    Location
    St Louis MO
    Posts
    21

    Default Light switch to no where? 3-way switch with no other end?

    I have a 3-way switch at my back door that doesn't do anything. There is a receptacle with 3 switches. One does the exterior flood lights, one does the lights to the stairs downstairs, and the other is a mystery. I think it "should" be to turn on the kitchen b/c that's the room you walk into. But, the other switched in the kitchen aren't 3-way or even wired for it. I know it's a 3-way b/c I opened up the cover and it's wired like a 3-way too. But it doesn't do anything when I turn it on or off. I can't find ANY other 3 ways in the house or in the detached garage about 20 feet from the house. Is there a way to find out what this switch actually goes to?

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Aug 2007
    Posts
    7,195

    Default Re: Light switch to no where? 3-way switch with no other end?

    It's very hard to say what it could be to. Typically, the first switch in a series (closest to the door ) will operate the lights in that room, subsequent switches will operate exterior and additional lighting. Your switch probably used to control the room at the back door or as you suspect, the kitchen, and could have been abandoned during a remodel OR the previous owner didn't know how to hook up a 3-way switch when one failed, leaving this switch inoperable.

    I would get a book such as "Wiring Simplified" that will show you how a 3-way circuit is wired and you can start tracing nearby rooms/lights for signs that a switch was replaced improperly. If you're not comfortable doing electrical work, call an electrician. BTW, never work on a live circuit. While the power will need to be on during some of the diagnostics, turn it off at the breaker before messing with the switches and wires themselves.

    My guess is, you're either going to find it wired improperly, or you'll find a single pole switch in place of where a 3-way should have been.
    I suffer from CDO ... Its like OCD, but in alphabetical order, LIKE IT SHOULD BE!!!

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jan 2008
    Posts
    64

    Wink Re: Light switch to no where? 3-way switch with no other end?

    Ha!
    Been where you are, and it only gets more interesting. In fact I posted my experience under the title 'K.I.S.S.'...

    You may think that third switch doesn't do anything, but if it's wired, I'd be willing to bet it does SOMETHING! Does the home look like some remodeling may have been done - like knocking down a bedroom wall to expand the kitchen kind of thing? Plug a light or radio into EVERY socket and test each one of them with the odd switch in both positions. If it's close to the back door, it might even be for an automatic sprinkler system, or an exterior plug under the deck, or something else you have not discovered yet.

    If you can, follow the wires and see where they go. I nearly called out an electrician when our light/fan in one end of our kitchen just quit working. Then I recalled the cable company had been out a few days previous. The tech must have tried the switch behind the entertainment center, and when nothing happened, left it in that position. Flipped the 'switch that does nothing' and tried the switch I normally used, and guess what...

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jul 2008
    Posts
    62

    Default Re: Light switch to no where? 3-way switch with no other end?

    We had a switch under our Kitchen Cabinets that seemed to work nothing.....turned out it was wired to the Dishwasher....the previous owner probably removed a Garbage Disposer and used the wiring set up for the Dishwasher when he installed it. Try different outlets in the room.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jun 2007
    Location
    Fayette County, Ohio
    Posts
    5,836

    Default Re: Light switch to no where? 3-way switch with no other end?

    Check your other switches and see if any have 3 cond plus ground to them and to the light fixture. It may just be that one 3 way was replaced with a regular switch and the third wire capped off.
    Jack
    Be sure you live your life, because you are a long time dead.-Scottish Proverb

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Aug 2007
    Location
    The deep South
    Posts
    459

    Default Re: Light switch to no where? 3-way switch with no other end?

    When I moved into my present house , there was a light switch in the living room that seemed to go nowhere . The previous owner didn't even know what it was for . One day I was in the attic running some cable TV and found a junction box partly hidden under some insulation . Inside was a circuit that was taped off . Yep , you guessed it . That was my mystery circuit .
    I used it for a ceiling fan/light in the living room and it sure saved me a lot of work .

    Head on up to the attic and have a look . You might find that circuit if your lucky .

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jun 2008
    Location
    St Louis MO
    Posts
    21

    Default Re: Light switch to no where? 3-way switch with no other end?

    Thanks guys. I'm going to crawl into the attic this weekend and see if I can track it down. I'm hoping that it goes out to the garage.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Feb 2008
    Posts
    69

    Smile Re: Light switch to no where? 3-way switch with no other end?

    Mmmmmm,,,,,,,,,seems to me it might just be a "switched" wall outlet. Lots of homes have those nowadays, so that might be your case, too. Perhaps the previous people wanted a lamp or something else that they could just use a switch, instead of actually turning on the lamp. It more that likely will only be one side of the outlet, too.

    I discoverd this same problem at a house this summer. Walla, it was a switched outlet, operated from both sides of the room.

    Happy hunting, and have a great day.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Aug 2007
    Location
    The Great White North
    Posts
    4,045

    Default Re: Light switch to no where? 3-way switch with no other end?

    It's possible this 3 way wiring might end up at the light for the basement ... especially if it will be or is finshed.
    Typically you are required to have a 3 way switch controlling the lighting for stairs.

    Just a guess.
    "" an ounce of perception -- a pound of obscure "
    - Rush

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Sep 2008
    Posts
    1

    Default Re: Light switch to no where? 3-way switch with no other end?

    You say its at the back door? Do you have an outdoor outlet at the back of your house? Newer construction houses will have these at the front and back of the house. The switch probably operates that outlet. Keeps folks from stealing your electricity.

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •