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Electrical ? 3 way switch

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  • Electrical ? 3 way switch

    I installed 3 way switches in a hallway in our basement years ago. So long I don’t remember what I did or what I used.
    It seems as though one of the switches has stopped working. We used to have the switches up, to turn them on from either end. Now they have to be put down to turn them on. May I assume the one of the switches is kaput?
    And just to be sure, I have to buy 3 way switches. I will change both.
    TIA
    John
    If you learn from your mistakes, then I'm getting a fantastic education.
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  • #2

    Re: Electrical ? 3 way switch

    If I understand you correctly I think they’re working properly. Try this go and turn the light on, if the light comes on and both switch’s are in the down position. Then got to the other switch and turn them off by moving that switch to the up position. Then return to the first switch and move it to the up position, the lights should be back on again. If this is how they are working everything is normal.
    Mike @ Buck Lake

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    • #3

      Re: Electrical ? 3 way switch

      Mike's right. If the light is on when both switches are up, then it will also be on when both switches are down. Depending on how it's wired, the reverse can be true: the light will be off if both are either up or down.

      The switches will have 2 screws the same color & 1 screw a different color. Both travelers (the 2 wires that connect the switches together) need to be on the screws that are the same color. The hot wire at will connect to one switch & the switch leg going to the light will connect to the other switch. Those are the basics. There are many different ways of wiring 3-way switches, some of them downright arcane, but I won't go into that here.

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      • #4

        Re: Electrical ? 3 way switch

        Thanks for trying, they are not operating properly. I’ll just replace both switches.
        John

        If you learn from your mistakes, then I'm getting a fantastic education.

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        • #5

          Re: Electrical ? 3 way switch

          Originally posted by [email protected] View Post
          Thanks for trying, they are not operating properly. I’ll just replace both switches.
          John
          If they work when you have them both in the down position, but not when you have them both in the up position. Then yes something has failed, either a switch or a connection.
          I would pull them out check connections and if thats all good the next step would be switches.
          Mike @ Buck Lake

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          • #6

            Re: Electrical ? 3 way switch

            I forgot to answer your question in the original post.
            Yes they are called 3 way switches.
            Mike @ Buck Lake

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            • Thread Continues Below...

            • #7

              Re: Electrical ? 3 way switch

              Just to be clear, can you turn the light on from either switch? Can you turn the light off from either switch? If the answer is yes and yes what's the problem? If either answer is no, then yes you have a defective switch. Based on your first post I think you are mistaken when you describe both switches being always up when the lights are on and vice versa. If both are down and the lights are off and you switch one up the lights will be on but one of the switches will still be down. If you switch that one up, they will both be up and the light will be off.
              RV Sam likes this.

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              • #8

                Re: Electrical ? 3 way switch

                Three way switches can never be set to up or down for on or off. It all depends on if someone flips the other switch.
                For example if you flip one switch up to turn on the light and someone goes to the other switch and flips it, now you have to flip the first switch down to turn on the light. Unless you flip the same switch all the time the orientation will be constantly changing depending how the other switch is flipped.

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                • #9

                  Re: Electrical ? 3 way switch

                  Thank you, Mike, Chris, and all, who tried to help.
                  John
                  Last edited by [email protected]; 10-24-2020, 08:41 AM.
                  If you learn from your mistakes, then I'm getting a fantastic education.

                  Comment


                  • #10

                    Re: Electrical ? 3 way switch

                    So does that mean it works now, or ...?
                    Noel

                    "Being so impressed with the beauty of nature, I never cease to be amazed at how the
                    'touch of the human hand' can transform it into another kind of beauty that is so uniquely human.
                    "

                    John Snow, Outdoorsman and Retired Teacher

                    Comment


                    • #11

                      Re: Electrical ? 3 way switch

                      The question is; do they act properly when switching on or off?
                      Egon
                      from
                      The South Shore, Nova Scotia

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                      • #12

                        Re: Electrical ? 3 way switch

                        https://www.google.com/search?source...sclient=psy-ab
                        Start slow and wind down gracefully

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                        • #13

                          Re: Electrical ? 3 way switch

                          The position of the switches is irrelevant, with 3-way switches. If, before this problem, you had to have both switches in the up position fo the light to come on. Then your switches were wired incorrectly to begin with. That said, if you have not done anything to the switches, and they are now working different than before, then I would assume that there is a problem with one of them. The switches aren’t that expensive, and my motto is “when in doubt, throw it out”. Get a pair of new switches and install them properly.

                          While I do all my own electrical work, I am not an electrician. This is one project that I have to sit down with diagrams and pictures every time I do it. And even then, I end up with some trial and error. The key important information, is to know where the power comes into the circuit, the type of wires used (14/2 or 14/3), and how the wires are routed between the switches and the socket.

                          beachburl, Redneck Albertan and 2 others like this.
                          Darrin

                          Timber Elegance
                          My Etsy Store

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                          • #14

                            Re: Electrical ? 3 way switch

                            For those people interested and helped. I finally got off my butt and bought a couple of new switches. Wires were all connected properly.
                            It doesn’t matter where the switches are pointed, the lights go on and off. I don’t know which switch was gone, both went to the garbage.
                            Thanks to everyone.
                            John
                            If you learn from your mistakes, then I'm getting a fantastic education.

                            Comment


                            • #15

                              Re: Electrical ? 3 way switch

                              Originally posted by [email protected] View Post
                              For those people interested and helped. I finally got off my butt and bought a couple of new switches. Wires were all connected properly.
                              It doesn’t matter where the switches are pointed, the lights go on and off. I don’t know which switch was gone, both went to the garbage.
                              Thanks to everyone.
                              John
                              Good to hear. Electrical can be a little frustrating, but I do enjoy doing it.
                              Darrin

                              Timber Elegance
                              My Etsy Store

                              Comment

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