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Three/Four way switches HELP!
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Three/Four way switches HELP!

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Three/Four way switches HELP!
Residential Wiring - The Right Way!

Wiring Information for the Do It Yourself Homeowner

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Thread: Three/Four way switches HELP!

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Feb 2013
    Posts
    3

    Default Three/Four way switches HELP!

    Hi. I have one light that works off of three switches. It never worked properly so I thought that I could figure it out........and I can't.

    Switch 1 is a three way. It has three sets of wires; a black & white (which I am assuming is coming from the light), a black, white, and red, and another black, white, and red. One of the black's on the black, white and red is my "hot" wire.

    Switch 2 is a four way. There are two sets of black, white, and red wires. The pinks and whites are on the screws while the blacks are wire-nutted together.

    Switch 3 is a three way. There is one set of black, white and red. The black is on the common black screw while the white and red are on the bronze screws.

    Can someone PLEASE help me by telling me where the wires should go on switch 1?!
    Thank you in advance for your help!!!

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Feb 2012
    Location
    Welland Ontario
    Posts
    398

    Default

    There is an extra wire. The system only needs to have one 3 wire cable at switch one. Can you open the light fixture and tell what cables are in there.
    I could guess that the red and white from the cable with the black connected to the power should be on the traveller screws.
    The white from the power cable should connect to the white from the second three wire cable.
    This is where we need the cables at the fixture. Try this test and let us know what happens and what still doesn't work.
    The black from the second cable goes to the common screw and we have one wire left. Cap off the left over red wire and try the circuit. I suspect either the light will work and something else will be dead or the light will be dead and something else will be switched.
    Operation Overlord.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Feb 2013
    Posts
    3

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by chrisb View Post
    There is an extra wire. The system only needs to have one 3 wire cable at switch one. Can you open the light fixture and tell what cables are in there.
    I could guess that the red and white from the cable with the black connected to the power should be on the traveller screws.
    The white from the power cable should connect to the white from the second three wire cable.
    This is where we need the cables at the fixture. Try this test and let us know what happens and what still doesn't work.
    The black from the second cable goes to the common screw and we have one wire left. Cap off the left over red wire and try the circuit. I suspect either the light will work and something else will be dead or the light will be dead and something else will be switched.

    Hi! Thank you SO much for responding. Ok, the light fixture has two bulbs, so there is a red, and two blacks wire nutted together. The other one has three whites wire-nutted together.
    As of right now, I have the Left "hot" black on the common screw, the Left Red and the Right white on the bronze screws. The Left white is wire-nutted with the other white wires. The right black and bottom black wire are wire-nutted together. The switch works but nothing else does.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Feb 2012
    Location
    Welland Ontario
    Posts
    398

    Default

    the Left Red and the Right white on the bronze screws
    don't understand this statement.

    The bronze (traveller) screws should have wires from the same cable going to them not from a right and left cable.
    Operation Overlord.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Feb 2013
    Posts
    3

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by chrisb View Post
    don't understand this statement.

    The bronze (traveller) screws should have wires from the same cable going to them not from a right and left cable.
    I changed the white wires as you said. So, now I have the hot black on the common, the red and white from same wire to the bronze screws. When I flip the breaker back, the light is on. But, when I turn the light off, it kicks the breaker and won't come back on.........

    Should the wires in the light fixture be changed at all?
    Last edited by jennjoe8; 02-06-2013 at 05:44 PM.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Feb 2012
    Location
    Welland Ontario
    Posts
    398

    Default

    The red and black form the same cable as the hot wire should not be on the same switch as the hot wire.
    The white from the cable with the hot black goes to the white to the light fixture.
    The red from that cable gets capped and not used for now.
    The hot black goes to the common screw.
    The red and white from the OTHER three wire cable goes to the bronze screws.
    The black from the other cable goes to the black to the light.
    Operation Overlord.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Nov 2012
    Location
    Welland, Ontario Canada
    Posts
    48

    Default

    There are a number of ways to wire up this switching circuit. The most standard is similar to the basic 3-way with the power coming into one switch and the fixture coming off the last switch. All the 4-way does in the middle is interrupt the travellers in a flip-flop arrangement.

    From your first post it appears that you have a bit of different situation as you have power passing through your light box. This is not overly difficult to sort out as long as you know what wire is what.

    Switch #1 has two 3-wire cable in it according to your post and one 2-wire cable.

    You need to confirm which 3-wire goes to the light and which one goes to the 4-way switch. Identify the wire that goes to the light fixture. Once that is done complete the following steps.

    Switch #1 (3-way) ? Connect the white wire from the 3-wire fixture cable and the white from the 2-wire cable.
    Connect the black from the 3-wire fixture cable, the black from the 2-wire cable and a tail of black to the common screw of the 3-way switch.
    Connect the black from the 3-wire cable going to the 4-way to the red of the 3-wire fixture cable.
    Connect the red and the white of the 3-wire cable going to the 4-way to the traveller screws of the 3-way switch.

    Switch #2 (4-way) ? This should only have two 3-wire cables. Connect the blacks together. Depending on the style of switch you have the reds and whites of each cable will either be on the same side or opposite. In general they are on the same side... it does not matter so put the reds on the top and the whites on the bottom. Keep the wire paired together.

    Switch #3 (3-way) ? This is a standard connection and should only have one 3-wire cable in the box. The black goes to the common screw. The white and red go to the travellers.

    Light box ? This will have one 3-wire cable and one or more 2-wire cables. The white wires all go together with the white from the fixture. All the blacks go together. The red from the 3-wire cable goes to the black on the fixture.

    Hope this helps.

    Cheers

    John
    John Kuehnl-Cadwell
    Master Electrician
    Datawise Solutions Inc
    www.datawisesolutions.ca

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