3 - Way Switch Question - Picture
#11
  
Electrical.... sigh... my favorite.

In our kitchen, we have 6 lights that are in a 3 way switch arrangement. One of the switches is a switch and a dimmer and the other is just a switch. The switch broke so I removed the faceplate to check the wiring. Please see the picture. The wires have white paint on them but you can see their colors by following each into the opening. 

As you can see there is a black wire, a red wire, a white wire and a ground. I went to HD and bought a 3 way switch that is basically the exact same configuration as the switch I replaced and I placed each wire onto the same terminal of the switch I was replacing. I attached the black wire to the black screw terminal, the white to the silver terminal, the red to the other silver terminal and the ground to the ground terminal. As I said, the new switch is wired the exact same way as the old, broken switch.

Our contractor wrapped black electrical tape around the white wire.

Here is what is happening.

If the switch is in the off position, I cannot turn on the lights with the switch\dimmer
If the switch is in the on position, I can turn on the lights from the switch\dimmer and I can adjust the the dimness


Shouldn't I be able to turn the lights on and off from either the switch or the switch\dimmer? The switch seems to be controlling the current and unless it is in the on position, the lights will not come on.

I was thinking of reversing the red and white wire to see what happens. The black wire must be connected to the black terminal and the ground must be connected to the ground. Now that I think about it, there is nothing else I could try.

Right?

Thanks, Bill


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#12
  Re: 3 - Way Switch Question - Picture by bpatters69 (Electrical.... sigh....)
Wouldn’t hurt, and may be the answer, but I would switch the white and the black.  
Usually the black is the common or power, and the other colors are the travelers.  The single screw is often the common.

Edit: this looks like the Leviton decora switch?
I was stumped when you said black screw, on my switches all three are brass colored.  Yes, the common or power goes on the black screw.  But it makes no difference which traveler goes on which other screw.  

In that case, you must have the common as one of the travelers.  While customary to use the black as the common, it is not mandated.  In this case they may have used that red, probably not the white.

Try each of the colors on that black screw.
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#13
  Re: 3 - Way Switch Question - Picture by bpatters69 (Electrical.... sigh....)
I would chase down where the power comes into the circuit and work from there if I was unable to figure it out.  I just had a wiring problem that had me lost.  I still have no idea what happened nor does my nephew the electrician.  Tenant says the power in the bath has been out for years, I ask why didn't you tell me when it happened.  So I open the box chasing down the hot to see where the problem might be and can't find a hot wire with a constant voltage.  I get the electrician to come out he checks it for about 5 minutes with a meter before finding power.  The rest was pretty easy.  It may have been oxidation from sitting there doing nothing for years.
Phydeaux said "Loving your enemy and doing good for those that hurt you does not preclude killing them if they make that necessary."


Phil Thien

women have trouble understanding Trump's MAGA theme because they had so little involvement in making America great the first time around.

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#14
  Re: 3 - Way Switch Question - Picture by bpatters69 (Electrical.... sigh....)
Have a meter? YouTube
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#15
  Re: 3 - Way Switch Question - Picture by bpatters69 (Electrical.... sigh....)
It's risky suggesting things without being able to stick a meter on it, but I would have to guess the white with black tape is power (always hot) and should be on the black screw on the other side of the switch.
Tom

“This place smells like that odd combo of flop sweat, hopelessness, aaaand feet.”







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#16
  Re: RE: 3 - Way Switch Question - Picture by TDKPE (It's risky suggestin...)
(05-18-2021, 04:33 PM)TDKPE Wrote: It's risky suggesting things without being able to stick a meter on it, but I would have to guess the white with black tape is power (always hot) and should be on the black screw on the other side of the switch.

That was my first thought also except the red wire has tape on it also ? Kill the power first. You have to determine which end is the feed.  Disconnect the wires from the switch, separate them restore power and see if any are hot,  one will be.  Operate the other switch and see if the hot wire changes to a different wire. If it does those are the two travelers,  and the the other wire goes to the dark terminal.  If the hot wire does not change wires that is the feed and goes to the dark terminal.   Roly
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#17
  Re: 3 - Way Switch Question - Picture by bpatters69 (Electrical.... sigh....)
That's why I said to find out where the power feed is and start from there.  Open any box in my house and you will see white wires as all have a neutral so I can run a devise requiring one
Phydeaux said "Loving your enemy and doing good for those that hurt you does not preclude killing them if they make that necessary."


Phil Thien

women have trouble understanding Trump's MAGA theme because they had so little involvement in making America great the first time around.

Reply
#18
  Re: 3 - Way Switch Question - Picture by bpatters69 (Electrical.... sigh....)
With a 3 way switch, you don't know which switch is getting the power and which switch is sending the  power to the light.  It would help if you posted a picture of the dimmer.  It must also have an on/off function. Turning it off should reverse which switch position works on the replacement switch.



I don't know why they taped the red, doesn't red always mean hot?

All three of the wires going to a 3 way switch could be hot, so they should be marked accordingly in my view.
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#19
  Re: RE: 3 - Way Switch Question - Picture by EricU (With a 3 way switch,...)
(05-20-2021, 11:48 AM)EricU Wrote: I don't know why they taped the red, doesn't red always mean hot?

Yes, along with any other color that isn't white, green, or gray in a single-phase system.  

And white can be hot in older switch leg circuits, and you didn't have to tape or color the ends in that case, but switch legs without power and neutral are no longer code compliant.  In fact, in the case of the switch leg, the white is the hot, and the black is the switched conductor back to the bulb or receptacle.  Old-school, but there are zillions of old-school houses with old-school wiring, so it pays to know that stuff when dealing with them.
Tom

“This place smells like that odd combo of flop sweat, hopelessness, aaaand feet.”







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#20
  Re: RE: 3 - Way Switch Question - Picture by TDKPE ([quote='EricU' pid='...)
(05-20-2021, 02:19 PM)TDKPE Wrote: And white can be hot in older switch leg circuits, and you didn't have to tape or color the ends in that case, but switch legs without power and neutral are no longer code compliant.  
I was trying to find out how to run power and neutral on a switch leg and failed.  So I guess all diy is going to be old-school for now.

Okay, I see now, the neutral has to be available in the switch box but can be capped. So the power/return are on black and red
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