3 or 4 way switch problem

I am in need of some help. I have one light source and may be turned on or off in three locations but only two of the switches work. I replaced the 3 way switch that was giving me the problem and no effect. Is it possible for the other 3 way switch or the 4 way switch to be defective causing the power to bypass that problem 3 way switch? All the wire connections are tight. Any help is appreciated. TIA.
Warr
--
WKC

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In my experience, in similar situations I find that it is the four way switch at fault. Mechanically, it is a more complex switch to build and consequently breaks down more frequently. When changing a three way switch it is only necessary to identify the "common" terminal and wire. On a four way you must identify the travelers coming from each three way switch as well as the locations of the input and output terminals on the switch, which vary from manufacturer to manufacturer

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Like this, viewed in a fixed font?
A---------C D--------E ----------/ /--/ /-----light---- 120 V B---------D C--------F | | ---------------------------------------------------

Suppose you could control the light with C/D and E/F, but this only worked when A/B was in the A position, so you replaced A/B...

I don't think so, if I understand your question, but you might not see any change after replacing A/B, if (say) there's a break in the wire 2" from B, inside the insulation where you can't see it.
Nick
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3-way: 1 screw top and 2 screws bottom. Continuity from top to 1 bottom in one position. Continuity from top to other bottom in other position. anything else tells you you have a bad switch. 4 way: 2 screws top and two screws bottom. Top left should have continuity with top right and bottom right at same switch position. Bottom left should have continuity with bottom right and top right in other position. anything else tells you you have a bad switch.
wrote:

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Wrong.
3-way switches have two terminals on one side, and one terminal on the other side. The one by itself is the common terminal; the two together are the travelers. In one switch position, there should be continuity between the common terminal and one traveler; in the other switch position, there should be continuity between the common and the other traveler.
Your description would have continuity between the two travelers in one switch position, and between the common and one traveler in the other.

Wrong.
Wrong.
In one switch position, there should be continuity between top left and top right, and between bottom left and bottom right.
In the other position, there should be continuity between top left and *bottom* right, and between bottom left and *top* right.
See http://lightingfacts.com/3w4w%20how.htm
-- Regards, Doug Miller (alphageek at milmac dot com)
Nobody ever left footprints in the sands of time by sitting on his butt. And who wants to leave buttprints in the sands of time?
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wrote:

You can check your circuits with a cheap multimeter.
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wrote:

I think with this little information, it' would be guesses and person experiences are the only thing you will be getting back.
Personally, I would take a varible out of the equasion, and yank out the 4-way, and wire-nut the travels together, and then tackle the 3 ways. If they work, hey it was the 4 way, if they don't check for a faulty 3-way, or crossed travelers. Once the 3 ways are positivly not part the problem, I would figure out how the 4 way was, wired wrong or defective(continuity detectors help).
But this is me, I feel safe working around electrical systems, when de-engergized. ;)
Remember, only allow qualified persons to work on your electrical system.
hth,
tom
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I had a problem similar to this on a house I bought. I finally figured out that the wiring was really for a 3-way setting (with two switches), not 4-way (three switches). The third switch was totally useless, since if it was off, the light would never come on using the two other switches. I ended up removing the useless switch and just putting a blank faceplate on the box, it wasn't really useful anyway.

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It's possible, but that's not what's wrong. THe problem is that one of those "tight" connections is in the wrong place.
when you say the middle switch (are you sure it's the middle one?) doesn't work, do you mean that moving it doesn't cause the light to change state, that in one position the light is always on, that in one position the light is always off, or that the light doesn't work at all when the switch is hooked up?
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Locate the 4 way switch, the one with 4 terminals on the switch. The other 2 should be 3 way switches with 3 connections per switch. Remove the 4 way switch then connect like colored wires together. See if the 3 way switches work. If so you have a bad 4 way switch if not the new 3 way switches are probably wired wrong. To correct safley remove the three way switches leaving the wires exposed but not shorting to each other or anything after energizing the circuit find the hot wire to ground at the switch boxes. This will only be at one box. This is the common and connect it to the common terminal on one of the 3 way switches. connect the other two wires to the other 2 terminals now you can find a hot wire at the other 3 way switch location. This will be one of the travellers. Throw the first 3 way switch you installed and another wire at the second should become hot, this is the other traveler. Connect them to the other 3 way switch as appropriate. F this isnt working for you or you dont know what i am talking about get an electrician.

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WKC Wrote: > I am in need of some help. I have one light source and may be turned on > or off in three locations but only two of the switches work. I replaced > the 3 way switch that was giving me the problem and no effect. Is it > possible for the other 3 way switch or the 4 way switch to be defective > causing the power to bypass that problem 3 way switch? All the wire > connections are tight. Any help is appreciated. TIA.

If it worked at one time, there's probably a bad switch. But it's very very easy to mis-wire 3 & 4 way switches. There's even a chance that you wired the 3 way incorrectly. Google "4-way switch wiring diagram" and look over what you have. Good luck.
--
5p5


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