A question about three-ways.

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I'm pretty good at setting up high-tech gear and heavy industrial equipment. However, when it comes to standard home repair projects, I am absolutely worthless, bordering on dangerous. I have no good excuse for why I didn't pay attention when my dad fixed things around the house.
We had some remodeling work done and a light switch got broken in our laundry room. I was asked to replace this switch. After a few weeks, a little box with a new switch appeared on my home office table. A couple of weekends later, I tackled this project.
In our laundry room, there are two light switches controlling one light. For this reason, I should have installed a three-way switch. I didn't do this. I installed a light switch that is for an area where one switch controls one light. The small upside to this embarrassment is that I wasn't the one that bought the wrong light switch.
I am going to go get a three-way switch this weekend and install that, and make it so these lights work correctly.
But, if I recall correctly, when I was installing the wrong type of switch, there was no 'traveler wire' that makes the magic happen. When I pulled the wires out of the old switch, there were two black wires and one white wire (ground). (I'm pretty sure about this, but I haven't opened up the light switch to confirm it yet.)
My question is, are there three-way light switches that do not require the traveler wire? Or, am I probably just missing it. Or, is that white wire the traveler, and not the ground wire?
Thanks for any helpful information.
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*If the old switch was a 3-way then you should be able to install a new 3-way. If you look at the old switch you should notice that there are three screw terminals and possibly a green grounding terminal. One of those screw terminals is a different color from the other two. You should take that wire and put it on the new 3-way switch screw terminal with the different color. The two travelers go on the other two terminals and it doesn't matter which. Only the grounding conductor goes on the green screw terminal.
If you do not know what wires came off of which terminals on the old 3-way switch, you will need to identify the conductors. You could take a look at the other 3-way switch to see what colors are being used for the travelers. If that doesn't help then a pigtail socket and bulb will be useful. On one 3-way switch a hot wire connects to the odd colored terminal. On the other 3-way switch the load wire that feeds the light connects to the odd colored terminal.
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Chances are good they were using only two colors. Maybe black for the third.
greg
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The subject header was *so* promising. I yam very dissapoionted this was about light switches.
I wanted some *heavy* switching.
--Tedward
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On 2/23/2011 1:38 PM, The Undead Edward M. Kennedy wrote:

What? You wanted to drown TWO women this time? ^_^
TDD
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Hey, it was dark. And the moon was in my eye. And her head was in my lap...
--Tedward
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On 2/24/2011 11:04 AM, The Undead Edward M. Kennedy wrote:

In other words, she was trying to inflate your ego. :-)
TDD
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They took the last train for the coast.

I was drinkin' whiskey and rye.
--Tedward
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Tater Cole wrote:

That three-way switches require two "travelers" that is, there are two wires between the switches.
Here's one wiring diagram. http://www.electrical-online.com/3-way-switch-wiring-diagram-variation-5 /
You can get packets containing small rolls of vari-colored electrical tape. Use different colors to mark corresponding wires and you won't get in the confused mode next time.
There are three-way switches that require NO wires. They radio-control the device.
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HeyBub wrote:
[snip]

I have a 3-way switch pair that is wired a different way. There is ONE traveler, and the light is in the middle of it.

--
Mark Lloyd
http://notstupid.us
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Mark Lloyd wrote:

Sounds like a Carter circuit. Might be used on K&T. Hasn't been code compliant for a long time. Each side of the light switches between hot and neutral. As a result the lamp screwshell is switched, and may be connected to the hot, neither of which have been done for a long time.
--
bud--


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bud-- wrote:

variation-5/
Yes (I didn't know the name, but that's the circuit). I expect it's been in this house since it was built around 1970. No K&T.
--
Mark Lloyd
http://notstupid.us
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Back in WWII, my dad was an electrician at the Bethlehem Steel Shipyard in Brooklyn. He was in the foreman's shack when a guy came in with a grievance: His job title was "electrician" but he was only being given helper's work.
"Interesting," said the foreman, "but Lenny [my dad] and I need to go check something. While we're gone, why don't you wire up this three- way switch here."
They came back in half an hour and the complainer was still trying to figure the wiring out. The foreman then dealt with the guy's grievance by demoting him to helper.
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Darn, I am disappointed I that this was going to be a kinky thread.
IMO, the installer was too ornery to color code the wire. Even though one of them is white, it is really black.
Three way switches always confuse me because there are so many ways they can be wired, so when I have to replace one, I replace both.
I would open the other box and see how it is wired and do the same in the bad box.
Somewhere on my hard drive I have a simple way to figure this out as posted in this newsgroup. If you still have questions, I will try to find it. I have never used it but it made sense to me.
--
Colbyt
Please come visit http://www.househomerepair.com
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On Wed, 23 Feb 2011 17:44:58 -0500, "Colbyt"

I would not remove the other switch. I would take the new switch back off and find out which wire is hot. If you have a wire that is hot no matter what you do to the other switch, put that wire on the colored terminal.
If the hot changes when you move the other switch, put the wire that never gets hot on the colored terminal.
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disappointed I that this was going to be a kinky thread.

Glad to know I'm not the only one with a warped mind.
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IAWTP IABW.
--Tedward
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About electrical stuff, suckering everyone to read it with that subject line, ;-)
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On Wed, 23 Feb 2011 10:32:21 -0800 (PST), Tater Cole

I don't think there is a dangerous way to connect the wires if only one switch has been tampered with. With three wires there are six ways to connect the wires. When I got my house, only 4 years old, something was wrong with the hall light. The switch by the door had to up for the other switch to work. That's the most likely kind of error you can make. So if you do it that way, do it differently the next time.
The electrician lived in the n'hood. I think he'd been paid by getting some or all of his house from the builders. I told him what I found. I figured he wouldn't really care, but I was wrong and I annoyed him. He or his employee also put the swtich for the powder room on the side of the doorway with the hinges, and the switch for the basement farther from the basement stairs than the switch for the upstairs light, even though they were on the wall next to the basement part of the stairs.
I don't think any of this or all of it put together is so bad. The guy who owned the house for four years could have complained if he didn't like it. But I did fix the first and last thing. After 28 years, I still sometimes reach for the powder room light swtich in place it should be.
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On Fri, 25 Feb 2011 09:48:23 -0800, "Bill"

A picture would go a long way.
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