two-way switches and recepticals

Page 1 of 2  
It is possible to have two switches provide power to one receptacle? I'm having the hardest time troubleshooting this. I have one receptacle that is receiving power from two different switches. However, it seems one of the switches has to be "on" for the other to work. It does not matter which is on, but once the receptacle has power, either switch can then turn on and off the receptacle.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

I don't know if it meets any electrical code, but if you wire the receptacle like a light and use 3-way switches like a light , then it will act like one. You will be able to turn off and on the receptacle from either switch.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
Sorry, not sure I know what you mean by "wire the receptacle like a light" (total newbie here when it comes to electrical). Not sure if I was clear, but once one switch is on, both switches can turn on and off the power to the receptacle. Is there a reason one switch has to be "on" for it to work?

Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

This is a typical three way switching system that is used all the time for lighting, especially when there are more than two accesses to a room. It is very possible, and in all probability its wired that way to accommodate a lamp. If you would like a diagram, let me know and Ill try to draw one up to email to you. B
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
Well, I'm not even sure it's up. The switches are two-way switches, so "on" can be either up or down depending on what position the other is. However, it seems if one is "on" the other works. But if it's "off", the other does not.
I assume it's for a plug in light, but does that solve my problem?
A diagram would be great. Thanks.

Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
JK wrote:

This isn't what you said in your original post. You said:
"However, it seems one of the switches has to be "on" for the other to work. It does not matter which is on, but once the receptacle has power, either switch can then turn on and off the receptacle."
The common on one switch should go to the hot (brass) terminal of the receptacle. The common on the other switch should go to the power source. Then connect the two other terminals on each switch to each other. (Ideally, both conductors are black.)
Do remember to shut off the power first.
Ray
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
Okay. I'm lost. Each switch has three wires: Red, Black, and White. The receptacle has three as well (red, black, and white). On the receptacle, the red is attached to a brass screw, as is the black, with the white on the opposite silver screw from the black. And I undid the hot tab. One of the plugs is not tied to a switch; that is, it's always on. The plug with the red is tied to the switches.
On the switches, the red wire is attached to the colored screw (the one that is not copper, I believe it's labeled "common"), and the white and black are connected to the other screws.

Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
This is way too difficult for a newbie to get instruction from a ng.
Get a DIY book on home repar or just on electrical work, Read up on the 3-way circuit stuff (they'll have diagrams).
After looking the book info over the ng info will make more sense.
Be careful.
cheer Bob
btw do you understand the concept of "solid neutral"? If not stop futzing with the circuits until you read up on electrical stuff.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
JK wrote:

Truly bizarre. The outlet (plug) that's always on is powered directly from the AC line. Questions:
1. Is the black wire going to that outlet's brass screw also spliced with another wire? (This could be with a wire nut or via a wire poked into a hole in the back of the outlet.) 2. What color is that wire? (Tell me it's red.) 3. How many cables attach to the outlet box? 4. How many wires in each cable? (Don't count the bare wire.) 5. Are there any other splices in the outlet box? How many wires, what colors? 6. Does each switch have only one cable to it? If not, how many cables and how many wire in each?
The only way I can see for this to work is as follows:
The black wire going to the always-on outlet is also spliced to a red wire that goes to the common terminal of one switch. The common terminal of the other switch has a red wire that goes to the brass screw on the switched outlet. The other two terminals on each switch are connected to each other with black and white wires.
Schematically, this will work. The strange part is the actual cabling. There must be lots of splices in the outlet box.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
JK wrote:

Go here, http://home.howstuffworks.com/framed.htm?parent=three-way.htm&url=http://www.handymanwire.com/articles/3wayswitch.html
and look at the diagram for wiring a 3-way switch. Imagine the light bulb replaced with your duplex outlet. Incoming power (black wire) goes first to the always-on outlet. Then, the incoming power is spliced to the white wire that goes to the common of the first switch.
Note that the common in the left switch is fed by a white wire, and the common in the right switch connects to a black wire that eventually makes it way back to the switched outlet. Note the splice of black wires in the left switch box. Also, in the schematic where it says Power Source, the top wire is white and the bottom is black.
Cheers,
Ray
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
About that splice at the duplex outlet: If the outlet has both screws and holes in the back, run the input black wire to the screw and poke into the hole in the back the white wire that goes to the left switch.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
Ray K wrote:

Whenever "incoming power" is connected to a white wire, the white insulation should have a piece of black tape around it to distinguish it from "neutral". Shame on those pictures for not showing that.
%mod%
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
The common wire should be connected to one side of the switch. The black and "white" connected to the other side. Actually, the "white" wire should be painted black per NEC as there should not be a white wire (neutral) connected to a 3-way switch. Many times a good electrician will mark the common wire with a piece of tape. The common wire screw on the switch is darker (or labeled "common") than the other two. The common screw may be black or copper colored, the other two either silver or brass colored. How the circuit works will help the connections make more sense. Shut off the power to the circuit before removing any electrical cover plate.
neutral _____________________________ | __________ = (lamp) hot _______./ .________| __________/
s1 s2

Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
JK wrote:

Are both switches single-pole (vs 3-way)? Single-pole will have two wires going into the body; both are usually black. A 3-way will have three wires going into the body.
If they are single pole, it sounds like one switch is in series with the hot terminal of the receptacle, and the other is in series with cold terminal. For around $7, you can get a receptacle tester from Radio Shace or Home Depot. Three lights tell you the status of an outlet.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
No, they are three way switches.

Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
In alt.home.repair on Tue, 1 Mar 2005 20:54:01 -0700 "JK"

It's certainlyh possible for one receptacle to have two switches wired into its circuit, so that either can turn the receptacle on or off.**
It's possible for these to be wired correctly or incorrectly. When I bought my house, the front hall had two switches, one at either end, and one had to be up for the other switch to work. When it was down, nothing the other switch would do would make the light go on. I had to make a drawing of the wires and think about it for a while to decide how to reconnect one switch. And I had lots of experience, and a meter. You should go slower than I went (and yes, you should get a book on household electricity, or a chapter from a DIY book, maybe at the library, and read the parts dealilng with switches until you understand them. The most important factors were the clues I got from the way it worked to begin with. I forget my actual situation, but it might have been that the hot wire, the one from the fusebox was connected to one of the two equal-status connections on the three-way switch***, and the one at the common terminal was the one that should have been where it was. So in the end, I only had to reverse those two wires on one switch. But there are about 9**** ways you can connect 6 wires to 6 screws on 2 switches, so it really takes some thought. You know the way it is now is wrong (if I understand you.) so that leaves 8 more ways.
And you should probably get and use a meter that will measur e up to 150 volts AC. Better yet, up to 250 or more.
***3-way really means two-way. It works in either of two positions but has 3 wires. There are also 4-way switches, which should be called 4 wire switches. They only have two positions and work in only two ways. (They are used when you want to be able to turn a light or something on and off from 3 or more locations.) So don't get too hung up on -way. The ones you are dealing with are 3-wire switches.
****There would be 18 ways, but since two screws on each switch are equivalent, and reversing the wires on them won't change anything except the position of the toggle to get the same result., I divide by 2.
The original electrician lived in our development. A house might have been part of the payment he received for the work he did. You could tell his house because of all the lights outside. :) and because the stove fan vented to the outside. At a HOA meeting, I made the mistake of telling him that he, or one of his men, had connected the switch wrong. It's not that he retaliated or anything, but he was denied he had made a mistake, and I just annoyed him for nothing.
**(It's also possible to have one switch go to one side of the receptacle and the other switch control the other side, but I don't know why one would do this. Still if the original installer did do this, my technique above will NOT work. That's why you need a meter and need to measure the voltage at each of the six screws. To distinguish this situation from the one I started with above. This is why you need to measure those 6 voltages 4 times, once each when both switches are up, when both are down, when switch A is up and B is down, and when A is down and B is up. Each set of meassrement should note whether or not the light is on or not with the switches in those positions When you are done writing this all down and thinking about it until you really understand it, until you can explain why the light is one when it is on and off when it is off, after you can draw a diagram of the wires between the switches^^, then you'll be ready to change the wiring.)
^^So that the wirees in your diagram are the same color at both ends as they are in real life (bearing in mind that sometimes the ends of the wire are painted a different color by the electrician. I know this last paragraph really complicates things. It's late. sorry.

Meirman -- If emailing, please let me know whether or not you are posting the same letter. Change domain to erols.com, if necessary.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
JK wrote:

Then you have it wired incorrectly
Take a look at this to figure out what you need
http://home.howstuffworks.com/three-way.htm
--
Joseph Meehan

26 + 6 = 1 It's Irish Math
  Click to see the full signature.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
Joseph Meehan wrote:

Or wired correctly but a wire is broken where you can't see it.
Or wired correctly with no broken wires but one of the switches is malfunctioning (it could be either switch in a 3-way circuit).

Once you figure out what you have then you can make some sense out of the steps to diagnose the problem.
%mod%
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
snipped-for-privacy@worldnet.att.net wrote:

Good catch. Those are possibilities.
--
Joseph Meehan

26 + 6 = 1 It's Irish Math
  Click to see the full signature.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
Hhmmm, the only possibility I can think of is the wire connecting to the receptacle. I'm fairly certain both 3-way switches are wired correctly.
If a wire is broken, would the receptacle be working at all?

Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

Related Threads

    HomeOwnersHub.com is a website for homeowners and building and maintenance pros. It is not affiliated with any of the manufacturers or service providers discussed here. All logos and trade names are the property of their respective owners.