Thanks Nate. That's the same process that Metspitzer suggested, and that's
what I am going to try first. Hopefully, that will work and I'll be all
I thought I was going to be doing the work this week, but now it looks like
I won't get back there to do it until next week. Either way, after I try
what you and others suggested, I'll post back here how it worked out.
Yup, do that...
there are other options to the "normal" setup but they are rare.
What I'm expecting that you'll find is that since this is an older
house, the electrician will have run the hot wire straight to the light
fixture location, and from the same box run a 14/3 to each of the
3-ways. Back in the very old days electricity was thought of as
primarily a lighting utility and installations reflected that; a floor
was typically wired with the hot wires going to the ceiling boxes and
switch legs dropped to the wall switches from there. Receps were also
dropped from the ceiling light boxes. Wire fill would be unacceptably
high today were this a new installation.
I know what I said above sounds crazy, but that is exactly what I found
in a house built in the late 40's that I had to do some troubleshooting
on after a PO had a "handy friend" replace all the devices and none of
the 3-ways worked.
If you do find multiple hot wires with all the switches disconnected,
stop there and ask for advice as you may be dealing with something like
a California 3-way or if you're really unlucky a Carter circuit.
If your house is newer than 1930ish and/or you can determine that your
wiring is NOT K&T but actual cables (can you see the sheath of the
cables inside the boxes? I've lived in several houses that had cloth
covered wiring but they were a sort of ungrounded proto-Romex but with
cloth over rubber insulation on the wires and a cloth sheath over the
whole cable) you should not run into the Carter circuit which is good as
it would be bad news if you did. I'd be tempted to treat the discovery
of one as a sign that it is time to rewire, as it has been prohibited
for ages as in half the switch positions it allows the shell of the
socket to be energized, making removing a broken light bulb rather
replace "roosters" with "cox" to reply.
My situation is a little trickier. When taking off all 6 wires, there's a
hot wire at each switch. As I understand it, when the power source is betw
een the switches, only one can be connected to the common. The way it's wir
ed now, one switch must remain in the "on" then controlled from the second
Without colored wires, the only ones I can identify are the hot wires.
On Thu, 22 Oct 2015 02:19:42 -0700 (PDT), email@example.com
Wired now? I thought you had disconnected the wires.
First, make a drawing. Don't expect to remember what you've seen.
Turn off the power and measure the voltage at the hot wires to make
sure you turned off the right circuit.
Then measure the resistance to ground or neutral of the other wires.
The ones that go through the light bulb to neutral should have
non-infinite resistance. Do this with real lightbulbs in the
circuit. I'm not sure what the resistance of other bulbs is.
Mark down the resistance on your drawing.
The ones with infinite resistance are probably just travelers, wires
that went to the other switch, and which are disconnected now.
Get the switches, and try to figure out from the way the wires are
bent, which wires went to which screws, and try to figure out with a
meter, which screw is common and which wires are supposed to be the
travelers. With 6 wires, you should have made a drawing before you
disconnected things .
Look online for various ways to wire a 3-way switch. There are 4 or
5. Use your meter to help determine which method is yours.
It's very helpful to me, that's for sure.
is just the sort of page I had in mind. And it enables me to answer
the question Chris asked. Take a look and you'll see that one of the
six wires always has continuity with the neutral, if a real lighbulb,
not burned out, is in its socket. Assuming the neutral has
continuity with the ground and that there's a ground wire in the box,
that's one place to test with.
And it also reminds me of added instructions for the OP. Because I
need a drawing to think with. Is this normal, below normal or above
normal? Is it a clever way to save brain power by letting the
drawing do some of the thinking? Or would a smart person have all
this in his head without any help? I really don't know the answer to
these questions. I only have myself to compare with, and I always
Keep the power off. (Always check with a voltmeter to make sure the
power is off. Sometimes there are two circuits in the same box, even
though I think this is not allowed, so one coudl be off and the other
Once you find the wire that has low resistance, under a couple 100
ohms, or a couple thousand if you can't find lower) to neutral, call
it N, temporarily connect each of the other two wires in the same box
to N. Then go to the other switch box, and check those three wires
for neutral (Well, those two probably, because you already found that
when the fuse or breaker is on, one of the wires is hot**. But if
not, then 3.) The wire that connects to neutral is one of the
Do the same thing with the other wire at the box1 where N is. Now at
box2, you've identified both travelers, at both boxes. Reconnect the
**You claimed each box had hot wire. That's not possible if you had
really disconnected all 6 wires. But if you didn't disconnect all of
of them that's fine with me. Post back if you want instructions for
when only one switch is disconnected, or only one or two wires of one
switch. Let us know exactly what is connected, what isn't, and what
the voltages and resistances are. It's unlikely both switches are
broken but quite likely that one is.
On 10/22/2015 5:19 AM, firstname.lastname@example.org wrote:
Yellow vinyl tape and magic marker allows you to
label the wires before removing. So you know where
they go. Wrap the tape around the wire and back
to itself, making a "tape flag".
Eat light meals when driving on long trips, as
over eating makes you sleepy.
Treat everyone with kindness, and manners. Even the
burglar who is in your house in the wee hours needs
to be treated kindly before you shoot his ass off
with a twelve gage and give his carcass to the dog.
Fill the fuel tank of your car before the gage gets
to half tank, and you'll be less likely to run out
of gas in a bad spot.
Wash your hands every time, after using the toilet.
Helps cut down on spread of disease. Use a paper
towel to open the public restroom door, so you don't
get the disease the last guy had. (Last guy didn't
wash his hands.)
Use salt lightly on baked foods such as chicken to
bring out the flavor.
Girls like flowers, which are cheaper than divorces.
On Thu, 22 Oct 2015 19:05:43 -0400, Stormin Mormon
I had a girlfriend with a red mustang convertible. Unfortunately, she
didn't have it when I knew her in NYC.
We went out once and she told me she wouldnt' go out with anymore
because I was too young. I added a year to my age and told her I was
26, thinking that would settle it. She still said I was too young.
In one of my few macho moments, I said, "Well, I'll ask you out again
and you can decide then whether you want to go out with me. " And I
did and she did.
Found out later she was 14 years older than I was, 25 and 39.
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.