I am trying to replace my light switch. It had an older switch and had
three screws on it. On these it had black, red, and white attached.
My new one had three screws, but one of the screws was for ground. I
didn't have any place to put the white wire.
On the top screw I put red and white and on the bottom screw I put
It works, but is this correct?
It should work just fine until you find the other mate to that switch.
I think you will find that the other switch now does nothing.
3 way switches are to control lights from 2 spots. You now have a
single pole switch. If you are ok with just using that switch then it
If by "do nothing" you mean "trip the breaker" than yes.
No, it's not - when the other switch is flipped the hot will be directly
connected to neutral... see recent thread about deliberately shorting
circuits to find the controlling breaker to see why this may be a bad
idea. I'd replace the switch with a proper 3-way ASAP also find the
mate to that switch and verify proper operation.
replace "fly" with "com" to reply.
It won't trip the breaker. He has both travelers connected to on
pole. The electrically causes one switch to be closed in either
It is a bad way to wire a switch, but not a short circuit hazard.
In case this isn't a troll-
If it works, and hasn't started a fire, I bet the switch at the other end of
the hall or wherever doesn't work anymore. Depending on how it was wired,
flipping that switch will either do nothing, or pop the breaker, if you are
lucky. A three-screw switch (not counting the green ground screw, not found
on older switches), is a 3-way switch. Go back to the home center, and look
in the bin next to the one where you found this one. Buy that, and wire it
just like the old one was. While there, buy yourself one of the DIY books on
home electrical wiring, and look for the chapter on '3 way switch circuits'.
In the meantime, don't use the light, and leave that breaker switched off.
Thanks. It's working, but at least now I know why it didn't work right
when the other switch was flipped. I'll have to go back to HD and get
a three way switch. Why would I turn off the breaker though (seems to
conflict with the first response is why I ask)?
If you were working on the light itself , and could ensure that all
switches are OFF it is safe to work because there is no current at the
On a switch one wire is always live regardless of the switch. So
touching the live wire can spoil your day.
In general , when working on any electric switch or outlet , turn OFF
the breaker and check that there is no live wire present before
touching any wires. (I prefer before removing the cover plate)
If in doubt turn off the main breaker which removes all power from the
when the switch is replaced , turn the breaker ON.
No -- like he said, one wire is always live regardless of the *switch*.
Turning the breaker off will kill it.
Now go get yourself a book on basic residential electrical wiring, or call an
electrician. Working on electricity when you don't know what you're doing is
dangerous, to yourself and others.
Doug Miller (alphageek at milmac dot com)
I got it working, but the wire colors were differently placed than the
book, the white one went to the common and black was one of the
'travellers," red, of course, was the other. I looked at the other
switch and it had two black and one red, so I don't know. It worked
and no fires or deaths yet.
That sounds right, each switch should have two black and one red. one
black from the fusebox, one black and one red for the travelers (present
at both switches,) and one black to the light fixture.
replace "fly" with "com" to reply.
Not even then, because someone might have put the switch in the
neutral wire, not the hot wire. I found a switch like that once.
In your previous question you implied no breaker was off: " Why would
I turn off the breaker though (seems to conflict with the first
response is why I ask)?" Why did you ask this if the breaker was off?
BTW, you have to be sure you know which breaker is the one for this
circuit. Some people don't want to assume that you know this. The
chart on the breaker box rarely lists every outlet and light fixture.
So people can't always go by the chart.
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