I have recessed lighting in my Kitchen with a switch on either
side of the room.
One of the switches has to be on in order for the other to
work. They are 3-way switches.
Is there an easy fix to the problem?
When I moved into my house there was a timer switch installed
for the outside light.
I want to replace it with a regular switch. The switch has a
white, red & black wire.
The white goes to a cluster of white wires in the box, the red
to wire leading to the fixture, and the
black to the wire leading to a power source. How do I wire it
for just a regular 2 terminal switch?
All help appreciated. Thank you.
White is the neutral, you can just remove it from the "cluster" (make
sure the rest of the cluster remains properly connected of course. The
black hot lead goes to one terminal of the regular switch and the wire
leading to the fixture goes to the other switch terminal.
Both are 3-way switches, right (no ON-OFF markings, three terminals
plus ground screw)? A three way switch has two positions, but
neither is "on" or "off". You mean one has to be "up" or "down"
before the other will work? If so, the one that has to be "up" or
may be bad.
Exactly what comes into the box? How many cables, how many
wires in each cable, and how are they connected? How many
neutrals are in that "cluster"?
Question 1 , When you say one switch has to be on, do you mean in te up
position instead of down ? This is normal. Three way switches do not have
an off and on setting but more like a wire 1 or wire 2 setting. They are
single pole double throw switches.
Question 2. Use a regular 2 terminal switch. Connect the red wire to one
terminal and the black to the other terminal. Tape the white wire so it can
not contact anything. Don't try to disconnect the white wire from the
others. While it is a neutral wire, if connected to other wires, it could
be part of a return for another circuit that may be on. Normally the black
and white wire will power the motor for the timer and when the switch is
made, it will connect the black wire to the red wire that goes to the
Get a book on basic home wiring.
It's not normal for one 3 way switch to have to be on for the other
one to work. If it's wired correctly, either switch can turn on the
So, what's so terrible about disconnecting it from the other wires
it's connected to, instead of leaving it taped up? You typically just
unscrew a wire nut, remove the wire and screw the nut back on.
Normally the black
I suppose there's a chance some brain-dead ninny hooked up an
Edison circuit with one hot leg and neutral through that box, and the
other in a cable with an unused neutral. Not only would there be
a risk of shock, disconnecting the neutral could send 220v through
the loads on that circuit. Poof!
It's also possible and equally disgusting that some neutral from
another circuit is cross-connected into that one. If the wires were
/securely/ twisted together, I would probably remove the nut and
check for voltage against a known good ground before trying to
remove the extra neutral wire. One just can't be too safe.
This sort of thing is why it is vital to understand just what is
going on in a circuit before starting work.
-- Don't try to disconnect the white wire from the
others. While it is a neutral wire, if connected to other wires, it
be part of a return for another circuit that may be on.
Huh? If the white wire in question is connected to the timer and the
OP removes the timer, how could the white wire act as a return for
another circuit? Wouldn't the end that was attached to the switch just
be flapping in the breeze - in other words: a pigtail?
pull out 3w switchs..look at the 3 wires connected...does you
common(black screw) go to a seperate cable from the other 2 wires? if
so i would say for a newer homes it is right. if not swap it so it.
it would be helpful to know what is connected (types of wires) to your
swiches. for there are several diff. possible ways to wire a 3 way
the other advice given to you for your timer looks good.
On Sun, 16 Sep 2007 06:43:57 -0700, firstname.lastname@example.org wrote:
#1. If both switches are 3-way, chances are that they are not wired
correctly. Open them up and look at the wires. The layout of the wire
screws on each should be the same. Each switch should have a common.
These should be connected to black wires. As for the other two screws, if
one switch has a white wire to one screw #1 and a red one to screw #2, the
other switch should have white wire to screws #2 and red to screw #1.
If switches are wired identically, they won't work correctly.
#2. White wires are your neutral. Keep the white wires intact. Wire
your switch so one terminal is connected to black and the other to red.
Incidentally, it may be a healthy choice to turn off the power before
tinkering with either project.
This is the way it is currently wired (both switches are grounded):
On one switch there is a set of 3 wires, red, black, & white. The
black goes to the black screw, the red to the screw above it, the
white to the screw on the other side.
On the other switch, there are two sets of wires - one with 2 wires
(white & black) and one with 3 wires (white, black & red)
On the switch, the black screw has the black wire from the set of 3
connected to it.
the screw above it has the red wire from the set
of 3 connected to it.
the screw on the other side, has the black wire
from the set of 2 connected to it.
the white wires from the set of 3, and the set
of 2 are conected to each other.
I looked in the wiring book from Home Depot, but it didn't show this
configuaration. If somebody could please either post here, or e-mail
me at email@example.com. Thank you.
You said in your original post that one of the switches has to be on, for the
other one to work.
The one that has to be on for the other one to work is the *second* one you
describe here, right?
White and red are the travelers, black is the common.
The black screw is the COMMON terminal. The other two screws are the TRAVELER
Connect like so:
- black wire from the set of 2 to the COMMON terminal
- red and white wires from the set of 3 to the two TRAVELER terminals; it
doesn't matter which wire goes to which terminal.
- black wire from the set of 3 to the white wire from the set of 2
Yeah, I'm not surprised. Presumably that book shows only *correct*
Doug Miller (alphageek at milmac dot com)
On Sep 28, 2:21 pm, firstname.lastname@example.org (Doug Miller) wrote:
thing - one switch has to down for the
The switch on the other wall with just the 3 wires to it has to be
down for the other side to operate. The other side is the one with
the set of 3 and the set of 2 wires to it, as wired in previous post.
thing - one switch has to down for the
Given the color scheme you have given I'm going to GUESS that the three
way circuit passes through the box were the lighting outlet is. IF that
is true then the black or read wire from the source box; in your case
the one with five wires from two cables, ignoring the grounds; becomes
the white wire when it leaves the lighting box to go to the box with
only one cable in it.
Try this. Remove both switches from all wires and test them with a
continuity tester. In each position of the switch the dark terminal;
which is sometimes marked "C" for common; will connect to one of the two
brass colored terminals; these may be marked "T" for Traveler; changing
which one it connects to each time the switch is thrown. If either
switch looses continuity or does not change to the other brass colored
screw when the switch is thrown it is defective and you should discard
it and replace it with a new three way switch. Remember that different
brands of switch will have the screws in different positions. What is
always true is the dark terminal is always connected to one of the brass
terminals and changes it's connection to the other brass terminal each
time time that the switch is thrown in a functioning three way switch.
In the five wire box connect the black wire from the two wire cable to
the dark terminal of the switch. Leave the two white wires spliced to
each other. Connect the black and red from the three wire cable to the
two brass colored screws of that switch.
Connect the black wire in the three wire box to the dark terminal of
that three way switch. Connect the red and the white to the two brass
colored terminals of the switch. If the circuit still does not work
then reverse the black and the red so that the red is now connected to
the dark colored terminal of the switch. The circuit will now work
normally unless the white wire was used in violation of the code as the
return from the switch. If that switch was wired in violation of the
code you will need to connect the white wire to the dark terminal of the
single cable boxes switch to make the circuit work.
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