In the basement staircase of my older home (inside my attached garage) I want to eliminate a 3 way switch at the end of a circuit, and install a light fixture near the switch I want to remove - at the bottom of this staircase.
When I removed the cover from this switch I found 4 blue wires, one of them marked with black tape. The 3 way switch itself is very old (circa 1959) with four brass screws, two at the top and two at the bottom.
Can I eliminate this switch, and install a needed light fixture, using these 4 blue wires from this switch?
The switch at the top of the steps is the switch which has power coming into it.
Rather than me trying to explain the wiring, if you google you can find
the diagram but what you describe is not a three way switch.
A three way switch is single pole double throw.
What you have is a four way switch...the other two switches would be the
three way type.
If you have a total of two switches than I don't know what you have
there...so you need to trace out the wires.
On Sunday, February 26, 2017 at 11:16:13 PM UTC-5, philo wrote:
He has a DPST switch, which like you say, is typically used in the
middle of a 4-way, with 3 way, SPDT switches at either end.
You can also do a 3-way with two of his DPST switches, one at each
end. Here's a diagram, look part way down:
It seems that he probably can do what he wants, which, as I understand it,
is to have the existing 3-way light be controlled by the other location
only and have the new light controlled by a switch at the location of
the DPST, 4 terminal switch. He needs to find where he has the hots
and neutral and work accordingly. But since with a 3 way he has two
wires going between the two locations, I think it should be possible.
On Mon, 27 Feb 2017 09:03:43 -0800 (PST), trader_4
Eliminating the 4 way is as simple as wire nutting the travelers
together and putting a blank plate over it.
Just be sure you get the right 2 pairs to connect. Connect one from
each cable to one from the other cable.
On Monday, February 27, 2017 at 12:21:30 PM UTC-5, firstname.lastname@example.org wrote:
That would certainly eliminate the 4 way switch, but it doesn't address his request
to add a fixture "using these 4 wires".
It's not clear to me how he wants to control the new fixture. Is it supposed to be a stand
alone fixture with it's own switch or does he want it to come on when he uses the
other 3-ways that we are assuming are currently present. I think we need a little more
On Monday, February 27, 2017 at 1:02:01 PM UTC-6, DerbyDad03 wrote:
Thank you for your help
Here is my diagram - as best I can lay it out:
Light ------------ Light ------------ Light
I want to eliminate the light switch at the right end of this line and insert a light fixture.
When I removed the light switch at the end of the run, I found 4 blue wires.
One of these blue wires had black tape on it.
I want to know how to wire the the light fixture in this location (near bottom of steps into the basement).
Thanks again for your help.
You should be able to do that. The wire with the black tape on it is the
The possible problem is that there is not necessarily a "cold" wire in
the junction box on the right. The bulb's return should not go to "ground."
On Sunday, March 5, 2017 at 2:28:15 PM UTC-5, trader_4 wrote:
Do you know what he wants to do? Maybe I'm missing something.
He keeps saying that he wants to remove the switch and install a fixture.
The last thing he said was:
"I want to eliminate the light switch at the right end of this line and
insert a light fixture."
Do you know *where* he plans to "insert" the light fixture? I don't.
Do you know how he plans to *control* the new fixture? I don't.
He never said anything about *replacing* the switch or *reusing* the
switch. The words he used are "remove" and "eliminate" the switch. I'd
like to know how he plans to control the new light fixture, and from where,
before I offer any advice as to how to do it.
On Sunday, March 5, 2017 at 3:42:32 PM UTC-5, DerbyDad03 wrote:
I agree he hasn't been clear. What he has now is a light fixture controlled
by a 3-way switch. My understanding is that at one of the 3-way locations
he wants to add a new light fixture and have it controlled by a regular
SPST switch at that location. What becomes of the existing light on
the 3-way is not clear. I would guess the leading possibility is that
it becomes a SPST switch to work the original light, only from that other
" I want to eliminate a 3 way switch at the end of a circuit, and install a light fixture near the switch I want to remove - at the bottom of this staircase. "
Like I said, that to me would mean that instead of a 3-way, that location
becomes a switch to control the new light and the existing light would
be controlled from the other location. But it's not totally clear.
What is clear to me is that he should call an electrician, or at least
a friend knowledgeable enough.
On Sunday, March 5, 2017 at 2:42:32 PM UTC-6, DerbyDad03 wrote:
Sorry for the confusion.
I have in my garage a light switch at the top of the basement steps. The power enters the junction box at this location.
There is another light switch at the bottom of the steps - at the entrance to my basement.
There are light fixtures on the garage ceiling - which are controlled by these two switches.
I want to remove the switch at the bottom of the steps. It is not needed or ever used.
I want to use the existing wiring to install a light fixture so that the bottom of my basement steps will have the needed light to see the steps.
When I removed the light switch near the bottom of the staircase I found 4 blue wires- only one wire had black tape wrapped around it - indicating, I hope, the hot wire.
How can I wire a simple basement light fixture using these 4 blue wires?
Thank you all for your help.
On Monday, March 6, 2017 at 10:09:42 PM UTC-5, Ken Hockenberry wrote:
What is odd is that you appear to be saying that the switch you removed
had 4 wires attached to it? That is not normal for a 3 way switch.
Usually they are wired with a SPDT switch that has just 3 terminals.
It can be wired using a DPST switch, with 4 terminals, but then it
still would only have 3 wires attached.
You've identifed power coming in at the garage switch. You need to
find the wires that feed the existing light. Then you replace the
garage switch with a regular SPST switch, connect it to that light.
You need a hot and neutral going to the switch box at the basement,
since a 3 -way must have two wires between the switches, you have
2 wires there that can be re-purposed for that use. You replace that
switch with a SPST switch connected to your new light.
What complicates this is that there are several ways a 3-way can be
wired, so given what we have so far, I don't think we can say for
sure how yours is wired.
On Sunday, February 26, 2017 at 10:33:08 PM UTC-5, Ken Hockenberry wrote:
electric codes often require a switch at both top of steps and bottom for safety.
your project may cause home inspection issues at home sale time in the future. then if your selling you will be REQUIRED to have a registered electrician change it back..... costly
just run a new line and save yourselves tons of problems
On Tuesday, March 7, 2017 at 9:59:31 AM UTC-5, bob haller wrote:
I think you have a good point there, that code probably requires
that a light for the stairway be controllable from both the top
and bottom. But then he said:
"There are light fixtures on the garage ceiling - which are controlled by these two switches. "
So, do those lights serve to illuminate the stairs? IDK, but given
the switch locations, maybe they do.
Where is that rule or law written? Around here, if someone squawks
about something, I can legally do the work myself if I choose
or tell the seller to take a hike. And the inspection reports for
sales I've been involved in didn't say who has to do the work,
only that "x" should be fixed.
If those lights serve to illuminate the stairs, then I agree.
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