# eliminating a 3 way switch and adding a light fixture

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.
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On 02/26/2017 09:33 PM, Ken Hockenberry wrote:

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.
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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:
http://diy.stackexchange.com/questions/40420/can-i-replace-3-way-switches-with-4-way-switches/40423
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.
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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.
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On Monday, February 27, 2017 at 12:21:30 PM UTC-5, snipped-for-privacy@aol.com 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 info.
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On Monday, February 27, 2017 at 1:02:01 PM UTC-6, DerbyDad03 wrote:

Here is my diagram - as best I can lay it out:
Light ------------ Light ------------ Light Switch Switch
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).
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On 03/03/2017 10:37 PM, Ken Hockenberry wrote:

You should be able to do that. The wire with the black tape on it is the "hot" wire.
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."
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On Friday, March 3, 2017 at 11:37:57 PM UTC-5, Ken Hockenberry wrote:

Insert a light fixture where? Certainly not at the switch location, that would be a bit low, don't you think?
I still know how you plan to control this inserted light fixture.

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On Sun, 26 Feb 2017 19:33:04 -0800 (PST), Ken Hockenberry

That is a 4 way.
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far easier to leave existing swich where it is!!
and run a new wire from a convenient source nearby. think a outlet.
sometimes its easier and far less work to just run a new line
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On Saturday, March 4, 2017 at 6:26:14 PM UTC-5, bob haller wrote:

Even easier to call an electrician when you don't know how a 3 way circuit works or which wire is which. It's possible it can be done with what he already has there, without running any new cable.
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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.
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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 location.

He said:
" 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.
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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.
Ken H
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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.
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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
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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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On Sunday, February 26, 2017 at 9:33:08 PM UTC-6, Ken Hockenberry wrote:

Thank you all for your help with this project! I think I have it figured out.
Ken H.
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