Thanks for all the responses. Well I got it
working yesterday evening. I will post the secret here.
First, some terminology:
Hot: The wire with the electricity source.
Typically black, but not necessarily in a three way.
Neutral: The white wire. Opposite of black.
Ground: The green wire. Grounds the circuit.
Traveller: A wire that runs between two three
way switches. It might be any color. In my
case, it was red.
Note that color might be anything in a three way
depending on the style or laziness of the
Common: This the single point on the three way
switch that the switch pivots on. Electricity
will always have to flow through this point for
the circuit to work. It is marked on the back
of the switch. Be sure to check the back, not
just the color.
Most all the sources I read failed to define
these things. But then just mentioned them. Duh.
So, what I finally had to do, was to:
- find the travellers.
- find the power source
- connect everything.
First, shut down your computer, in case it is
on the same circuit, as mine was.
Find the travellers:
Find ohm meter. Replace burnt out batteries.
Touch two leads together to make sure that the
meter is working. Meter will respond positively.
Find extension cord.
Turn off power to the circuit with the three ways.
Disconnect both three ways completely from the wires.
Attach extension cord, and ohm meter to one wire
at one switch. At the other switch, check each wire,
until you figure out which one is the same wire.
Do this with the other wires. Label T2, and T3.
(Note: I used T1 - T3. Industry standard may be
different. Obviously, one wire will not be a traveller,
and so t? could be strange. )
Find the power:
(This is what I did. There may be much safer ways.
Be very careful. )
Put on rubber gloves.
Turn off power to the circuit (again, just in
case you skipped above).
Separate the wires so that they will not touch
each other, or anything else.
Turn on power to circuit.
At one switch, touch one side of your tester to
ground. Touch each other wire (with the tester)
until you find the wire with the power. Mark this
wire. It will now be marked with both T?, and power.
Interestingly, I only found power in one box,
not the other.
Disconnect the power.
Connect the wire with the power to the common.
Connect the other end of the same wire to the
At each end, connect the two travellers to the
two remaining available terminals. The order
does not matter.
Turn on the power to the circuit.
Test. Be sure to switch a, switch b, switch a, switch b.
Each time you switch, the light should change
from on to off, or vice versa.
This is what worked for me.
In retrospect, I messed up when I changed the first
three way. To work, it required both switches to be
Since I changed the wires at one end, to all six
possibilities, and still nothing worked, it was obvious
that I made a mistake. I'm surprised that no one noticed.
Good luck to anyone who is struggling. It only took me
two days of struggle.