3-Way Switch Wiring

KruentusMarch 6, 2011

My dad and I are trying to replace an old light fixture in our kitchen, but we are having problems wiring in the new one.

The light is operated by two 3-ways switches. I checked them; they have 1 black, red, and white wire each.

Now, when we took off the old fixture, which worked perfectly, we noted the wiring. The circuit box has 4 holes with a pair of wires (1 black and 1 white) in each - 8 wires total. One of the black was connected to the black of the light. Every white but this black's (3) was connected to the white. And the rest - 3 blacks and 1 white - were connected to a green cord we took to be the ground. There are no red wires to be seen.

We wired the new light fixture the exact same way as the old one, but the breaker keeps on switching back. I'm not sure what we're doing wrong, but I feel like it has something to do with the funky wiring. I'd love any help you could give me.

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You have made a significant error, that prompts me to suggest that you call on a qualified person to fix your problem, or at the least check your work.

The green wire does not connect to the "3 blacks and 1 white". By doing so, you are shorting the circuit to ground. Green is for equipment grounding only.

    Bookmark   March 6, 2011 at 7:10PM
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You have created a definitive--but very dangerous and NON-approved--method for testing your circuit breaker on this branch circuit. Back away slowly. Leave that breaker OFF, for now.

Is the junction box the light fixture is attached to metal or plastic? Do the wires run in conduits or cables?

The reason you don't see any red wires in the light box is because the reds are "travelers" only between the two switches. This is normal. That you don't know this indicates you're operating beyond your safe abilities.

Most everything else you describe, sounds faulty. e.g. tying neutrals (whites) to GND is verbotten, and negates a major safety feature of modern wiring. Your former light was barely/dangerously working. View your current predicament as a fortuitous opportunity to rectify several dangerous jury-rigs... by calling a pro.

Review the following link on 3-way switching.

Here is a link that might be useful: How 3-way circuits are wired...

    Bookmark   March 7, 2011 at 11:31AM
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