4-way switch issues - Lights won't turn off

Cheese83December 16, 2013

Hi All, I'm new here and hoping somebody can help me out.

I have a 4-way light switch circuit which controls my living room lights that is wired as shown in the attachment (blue represents white wires).

Everything worked fine when we moved in 4 years ago. I replaced the switches with a more decorative style (good, quality switches), and the lights continued to work fine.

About two weeks ago, we notcied that the lights would not turn off when flipping any of the switches.

I assumed that since the lights once worked fine, it must be an equipment failure, so I replaced each of the switches (the 4-way and both 3-ways). I used the side screw attachments and took great care to ensure a good connection. I also un-screwed each of the wire nuts to verify that a good connection was acheived in those as well. Switches still don't work to turn off the light.

I would like to know if, based on the attached wiring diagram, any changes need to be made to how this is wired and if the problem may lie with the lights themselves. I'm very interested to hear your feedback, thanks for taking a look.

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I'm betting the new switches are not physically the same as the old ones.

On 3b make sure the Black wire from the 2-conductor cable is connected to the Common terminal of the 3-way switch. The replacement and original may not be physically identical though they may be electrically equivalent.

On 3a, same thing - make sure the black wire is connected to the Common terminal. It should be marked "Comm" or the screw will be a different color.

Remove the 4-way and wire nut the wires together, red to red and white to white. This will enable you to get the circuit working with just the 3-way switches. Once that is done you can work on re-installing the 4-way correctly by following the wiring diagram that comes with it. BE CAREFUL - you do not show the complete circuit diagram and I am making assumptions on what the wires are based on limited information.

Double check that the wires truly are connected as shown.

    Bookmark   December 17, 2013 at 3:11AM
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If you got the switch connectors right, then perhaps there is a short somewhere. As mentioned, replacement 3-/4-ways sometimes have their screws for 'common' and the 'travelers' at different physical locations. Check the markings on the old switches and compare to the new ones.

This post was edited by jreagan on Tue, Dec 17, 13 at 8:56

    Bookmark   December 17, 2013 at 8:54AM
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If it is indeed wired as shown it should be working. You didn't identify the common on the 3 way in the two gang box, but it should be the one that your black load wire is connected to. If you remove this wire and the lights go out then your switches are incorrect. If the lights stay on something else is up, and the black wire will remain energized when you remove it from the switch.

You do have a violation in the use of the white conductor as a return [NEC 200.7(C)1], but this is not causing your problem.

    Bookmark   January 1, 2014 at 6:12PM
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