Return to the Electrical Wiring Forum | Post a Follow-Up

one light, two switches

Posted by lucky1_gardener (My Page) on
Thu, Jun 28, 12 at 0:11

We've lived in our house for 13 years (a 40 year old house) and this has been a strange thing that happens every few months or so. In our laundry room we have a light, it is controlled by a switch in the garage and one switch in our house in the hall. On occasion when the light switch is flipped in the hall to turn that light on, the light doesn't go on. If I then flip the switch in the garage it does go on and then there won't be any issues with it again for months. It's always the same switch that will not turn it on, but once the garage one is flipped it works. The switch in the garage is closest to the main panel, not sure if that makes a difference.

Follow-Up Postings:

RE: one light, two switches

Is the problem something you can test? If you put the hall switch in one position, will the garage switch always work (or not work). Try the other position with the hall switch. If the problem is repeatable, then I'd be inclined to think that someone used an ordinary switch when they should have used a three-way switch. One way to tell, without opening the box, is that three-way switches are NOT labeled "on" or "off".

If you can repeat the problem, it might just be a bad switch or something off in the wiring. "Back stabbing" devices can cause weird problems too.

RE: one light, two switches

Sounds like a 3-way switch setup. If connected improperly at one or both switches, the light will be ON only when the switches are in a particular position.

RE: one light, two switches

Thanks for your replies! The switches both are not labeled. I'm guessing it has to do with how one is wired. But, it's not something that can be repeated. It's very random and will be months between happening.

RE: one light, two switches

"The switches both are not labeled."

Three way and four way switches are not normally labeled with off-on positions since the operation of each depends on the position of the other(s).

You may have the more commonly used of the two switches simply starting to wear out.

 o Post a Follow-Up

Please Note: Only registered members are able to post messages to this forum.

    If you are a member, please log in.

    If you aren't yet a member, join now!

Return to the Electrical Wiring Forum

Information about Posting

  • You must be logged in to post a message. Once you are logged in, a posting window will appear at the bottom of the messages. If you are not a member, please register for an account.
  • Please review our Rules of Play before posting.
  • Posting is a two-step process. Once you have composed your message, you will be taken to the preview page. You will then have a chance to review your post, make changes and upload photos.
  • After posting your message, you may need to refresh the forum page in order to see it.
  • Before posting copyrighted material, please read about Copyright and Fair Use.
  • We have a strict no-advertising policy!
  • If you would like to practice posting or uploading photos, please visit our Test forum.
  • If you need assistance, please Contact Us and we will be happy to help.

Learn more about in-text links on this page here