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Wiring Confusion

Posted by acharles (My Page) on
Sun, Dec 9, 12 at 23:01

I'm hoping someone can give me some guidance. I live in a split level ranch. I'm replacing all of the light switches since they are the originals from when the house was built in the 70's. There are a total of 5 switches, 3 for the chandelier and 2 for the light on the porch. Only of of the switches for the porch works.

I replaced the 4 way switch and one of the 3 way switches so far. The 2 switches for the porch are 2 way switches, shouldn't these be 3 way switches? Also, the remaining 3 way switch that I still need to remove has a wire that runs from it to the working 2 way switch. Is this normal? The switch doesn't work when I remove the wire.

Any help would be appreciated.


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: Wiring Confusion

Personally, I have NO idea what you are trying to describe.

Did everything work before? If so why are you questioning it?
And asking if the porch switches should be 3-way? They are what they are. If they are single pole they are single pole. If they are 3-way they are 3-way.
Just replace what was there before.

BTW, there are no "2-way" switches. There are single pole, 3-way and 4-way. There are others, but inside a home these are typically what you'd see.


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RE: Wiring Confusion

One of the switches at the top of the stairs didn't work and I wanted to replace the old switches.

I attached the image of the 2 switches at the bottom of the stairs that are tied together. The one on the left controls the outside light and the one on the right controls the inside light.

Switch @ the bottom of the stairs

Bottom box

Here's the switches at the top of the stairs. The one on the left should control the outside light, but it doesn't work.

Switch @ top of the stairs

Top junction box


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RE: Wiring Confusion

The conductor that ties two switches together is the incoming power wire.


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RE: Wiring Confusion

Did the switch that doesn't work used to work? Are you sure that it's for the outside light or is that just a guess?


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RE: Wiring Confusion

You need to learn how to describe the setup correctly.

A pair of 3-way switches controls from two locations.
They are called '3-way' sine they have 3 screws.

To control an outlet from three places requires a pair of 3-way switches AND 1 4-way switch (yep, 4 screws).

The 3-way switches go at each end of the switch 'chain' with the 4-way in the middle.

You can keep adding 4-way switches between the 3-ways for as many locations as you want.

Multi-location switching requires 3-wire (+ ground) cables.

Old installations may be missing the separate ground conductor (or use the armor of AC cable or metallic conduit).

This post was edited by brickeyee on Thu, Dec 13, 12 at 10:42


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RE: Wiring Confusion

Thanks all, especially greg 2010. I assumed the switch at the top of the stairs also controlled the outside light, but it actually controlled an outlet on the other side of the half wall. I never noticed it because a couch was in front of the outlet. I was able to replace all of the old switches.


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