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Mike G.
Mike G., Master Electrician
Category: Electrical
Satisfied Customers: 7090
Experience:  Proven Professional 46 years Experience
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I replaced two 3 way light switches and five outlets that the

Customer Question

I replaced two 3 way light switches and five outlets that the two switches power. After I turned the power on it tripped the breaker and continues to do so. What do I need to fix? I thought the breaker switch was blown so I relaxed the 15amp breaker but it does the same thing. What do I do? Please help
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Electrical
Expert:  Mike G. replied 1 year ago.
Hi, I'm Mike and I'll be glad to assist you. Give me the colors of the wires on the switches. Specifically the ones on the black screws
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
One switch has two red wires on the bottom and one black wire to the black screw. The other has a red and black wire to the bronze and a white to the black screw.
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
I replaced all five outlets as well. With the red and black wires being hot and white to the neutral side. 6 wires per outlet plus ground.
Expert:  Mike G. replied 1 year ago.
Let's start with the switch having 2 red wires on it. The black and red to the gold screws must be in the same cable. The red to the black screw is in another cable with another black and red. If not as stated, make the changes and let me know what happens.
Expert:  Mike G. replied 1 year ago.
If after verifying the connections on the switches and it still doesn't work properly, tell me how you connected the wires to the receptacles.
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
I'm not really understanding what you are saying. I have two light switches in the same box. Both of them are 3 way. One has two black wires to the bronze and one red to the black screw. It works but powers the light to the kitchen. The other has two red wires on the bronze and one black on the black wire but doesn't work. Are you saying you want me to move the red wire to the black screw and move a black wire for the other light switch to the other outlet?
Expert:  Mike G. replied 1 year ago.
Follow this. The 3 wire cable between 2/3 way switches should have the red and black in the cable to gold screws on both switches. 1 switch will have a white wire on the black screen and the other switch will have a red wire from another cable.
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
I moved the black wire from the black screw so it has one black and one red to the gold screws and one red to the black screw. It didn't work. The breaker still trips. So the other switch is supposed to have black and red on gold screws and white on black screw?
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
I can't spend $20 to make a phone call right now sorry
Expert:  Mike G. replied 1 year ago.
OK, the switches are right. The white wire in the cable with black and red to the switch should be connected to black wires. It should be marked black with tape or marker. It is being used as a hot feed to the 3 way switches. The red to the black screw in that box should be in another 3 wire cable. That cable black is hot, white is neutral and the red is the switched hot from the 3 way switches. Check and correct if not wired that way. At the receptacles. The whites are on the silver screws, the blacks should be connected with a pigtail wire that terminates on one of the gold screws. The red will be mk sde up the same to the other gold screw. The reason for the pigtail is that you can only have one wire under a screw and you should never use the push back connections on the receptacle, they always fail. The last thing is that your split sired receptacles need to have the metal bridge between the gold screws cut.
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
What if I did not connect the red wires at all would that leave the outlets hot? I don't know what you are referring to about pig tails. I am not an electrician so I don't understand the terms for everything. You want me to cap the two red together and the two black together and then have only two wires hooked to the hot side one black and one red to the hot side? Or hook a red and black together (pigtail) and have two wires both red and black?
Expert:  Mike G. replied 1 year ago.
A pigtail is a short wire used for connections so only one wire is on the screw. Take the 2 blacks and the pigtail and put them together in a wire nut. Now put the other end of the pigtail on the gold screw. Do the same with the red wires. One wire to a screw is the way it's done correctly.
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Ok I understand now. I'll try it and let you know. Would the wires in the back holes failing trip the breaker?
Expert:  Mike G. replied 1 year ago.
No, but might as well avoid future problems. Don't forget to cut bridges on receptacles with black and red wires connected.
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
I don't know what a bridge is
Expert:  Mike G. replied 1 year ago.
Look at the gold screws on the receptacle. That metal piece between them is the bridge. You can cut it with diagonal cutters or you can put a screwdriver in the slot and wiggle it until it breakes in half.
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
What does that do?
Expert:  Mike G. replied 1 year ago.
That allows the top half of the receptacle to be used being switched and the bottom hot all the time. Or in reverse. If not cut not top and bottom will be hot and neither switched.
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
I did as you said. And the top outlets font work but the bottoms do. As long as one on each work I'm happy. I really appreciate your patience with me and I have learned a lot. Thank you
Expert:  Mike G. replied 1 year ago.
Very good, glad to help.

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