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Eddie
Eddie, Home Improvement Contractor
Category: Electrical
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Experience:  owner of Island Pro-Craft
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My name is ***** ***** and we are trying to wire up some

Customer Question

Hi my name is ***** ***** and we are trying to wire up some lights with*****switches but we can only seem to get 1 switch to turn off all the lights while the 2nd switch only controls 1 light. we have light light switch(with power) switch light
JA: Thanks. Can you give me any more details about your issue?
Customer: the 2 lights at one end are the end of the circuit, the switch closest to them has the power this then runs to a switch upstairs then to another light. we cannot seem to get the right wiring combination so that both switches control all three lights
JA: OK got it. Last thing — Electricians generally expect a deposit of about $18 to help with your type of question (you only pay if satisfied). Now I'm going to take you to a page to place a secure deposit with JustAnswer. Don't worry, this chat is saved. After that, we will finish helping you.
Submitted: 8 months ago.
Category: Electrical
Expert:  Kevin replied 8 months ago.

Hello and welcome to Just Answer. My name is ***** ***** I will be happy to assist you with your electrical question.

1) Are the 3-ways and lights a new installation or an existing?

2) How are the lights wired? Are they daisy chained from one light or another or are they "home runned" back to one of the 3-ways.?

3) Do you have an AC voltmeter available?

4) Are the 3-ways connected with Romex cable or conduit, or other?

5) What are the wires colors that terminate to the 2 brass screws at each 3-way switch?

6) What wire color terminates to each 3-way switch black screw?

7) Approximately, what age is the home?

Customer: replied 8 months ago.
1. Lights are existing and switches are replacementaking2. Light one connected to light two then line to switch 1. Power source available at switch 1. Wire from switch 1 to switch 2. At switch 2 wire to light 3. There is a power source available at light 3 but not currently connected. Wire between switches is a 3 wire with ground and wire from switch 2 to light 3 is as well. Wire with power at switch 1 is a 2 wire with ground and wire from lights 1 and 2 to switch 1 is also.3. Yes I have a volt meter4. Connected with existing wire?5. Currently red and black6. Black7. House was built in 1990Currently switch 1 will control all 3 lights but switch 2 only controls light 3. So say all lights off, flip s1 and all lights come on. Flip s2 and light 3 turns off. Flip switch 1 and lights 1 & 2 turn off while 3 turns on. Please help.
Expert:  Kevin replied 8 months ago.

Thanks for the replies and confirmation.

1) A 3-way switching arrangement only has power available (the circuit feed) at one of the 3-ways and not both. At the other 3-way is the switched loop wire that extends out to the lights.

2) If you have a total of three lights, then all 3 of the must terminate to the switched loop on one of the 3-ways. Can't have lights terminating to each of the 3-ways as it just doesn't work that way. All 3 lights must either be daisy chained from one to the next and so forth or the lights are all connected back to the switched loop 3-way (one 3-way only)

3) Using your meter, identify and confirm which 3-way has the constant 120 volts at the black screw with the switches ON and OFF.

Refer to the diagram shown below at how a typical 3-way switch is connected. Notice on the left side of the diagram that this 3-way is the hot circuit feed and the 3-way on the right is the switched loop extending out to the light?

Expert:  Kevin replied 8 months ago.

1) The wires on the brass screws at each 3-way must be the same. Please confirm you have 1 red and 1 black at each of the 2 brass screws on each 3-way?

2) How are the boxes wired? NM Romex cable or conduit or BX cable or other? Do the wall switch boxes contain bare copper ground wires?

3) If wired in cable, do the red and black wires at each brass screw originate from the same cable or the same conduit?

4) The switched loop 3-way is the switch that extends to the lights. The black screw on the switched loop switch will only have 120 volts at it's black screw when one of the 3-ways is in the ON position. You can also confirm this with your meter. On the diagram I sent, the right hand switch is the switched loop 3-way.

Customer: replied 8 months ago.
All 3 lights can't be in serial (I am guessing that is what you mean by daisy chianed) as L1 and L2 are in basement and L3 is on main floor.Currently wired like this: 2 wire with ground from L1 to L2 to switch box 1. In box 1 we have L1/L2 black and black that leads to S2 to traveler screw of switch. Tied together is L1/L2 white with white from power source and white leading to S2. Black from power source is on brass and red wire between switches is on other traveler screw. At S2 black from S1 and red from S1 are on traveler screws and black to L3 is on black screw. White from S1 is paired with white to L3. Red wire to L3 is capped. At L3 red is capped and white is to white on light and black is to black on light.Ground wires at all boxes are bare and at each junction are grounded together.We can change the source of power from S1 to L3 but from what you are saying this won't work either?
Expert:  Kevin replied 8 months ago.

1) Lighting in a home is never wired in series, they are always wired in a parallel fashion. Daisy chaining from 1 light hot and neutral to the next downstream light hot and neutral means they are wired in parallel.

2) The power source only lands on 1 black screw at one of the 3-ways and never to the 2 brass screws. Shown in the diagram I provided is exactly how two 3-ways need to be wired.

3) More than likely, you have the two traveler wires crossed up at the black screws or spliced to some other wires.

4) If your meter has a continuity feature, you need to confirm the two travelers landing at each brass screw are the same 2 wires. The breaker must be shut OFF in order to check for continuity.

5) Do you have a constant 120 volts at the black screw on one 3-way whether either switch is ON or OFF?

6) Power needs to originate at only one 3-way. Power can originate at a light box, but then must be extended to only one 3-way. Power cannot originate at a 3-way and simultaneously at a light. The light is switched by either 3-way.

7) Do the 2 traveler wires originate from the same cable sheath?

Expert:  Kevin replied 8 months ago.

1) Sounds like Romex cable was installed. If so, the exterior cable sheath of a Romex cable will either be white or yellow. The 2 traveler wires that land on the brass screws at each 3-way must reside within the same Romex cable sheath. A continuity tester can confirm this.

Expert:  Kevin replied 8 months ago.

1) If the circuit breaker is a 15 amp, then 14 AWG Copper Romex with a white exterior cable sheath should be installed

If the circuit breaker is a 20 amp, then 12 AWG copper Romex with a yellow exterior cable sheath should be installed.

Look inside each switch box. If the home was wired correctly, you should be able to view a small portion of the cable sheath color.

Customer: replied 8 months ago.
The travelers are from same cable between switches.S2 has a yellow and white, S1 has all whiteWe are going to try to find a way to connect all lights in space between floors and then connect to S1 as from what I gathered from you earlier that is only way to make this work
Expert:  Kevin replied 8 months ago.

1) OK, assuming the travelers are correct and from the same cable sheath, have you confirmed which 3-way has 120 volts on it's black screw? Locate that switch and then go to the other 3-way and measure for 120 volts when one switch is ON and measure for 0 volts when one switch is OFF.

Temporarily, forget about the lights, we will get to those in awhile. Need to only focus on getting the 2 switches to work correctly.

2) I revised the diagram to assist you. Let me know when you have confirmed which of the 3-ways is the always hot switch and the other 3-way is the switched loop switch where you can measure 120 and 0 volts on it's black screw.

Expert:  Kevin replied 8 months ago.

1) You mentioned S2 contains a white and a yellow Romex cable. White = 15 amp breaker. Yellow = 20 amp breaker. The lighting circuit can only originate from 1 circuit breaker. Please confirm, are you referring that the box contains a yellow and a white Romex cable or are there wires from both the yellow and the white Romex cable that are terminated to the switch? If S1 only contains a white Romex cable with it's terminations, then S2 must also contain the same white Romex cable for it's terminations. Can't mix Romex cable colors on 3-way switches as that indicates 2 different circuits are present.

Two different circuits (15 and 20 amp) can be present in the wall box, but not terminated to either switch, it's one or the other:)

Customer: replied 8 months ago.
The yellow only runs from S2 to L3. We took disconnected power at L3 because there was 2 power sources on the switches originally. Sigh, we love our house but whomever wired it was a crazy person :]
Expert:  Kevin replied 8 months ago.

OK, thanks for the replies.

I am going to have to opt out of the question and I will place it back to the open board and perhaps another expert here can assist you better than I have. No need to reply back to me, you will be notified once another expert picks up the question.

I apologize for not being able to assist you. I have no idea as to how the lights and switches were originally wired, especially with 2 different type of Romex cables (yellow and white). At this point, you may want to consider contacting a local licensed electrician.

Expert:  Steven Parent replied 8 months ago.

Hello, are you still trying to sort out this mess?

Customer: replied 8 months ago.
but we are done for the evening, unfortunately we will be unable to revisit this until next week.
Expert:  Eddie replied 8 months ago.

If it were me I would use a rigid styro foam insulation where the 2 x 4 fraing is and would give you a R-4 value and it would allow those pockets in the corrugation to breathe and then foam to prevent air leakage in the 2 x 6 framing ...............those rafters are 24inch on center right?

Expert:  Eddie replied 8 months ago.

sorry this last message was for someone else

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