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Mike, Master Electrician
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We are trying to wire a Leviton 4 way switch but we 't know

Customer Question

We are trying to wire a Leviton 4 way switch but we don't know how to determine the travelers. Can you help us with that?
JA: I'll do all I can to help. Tell me a bit more about what's going on so we can help you best.
Customer: We have two 3 ways and one 4 way running one light. We are pretty sure we have the 3 ways correctly wired but are having trouble getting the 4 way.
JA: Sometimes electrical issues that that you think will be really complicated end up being easy to fix. The Electrician I'm going to connect you with knows all the tricks and shortcuts. Is there anything else the Electrician should be aware of?
Customer: No I don't think so.
JA: OK. Got it. I'm sending you to a secure page on JustAnswer so you can place the $5 fully-refundable deposit now. While you're filling out that form, I'll tell the Electrician about your situation and then connect you two.
Submitted: 6 months ago.
Category: Electrical
Expert:  Kevin replied 6 months ago.

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

1) The traveler wires will connect from each 3-way to the 4-way traveler screws as shown in the diagram below:

Reply back and let me know if the diagram helps............Thanks................Kevin:)

Customer: replied 6 months ago.
No not really. How do we determine the travelers?
Expert:  Kevin replied 6 months ago.

1) Do you have a continuity tester available? If so, you can confirm which wires are the travelers.

2) Were the switch boxes wired with metal conduit or Romex cable?

Expert:  Kevin replied 6 months ago.

1) What are the 2 wire colors that terminate to the 2 brass screws on each of the 3-ways?

Customer: replied 6 months ago.
We will have to check that and get back to you.
Expert:  Kevin replied 6 months ago.

Very good.

Customer: replied 6 months ago.
There is a black wire on the left side of both 3 ways and a white wire on the right side of both 3 ways.
Expert:  Kevin replied 6 months ago.

Thanks for the replies.

1) If the black and white wires are terminated to the brass screws on the 3-ways, those are the traveler wires.

2) Do you have a continuity tester available? If so, you can confirm which wires are the travelers.

3) Were the switch boxes wired with metal conduit or Romex cable?

Customer: replied 6 months ago.
I do have a tester not sure how to use it and the wires are Romex.The box where the 4 way is has two Romex cables; a white and black in each cable.
Expert:  Kevin replied 6 months ago.

OK, very good.

On a 4-way switching circuit, the 4-way switch must always be installed in the middle wall box.

Since the 4-way box only contains 2 separate Romex cables, those are the traveler wires.

Look at the diagram I sent. The 2 black and red wires are the travelers. Since you have a black and white and no red wire, terminate the white wires to the 4-way switch using the 2 top brass screws. Then terminate the 2 black wires to the 4-way switch using the 2 bottom brass screws.

At each of the 3-way brass screws, label those 2 wires using white electrical tape and label them as "T". This way, you or the next person will know that those wires are the travelers.

Reply back and let me know if working OK...........Thanks............Kevin:)

Customer: replied 6 months ago.
Ok will try that
Expert:  Kevin replied 6 months ago.

Very good:)

Customer: replied 6 months ago.
Ok, two of the three switches will work but while testing them not always the same two.
Expert:  Kevin replied 6 months ago.

1) You have two 3-ways and one 4-way, correct?

Customer: replied 6 months ago.
Expert:  Kevin replied 6 months ago.

OK, as a temporary test, remove the 4-way switch. Splice the 2 whites together with a wire nut and splice the 2 blacks together with a wire nut.

Do both of the 3-ways work correctly with the 4-way removed?

Customer: replied 6 months ago.
We'll try it and let you know.
Expert:  Kevin replied 6 months ago.

Sounds good. Thanks.

Customer: replied 6 months ago.
We black taped white wires and black taped black wires together. The 3 ways do not work.
Expert:  Kevin replied 6 months ago.

OK

1) Back out both of the 3-ways from the wall box but don't disconnect any wires. Leave the wires spliced together in the 4-way box.

2) At the one of the 3-ways, the black screw must always have 120 volts whether the switch is ON or OFF. Only one of the 3-ways black screw will have a constant voltage. The other 3-way black screw will only have voltage when the 1st 3-way is in the ON position.

3) You will need a voltmeter or a 2 wire lead AC voltage tester to confirm which 3-way is the hot circuit feed.

4) Do you have a white neutral wire at the light box and where does it originate from?

Expert:  Kevin replied 6 months ago.

1) Since the 4-way box does not contain a neutral wire, you either ran the neutral to the light box from another source or a 3 wire Romex cable must be installed and tandemed thru the 4-way box from the 1st 3-way to the 4-way and then to the 2nd 3-way. You only have 2 wire Romex cables connecting each 3-way to the 4-way?

2) Look at the diagram and see how the white neutral wire is tandeming thru each of the 3 wall switch boxes and then makes it's way to the light fixture?

Expert:  Kevin replied 6 months ago.

Is this a brand new installation for all 3 switches or was the wiring previously installed? If previously installed, what is the approximate age of the home?

Customer: replied 6 months ago.
We are just trying to change out to a new switch. It worked earlier today. The house is 17 years old. We are not able to get a correct volt reading.
Customer: replied 6 months ago.
I am going to send you a picture of the box where the 4 way is. There may be a neutral wire you can see.
Expert:  Kevin replied 6 months ago.

OK, lets try this.

Re-install the 4-way but this time change the wire color terminations. Try white on the 2 top brass screws and black on the 2 bottom brass screws.

If still not working then reverse the wires and terminate the 2 black to the top and the 2 white to the bottom screws.

Customer: replied 6 months ago.
The two 3 ways are on different walls but there are two single switches also in this box that run two other lights.
Customer: replied 6 months ago.
We have already tried black on the bottom but will try black on top.
Expert:  Kevin replied 6 months ago.

Thanks for the pic's

1) Looks like the 4-way will be installed on the right side. The 3 gang box definately contains neutral wires.

2) Are you able to measure a constant 120 volts at one of the 3-way black screw terminals labeled as COM?

Customer: replied 6 months ago.
No we didn't get an expected voltage reading.We tried both black wires on the top and both white wires and we are back to two of the three switches working.
Expert:  Kevin replied 6 months ago.

Thanks.

1) One of the 3-ways on the black screw terminal labeled as COM must contain a constant 120 volts. Since no voltage reading at either 3-way black screw, were there any alterations or replacing switches in one or both of the 3-way boxes?

2) Somewhere you have a loose wire termination or a faulty splice on the hot circuit feed. If no constant 120 volts at one of the 3-ways, then the switches won't work.

Customer: replied 6 months ago.
Ok, checking the one 3 way that was also changed out today.
Expert:  Kevin replied 6 months ago.

If the wires are back-stab inserted, those are always a problem as they come loose. All wires should be terminated to the side screws.

Expert:  Kevin replied 6 months ago.

At one of the 3-ways, you should be able to measure a constant 120 volts from the black COM screw to a bare copper ground wire whether both 3-ways are ON or OFF.

Customer: replied 6 months ago.
Here is a picture of the 3 way.
Expert:  Kevin replied 6 months ago.

Looks like the wires are all terminated under the screws, so you should be good there.

One of the 3-ways may contain a pigtail wire on its black COM screw that jumpers over to an adjacent switch or a wire nut splice. You will need to trace it and measure there.

Customer: replied 6 months ago.
We do not know how the voltage meter works and not able to take the readings. That is the problem.
Expert:  Kevin replied 6 months ago.

Simple,

Set the meter to the AC voltage setting. It will contain a sine wave symbol. Set it to the 200 volt range.

Then place the red or black meter probe to the 3-way black screw COM and the other meter probe to a bare copper ground wire. The meter color probes don't matter, either way will work.

You can also locate a known working wall receptacle to confirm if the meter is working correctly. Place 1 meter probe into the receptacle short slot and the other meter probe into the long slot. Should measure approx 120 volts at the receptacle.

Customer: replied 6 months ago.
This what we have to chose from.
Expert:  Kevin replied 6 months ago.

That is not a voltage meter, it is a clamp-on amp meter and only measures current (amperage).Unless it has a 2 wire lead on it.

You need one of these: Either type will check for 120 volts.

http://www.homedepot.com/p/Commercial-Electric-Manual-Ranging-Digital-Multimeter-MS8301A/206177756

or

http://www.homedepot.com/p/Commercial-Electric-110-220-VAC-Voltage-Tester-MS8900H/202520892

Expert:  Kevin replied 6 months ago.

If the clamp-on meter contains a black and a red wire lead, then it can measure voltage and set it to the "V" setting and it should auto-range.

Customer: replied 6 months ago.
We tried that originally and was getting an invalid reading. I think we can go no further here. Thanks for trying.
Expert:  Kevin replied 6 months ago.

OK, sorry I am not able to assist you.

If you want another electrical expert who may see something that I am missing, I can opt out of the question and place it back to the open board and another expert can take over if you like. Your choice?

Customer: replied 6 months ago.
I think we will pass. Thanks for your help.
Expert:  Kevin replied 6 months ago.

OK.

Take care and have a good evening............Thanks..............Kevin:)

Expert:  Kevin replied 6 months ago.

I can send your question to a moderator and they can refund your deposit if you like.

Just let me know..........Thanks...........Kevin:)

Customer: replied 6 months ago.
please send to moderator. Thank you for your time.
Expert:  Kevin replied 6 months ago.

No problem, am sending the question now and they will provide you with a refund.

Take care.........thanks...........Kevin:)

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