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AssuredElectrical, Master Electrician
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Experience:  Contractor-42+ Years in the ElectricalTrade
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I have recently installed three lights (on a lanai), with all

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I have recently installed three lights (on a lanai), with all three (running in series) and the line running into an existing three-way switch box. As I do not use one of the switches to a switchable receptacle within the LR (with the desired controlling switch at the other end of the LR entrance), my desire is to redirect that switch away from the LR receptacle to control (only) the lanai lighting. Mind, I still need the power from the original source to supply the lanai switch/lighting.
I have tried as many combinations as I am able to calculate; unfortunately, I am out of logical possibilities.
Can you help?

Sparky :

Hello, my name is XXXXX XXXXX I'm here to answer any of your electrical questions.

Sparky :

Hi I will need some more information. Possibly a couple of picture, if you could post?

Sparky :

Or I can post for you exactly how a 3 way switch works, so you can understand what needs to happen for a 3 way switch to work?

Not sure if you were having a trouble responding, but I just changed the format, just in case. I will be here.
Customer: replied 4 years ago.

I had responded to JustAnswer, via my iPhone, last night (waiting for quite some time for a response). I even included a total of 8 pics (4 per each IM response) of the area(s) in question to help clarify the support request being asked for... but alas, no response. I was hoping to see one this morning, but I still await your advise.

Are you still there?

Customer: replied 4 years ago.

Relist: Other. Replied to initial electrician's questions (needing more info) via iPhone (and IM -from JustAnswer), along with pictures, but never received a reply/answer. Waited all night, last night, and today... no answer? Have clarified data, as well as pictures, if desired by newly-assigned electrician...

Welcome. My name is XXXXX XXXXX would be glad to assist.

Unfortunately, there are no other responses or pictures on the conversation page.

Where were the responses/information and pictures posted?

If pictures were sent directly to Just Answer, it can take days for them to find their way to an expert.

Posting the information and pictures directly on this conversation page is the best location.

Get the pictures on your PC, then follow the steps below.

You can post pictures from your PC or items connected to the PC,
by using the paper clip icon on the tool bar to the right of the smiley face..

Click the paper clip icon, it opens a little pop up box.
In the pop up box, click on Browse.
That opens another box, that you click the Browse also
The it will open your PC for you to find the picture.
When you have found the picture, you just Highlight it and then
click OK.
The that box closes, leaving the first box only
where you click INSERT.
Then it puts the picture in the chat box.

Or you can upload your pictures to --- --- and then
post the link here so we can access the picture.
Only takes a second and very easy at




If unable to get the pictures posted here, get the total wire count and post the information.


1. The switch you wish to use for the new lights---How many and what color wires?


2. The other 3 way that will still control the receptacle--How many wires and what colors?


3. You can get a 2 wire cable down the wall to the existing switch you wish to use?

Customer: replied 4 years ago.

Maybe the response time is too long, keep getting an "Access Denied" response from your end.

There is no time limit on any responses.

Maybe the pictures are too large? Sometimes errors occur with the size limitation.

I will post a picture below to be sure the system has no problems itself.


If the problem is only when trying to post a picture, try to upload them to

It is easy and quick.


Just remember to copy the link they give you for the picture to post here


Customer: replied 4 years ago.

I have isolated the problem to be the pic inclusions. I have also adjusted each photo to way below the minimal size restrictions/requirements.


Do you have a personal/business email address for me to send the pics over to you on?


All correspondence is to be in this forum so it is available to all experts and moderators if needed

The site does not allow email delivery.

You can easily post to
Only takes a few seconds per picture, easier than email

CLICK HERE to start

Click the browse button

The select the picure to upload from your PC

Click the upload button

Enter the captcha

Click upload

get the link it posts for you

URL for E-Mail & IM

Then post those here
Customer: replied 4 years ago.

Sconce & 3-way Switch:


3-way Switch:


Multi-switching panel:


Controlled Receptacle & 3-way Switch:



Thanks for the pictures posted, I can see each one.

I cannot see how the wires are in both of the 3 ways.

At the first 3 way where there are 3 switches

What color wires are connected to the switch?

At the 2nd 3 way where there are 4 switches, what color wires are connected to the switch?

Which one of these has the new light cable?

Is the
Customer: replied 4 years ago.

On the way towards more information. Here are a few close-up shots of, first, the 3-way Switch. Note, the wiring from the sconce is coming out of the top right portion of the pic.


The second pic is of the wiring connection of the particular switch to be used coming from the 4 switch panel.


The next three photos are simply alternating views from the 3-way switch gang. Note the two wires (hot) that have been removed (and simply capped) until it can be determined where they need to be placed.


Hopefully, this will give you a better idea of what is going on. Mind, these wires have been all mixed up (on the switch in question), along with the incoming scones wiring.


Shooting out to grab a bite, will look for answers (hopefully) when I return.


Thanks, Tommy.

Ok, have a bit better understanding of what you have.

Need a bit more info

1. On the switch at the 4 gang location, I see a red, black and wire with tape on it.
What color is that wire under the tape?

2. Follow the red wire and see if you can tell which cable it enters in the box?
A red wire will be part of a 3 wire cable, so when you follow it, there will be a white and black with in that same cable.
I need to know what the white and black wire do in the box, connect to the switch?
Connect to other wires in the box?

Be patient, in this type of setup, it does take time to figure out how the electrician wired everything to determine how to change it for what you want.
Customer: replied 4 years ago.

Thanks, Tommy. I will attempt to have the (trace) answers for you by tomorrow sometime. As for the color wire under the tape... WHITE, which, if I am understanding how such wiring goes, is considered HOT as well.

Ok, thanks.
Post when you have the information.

When wiring 3 ways, it isn't common yo use tape on the white, that is normally only done with single pole switches, because it is a given the white will carry power on a 3 way, they all do.

While getting the information, take a look at the other 3 way as well. Trace its wires and have that info too, it will save time on the next step.

Thanks so much
Customer: replied 4 years ago.

Can do. I'll be running trace by way of a simple ohms reading; but that will require a bit of dismantling first (the reason for a tomorrow answer).


I just need to know which cable each wire is part of, other wires in that same cable and what it connects to, or where it may connect inside the box?

I do not need anything other and no need to use a meter or dismantle any wiring.

Once I know the above, I can tell you where the wires go, thanks.
Customer: replied 4 years ago.

OK, Tommy, ran (Ohm'd) the wires out from the switch, to 3-way, to receptacle. Results as follows:


First View:

This is a shot of the RED wire (Red cap) at the 4 switch panel, ohm'd complete (positive connect/line) at the 3-way switch (Red cap): (Notice that the switch has been removed from the unit)...


Note, Red wire (Yellow cap) tested positive (connect)
across to Red wire (Yellow cap) at Receptacle:


One question (challenge point for me) was that the White-taped wire on the 4 switch unit seemed to be connected to ground throughout all other lines. Can this be, or am I simply reading this all screwed-up?


OK, standing by for either answers (we hope), or more precise, further, questions...


Thanks, Tommy.


Thanks George.


First thing we need to clear up, is the switches.

We need to call them 3 way #1 for the one at the 3 switch location, and 3way #2 for the one at the 4 switch panel.


1.Now, at #1 there is 2 red wires and 1 black wire that was attached to the 3 way? Is this correct?


2. At #2 switch, there is a red, black and white with black tape connected to the switch, is this correct?



3. Which switch, #1 or #2 is it you wish to operate the new lights?

Customer: replied 4 years ago.

OK, at the #2 switch, there is a red, black and white (with black tape), along with the ground wire connected.


At the #1 switch, because of all the initial switching around, I am not sure if both red wires were attached or not (as one of them originate from a different (Romex) bundle), and yes, there is a black wire as well attached.


Finally, it is the #1 switch (just opposite the new lighting fixtures) that we wish to connect/utilize.



At switch #2.
Look at the 3 wires attached, the red,black and white with tape.
See if all 3 wires are from the same cable?

If not, need to know what cables they are part of, and where the
other wires in the cables attach in the box?

At switch #1, if it didn't have the 2 reds on the switch, there would be
another loose wire in the box, is there one?

If not, the 2 reds must have been on the switch.

So, at switch #2, need to find the cable that has each red wire, then find out
where the black and white wire in the same cable connect in the box?

The information is necessary to determine how the wiring was done in order to change it.

The wires in these cables that do not attach to the switch give more information
to the wiring than the ones that attach to the switch.
Customer: replied 4 years ago.


At switch #2: All 3 attached wires (Red, Black, and White-taped-Black) are coming from the same (Romex) bundle/cable (


At switch #1: There are no additional (loose) wires about. I have also checked to see that the two other (outer) switches are functioning properly... they are: the left-most switch controls the lanai fan/light unit; the right-most switch handles the living room fan/lights: (NOTE: The 3 loose (Blk, Wht, Grd) wires in the upper right of the pic are from the (new) Romex coming in from the sconce lighting).


Also at switch #1: Of the two Red wires being checked, one Red wire leads directly to switch #1 box; the other Red wire leads to the living room Receptacle.


At switch #2: the wires connect to the first 3-way switch. Where the Black wire connects directly across from the Red (and goes no further), the White-taped-Black wire connects at the bottom of the switch and appears to be a Common link to all other White and ground wires within the box.


The two pics following reflect both the 4-switch panel (and White-taped-Black wire being tested for continuity across all other lines), as well as a simple diagram of the results of testing:


OK, like in ping-pong, it is once-again on your side of the net...



Customer: replied 4 years ago.

I suspect that the JustAnswers system has been experiencing malfunctions; unfortunately, my electrical problem is STILL present, and... after (now) TWO) "Master Electricians," I am still no closer. And I continue to respond to their requests.


And now that JustAnswers is back "online," I am seeing that the case... my original question reflects as "CLOSED!" (???)


Either I need someone who HAS the ability to get this problem resolved, or let's get that refund happening, please.



George Sidler*

George, I have no idea of any of the Just Answer requests, emails or any other correspondences.

The site did experience issues for a couple days and things were slow at best.

As an expert, the only thing we do and see is the posts between us.

It takes a lot of time to get all the necessary information in order to determine the situation to provide correct instruction.

If an electrician is there on site, it would take about 20 minutes and have the answers.
Unfortunately, a lot is lost when communicating in this manner if all the information is not available.

There is no way that I can be any closer to having the appropriate answer, because based on the sketch you posted, the white wire connects to other white wires and to grounds.

If it is indeed true, it is a dangerous and illegal situation that needs addressing very quickly.

I do not know what you wish to do at this point, just advise.

It will take more time to resolve, that I do know.
Customer: replied 4 years ago.

Thanks, Tommy. Please understand that it was not you that we were frustrated with. Unfortunately, because of the couple-to-few days the JustAnswers system was down, we lost communication. And so, I am merely pointing out to JustAnswers the frustration of the delay in completion of what (I would assume) to be a rather simple solution.


That said, I also find it somewhat hard to digest, this being a new home, built by the nation's largest home builder (Lennar), along with its licensed subs, to have been wired incorrectly. Which leads logically to two probable issues:

The first, is that I have mis-communicated my view at this end.

Secondly, that I have mis-interpreted what it is I am looking at.

Either way, it was my intent, in providing the pictures, to help you "see" what it is that I am attempting to explain in words. That you would (hopefully) be able to either see the train of thought, or the pictorial correctness of the challenge (aka wiring).


Finally, I suspect that I will, again, take a series of pics to allow you to see exactly what the situation is, as well as (hopefully) provide you with a more clear sense of where this should be taken -from an expert electrician's point of view.



Ok, understand George.

In order to see good with any pictures, it needs to be close and clear to visually see what cable a certain wire goes into.

Like a red wire, is " part of" a 3 wire cable which has a black,white and bare ground wire with it to comprise the entire cable.

I can appreciate the other pictures, but only seeing the room area and location or what connects does not tell the story needed as much as which cable it is part of.

That is why I listed them in order for an explanation.
I make diagrams all the time for customers based on which wires are part of which cable and then which switch it attach's to.

On many occasions listing every cable in the box is important because other wires form different cables connect together to complete a circuit, even though they do not directly connect to any of the switches on the item we are working.

The point I was making on the white wire (used on 3 ways all the time, but by themselves), is that white cannot connect to the ground wire ever in any installation.
Customer: replied 4 years ago.

OK. I will attempt a rather close-up view of all cables connected not only to the switch, but the box as well. I will then detail what each switch operates, and where. Hopefully, from there we will be able to make more sense out of what is left to accomplish...

Thanks for the update.

This is an example at the one box of what is needed. Maybe it will help clear up any questions of what I am looking for.

Customer: replied 4 years ago.

OK, Tommy...

Let me know if THIS has it in a better way to understand (man, by the time I'm done here, I think I'll be putting in for my electrician's license... no worries, you're safe!)


First, is everything relevant to Switch Plate #1: (Switch Plate #1 Diagram) (Romex/cable #1) (Romex/cable #2) (Romex/cable #3) (Romex/cables #4 & 5) (Romex/cable #6) (Romex/cable #7)


And then there was Switch Plate #2: (Switch Plate #1 Diagram) (Romex/cable #1) (Romex/cable #3) (Romex/cable #4) (Romex/cable #5) (Romex/cable #6)


Hopefully, all photos came out, and the ppt (diagrams) provide the information you need for us to resolve this issue. If there is anything else you might need, Tommy, just shout.




The diagrams were extremely good and had all the information.
Appreciate the work with the diagrams and the pictures.

I hope my colors show up well enough, they look like it to me but sometimes posting changes the depth a little.

First location changes

Second location changes
Customer: replied 4 years ago.

OK, Tommy, it appears as if we have -at least some-progress happening, in that we have gotten the lanai lights turning on at the switch. However, there remains a couple of potential problems (mind, this is from a layman's view), as well as a remaining issue.


First, the potential problem...

I rewired all wires according to your suggestions; however, as soon as I threw the breaker, it came snapping immediately back (off). I then commenced to troubleshooting backwards:

*Isolated switch from both Black wires: still shorting out (circuit breaker snapping off)

*Isolated Red wire connections: still shorting out

*Isolated White wire from bundle: still shorting out

*When I removed one of the two ground wires going to the switch (the one coming from the gang), leaving the grounding wire from the #6 bundle connected to the switch, the lights worked. However, this left an exposed Ground wire 9coming from the gang, AND only had/has the Ground wire coming into the switch as its only grounding point (connecting to... what???)


Here is what the connections look like (see diagram):


Next up... the first switch at the #2 switch plate (which is supposed to control the LR outlet) is non-functional? There is (now) constant power to the outlet, which should not be. The second attachment (diagram #2) highlights the area/the problem:


I can taste completion in the air. What next, Sensei..

Customer: replied 4 years ago.

One change to the last message out (to you), Tommy, in the 2nd diagram I forgot to reflect the changes made at the Switch #2 panel. Here are those changes made:


Standing by,


Ok, got the info.
Trying to work from my phone, as I just landed and not at a PC.
On the ground wire, if it is connected to the other grounds and trips the breaker, need to look at the lights. Ground must be touching somewhere or shorting out in a light.
On the receptacle, will look over once more and post something shortly.
I looked at your previous receptacle picture and the red was disconnected.
The bottom half of the receptacle is hot all the time and the top with the red wire is switched.
Is the red connected back?
Did you change receptacles or use the same one?
Customer: replied 4 years ago.


Broke open the receptacle. Here is what I found:


There are two Romex feeds: (one carrying Black, White, and Ground; the other: Red, Black, White and Ground).


The attached diagram indicates where each are connected on the receptacle (REMEMBER... because this is a controlled receptacle the unit is upside down (the way it is installed in the box/wall):


One noted issue (I am sure) is that upon opening the unit up I discovered the Black lead from the 4-wire Romex not attached to anything (and not even capped). Which leads me to believe that in all of the attempts throughout in this project, somewhere, somehow, someone (probably me) allowed this to go unchecked.


Either way, I am fairly certain that this will play into where we need to be in the next set of instructions. And on that note, I am back to you, hopefully, for the final touches...



Customer: replied 4 years ago.


In addition to the receptacle configuration, I wanted to make sure, as we attempt to wrap this up, that the one (potential) issue about the free-floating Ground wire in Switch Panel #1 is adequately covered.


Remember, I have the Ground wire -coming from the new Romex cable (attached to the lights on the Lanai) attached directly to the switch, but nothing leading from it (the switch) to the (Ground) gang tie-in. The lights on the Lanai work like this, but when the Ground wire is connected to the (Ground) gang, it blows the circuit breaker.


I'm wondering if this will this pose a problem (like NOT being a grounded wire/unit)? And something that needs to be addressed...

That is what I understood on your previous post.
I thought I covered it, let me go over it again.

If you connect the ground wire to all the others and it trips the breaker, you need to look at how you wired the lights.

That is not a good situation.
There has to be a direct short on that ground wire and it needs to be found and fixed.

Having proper grounds connected is vital and should never trip a breaker
Customer: replied 4 years ago.


I've looked the connections over and found that on one of the sconce lighting fixtures the ground wire seemed in excess (possibly touching other wires within the bundles?). I've since removed all sconce lighting from their attachments (to be able to better view all wiring), and clearly separated all wires from one-another.


As a point of reference (and a sanity check for myself), the wiring at the sconce lighting seems relatively simple, in-that from the initial light set a three-wire (Black, White, Ground) Romex is connected to the light unit's corresponding colors. The wire then leads to the other side of the Lanai (closest to the outside), where they are (again) connected to each corresponding color set within this sconce (light) as well, with the additional connection to the second (like) Romex, which leads to the third (and final) light unit. From there, this cable then leads to our three-switch panel, where we have been working.


One new problem that has appeared since our rewire/retest efforts is that the circuit (breaker?) no-longer seems to be providing power to the area (circuit) we have been working on??? When the breaker is flipped to the "ON" position, nothing happens... no voltage present at any terminal -relevant to the circuit. Which leads me to the next logical (or, at least logical to me) question... is it possible that through all of the previous efforts the circuit breaker has (finally?) given out, or could this indicate an even larger issue/problem?


Finally, I am still somewhat concerned about the one open (Black) wire found when the receptacle was opened up for examination. I can tell by the end of the wire (tip) that it was connected... somewhere?


OK, in-all, I believe we are close to finishing this issue. However, before I can test my theory of the loose ground, I need to restore the power to the circuit. Ideas?

The lights are merely color to color as you posted, so you had them wired properly.

With no power at all, leads me to the receptacle you pulled out of the wall with the loose black.
I think it may have been some of the problem.

Take the black wire on the receptacle and remove it, connect it to the loose black wire with a wire nut.
Then turn on the breaker and see if all power is restored and the receptacle also is switched now.

Rather do this in steps to insure a good trouble shooting sequence.

Lets see if that cures most of the problem at this point.
Customer: replied 4 years ago.

OK, here's the latest in these troubleshooting adventures:

With the black wires on the receptacle now connected to one-another power seems to have been restored to the overall circuit; however, the receptacle (I assume because of the -now missing- connection to the receptacle itself) does not read voltage.



With power restored, I again attempted to see if our sconce lighting, as well as all other switches had any change in them. It appears as the sconce lighting now lights, when switched on at the 3-panel switch; HOWEVER (note the ALL-CAPS here), again when the ground is connected to the gang the breaker activates -killing power. Thus, the only ground that is connected to the switch is coming in from the sconce series wiring itself.

Also noted was the breakers AFCI/CHAFF (attached) indicator was flashing red, BUT, the unit did not kick off.

Ok, thanks.1. The black on the receptacle was constant hot, so it should not be an issue for switching.2. There are Many AFCI breakers on the market, so I cannot comment on a flashing light without the make and model.3. There has to be a direct short in one of your wires to the new lights that us causing the trip with the ground wire.Separate all of them at every light so the one cable from the switch is isolated.Look for something that may gave penetrated the cable to short it out.4. Need to check the switch for the receptacle.Remove the wires from the switch and tie them together, then see if the receptacle has power
Customer: replied 4 years ago.

Alright, they say a picture is worth a thousand words... hopefully these two shots (with included captions) will "tell all" (or, at least enough to turn those lights on)!


Thanks for hanging in there.

I can see the locations and wires with pictures.
There has to be a short to cause the breaker to trip, there is nothing else that does it.

If the AFCI breaker is the breaker on this circuit, a short between the ground and neutral will trip the breaker as well as between hot and ground.
Check to be sure there is "NO" continuity between the neutral (white wire) and ground wire.

So use one lead to the ground wire to the lanai lights and one lead to the neutrals in the bundle.

Customer: replied 4 years ago.


After a great deal of even deeper troubleshooting, disconnecting, wire chasing, etc., etc., etc... I have specifically located the problem on the shorting light. As it turns out, apparently, on the center (screwable) mounting of the middle sconce the threaded pole chafed the black wire of the Romex and made a good contact between it and the ground wire -directly adjacent to it. I have pulled though additional wire, reconnected all lights, and have applied the power (with all grounds in-place/connected) and everything appears to be working as advertised.


And so, we are now faced with what I hope will be the only thing left in this electrical debacle... that of returning the control of the controlled receptacle BACK to the corresponding switches.


Here's the short of it...

If you remember, we took the (middle) 3-way Switch (Romex/cable #2 & 3) out of use from being one of the (dual) controlling switches that controlled the two-outlet Receptacle (across the Living room); this was done in order to use it as the single controlling switch for the sconce lighting (on the Lanai).


The remaining (first 3-way) controlling switch, located at Switch Panel #2 was then to be the only switch controlling the controlled Receptacle.


Currently, we are left with a receptacle that has power coming into (present) at both the Black junction/wires, as well as the Red wire, attached to the receptacle; however, there is no power at the receptacle itself.


I think, if I look closely, I can see the Finish Line ahead. And now we just need to tap that electron-filled brain of yours (hopefully) one more time to resolve this last equation.


So, what say you about getting power to the receptacle, and making sure that our switch at Panel-2 function to operate same?



Looked over the switch again, it has a white with tape that is power.
The red is connected to a second screw.
That should turn on the receptacle because that red is connected to the receptacle
Red in the other box as shown on the previous diagram.

Check both the top and bottom of the receptacle because
The little brass tab was probably broken off when it was a split powered receptacle and you need a jumper between the 2 screws for both halves to be switched.

If nothing, connect the white with tape with the red on the switch bypassing the switch, possibly the switch is bad.
Customer: replied 4 years ago.

OK, I have double-checked the tabs (of which are, in fact, broken off on both ends), and, in wanting to ensure that I am both understanding what you are asking, and in insuring that I do this correctly; firstly, exactly which two screws (on the receptacle) will I be establishing a jumper between (i.e., Gold-to-Gold, Gold-to-Silver, top-to-bottom, top-AND-bottom, etc.)? I figure to start here, then work towards the switch troubleshooting...


I await your next interpretation.

The gold or brass colored side should be the only side with the broken tab.
That is the side to add a jumper from top screw to bottom screw with the red also connected to that side.
Never is the gold side ever connected to silver side

You can take the red and connect 2 short wires to it and have one wire for each screw or use a jumper between the gold screws, your choice
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Customer: replied 4 years ago.

OK, it took a bit more investigative research to more clearly understand what I was looking for (broken tab-wise), but I did some onlining and located some pics of what the actual tab (I was supposed to be looking for) looked like; and, YES, the brass/gold side alone has had it's tab removed (the silver side remains in-tact).


And with the jumper in-place, and power switched on, the receptacle once-again worked as advertised.


And, so here we are now, the sconce lighting on the lanai, through feed via a 3-way switch (in the three-switch panel) to it's counterpart switch (in the four-switch panel) have all now come together. And, with everything working as it should, I believe this closes-out this (your) part in this seemingly lengthy process of Master Electrician/technician-vs-layman in resolving this issue.


Thank you, XXXXX XXXXX the time, expertise, education and even patience in helping to resolve this seemingly convoluted enterprise. You have definitely secured my loyalty in By the way, as long as we're talking JustAnswers, if an electrical problem should again arise some where down the road, do you know if JustAnswers supports specific technician requests?


Again, thank you for your efforts.

George Sidler*

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