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I have a 3 switches that control the same light, I think…

Customer Question
Hi there - I...

Hi there - I have a 3 switches that control the same light, I think that's called a 4-way switch set up -- I want to eliminate two of the switches so only one switch operates the light, can you help me understand what I need to do?

Contractor's Assistant: I'll do all I can to help. How long have you been dealing with this?

I just started working on it but it seems to be more complicated than removing just a single 3-way switch

Contractor's Assistant: Do you plan on doing the work yourself?

I'm hoping to do it right now, yes

Contractor's Assistant: Anything else we should know to help you best?

I looked at each of the light switches -- the 4-way switch has 2 black wires and 2 red wires, one of the 3-way switches has a black a red and a white, and the other 3-way switch (this is the one I want to remain active) has 2 blacks and a red

Submitted: 1 month ago.Category: Electrical
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Answered in 3 minutes by:
3/13/2018
Electrician: David Bowden, Electrician replied 1 month ago
David Bowden
David Bowden, Electrician
Category: Electrical
Satisfied Customers: 761
Experience: Owner at Floridaco
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Hello and welcome to Just Answer… My name is ***** ***** allow me a few moments while I do some research, my recommendation will appear shortly.

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Electrician: David Bowden, Electrician replied 1 month ago

In order for the light to work from any of the 3 locations, you need to do so rewiring so you have a total of 3 wires

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Electrician: David Bowden, Electrician replied 1 month ago

You will need a voltage/ohm meter to do this.

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Customer reply replied 1 month ago
Thanks for your help, David. I have a non-contact AC voltage detector -- is that sufficient?
Electrician: David Bowden, Electrician replied 1 month ago

Needs to have Ohm capability in order to identify the wires as you will need to make sure you have them correct. You can do it with a voltage only tester but that will require the circuit remaining live.

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Electrician: David Bowden, Electrician replied 1 month ago

Where are you planning on controlling the light from, either of the 3 way switch locations or the 4 way switch location?

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Customer reply replied 1 month ago
i want to control the light from just one of the 3-way switch locations (the one with the 2 black wires and 1 red wire). The other 3-way location and the 4-way location i'd like to disable.
Electrician: David Bowden, Electrician replied 1 month ago

Forget color for now... It would be best to discuss this over the phone as there will be too much to type back and forth

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Customer reply replied 1 month ago
i understand, thanks david - i just don't have a meter with ohm capability on me, but i'm checking a couple of hardware stores nearby to see if i can pick one up and be back in the next hour or so - i think a phone call may be more productive for me if i have that ohm meter
Electrician: David Bowden, Electrician replied 1 month ago

Okay if you would like to try without the Ohm meter we can get started doing a couple of things until it gets time to use the Ohm meter, plus you will need several wire nuts and maybe wire strippers.

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Customer reply replied 1 month ago
if that's something we can handle now online before the call, that sounds like a good plan - i do already have wire nuts and wire strippers
Electrician: David Bowden, Electrician replied 1 month ago

I would also like to see a few photos of the switches and wires before you start removing them

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Customer reply replied 1 month ago
i did already remove the switches unfortunately, but i can describe how each of the 3-way switches were wired if that helps. i can also send pics of the switches and the wires.
Electrician: David Bowden, Electrician replied 1 month ago

Just the open boxes and an idea of where you want to control the light from and familiarization of the layout. That way when I start advising it will be easier for both of us.

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Customer reply replied 1 month ago
understood. I have each of the boxes open, and i am familiar with the layout of each, and I know which box I want to control the light from, and which ones I want to shut down.
Customer reply replied 1 month ago
Is there anything else I can do before requiring the ohm meter? And can you tell me if this product will provide the functionality I need? https://www.homedepot.com/p/Klein-Tools-Electrical-Test-Kit-69149/204367271
Electrician: David Bowden, Electrician replied 1 month ago

Sorry Internet went down...

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Electrician: David Bowden, Electrician replied 1 month ago

Please upload some photos so I can see what I am advising, thanks

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Electrician: David Bowden, Electrician replied 1 month ago

That tester is a dual voltage/Ohm meter so it will work fine.

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Customer reply replied 1 month ago
Hi David, I'm attaching 3 pictures.#1 is the 4-way switch i want to disable, there were 2 black wires and 2 red wires running into the switch, coming from two bundles of wires in the box. Each bundle had one red wire and one black wire that went into the switch.#2 is the 3-way switch I want to disable. It has a black wire, a red wire and a white wire that were connected to it, and all 3 of those wires are coming out of the same bundle in the wall. the taped wire (the white wire, black tape) was the one connected to the dark screw on the switch. the other wires were connected to golden screws.#3 is the 3-way switch i want to keep operational to turn the light on and off. it had 3 wires connected to it -- 2 reds and one black. the red one with the piece of tape was connected to the dark screw and is coming out of one bundle of wires in the box. the other red and black wires were connected to golden screws and are coming out of another bundle in the box.
Electrician: David Bowden, Electrician replied 1 month ago

O​n the 4 way switch if both reds are in different Romex's then simply connect red to red and black to black.

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Electrician: David Bowden, Electrician replied 1 month ago

T​hose wires are referred to as travelers, so connecting them makes them a continuous wire without being broken.

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Electrician: David Bowden, Electrician replied 1 month ago

O​n the switch you want to keep the red wire with the black tape, test that wire to ground and see if you get 120v and let me know

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Electrician: David Bowden, Electrician replied 1 month ago

It's late here so I will be signing off, will contact you tomorrow to resume.

Dave

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Customer reply replied 1 month ago
Thanks David, just got back home with the voltage meter, I’ve never used one before so might need a hand - what’s a good time to contact you tomorrow?
Customer reply replied 1 month ago
Hey David, for tomorrow - I tested the red to ground on the switch I want to keep and got no voltage, so I tested the other 3-way switch (pic #2) and got 120 volts from the white with tape to the ground wire, I think that means I need to keep switch #2 instead of #3?
Electrician: David Bowden, Electrician replied 1 month ago

T​he white wire is the "hot" wire and we can keep the switch you want. I will be back later today and we can get going. Did you already connect the reds and blacks in the 4 way? send me some photos so I can see progress. Thanks

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Electrician: David Bowden, Electrician replied 1 month ago

O​n the switch you want to keep, move the black wire out of the way, then temporarily connect the "hot" white wire to the black, then see if the black on the switch you want to keep has 120v to ground. Let me know

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Customer reply replied 1 month ago
sir 120v now at the black wire on the other switch
Electrician: David Bowden, Electrician replied 1 month ago

T​ha't the switch you want to keep correct? If so connect the white to the black with wire nut

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Electrician: David Bowden, Electrician replied 1 month ago

Perfect...

Test the red wire with the black tape to ground and let me know what voltage you get.

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Customer reply replied 1 month ago
Red wire with black tape to ground shows no voltage
Electrician: David Bowden, Electrician replied 1 month ago

Ok touch the red wire with black tape to the "hot " wire and see if the light comes on

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Customer reply replied 1 month ago
It popped on for a split second and then the breaker tripped
Electrician: David Bowden, Electrician replied 1 month ago

Okay so that wire has a short, disconnect the wires and turn the breaker back on.

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Electrician: David Bowden, Electrician replied 1 month ago

You will most likely need to open the light fixture up so we can see what wires are going to it.

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Customer reply replied 1 month ago
What if I was okay keeping the other 3-way switch operational (the one with the white “hot” wire) and closing off this one instead? That would be just as good honestly, if it eliminates some of the trouble
Electrician: David Bowden, Electrician replied 1 month ago

Then you would need to disconnect the black wire from the white and then touch the white to the red and see if the light comes on

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Customer reply replied 1 month ago
Okay I connected the white “hot” wire to the red — the breaker doesn’t trip, but the light remains off. I then walked back to the other 3-way switch, the red wire WITHOUT the tape is showing 120v to ground
Electrician: David Bowden, Electrician replied 1 month ago

O​kay I'll be able to continue in about an hour

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Electrician: David Bowden, Electrician replied 1 month ago

Okay I'm back

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Electrician: David Bowden, Electrician replied 1 month ago

I am back online if you want to continue...

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Electrician: David Bowden, Electrician replied 1 month ago

Greetings… Just following up to see if you were still needing some help answering your question?

Thanks,

Dave

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Electrician: David Bowden, Electrician replied 1 month ago

Hello... I would very much appreciate if you can take a few moments and reply to this email and let me know if you still require assistance, or should I proceed forward to closing out this question since it has been open for so long.

Thank you,

Dave

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Electrician: David Bowden, Electrician replied 25 days ago

Hello...

I am not sure if you have been receiving my follow up messages regarding this question however, if you would be so kind as to please respond and let me know if the information I provided initially was helpful or if you still require some assistance, I would sincerely ***** ***** that way I can either continue helping you or forward this to customer support for further processing.

Thank you very much,

Dave

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