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Troubleshoot 3-way switch.....

Post in 'DIY and General non-hearth advice' started by webbie, Nov 13, 2007.

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  1. webbie

    webbie Seasoned Moderator Staff Member

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    OK, light with two switches stopped working.

    New house, so chances are it was done right in the first place. Both light switches have similar layout - black, while and red wires (and ground)....

    Ok, so first I am trying to identify which is the first one in line. One box has only one wire (with the 3/1) coming into it, so I assume that is NOT the first one.

    The other box has three wires coming into it, as well as two wire nuts.....so I assume this is the "hot" box. The wire nuts are on blacks and whites, neither of which go to the switch in that box. But they are hot - 110 volts. The switch itself is not hot!

    The second switch has 13 volts across black and while, which seems weird.

    Any guesses? Could the problem be somewhere else but inside the two boxes? I checked the light bulbs (3) in the light, and they certainly look fine.

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  2. webbie

    webbie Seasoned Moderator Staff Member

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    I give up - tomorrow I'm going to buy two new switches before I try anything else.

    BTW, I do have 120 v at the 2nd one, but only between bare ground and the black. No voltage at the other switch, just at the wire nuts behind it, which are not connected to that switch.
  3. nshif

    nshif New Member

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  4. Corey

    Corey Minister of Fire

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  5. webbie

    webbie Seasoned Moderator Staff Member

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    Stupid Stupid me.......

    OK, so before I even started I got on a step ladder and checked the light - it has three bulbs, all had good insides.....

    The, today after I get done replacing both switches and it still doesn't work, I remove the entire light assembly and - lo and behold - there is 110 a the light when the switches are thrown. Further examination seems to point to a short inside one of the three tiny sockets that are wired in series inside the light!

    Anyway, should have known to double check the first thing.....let that be a lesson to all of you! I look at it this way, at least I didn't give up and call an electrician, so there is some good.
  6. Corey

    Corey Minister of Fire

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    Wired in series? So you have 3 bulbs burning at 36volts each? ...and if one goes out they're all out, kind of like the christmas lights of the good 'ol days? Is this an antique fixture, a very special one, or just mis-wired?
  7. webbie

    webbie Seasoned Moderator Staff Member

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    Oh, maybe I didn't mean series that way....just that any socket that goes bad makes all of them do so. You can tell my understanding of electric is limited. I was a remodeling contractor and simply learned enough to get the stuff moved and out of my way when it was slowing down my progress!
  8. Gooserider

    Gooserider Mod Emeritus

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    If any socket goes bad, or lightbulb burns out, and it takes out the others, then you are wired in series, which is generally a BAD THING as it makes you more prone to trouble. If any single light can go out, and the others keep working then you are wired in parallel, which is MUCH better since a failure doesn't hurt you as much. I would look at how that lamp is wired and fix that as part of the project.

    Gooserider
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