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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I have a situation where the 3way at the bottom of the stairs will turn on and off the light just fine, however the switch at the top will only work if the lower switch is left on. does that mean that some body has put in a standard switch at the top?
Thank you
 

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No--The travelers and load are mixed up--Often the push in holes do not line up with the colored screws.

You are going to have to sort out the wires--Power--two travelers---switch leg

Get them on the correct terminals--The DIY site at the bottom of the page may be your answer.

------------MIKE---------------
 

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Build it better
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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Thanks Mike....I am certainly not an electrician by any means, but do have a basic understanding. I will mess around with a tester ( I assume ) to find the correct wire.
 

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Superior Firepower
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I have a situation where the 3way at the bottom of the stairs will turn on and off the light just fine, however the switch at the top will only work if the lower switch is left on. does that mean that some body has put in a standard switch at the top?
Thank you
What qualifies you to be a GC?
Did you pass the Electrical Bar Exam?
If you have to ask, you are not qualified
to go in there and start messing with wires.
Hire an electrician.
The life you save may be your own.​
 

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Build it better
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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
What qualifies you to be a GC?

Did you pass the Electrical Bar Exam?
If you have to ask, you are not qualified
to go in there and start messing with wires.
Hire an electrician.

The life you save may be your own.
Sure is nice when a fellow tradesman thinks "he is the man". As a G.C. I am not required to specialize as an electricain. That is the reason I am researching this issue prior to doing the work. It just seemed like a simple fix to me. I am happy for you that you have a wealth of information, but it saddens me to see your lack of ability to offer help to others. After all...I thought that is what this site was all about! Have fun bashing!
 

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Three way switches are amazingly simple, but tricky to trace down sometimes. You need to isolate the travelers, and they should be on the two screws that are the same color. The third one is the "common".

On one switch, the common will be your power feed in, and on the other is your switch leg.

If the travelers are mixed up (happens all the time) with the common, or someone put in a single pole switch, it won't work.

PM me if you need further info.
 

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Sure is nice when a fellow tradesman thinks "he is the man". As a G.C. I am not required to specialize as an electricain. That is the reason I am researching this issue prior to doing the work. It just seemed like a simple fix to me. I am happy for you that you have a wealth of information, but it saddens me to see your lack of ability to offer help to others. After all...I thought that is what this site was all about! Have fun bashing!
Are you a self proclaimed GC or
did you actually go to college,
serve an apprenticeship and
work 30 years in the trades?
:confused1:

Advise is a dangerous gift.
Fools won't heed it and
wise men don't need it.
 

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Thanks Mike....I am certainly not an electrician by any means, but do have a basic understanding. I will mess around with a tester ( I assume ) to find the correct wire.
I have to agree with Skyhook on this one. This is a very basic elec. question and although you are a GC and not required to specialize as an electrician you are supposed to have a working knowledge of the trades. At least when I took the test in 1980 that was the assumption. This can be very dangerous territory and although may be a very simple fix the way you are asking and going to mess around with a tester you should do all a favor, leave it alone and call a real sparky.
 

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Build it better
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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Three way switches are amazingly simple, but tricky to trace down sometimes. You need to isolate the travelers, and they should be on the two screws that are the same color. The third one is the "common".

On one switch, the common will be your power feed in, and on the other is your switch leg.

If the travelers are mixed up (happens all the time) with the common, or someone put in a single pole switch, it won't work.

PM me if you need further info.
Thank you! I will check it out.
 

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I own stock in FotoMat!
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Fixing a three-way will involve a tremendous amount of technology and some very sophisticated equipment.

You first step will be to look into locating a printed publication (yea, I know, outdated, but it still works!) called a phone book. Mysteriously, there's a bunch of people listed in this book who are experts at a great many things. You will find doctors, airplane pilots, schoolteachers, ditch diggers, lawyers......... and if you look in the right place, you can even find someone who is known as an electrician.

Now, take that little box off your hip....... you know, the one will all the buttons on it and the little colored screen, and push a series of numbers that corresponds to the sequence of numbers you found in the phone book. If you're darned fortunate today, that person will actually respond to a ringing sound and magically start talking to you.

With any luck, this person will have access to yet another modern marvel...... the self-propelled machine called a vehicle. This means this electrician person will be able to transport himself, along with his/her attendant troubleshooting skills, knowledge and training and can bring them to bear upon you plight.

And I'll bet you dollars to doughnuts, that person will have the problem solved faster than you did posting the question here to begin with.
 

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I'm a little confused what the point of this forum is if someone asks a question and instead of help they get called names and told to call an electrician? He's asking a question about a 3-way switch, not how to wire up a nuclear power plant. I guess it's always possible but I highly doubt he is going to end up killing himself and burning down the neighborhood screwing around with a 3way switch.
 

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I'm a little confused what the point of this forum is if someone asks a question and instead of help they get called names and told to call an electrician? He's asking a question about a 3-way switch, not how to wire up a nuclear power plant. I guess it's always possible but I highly doubt he is going to end up killing himself and burning down the neighborhood screwing around with a 3way switch.
Agreed....Just help him out.......
We help out all the other trades around here.:rolleyes:
 

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I'm a little confused what the point of this forum is if someone asks a question and instead of help they get called names and told to call an electrician? He's asking a question about a 3-way switch, not how to wire up a nuclear power plant. I guess it's always possible but I highly doubt he is going to end up killing himself and burning down the neighborhood screwing around with a 3way switch.

OK, so let's put this another way: Would you let him work on your house? I'm not saying the OP is an idiot, or even inept. He's ignorant.

And I don't mean that in a mean way. We are all ignorant. You. The OP. Me. Everyone. ---Everyone is ignorant---. This is an inescapable fact of life.

And you are ignorant in thinking it's unlikely he'll kill himself screwing around with a 3-way switch. News flash: Electricity kills. Every day, people who have attitudes just like this are burned and killed. "It was just a 3-way switch", I can just imagine someone telling Saint Peter, "I didn't think it could kill me!"

Now, when I see someone saying they will 'will mess around with a tester ( I assume ) to find the correct wire,' that certainly proves the ignorance. Is this meter supposed to somehow magically display "CORRECT WIRE" on the display??? What does 'correct wire' mean anyway?

If someone doesn't know how to preperly repair the brakes on their car, is 'messing around with a screwdriver' going to do the job right? Does a surgeon 'messing around with a scalpel' manage to perform the operation sucessfully? Do airline pilots fly multi-million dollar aircraft filled with hundreds of passengers halfway across the world by 'messing with the buttons on the cockpit'?

If you want me to post how to actually solve the problem, I certainly can. But by the time anyone reads it, a competent electrician will have it solved. Without any instructions.


Herein lies one of the biggest problems in the electrical trade. Everyone thinks they can just go to Home Cheapo and buy a handful of tools and suddenly they're an electrician. And since everyone is an electrician, then there is no such thing as the need for a professional.

But a real electrician doesn't need to read how to fix the problem. A real electrician understands why there is a problem, how that problem occured, and uses logic and experience to solve it, not read a set of step-by-step instructions. And a real electrician understands the potential for disaster if certain safety measures are not taken.
 

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This sounds more like a learning experience than a death sentence. I never said it can't kill him but, the chances of it killing him are pretty darn small.
Through out your life, how have you learned how to do things? Just because I don't know what I'm doing has never stopped me from at least trying to do something. It has been my #1 way of learning things.

If you don't want to help the guy or think he's over his head that's fine. Post the dangers and that you think it would be in his best interest to contact a local electrician but, I don't understand the point of a half page post of telling the guy how to read a phone book and use a telephone.
 

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It may not kill him but other things can happen.
I was remodeling a kitchen a while back.
Rather than using my electrician, my customer chose to have a handyman from the building handle the electrical.
Long story short, Their entire entertainment system was toasted.
Some things you just should not do unless you are qualified.
Not being a prick, just stating the obvious.

Edit: I am not an electrician, but if I was, there is no way I would tutor someone over the internet.
This stuff can kill.
 

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This sounds more like a learning experience than a death sentence. I never said it can't kill him but, the chances of it killing him are pretty darn small..........
Yep. The chances of it killing him are the same as it killing those who actually got killed. Same numbers.


..........If you don't want to help the guy or think he's over his head that's fine. Post the dangers and that you think it would be in his best interest to contact a local electrician but, I don't understand the point of a half page post of telling the guy how to read a phone book and use a telephone.
OK, so let's help the guy.

One: How are the two switches wired, in relationship to the incoming power, the cabling between the switches, and the fixture itself?

In other words, you have four components to determine, Switch A, Switch B, and incoming power line, and an outgoing switch leg. What is where?
 
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Yep. The chances of it killing him are the same as it killing those who actually got killed. Same numbers.




OK, so let's help the guy.

One: How are the two switches wired, in relationship to the incoming power, the cabling between the switches, and the fixture itself?

In other words, you have four components to determine, Switch A, Switch B, and incoming power line, and an outgoing switch leg. What is where?
There,he helped him...Happy?
 
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