How To Fix 3Way Light Switch Wiring
How to Get Your 3Way Light Switches Working: The Most Common Problems with 3Way Switches and How to Fix Them.
3Way Light Switch Wiring
Electrical Question: My dad has a light that will not work in his dining room.
3 Way Light Switch Problem 1
- Our dining room light is controlled by two 3way switches.
- One has a black-white-red wire and the other has a black-white-red wire and another wire with a black and white wire.
- There is no power to either switch and I tested all the breakers in both panels downstairs and they all have juice coming out of them.
This electrical wiring question came from: Pete, a Handyman from Wentzville, MO.
3 Way Light Switch Problem 2
- I recently remodeled and upgraded my electrical switches and outlets.
- I have a Dining room light with a 3 way switch at both ends.
- When I changed out the switches the light will not work properly.
- I wired black wires to black screw white to + with black tape red to screw below black.
- No I cannot control the light from both switches.
This electrical wiring question came from Charles, in Traverse City, Michigan.
See more about Home Wiring for Michigan
Thanks for your electrical wiring questions Pete and Charles.
How to Get Your 3Way Light Switches Working
Application: Wiring 3-Way Light Switches.
Skill Level: Intermediate to Advanced – Best performed by a Licensed Electrician.
Tools Required: Basic Electricians Pouch Hand Tools and Voltage Tester.
Estimated Time: Depends on personal level experience and ability to work with tools.
Precaution: Identify the lighting circuit, turn it OFF and Tag it with a Note before working with the wiring.
Notice: Installing additional 3-way switch wiring should be done according to local and national electrical codes with a permit and be inspected.
Materials: Make sure replacement 3-way light switches have the same amperage and voltage rating as the original three way light switch, and is the switch is fully compatible with the electrical circuit, the light fixture and the type of light bulbs being used.
Basics of Wiring 3 Way Switches
3Way Switch #1
- The single screw terminal at one end of the switch is for for the circuit power.
- The two screws at the opposite end of the switch is for the pair of wires known as the travelers.
3Way Switch #2
- The single screw terminal at one end of the switch provides power to the light fixture.
- The two screws at the opposite end of the switch are the same as the other switch, which is for the pair of traveler wires.
Correcting the 3Way Switch Wiring Configurations
- The most common problem with 3way switches is when the wires are not configured properly.
- To correct this problem the wires should be tested to identify the incoming circuit power and the wire leading to the light fixture.
- These single wires will be found at each 3way switch, and they are connected to the single screw terminal of each 3way switch.
- NOTE: The pair of traveler wires may be swapped, but they must stay at the end of the switches where the two screw terminals are located.
Testing Light Switch Wiring
- When testing light switches the voltage test should be taken with the ground wire as reference.
- Many times with older electrical wiring the white wire may be used as a switched leg.
- A continuity tester may be used to see if the switch is faulty.
IMPORTANT: If the circuit power for the light switches is not working then the wiring connections at the switch boxes, and the wiring at the light fixture box may need to be inspected and tested.
More about Wiring 3Way Switches
3 Way Switch Wiring Diagram
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Be Careful and Be Safe - Never Work on Energized Circuits!
Consult your Local Building Department about Permits and Inspections for all Electric Wiring Projects.
The Safest Way to Test Electrical Devices and Identify Electric Wiring!The Non-Contact Electrical Tester
This is a testing tool that I have had in my personal electrical tool pouch for years, and is the first test tool I grab to help identify electrical wiring. It is a Non-contact tester, [amazon.com], I use for the detection of Standard Voltage in Cables, Cords, Circuit Breakers, Lighting Fixtures, Switches, Outlets and Wires. Simply insert the end of the tester into an outlet, lamp socket, or hold the end of the tester against the wire you wish to test. Very handy and easy to use.
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