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windsor351

06:50AM | 10/12/05
Member Since: 10/11/05
2 lifetime posts
Bvelectrical
I have two outside lights controlled by two switches (front door & garage) - the lights recently stopped working. The circuit is wired by a hot into the common by the door, travelers to the garage switch, and the common out to both black wires for each light. (Not wired like a typical 2 switch/2 light circuit with the neutral traversing both commons).

I tested the switch at the door and found 120v at all three terminals, so I replaced the switch, but that wasn't the problem. If I remove the switch and connect the hot to either traveler, I don't get any power to either traveler at the garage switch. I do however get power at the other unconnected traveler! My thought is that I have a crossover problem with the travelers between the switches, but this seems so unlikely. Can anyone help??? Thanks!!!


househelper

07:23AM | 10/12/05
Member Since: 03/31/05
265 lifetime posts
What are you using to test for power? Is the neutral carried via the white wire of a **/3 cable between boxes? Have you checked the bulbs?

windsor351

07:47AM | 10/12/05
Member Since: 10/11/05
2 lifetime posts
Thanks for the reply.

Neutral is carried via 14/3 between the switches. I use a digital multimeter so I can check continuity and resistance also.

The hall switch common is hot, as is both travelers. However neither traveler at the garage switch is hot (regardless of hall switch position). Therefore I have no source from the common on the slave switch to either light. Wires are dead to both lights regardless. I was going to check continuity of the travelers next but thought there might be something obvious to someone (e.g., open neutral) causing the situation.

Thanks for your help.

househelper

09:38AM | 10/12/05
Member Since: 03/31/05
265 lifetime posts
Are you checking the voltage between hot and neutral at the garage? You could try checking for voltage at the garage switch using a known ground (working receptacle) as reference. If it checks hot in that case, you have lost your neutral. Look for a loose connection in the wire nuts at each switch box.

Billhart

01:27PM | 10/12/05
Member Since: 04/25/05
1915 lifetime posts
It might be an open neutral.

But there are a couple of things to watch for.

One a digital voltmete will often give phantom readings. The input impedence of the VM is so hight that capacity coupling between the wires can give false reading of voltage even when the circuit is open.

The other things is that voltage readings are ALWAYS between 2 points. That is clear, but often not stated what points are being meaured.

And you said that it is wired differently, are you sure that "neutral" is the neutral.

If there is a ground wire you can use that as your reference. If not or you thing that the ground wire might be broken then you can plug in an extension cord and measure from the neutral in it to the different wires. Then take the receptacel end of the extension cord to the other location (keep it plugged into the same receptacle) for testing at that end.

The links at the bottom of this page show the different ways that a 3-way can be wired.


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