07:20PM | 04/05/05
Member Since: 04/01/05
5 lifetime posts
Both the light and the switches, which are 3 way switches, were pre-existing fixtures that have worked for the past 30 years. The problem started after the painters removed the fixture to paint around it. Unfortunately, they did not document how it was wired and to date we have been unsuccessful in getting it to work again.

If the switches are ok, any idea on how the fixture is to be wired?


08:02AM | 04/06/05
Member Since: 01/30/05
361 lifetime posts
Okay, here we go.

First power in to first 3-way switch, then first switch is wired (prolly thru your light fixture hand-hold box) directly thru the box, and continuously to the second switch...then off of the second switch a switch lead is wired to the light fixture, with the neutral returning to the source point. Basically instead of someone having run a continuous wires thru that light box, they had them wire-nutted for an easier install. you wired the 3-way circuit thru the light fixture, and that's wrong. the 3-way circuit (power in to switch one, thru to switch 2) needs to be uninterupted by the light fixture. Then the switch circuit from switch 2 back to the LIGHT (luminaire) then back returning neutral. Hope that makes sense. a picture is worth a thousand words here...and better explainations have been offered previously. a quick trip to the library any wiring book look up 3-way switches, googling it, looking up a manufacturer's site for wiring diagrams, or even this area of the BBS look at the older posts or search this bbs for 3-way switch if I confused you.


09:15AM | 04/06/05
Member Since: 09/24/04
128 lifetime posts
Mistressell is probably correct. This sounds like a three way to me. Around these parts if the painters took it down and can't put it back right they pay for an electrician to do it. If you haven't made the last payment then hold it until they solve the problem. No excuse to put you through this aggravation.

U.S.M.C. Semper Fi !!!


10:12AM | 04/06/05
Member Since: 01/30/05
361 lifetime posts
Okay, I re-read my post and realized I prolly confused you, forgive please and allow me to try again.

I have a nice bmp diagram (its 800kb tho)that I could send you, or if I can figure but how to get it up on a free web page, I'll come back here later and post that info to link but don't hold your breath cuz I'm not that internet savy.

Shut-off power (circuit breaker or fuse box) to the area.

A regular 2-way switch has 2 terminal screws and a ground screw(green). A 3-way switch has 3 terminal screws and a ground screw (green); 2 of the terminal screws are brass (or copper) and they are the "travelers" for between the two switches. The third terminal screw is usally black and that is called the "common" (for one of the switches it will be power IN from the house current, for the second 3-way switch it will be for the OUT of the switch loop and the IN to the the light fixture -- the light fixture will "neutral/return" this entire circuit to the house power circuitry).

First thing you determine is which switch location is the first point power is up from your house (that's the switch had has the HOT house (black)wire attached to the BLACK (common) screw . That's your "Switch A". (I suspect from your previous postings its the one with the most wires attached to it).

Then you need to trace (a little jiggle or a slight tug) at the wire from the switch while someone is looking at the wires in the box where the light fixture will be mounted) one of the wires attached to one of the brass screws (traveler #1 from "switch A") and see which one giggles in the box. Use some tape and in your light box this wire (traveler #1 from switch A), do the same for the wire attached to the second brass screw in switch A (traveler #2), and identify this wire end in your light fixture box and label it (traveler #2 from switch A).

Next, go to the second switch location (switch B) and note the wire attached to its black screw, that's your load wire or switch wire for your light, it could be any color (think from what you've said it might be red) but shouldn't white, but who knows what's in your house. That's the wire you tug and identify in your light box and lable as "Load (common) from switch B to light fixture". Then identify the wire attached to the left side brass screw on your switch B and have your partner mark in the light box "to traveler #1 switch B". Do the same for the other side brass terminal on your switch B and have your partner mark at the light location this wire as "to traveler #2 on switch B".

Now, there should be one remaining wire up in that light box that we haven't identified, and it should be white, so you return to the first switch box location (switch A) and have your partner jiggle that white wire, you should see it is attached to the neutral that originated in

your switch box. Have him mark that up at the light fixture location as "neutral return from light fixture.

Now....up in the light fixture box, identify the wires marked "traveler #1 from switch A" and "traveler #1 to switch B", twist them together and cap off with a wire-nut. Now identify the wires marked "traveler #2 from switch A" and "traveler #2 to switch B", twist them together and cap off with a wire-nut. Next, identify the wire marked "load (common) from switch B to light fixture" and twist it to the black wire of the light fixture, and cap off with a wire-nut. Then identify the wire marked "neutral return from light fixture" and twist it to the white wire of the light fixture, and cap it off with a wire nut. If your home system

requires or has ground wires....connect your ground wiring. keeping in mind the circuit I described.

Now lets get back to those other wires on your switch A, you have other switches in that same box, and check to see that the extra white and black wires you mentioned are

in some way wired to one of the other switches or to a jumper or pigtail. if this is the case, then I think we've got it. If you have a friend how's electrically savy and/or you can get your hands on a meter, now

is the time to check that things are as they "appeared" by our tug and pull investigation method.

If all is now well, Use electrical tape over your wirenuts, remove all those labels (they're fire hazards left in place), complete the installation of your light, re-install your switches to your boxes, mount your switch plates...and viola! you should now having properly wired your 3-way switches and completed a proper switch loop to your lighting fixture.

From your prior description I'm suspecting your switch A is the one that you mentioned had 1 Red, 1 white and 1 black and 1 black

back-stabbed; and that your switch B is the one that has 1 red and 2 blacks attached to it. Note the color of the screw terminals on each switch, 2 (on opposite sides) should be brass/copper screws and one should be black the ground screw is green, and usually below the switch box on the side.

I hope this was clearer.



12:10PM | 04/06/05
Member Since: 01/30/05
361 lifetime posts
Here's a link to a free e-book for easy to understand diagrams and wiring for 3-way switch circuit:

click on the "view this book" link, its a pdf file you if you don't have adobe reader, you can get it free there as well. Please do return to this string and let us know how things worked out. I'm SURE you'll find the diagrams and explanations in this e-book helpful and you will resolve your problems!
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