DIY Home Improvement, Remodeling & Repair Forum

DIY Home Improvement, Remodeling & Repair Forum (
-   Electrical and Wiring (
-   -   2-way light switch issue (

jastangl 06-11-2009 12:05 PM

2-way light switch issue
I recently had my ceiling repaired in my kitchen and ran into trouble putting the lights back on myself. There are two ceiling lights both controlled by two switches on each side of the kitchen. One light had 2 wires plus ground coming out of the ceiling and was no problem to connect.

The other light-box had three sets of wires coming out plus the set that went to the light fixture. I wire-nutted all the whites together and all the blacks together and the grounds together.

When turning the power back on at the breaker, the lights were on. When I flipped one of the switches, it went off and tripped the breaker. (I shouldn't have done this but) I then flipped the breaker and fried the breaker and the light box in the ceiling smoked. Since then, I've replaced the breaker.

With the breaker off, I've ohmed out the 3 sets of wires, two maxed, one is 1ohm. I'm believing the 1ohm goes to the other light fixture. My plan is to nut the 1ohm set to the new fixture and nut the other two whites and other two blacks together. This should work right?

Before doing that though, I made sure none of the wires were touching and flipped the breaker to make sure it was working (dining lights are on that and not connected to the same switches). When I flipped the breaker, it popped right away.

So, two issues:
Is my wiring plan correct?
2nd, what's tripping the breaker? Did I melt the wires in the ceiling or the switches? Should I get an electrician?


locknut 06-13-2009 05:36 AM

Were those extra wires wire nutted together originally? With the original wires to the lamps properly connected and those other wires undone, see what happens.

bengal80 06-18-2009 09:30 PM

If I were to guess whats wrong I would say that 1 set is the switch leg and neutral coming from the switch. the other goes to the other light. and the other 2 pairs might be the "travelers" between the 2 switches. They would make up color to color. If they were hots they would not have tripped the breaker but just kept your lights on all the time. So in my mind the whites have to have voltage on them. Just my guess though.

Zappo 06-18-2009 10:04 PM

my advice is that you need to figure outwhat wires are going where first. turn off that breaker, and disconnect all connections in all boxes. Then take a multimeter and check for voltage at each box (switches and lights) between ground and every conductor in there. If you don't find anything live, then proceed to use a long wire, or an extension cord, to 'jump' one conductor from each piece of romex, and test continuity. The goal is to identify exactly where each conductor is going. Then just "re wire" the setup by working out what needs to connect to what for the circuit to work. Scan in your diagram of the conductors and someone here (incl me) can tell you how to make the 2-way switch circuit.

speedy petey 06-19-2009 05:03 AM

Well, since this was eight days ago and Jared has not been back we can only assume he got it figured out, or hopefully he called an electrician because he sounded WAY over his head.
Probably just another case of posting a question all over the internet and forgetting where they all are. Unfortunately it is pretty typical to make one post generating a lot of questions but never return to give more details. :rolleyes:

I personally am not sure WHY it is folks feel the need to undo ALL the splices in a box when removing a fixture. There is NO reason to do this and almost always winds up like Jared's situation. :2cents:

Jared, if you are out there please post back and let us know how you did.

Zappo 06-19-2009 09:20 AM

I think an even better lesson would be to take several digital photographs before disconnecting anything, and label the connections if it's not absolutely certain from the photos what went where.

All times are GMT -6. The time now is 10:42 AM.