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daniel2229 06-02-2008 09:16 AM

testing a 4 way switch
I am putting up new cabinets and in the process moved a 4 way switch and broke it while removing the wires. I bought a new one. Now I think I may have put a cabinet screw through the wiring leading to the 4 way or have it hooked up wrong.

I would like to test the circuit but do not have any meters. Can I test the circuit in the following manner? If I remove the switch and wirenut the red to red and the black to black will the other 3 way switches then work the circuit?

Then I should be able to figure out if the 4 way switch is broken or if I did indeed put a screw through a wire somewhere near the junction box.

BTW, the circuit breaker never went off, that is why I suspect either the switch is bad or I have it hooked up wrong.

I placed the red wires at the top two terminals (1 and 2) and the black wires at the bottom (3 and 4). The ground is also at the bottom of the switch.


JoeD 06-02-2008 04:49 PM

Top and bottom means nothing in switches. The screw terminals should be different colours. One pair of wires (black and red)to one colour and the other pair to the other colour.
Connecting red-red and black-black should be a valid test.

triple D 06-03-2008 12:08 AM

Hooked up wrong.....
Take one pair of wires, blk. and red. Put them on the two blk, or input screws. and the others on the brass screws. Try switches, if they are bonkers then trade pairs to other screws. It does not matter if the red is on same side as other red. Only that a pair of wires is both on same color of screws. Its truly 50/50 at that point. If you had a glow stick, you could remove wires from switch and see wich pair had a hot wire. These ones would go on input side of switch, but without this tool, proceed as above. Good luck......

daniel2229 06-03-2008 06:57 AM

I moved wires last night but always kept the red wires at the top and the black wires on the bottom. That is the way the old switch was wired. The light works, but does not work correctly when flipping the other 3 way switches.

For example, when I sit at the 4 way and operate the foyer light, it works. When the 3 way at the top of the stairs is flipped, the 4 way no longer controls the light. Same for the 3 way in the foyer. So the 4 way works part of the time.

I don't want to change the 3 ways because they are connected correctly; for the last 19 years they have worked. So I know that it is just getting the 4 way wired so that the foyer light works at all the stations.

Here is how the switch stands now. 1 and 2 are on the top and 3 and 4 are on the bottom. Reds are on 1 and 2, blacks on 3 and 4. I switched sides on both the red and black, but if I correctly understand what I read on the Internet, it makes no difference which direction the current flows as long as the 4 way switch can make the X.

So if I get you right, Joe, I can place a red on 1 and a red on 3. Then a black on 2 and a black on 4. If that doesn't work, then switch to the opposite poles.

I'll wait for your advice before making the switch.

triple D 06-04-2008 12:15 AM

Internet is wrong
If you look on the back of your switch I guarantee almost for certain it will have two screws that say input. If these are not the power wires on these screws, it will not work correctly. My post has all your info, good luck again...

bengal80 06-18-2009 09:12 PM

One thing I found helpful is if it is in a house and ran in romex and not conduit then you should have 2 pairs of romex's coming into the switch box. Each one is a pair and they should land on the same color screws as mentioned.(normally black pair and brass pair that I remember)

slownsteady 06-22-2009 05:23 PM

Why do you think you put a screw through the wire?

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