3 way circuit with single pole switch???

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kwolson

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Hello, all...long time reader but first post.

I replaced all the switches in our older home so they "look nicer," according to Wifey. One circuit in our living room is a three-way that controls some of the ceiling spots. One end has a 3-way switch but the other has a single pole, requiring the single pole to be "on" so the other switch works. I'm sure that's not the way it should be (or at least not the way I want it).

Any DIY suggestions for how to correct this or should I call a pro? I'm fairly handy (added extra outlets, changed single to double gang, etc.) but I'm scratching my about how to locate the "third wire" (traveler?) that would allow a 3-way switch to replace the single pole switch.

A diagram is attached...thanks in advance to you wiring experts!
 

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afjes_2016

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Ok, the diagram is a bit difficult to interpret but I think I got it.

Let's put aside any other switches that are not these two switches in your question (one 3 way and one single pole).

There really is no such thing as a 2 way switch by the way.

What we need to know is what is the wiring in the box where the single pole switch is located and what wires are connected to the single pole switch.

What do you consider a single pole switch? I ask this because you are using incorrect terminology when referring to 2 way switches so we want to be sure we understand what you refer to.

It is possible that the wiring is there to change the single pole to a 3 way but let us know what wires are there anyway in the box. Don't disconnect anything yet. Also, be sure you shut off the power to this circuit before you pull the switches out. May help to pull the 3 way switch out on the other box also.

The person who put in the single pole (if that is what it is) may not have known the difference and used that instead of a 3 way or did not care this switch had to be left on for the other to work.

This ---> link will show you several ways that a 3 way circuit works/can be wired.
 

JoeD

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Diagram won't open It wants download and I am not downloading anything. I suggest changing it to a jpeg and loading as an image.
 

Snoonyb

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1st of all.

do you understand that downloads are reversible?

That some downloaded material, creates, for you, an library of reference material that, while useful to you, can also be forwarded to others?

A google search, "3way switch wiring";

IE; 3 Way Switch Wiring Diagram

3 Way Switch Wiring Diagram: A Complete Tutorial | EdrawMax

 

afjes_2016

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JoeD the diagram does not really help much at all this is the diagram. Kwolson would be better if you took photos for us of the switches. Turn off the power first and pull the switches out. Take clear photos. The diagram you provided just shows us location and not the actual wiring at the switches. As said there are multiple ways to wire a 3 way switching.



1666547203663.png
 

kwolson

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Ok, the diagram is a bit difficult to interpret but I think I got it.

Let's put aside any other switches that are not these two switches in your question (one 3 way and one single pole).

There really is no such thing as a 2 way switch by the way.
Got it - looks like I should say "single pole?" - a switch that has two terminals for line and load and controls one thing, "on" and "off." Just like this one:

Screen Shot 2022-10-25 at 11.23.06 AM.png
What we need to know is what is the wiring in the box where the single pole switch is located and what wires are connected to the single pole switch.
Wire coming into bottom of box = hot wire. Black to bottom terminal on switch. White connected to all other whites by wire nut. Ground connected to all other ground wires.

Wire coming from ceiling fixtures: Black to upper terminal of switch. White connected to all others, ground connected to all others. There is no white wire attached directly to the single pole switch (and no third terminal screw anyway) - would/should that be the "traveler" ("common") wire needed for 3-way function?


The person who put in the single pole (if that is what it is) may not have known the difference and used that instead of a 3 way or did not care this switch had to be left on for the other to work.
I wouldn't be surprised if that was the case...


Thanks for the prompt reply! Hope this helps your diagnosis...
 

Eddie_T

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If the wiring doesn't indicate the circuit was ever three-way then the three-way switch may have been purchased in error or just used because it was available. I have an X-10 three-way switch used as a single-pole switch just because it was available on ebay at a lower cost.
 

afjes_2016

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Got it - looks like I should say "single pole?" - a switch that has two terminals for line and load and controls one thing, "on" and "off." Just like this one:

Yes, that looks like a single pole switch. A single pole switch can control more than "one thing" but let's not get into that now.

You mentioned that in the box that this switch is in that there are white and black wires. What other color wires are there in the box?

In the other location where the 3 way switch is what other color wires are there besides black and white

Overall we are not including ground wires in this equation so don't use them when replying, we will assume you will connect them as needed and it will just complicate the instructions and replies.

Confirm that according to your diagram that 3 gang box (left side) only has one 3 way and two single pole switches. 2 gang box on right side has only 2 single pole switches.

.
 

BuzzLOL

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Yeah, a 3-way switch is a double pole switch... two different systems of speech getting mixed together...
There may have never been a traveler wire... or a white wire may have a piece of colored tape added at each end to distinguish it from other uses...
 
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bud16415

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For fear of too many cooks spoiling the broth I will butt in briefly.



I also have seen someone use a 3way switch as a single pole but I have never seen a circuit where a light was intended to be turned on in two locations set up with two single pole switches. If that was the case both switches would be wired in series and both would have to be on to make the light come on but ether could be used to shut the light off.



This might work although crazy to do if a single person say had a dark hallway or stairway and when they went up they could turn the light on at the bottom and off at the top and then when they went back down on at the top and off at the bottom. If a second person wanted to come up the stairs they would be SOL.



To the OP what you don’t know is if one of the white wires in the bundle of whites all nutted together is the traveler and the hack that did this switch didn’t know what to do with the extra way added it into the bundle. Some people wire these with just regular B&W romex and run two cables rather than getting a cable with a third conductor for the traveler. This is why they were asking to see photos of just what you have on each end.
 

afjes_2016

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Yeah, a 3-way switch is a double pole switch... two different systems of speech getting mixed together...
There may have never been a travelor wire...
A 3 way switch is not a double/2 pole switch

To the OP what you don’t know is if one of the white wires in the bundle of whites all nutted together is the traveler and the hack that did this switch didn’t know what to do with the extra way added it into the bundle.
I agree with you Bud that is why I asked the OP if there are any other wires in either box that are other than white and black. If not then we know more than likely the proper wires were not run to begin with so a true 3 way setup can not be accomplished with the present wires. That is unless they only had x/2 and ran 2 - x/2 instead of x/3. Who knows.
 

bud16415

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A 3 way switch is not a double/2 pole switch


I agree with you Bud that is why I asked the OP if there are any other wires in either box that are other than white and black. If not then we know more than likely the proper wires were not run to begin with so a true 3 way setup can not be accomplished with the present wires. That is unless they only had x/2 and ran 2 - x/2 instead of x/3. Who knows.
I have done it a couple times because I had a bunch of 2x cable and no 3x so I just ran two of the 2x and chopped the white off and used the black as the traveler. In all cases when I did this I took red tape and marked the traveler on both ends.



When dealing with homeowner DIY wiring it could be anything. My dad was pretty good but as a kid we had a garage light that had a switch in the house and in the garage and dad didn’t know what he was doing when he wired it and you had to remember to have it on in the house before you went out. Later in life it drove me nuts and I rewired it for them.
 

afjes_2016

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I had to help my friend fix his 3 way switching for the basement in the store he owns.
I was converting it from one location to 2 location switching It was only working at one switch. When I got to the existing non-working switch I could not figure out what the heck someone did with this switch. Made no sense at all. Turned out to be they used the bare ground wire as a hot wire - urgh!!!!
 

Ron Van

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A 3 way switch is not a double/2 pole switch
BuzzLol didn't say "a double/2 pole switch." He said a double pole switch, which is correct. A 3-way switch is a double pole, single throw switch referred to as a "3-way switch" in home wiring. Then there's a 4-Way switch . . . .

There are many unknowns in this wiring scenario. If you take out the circuits not involved with the one in question, we are left with this.

3 way wiring.jpg

1. Are there three wires at the single pole switch?
2. Are there three wires at the 3-way switch?
3. Where does this circuit get power?
4. Do you have access to the wires in the ceiling? ie. is this a single story house with an attic above? Or is this the bottom floor of a 2 story house?
 

Ron Van

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I had to help my friend fix his 3 way switching for the basement in the store he owns.
I was converting it from one location to 2 location switching It was only working at one switch. When I got to the existing non-working switch I could not figure out what the heck someone did with this switch. Made no sense at all. Turned out to be they used the bare ground wire as a hot wire - urgh!!!!
My wife and I bought an old house 2 years ago and apparently, Wiring was not the previous owner's forte'. He wanted to run a 120v outlet off a 240v dryer outlet. In this photo you can see the original black and red "Hots" coming in to the dryer outlet and a white neutral. Then you can see the added Black, White, and bare ground going out to the new 120v outlet. The Black (to the 120v outlet) is connected to black...that's okay. The white (to the 120v outlet) is connected to the red (Hot) terminal (what the heck?). And the bare ground (to the 120v outlet) is connected to the neutral (That could work)IMG_8498.jpg

But the biggest fail is at the 120v outlet side. The bare ground, that comes from the 240v neutral, is connected to the Hot side of the 120v outlet. The black, which comes from the 240v Hot, is connected to the neutral side of the 120v outlet.

IMG_8497.jpg

I changed the dryer outlet to a 4 prong outlet and removed the 120v outlet. I don't know if it's against code, but in theory, it should be okay to tap a 120v outlet off a 240v circuit if it's wired properly.
 

bud16415

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BuzzLol didn't say "a double/2 pole switch." He said a double pole switch, which is correct. A 3-way switch is a double pole, single throw switch referred to as a "3-way switch" in home wiring. Then there's a 4-Way switch . . . .

There are many unknowns in this wiring scenario. If you take out the circuits not involved with the one in question, we are left with this.

View attachment 28801

1. Are there three wires at the single pole switch?
2. Are there three wires at the 3-way switch?
3. Where does this circuit get power?
4. Do you have access to the wires in the ceiling? ie. is this a single story house with an attic above? Or is this the bottom floor of a 2 story house?
I agree with your circuit except I don’t think the 3 lamps would be in series they should be shown as parallel.
 

Eddie_T

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It's always been a nomenclature problem. I keep looking for the 3rd way with a 3-way switch. I guess a SPST switch is technically a 2-way, on/off. BTW I think a 3-way switch is SPDT and a 4-way switch is DPDT.
 
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afjes_2016

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BuzzLol didn't say "a double/2 pole switch." He said a double pole switch, which is correct. A 3-way switch is a double pole, single throw switch referred to as a "3-way switch" in home wiring.
I believe a 3 way switch is a SPDT not a DPDT - One pole with two different throws

"BTW I think a 3-way switch is SPDT" - Eddie_T :thumb:

kwolson: Welcome to the forum offically. :welcome group:
 
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