A pair of three-ways

Discussion in 'Electrical and Wiring' started by slownsteady, Nov 25, 2009.

  1. Nov 25, 2009 #1

    slownsteady

    slownsteady

    slownsteady

    Administrator Staff Member Admin Moderator

    Joined:
    Jun 6, 2009
    Messages:
    6,543
    Likes Received:
    1,174
    I've been scratching my head over this one;

    I have a pair of three-way switches in the same box - one for the kitchen light and one for the "mud room" light. Both circuits are powered from the same source (a jbox nearby). Each switch has 14-3 leading to it, so I have a hot and two 'travelers' for each switch. Now I know that the neutrals would not be involved in the switches, but it seems odd to me that there are no neutrals even going to the box. Is this OK??

    Additional info: I think the other end of each of these switches will be fine if I get this box right.

    Thanks in advance!
    Paul
     
  2. Nov 26, 2009 #2

    rdmayers

    rdmayers

    rdmayers

    Member

    Joined:
    Oct 16, 2009
    Messages:
    12
    Likes Received:
    0
    if you have just 2 14-3 in the switch box most likely all the make up is done in the second switch locations. The hot and the switch legs could both be in the second switch location and that may be where they picked up the neutral. there are a lot of different ways to wire 3 way switches. I have a website that covers some of the most common ways to wire a 3 way switch.the website is fiyelectric.com. Hope this helps you out
     
  3. Nov 26, 2009 #3

    slownsteady

    slownsteady

    slownsteady

    Administrator Staff Member Admin Moderator

    Joined:
    Jun 6, 2009
    Messages:
    6,543
    Likes Received:
    1,174
    Thanks for your response. I checked out your drawings on your website and I noticed you call for 14-3 between the switch boxes in every case. I only have 14-2 between the switch boxes. It's an existing line which seems to pass over the top of the light fixture as it crosses the length of the room to the far switch. These seem to be the two travelers between the switches.

    The available feed is a 14-2 in a Jbox in the attic.

    The switch is wired with 14-3 which runs up to the attic.

    I can connect black to black to get power down to the common terminal on the switch. But I need the white & red wires to be the travelers.

    Even if I brought both the black & white power wires down to the switch box, I would have no place to connect the white wire.

    All the bare metal grounds are connected at both switches and the light.

    The white wire from the power source is connected to other white (neutral) wires at the Jbox (same circuit, but different legs).

    I hope this is enough info, my head hurts.
     
  4. Nov 26, 2009 #4

    rdmayers

    rdmayers

    rdmayers

    Member

    Joined:
    Oct 16, 2009
    Messages:
    12
    Likes Received:
    0
    Are these 3 way switch existing or are you wanting to make them 3 ways. if they are existing did they work at one time? I am a little confused. Is there a 14-3 at both 3 way switch location or is one switch 14-3 and the other 14-2. it takes 3 wires to make a 3 way work and using the ground wire for one of the conducted is not going to work. Give me a little more information or maybe a drawing of what is there and will see if we can figure out what is going on
     
  5. Nov 26, 2009 #5

    slownsteady

    slownsteady

    slownsteady

    Administrator Staff Member Admin Moderator

    Joined:
    Jun 6, 2009
    Messages:
    6,543
    Likes Received:
    1,174
    It was an existing setup. We moved some kitchen cabinets around and found a Jbox that was so overloaded, we couldn't let it live as it was. I sketched the existing connections before I took the box out, but I couldn't tell where the wires went. It turns out that this was a distribution point for several points.

    Essentially, the only wires I changed were the ones going to the switchbox. That switchbox holds two three-way switches, each controlling a different room. I took out three 14-2 wires and replaced them with two 14-3 wires (I figured one for each switch should be fine)
     
  6. Nov 26, 2009 #6

    rdmayers

    rdmayers

    rdmayers

    Member

    Joined:
    Oct 16, 2009
    Messages:
    12
    Likes Received:
    0
    can you id the switch legs going to then lights? Who ever wired the existing switches must not of had any 14-3. if you had 3 14-2 in the switch box they had to be using 2 of the 14-2 as travelers and the last as a power wire with one of those conductor from it not being used. Have you taken the other side of the three way switches out to see what kind of wiring was done in that box. Sense there where 3 14-2 they may be using 2 of the 14-2 as travelers to the other 3 way switch location and the last 14-2 may have been used as 2 switch legs, but that would be rather odd. The way a 3 way switch works is that 1 of the 3 way switches has the hot wire on the common of the switch and the other 3 way switch has the switch leg on the common. the travelers just go between the switches. If you had a meter you might be able to ring out the wire to figure out where all the wire go. No matter these switches where not wired in a normal way. hope this helps
     
  7. Nov 27, 2009 #7

    slownsteady

    slownsteady

    slownsteady

    Administrator Staff Member Admin Moderator

    Joined:
    Jun 6, 2009
    Messages:
    6,543
    Likes Received:
    1,174
    I've got it working, but the fact that there is no neutral between the switches is the part that's nagging me. I've never seen that before, but there is a lot I haven't seen.

    I've attached a drawing (hopefully) which I simplified by eliminating all the other wires which pass through these boxes. The "other neutrals" are in the same circuit.

    We have also decided to go into the ceiling after the holidays and replace all the old wiring (about 50 yr. old house), so I can clean up all the weirdness then.

    For now, I'm just trying to ease my mind.

    I hope you all had a happy Thanksgiving ( and no, I didn't work through dinner!)

    switch schematic 1.jpg
     
  8. Nov 27, 2009 #8

    rdmayers

    rdmayers

    rdmayers

    Member

    Joined:
    Oct 16, 2009
    Messages:
    12
    Likes Received:
    0
    Thanks for the drawing. That what i thought was happening but wasn't sure. It is odd but it works.
     
  9. Nov 27, 2009 #9

    Blue Jay

    Blue Jay

    Blue Jay

    Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Jun 6, 2008
    Messages:
    285
    Likes Received:
    25
    You do not need a neutral between the 2 switches, (nothing for it to do) if you want the neutral to be from the same source wire as the feed then run a 14/3 from switch 1 to switch 2 thru the box for the light, open the neutral at that point and use the one going past the light to come back from switch 2. But it will have the same outcome as what you now have.
     
  10. Nov 27, 2009 #10

    slownsteady

    slownsteady

    slownsteady

    Administrator Staff Member Admin Moderator

    Joined:
    Jun 6, 2009
    Messages:
    6,543
    Likes Received:
    1,174
    Just as long as I know it's safe, I'm a happy camper. Thanks to both of you for your advice. i'll consider this problem closed.

    Paul
     
  11. Nov 29, 2009 #11

    JoeD

    JoeD

    JoeD

    Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Mar 16, 2006
    Messages:
    1,528
    Likes Received:
    273
    It is not code compliant. The neutral and hot must be in the same cable to pass cod.
     
  12. Nov 29, 2009 #12

    rdmayers

    rdmayers

    rdmayers

    Member

    Joined:
    Oct 16, 2009
    Messages:
    12
    Likes Received:
    0
    Joe Did you look a the drawing slownsteady posted on one of his threads. It clearly shows the hot and the neutral in the same cable. They use the lighting box to do there make up. There is nothing in the drawing he posted that was a code infraction as long as it is done in romex and not single conductors. The way it looks it was probable done done as part of remodel. It is not they way i would wire it but i could not find anything in the nec that prohibit it from being done this way.
     
    Last edited: Nov 29, 2009
  13. Nov 30, 2009 #13

    JoeD

    JoeD

    JoeD

    Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Mar 16, 2006
    Messages:
    1,528
    Likes Received:
    273
    The drawing I see shows the fixture neutral going to 'other neutrals', not back to the switch box and with the travelers back to the source. It wouldn't be the first time someone picked up neutrals from another box and that is wrong.
     
  14. Nov 30, 2009 #14

    slownsteady

    slownsteady

    slownsteady

    Administrator Staff Member Admin Moderator

    Joined:
    Jun 6, 2009
    Messages:
    6,543
    Likes Received:
    1,174
    Glad i checked back in.....

    The neutral is on the same circuit, it just bypasses both switches. That's the reason i posted the question in the first place....
     

Share This Page