3-way switch not working properly


I have the WS13A connected to my kitchen's master switch and the WS14A connected to the companion switch. I can turn the lights on and off with the WS13A and I can turn them off with the WS14A; however, the WS14A cannot turn the lights on. When I try to use a remote control to turn the lights on, the lights click on (flash) three times but do not stay on. The remote will turn the lights off though.

I have had an electrician look at it briefly, but he was primarily there to install my outdoor motion-sensing floods and garage sconces and he couldn't figure it out. He thought it might have something to do with the white neutral wire on the master switch; there was a bundle of 3 or 4 white wires and he tried a couple of them but couldn't get it to work at all so he spliced a new white wire from the WS13A to the bundled white wires in the box. Could that be the problem or is something else possibly going on here?


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In my 15-year old home, two, 3-way switches in our kitchen suddenly began behaving strangely. The switches control the overhead florescent lights over the island in our kitchen. They are on a circuit controlled by a switch breaker. The circuit also includes the lights to a nearby bedroom and pantry.

My initial thought was that one of the switches had gone bad. One was relatively new from a kitchen remodeling a couple years back. The other was original, 15 years old. Both switches were replaced. My local Home Depot electrical dept. guy was sure that replacing the switches would solve the problem. It did not. The behavior remained the same.

Since this is a problem that occurred spontaneously after years of working correctly, I have to speculate that the problem is not the switches (just replaced) nor the wiring of the switches (as nothing had changed when the weird behavior started happening.) Help!!

Here's the wiring connections and behavior...

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Before you begin anything with a three-way, you must understand that in order for you to have a three-way circuit you must have three-way switches. They are not the same as a regular switch at all. And a four-way is very different again. But that’s on a different page.

When most DIYer’s think of installing a 3 way their brain starts to melt. The fact is it’s very easy. You just need to overcome all those extra wires. Look at the diagram below. You’ll notice we now have travelers. These are the extra ones. But wait, your 3-way switch has two extra screws. So basically, you just need to add those wires to those screws and both switches. Yea it’s that simple.

How to wire a 3 way switch

3 way switch install

However on each 3-way switch, you have a black screw, this is the special one. On the power coming in from the panel, you would connect that black wire to the one black screw. And on the other switch, you would connect the black wire coming from the...

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I had some troubleshooting to do because of a 3 way switch system that was not working correctly so I created a model to replicate the issue based on a hunch that proved to be true. I did not wanted to start moving pieces without knowing what I was doing.

I am not an electrician and this video is for entertainment only. This is not a How-To or DIY (Do It Yourself) video, this is how I did it. This is dangerous and should not be attempted by untrained personnel, electrical hazard can lead to death.

Do not attempt to do any electrical work without the proper training and permits, only you are responsible for your actions, proceed under your own risk.

Thanks for watching and...

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Level of difficulty: Advanced
Three-way switches control lights and receptacles from two points: for example, a light in a hallway that can be operated from the first floor and second floor. Or, a light in a garage that can be turned on/off from the garage and the kitchen or pantry, etc. What you need for light switch installation:
Three-way switch Three-way cable with another for ground wire (four total) Terminal screws No.12 wire Lineman's pliers or hacksaw Sharp knife or slitting tool Wire strippers Hand brace Drill with long auger electrician's bit Coil of electrician's fish wire Grounding screws Black tape

Three-way switches require a three-wire cable: the power wire, the neutral wire, and the traveller or switch wire.

The cable should also have a ground wire, or a total of four wires in the cable. The system also requires three-way switches. The switches are wider than regular single-pole switches and they have three terminal screws on the side...

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Controlling a light with two or more switches

This page describes how to use 3-way and 4-way switches to control lights from two or more locations. This is the first of several related pages explaining how to control lights with multiple switches. Click here for an overview of all these pages.

A light or lights can be controlled by more than one switch. The usual practice in home construction is to use 3-way switches. "3-way" is the electrician's designation for a single pole double throw (SPDT) switch.

A 3-way switch is shown below. Slide your mouse over it to see it change state (requires Javascript enabled):

Here is a typical circuit in its four possible states.:

The switches must create a complete circuit for current to flow and the bulb to light. When both switches are up, the circuit is complete (top right). When both switches are down, the circuit is complete (bottom right). If one switch is up and one is down, the current...

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here we have a 3 way switching lighting circuit (sometimes called two way switching with intermediate). This allows a single light to be turned on or off from any of the switches.This page shows it wired in the new cable colours if your house has the old colours you want to go here:

Three way switching (old cable colours)

This is very similar to the two way switching circuit but with and additional intermediate switch introduced into the three wire control cable that links the two end light switches.

Fig 1: Three way switching schematic wiring diagram

The circuit consists of a two way switch at each end (top and bottom switches in Fig 2) and an intermediate switch in the middle. All three switches are connected together by a three core and earth control cable. Notice that the wire connected to the COM terminals is looped straight through the intermediate switch using a cable connector.

Fig 2: Three way light switching wiring diagram


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