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Author Topic: 3 way wall switch installation problem- off but not on  (Read 3545 times)

Shaun Eli

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3 way wall switch installation problem- off but not on
« on: December 29, 2012, 04:04:52 PM »

I installed a 3 way wall switch (after a few tries because the wire colors weren't what I expected the house to have).

Finally got it working. Then when I shoved the switch into the wall and screwed it in place, the thin switch wouldn't turn on the light (though it'd turn it off). The other (wide) switch works just fine.

Replaced both switches and the same thing happened again- when I put the wide switch back into the box and screw it in, the other switch stops working properly.

Any ideas? I probably have a third switch but if something's shorting the thing out I don't want to ruin a third one.
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Shaun Eli

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Re: 3 way wall switch installation problem- off but not on
« Reply #1 on: December 29, 2012, 05:35:38 PM »

Gets weirder- it's not the 'putting wires back into wall' that's the issue. It works once each time I reset the breaker. After that only the master works to turn lights on.

There is a ceiling fan in the circuit but I thought it was completely off and thus not a factor. Could be, though, that the pull-string to turn it on and off doesn't completely disconnect it from the circuit?
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Brian H

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Re: 3 way wall switch installation problem- off but not on
« Reply #2 on: December 29, 2012, 06:19:00 PM »

The bulbs in the lights are standard incandescent types?
X10 wall switches that dim. Do not work correctly with lights like CFLs, LED and Low Voltage type bulbs.
The WS13A and XPS3 with a added slave switch for three way do work with those type bulbs but also need a real neutral power connection and do not dim.
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dave w

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Re: 3 way wall switch installation problem- off but not on
« Reply #3 on: December 29, 2012, 06:22:39 PM »

I don't think you have the slave and master wired correctly. Also my most success was when the master was on the "hot" or "line" side of the 3-way circuit.

http://www.x10pro.com/pro/pdf/xpd3.pdf
ftp://ftp.x10.com/pub/manuals/ws12a-14a-is.pdf
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Shaun Eli

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Re: 3 way wall switch installation problem- off but not on
« Reply #4 on: December 29, 2012, 07:02:58 PM »

Don't know which is the hot side but the side with the slave has more wires in the box which would lead me to believe that's the primary side. In any case the instructions don't say that the master has to go on any particular side.

Regular bulb, I know not to put a CFL, etc. in an X10 system.
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Dan Lawrence

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Re: 3 way wall switch installation problem- off but not on
« Reply #5 on: December 29, 2012, 07:27:59 PM »

It might be better to have an electrician check out the wiring and make any changes to make everything work properly. 
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cjhallx

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Re: 3 way wall switch installation problem- off but not on
« Reply #6 on: December 29, 2012, 07:35:33 PM »

Don't know which is the hot side but the side with the slave has more wires in the box which would lead me to believe that's the primary side. In any case the instructions don't say that the master has to go on any particular side.

Regular bulb, I know not to put a CFL, etc. in an X10 system.

Are the slave switches x-10? You cannot use standard slave switches.  Just trying to narrow it down :)
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Shaun Eli

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Re: 3 way wall switch installation problem- off but not on
« Reply #7 on: December 29, 2012, 07:56:11 PM »

One master, one slave, both X10. And I figure an electrician is unlikely to be familiar with X10 stuff, although I suppose he could put a volt-meter and ohm-meter on the wiring to see what's what.

Absent a specific solution I'll probably wait until I replace the existing fixture (ceiling fan, turned off, with a built-in light, turned on) with a light-only fixture.

Thanks everybody!
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dave w

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Re: 3 way wall switch installation problem- off but not on
« Reply #8 on: December 30, 2012, 09:29:27 AM »

Don't know which is the hot side but the side with the slave has more wires in the box which would lead me to believe that's the primary side. In any case the instructions don't say that the master has to go on any particular side.
"I'm just sayin..."

If you have a multi-meter and are comfortable working around energized circuits. Turn off breaker and remove the bulb from the socket and disconnect wires from both switches. Turn breaker back on and use voltmeter to check each wire to ground. Use caution since you now have exposed live wires. Only one wire of the total six ends should be hot. That will be the feed from the panel.
« Last Edit: December 30, 2012, 09:34:38 AM by dave w »
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Shaun Eli

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Re: 3 way wall switch installation problem- off but not on
« Reply #9 on: January 04, 2013, 04:31:32 PM »

Changed the fixture to a light-only chandelier and it seemed to work at first, but now it doesn't seem to turn the light on, only off.

I guess I'll try swapping the master and slave- is there any reason to believe that it matters which one goes where? The instructions didn't specify.
« Last Edit: January 04, 2013, 05:13:59 PM by Shaun Eli »
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Shaun Eli

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Re: 3 way wall switch installation problem- off but not on
« Reply #10 on: January 15, 2013, 11:52:40 AM »

New symptom- once in a while it goes back on by itself. Not sure if it's only when I turn it off via the slave.

Nothing else here goes on by itself so it's not likely to be a neighbor, etc.
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Shaun Eli

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Re: 3 way wall switch installation problem- off but not on
« Reply #11 on: January 19, 2013, 10:45:59 AM »

SUCCESS! Thanks, everybody. I took it all apart and switched master and slave- didn't make any difference. Then I took an ohmmeter to see which were the two traveler wires and redid everything. (wasn't easy, the switches are farther apart than the length of the meter leads, had to clamp wires to the ohmmeter and use a longer wire...)

Now it works. I just hope it doesn't continue to go back on by itself once in a while, that'd be annoying.
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Brian H

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Re: 3 way wall switch installation problem- off but not on
« Reply #12 on: January 19, 2013, 11:00:35 AM »

I am glad to read of your sucess.  >!
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