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Three way light switch

I'm replacing an old three way light switch in the laundry, which seems to have a live wire running to the garage.  I can't seem to find a similar switch and tried a four way but it won't keep the power on in the garage.  Any suggestions about what type of switch will do what the old switch does?

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Posted 2013-02-17T23:58:46+0000  by PeteMichaelson PeteMichaelson

Good morning Pete,


Thanks for your question and welcome to the community!


A four-way switch means that you would have 3 or more switches controlling a light, whereas a 3-way switch means you have two controlling a light fixture(s). 


A three-way switch's wiring should look like the image below once the switch has been safely removed from the box.

Prepare the wires for connecting to the switch


If you do have a common wire (usually white) and two travelers (usually red and black) then you'll need to see how the other switch that controls the laundry room light. 


However, if you only find one switch that controls the lights to the laundry room, then you'll need to get a simple single pole switch...just make sure that only switch controls the lights.


While you may have more than one hot wire in the junction box, the key here is finding where the source wire (the one from the breaker panel), and seeing where it is going out of the junction box (to other lights).


Trace your wires after you turned the power off to your light/switch, do this with using a voltage tester. If you find out that only one switch goes to the laundry room lights, then you can use a single-pole switch, shown below.

It's in all in tracing the wires and seeing what leads to what. If you are still unsure, you can always provide us with a picture or description of what wires you have now going inside the box.  Work safely and you can get the right switch once you know what you have going on inside the junction box. 


Keep us updated, and let us know if you have any further questions.




Posted 2013-02-18T15:45:40+0000  by Joseph_HD_ATL
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