Three way switch mistake

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Old 11-23-16, 05:19 AM
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Exclamation Three way switch mistake

Ok, this is my first post, please don't make too much fun. I bought a house and am replacing old light switches. I am very new to electrical wiring. I was replacing switches and everything was fine, until I came to the three way switch. I replaced it with a two way switch It had three wires, so I attached two wires to the screws and one to the ground screw. The switch was working fine, but when I clicked the other switch(which I had not changed or done anything to) I saw a flash of light inside the receptacle of the switch that I hadn't done anything to. Now some lights/outlets work and some don't(all on the same breaker). It didn't trip the breaker, and now only some lights on that breaker won't work, while others will. No power to either switch and no power to some outlets. THe ones without power are pretty much all in one room in close proximity, so I'm hoping power is sent to one switch and then 'jumped' to a bunch of other switches/outlets.

My guess is that there are two wires that come from the panel that goes to at least two switches on that same breaker(in the breaker panel it has two switches that move together) and one is shorting out but the other is going through switches/outlets that are all good?

I know it was stupid and I should have looked into it more, but I didn't and thats why I'm here now...be kind..
 

Last edited by Clump; 11-23-16 at 06:14 AM.
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Old 11-23-16, 06:37 AM
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Since you are new to electric. I will ask a couple of basic questions. Did you get a 3 way switch? This will have 3 screws and a ground screw. Basic switches have 2 screws and a ground screw. After we know his we can help.
 
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Old 11-23-16, 06:52 AM
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I only had a 2 way switches and that is what I incorrectly replaced the three way switch with.
 
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Old 11-23-16, 07:04 AM
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The flash aside for a moment, Did you rewire the 3-way switch correctly already, or is that what you need help with?
 
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Old 11-23-16, 07:23 AM
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I took a picture beforehand, so I rewired in the original three way switch the same way as it was. It is still not working.

There is no power going to either of the switches now, even with the breaker on(I have a voltage tester) But some of the switches/outlets that are on the same breaker are working..
 
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Old 11-23-16, 07:32 AM
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This is a common mistake, a 3-way switch is removed and the wires were not identified/marked before removing.

Your old 3w had three terminals versus only two. The most important was the common/marked terminal.
You need to find the wire that was connected to the common terminal.
It might be black, but not always.
The common wire would be the "constant hot" source, Or the switched hot wire that goes up to the light, depending if it's sw1 or sw2.
 
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Old 11-23-16, 07:53 AM
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But I reinstalled the old switch the exact same way as it was before, but I still have no power.

I think I burned something or messed something major up when I hit the second switch after I had the two way switch wired in, because I saw a flash inside the receptacle of the other switch(the one that I didn't change anything in)

Now only some switches/outlets have power even though they are all on the same breaker. Did I maybe burn out a switch and now that is cutting power to some of the other switches/outlets that might have a common 'hot' wire running between them?
 
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Old 11-23-16, 07:54 AM
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(in the breaker panel it has two switches that move together) and one is shorting out but the other is going through switches/outlets that are all good?
I think our previous threads crossed. Slow down and ensure that both breakers are off while working on the wiring.
Your breakers are tied and that indicates a multi-wire branch circuit.

As far as the short, I would inspect every box for damage.
 
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Old 11-23-16, 08:04 AM
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I most definitely had the breakers off before I touched anything!

My thinking was that it would be a 'multi-wire branch circuit' since there are two switches that are connected and move together in the panel. I'm thinking that one wire comes out and it is working through all the devices that it is wired through. But the other wire must be coming out to one of the switches that got messed up when I flipped the switch and saw the flash of light. So that is why some devices work and some don't, even though they are controlled by the same double-switch in the panel. Does this sound right? Now, I should hopefully be able to go around and find what's not working?
 
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Old 11-23-16, 08:22 AM
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I took a picture beforehand, so I rewired in the original three way switch the same way as it was. It is still not working.
Won't necessarily work with 3-way switch. The wire to the common the old switch must go to the common on the new switch. Different manufactures may have their common terminal in a different location. (add to that a 3-way switch has no top or bottom so depending on how you hold the new one top bottom left right can be reversed.) If you have the old switch try to figure out which wire was common. Common will be the odd colored screw, usually dark gray (never green).
 
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Old 11-23-16, 08:29 AM
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But I wired it back in the same way it was when it was working, before I messed with anything.

Does what I wrote below make sense, in terms of how the wiring may work?
 
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Old 11-23-16, 08:40 AM
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So that is why some devices work and some don't, even though they are controlled by the same double-switch in the panel. Does this sound right? Now, I should hopefully be able to go around and find what's not working?
Yes, A mwbc can trip independently of one another. However, it would be ideal if both breakers tripped.
Just look at it like two circuits, the difference is these two circuits MUST be shut off while doing any work. You could inadvertently develop 240V across the wires.
Don't worry about why for now, just shut off the power and look for any fried wires or devices.
 
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Old 11-23-16, 08:42 AM
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Will do! Thanks so much for all the help, everyone! I will check things out tonight and will let you know if I run into any resistance
 
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Old 11-23-16, 08:47 AM
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My thinking was that it would be a 'multi-wire branch circuit' since there are two switches that are connected and move together in the panel.
No switches in a panel. Those are breakers.
until I came to the three way switch. I replaced it with a two way switch
No such thing in the U.S. Go back and use the correct type of switch being carefull to connect the common wire to the common terminal.
But the other wire must be coming out to one of the switches that got messed up when I flipped the switch and saw the flash of light.
Since you are calling breakers switches I don't know what you mean. but a flash could indicate a dead short. You may have connected a neutral to a switch.

If possible put every thing back the way it was using the old switches. Reset the breakers by turning them all the way off then on. If everything works correctly we can then figure out what to do.

Edit: For now just follow Brian's instructions. He seems to understand the situation better.
 
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Old 11-23-16, 08:56 AM
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By 'switches' in the breaker I mean the physical plastic 'switch' that is used to turn the breaker on/off.

The replacement of the three way light switch with a two way light switch was the stupid mistake that cause all this trouble that I'm asking about.
 
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Old 11-23-16, 09:10 AM
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The replacement of the three way light switch with a two way light switch was the stupid mistake that cause all this trouble that I'm asking about.
As I suggested use the correct switch and be sure to get the common on the correct terminal.

(Two way light switch is what the British call a 3-way switch. No real name for a switch that controls a light from only one location though standard switch is sometimes used and single pole also is used but is incorrect because both types of switches are single pole.)
 
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Old 11-23-16, 09:14 AM
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I'm in Canada. We still bow to the British influence :P
 
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Old 11-23-16, 09:15 AM
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We still bow to the British influence :P
<LOL> .
 
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Old 11-23-16, 10:46 AM
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The arc or flash you saw was a dead short. It could of burnt or opened a connectio anyplace in circuit back to breaker panel. Check all connections in the box with switch then the other switch. If any wire nuts take them off and make sure connections are good. Do you have a volt meter? !0$ or so dollars will get you one. All you need is a cheap analog meter.
 
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Old 11-30-16, 10:35 AM
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install 2 new switches

After reading all the posts on this one, I will be willing to bet that you burned up the "other" 3-way switch, and your switch is not allowing the hot to feed either of the travelers.

Remove both 3-way switches, after diagramming which wire goes to which screw.

Install 2 new 3-way switches in the same way the old ones were.

Make sure both are 3-way switches, not a single pole switch with ground.

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Old 11-30-16, 12:50 PM
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And be sure common goes to the common of the new switch even if the common is in a different place. Common will be the odd clored screw usually dark gray but never green.
 
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