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We have a floor lamp with a three-way combined switch and socket. I noticed arcing sounds when rotating the switch, so I disconnected it. Later I found that the "low" and "high" settings worked fine, but in the "medium" setting, nudging the knob up or down would make the bulb flicker or go out entirely. I disassembled the lamp and replaced the switch. But the new switch has exactly the same symptoms!

The original switch has "YAH" molded into the base. The replacement switch has "Westinghouse" on the packaging,but "Leviton" molded into the plastic base. They are very similar - brass colored sheet metal with cardboard linings (intact) and a spot marked "press" where you push to disassemble. The cord doesn't have any worn spots - the problem is definitely in the switch.

Should I take the new switch back as defective and ask for a replacement? Is it okay to use either switch if I avoid the "medium" setting? Or to use the "medium" setting if I can get it to stay on without pushing on the knob? Or just restrict ourselves to an ordinary (not 3-way) bulb?

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This doesn't sound like you are describing a three way switch, it sounds like a two-way switch with three settings for a luminaire. It was probably not wired correctly originally. Do you have a picture? Can you describe how it was wired? –  maple_shaft Dec 26 '12 at 18:32
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