I have a 3 way system set up for upstairs hallway. I recently installed 3 can lights on it. Power feed runs to the dimmer switch upstairs and the lights are connected to that dimmer. There is a 3 way wire running to the toggle switch downstairs. I put the power back on and had lights at first and then they stopped working. Also at one point the bottom switch only worked if the dimmer was in the on position. It is a 3 way dimmer and the toggle is 3 way as well. Had an electrician buddy look at it and said it was hooked up right and should be working. Any ideas would be good ideas. Thanks.

2 Answers 2


I've had this happen more times than I can count after replacing switches. They aren't all oriented the same, and I can't visualize the circuit in my head well enough to know where the travelers go.

The good news is that they're all carrying the hot branch in your case, so you can try different combinations willy-nilly and not risk a short-circuit. Open which ever switch is easier to work on (probably the standard toggler since it's the only thing in that box) and start moving things around.

  • I always tape the travelers the same oddball color. Well, since I work a lot in conduit, I use different color wire. e.g. two 3-ways in one 2-gang box: blue blue black / red yellow yellow. Easy peasy. (red was switched hot). In Romex of course, use colored tape. Jun 23, 2017 at 6:31

Troy, First of all I need to ask if the dimmer is a 3 way dimmer? I've included a link showing the wiring diagram for a 3 way switch with a 3 way dimmer switch. My guess is if it's wired correctly, and it sounds like it is, since you had lights at first. You may want to undo anmd redo the connecions. Good luck!


  • Right. My feed is going to the first switch which is the dimmer than up to the lights. All that's between switch 1 and 2 is a 14-3 wire. The whole set up works if I leave the dimmer switch at the top of steps on all the time and turn it off with the toggle at the bottom of the steps.
    – Troy
    Jun 23, 2017 at 0:13
  • Troy, if all your connections are good, and it's wired correctly, then eitther the dimmer switch, or your downstairs switch may have gone bad, and not communicating with the other. Did you undo and redo the connections? I have installed several 3 and 4 way switches, and if they're working properly then either one will turn the lights on or off.
    – rsschuler
    Jun 23, 2017 at 0:48
  • Yeah I'm thinking the dimmer switch might be faulty. You have to press it really hard for it to come on. Sucks to think a brand new switch would be the problem. But every now and then you buy a faulty item. I'm going to return it and get a new one at some point today and I'll give an update.
    – Troy
    Jun 23, 2017 at 7:18

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