Switching worked until today. Removed power to circuit. Removed 4-way switch and tested for continuity, SAT. Jumpered wires on 4-way to make 3-way circuit. Turned power on and no change, lights won't turn off. Turned power off and removed all switches. Continuity SAT on 3-way switches. Installed all new switches and problem still there. The lights are fluorescent. How can ballast lights fail and override switches and stay on? This doesn't make any since to me. I have a electronic background and my electrical is very good also. This doesn't add up where the load overrides the switching source. Have you seen this type of failure before. I am very puzzled by the new switches not fixing the problem? Please help. How do I test the lights. I can remove one at a time from the circuit to determine which one is causing the problem. I thought I understood electrical wiring until now?


Thanks for your input. I live near Augusta Ga. I recently bought this home and didn't discover this issue until now. The house was built in 2004. I decided to make a logic table with switch positions to understand the issue at hand.

Basicly I found with 3-way #1 in UP, 4-way UP and 3-way #2 Down lights "OFF". Changed 3-way #1 to down position and lights "ON". Next I turned 3-way #2 UP and lights stayed "ON". First failure. Next I placed 4-way down and lights stayed "ON". Then I placed 3-way #1 up and lights went "OFF".

I will now remove all switches and verify all wiring (travelers, hot, neutral etc.). Check continuity and look for grounds. All switches are in same room about 10 feet apart from each other. The load consists of 5 sets of lights. I will make a sketch of how everything is wired together and compare it to standard wiring designs published for 3-way/4-way switching. Again thanks for everyone's input.

  • Welcom to DIY Stack Exchange. Please edit your question to expand the abbreviation SAT. Is that Saturday or Satallite?
    – ArchonOSX
    Dec 8, 2017 at 14:43
  • Can you post pictures or diagrams of the current wiring to switch boxes?
    – bib
    Dec 8, 2017 at 15:39
  • Are the lights staying on when all or one of the switches are removed? Where on earth are you located? Dec 8, 2017 at 17:39
  • What if any alterations were made to the wiring right before this happened? How far apart are these switches? Do any have a center position? What model of relays are in use and what is the control voltage? Dec 8, 2017 at 18:54
  • "How can ballast lights fail and override switches and stay on?" they can not. Look elsewhere for the problem. With the power off check for continuity between the two branches of the circuit. Sounds like they are shorted together at one of the switches or elsewhere.
    – agentp
    Dec 8, 2017 at 19:22

1 Answer 1


Jumpered wires on 4-way to make 3-way circuit

Maybe thats where you went wrong?

There are four wires: two travellers in and two travellers out. If you connected them all together it would have the effect you describe.

diagram of electrical connections

The middle switch in one position connects straight across. In the other position it crosses (top left connected to bottom right and bottom left to top right).

If I've misunderstood - please clarify the question. There are several ways of wiring this and practices vary from country to country or from place to place.

See Wikipedia

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