Ok so I’m changing out the old outlets switches from the 80’s cause they are old and yellow from age... and the outlets will occasionally spark when you put a plug into them. They are all grounded and I have had no trouble with the outlets. The master bedroom has 2 light switches on opposite walls that control the ceiling fan and light. They are single switches so both fan and light come on at the same time. I replaced the switch on the far end of the room with a 3 way switch and all was good. It had 4 wires... ground , main line in, and the red and black traveler wires. Then I re did the main switch that is at the bedroom door. When I took the old switch out I thought it was odd cause it had 5 wires... one hot line in an intermittent hot Line in.. both are black... and then the red and black traveler wires and the bare ground wire. When I hooked everything back up to my new 3-way I discover that the hot line in also controls the master bathroom... so when I turn this switch off there is no power in the bathroom... it didn’t do this befor... do I need a different type of switch? The one I took out looked like a normal switch.. except it had 4 quick connect holes instead of two... and they had used 3 of the quick connect and one of the side screws . Help! I don’t want to have to leave the bedroom light on to have light in the bathroom.

  • Can you post pictures of the old and new switches showing where all the wires used to go (old) and go now (new)? Aug 2, 2019 at 21:27

1 Answer 1


It sounds like the wire from your bathroom ended up in the wrong place, the good thing it won’t hurt to swap them around until you get the correct combination. The back stabs or quick connects are electrically connected to the screws so the hot and the line to the bath were connected, your job now is to move your wires. There should be at least 2 cables where the whites and grounds are connected and the blacks come to the switch, for the travelers there are lots of combinations but your always hot and the black to your bathroom should be on the same contact if 2 hole lugs or pigtailed together to the common of the switch. But as long as you only swap the wires on the switch around you will get the right combination in a few try’s.

  • unfortunately when the clean up crew did their job they tossed all 78 of my old plugs. The bathroom light was off when I did this so I had no idea they were attached and thought everything was good to go, then went into the bathroom for something and tried to turn the light on and nothing happened! later when i needed the light in the bedroom on, I flipped the switch and the bathroom light came on too... this is how i discovered there was an issue. Aug 2, 2019 at 23:16
  • I have tried to put the hot from the bathroom and the intermittent line on the common and the red and black travelers on the screws opposite the common, and red on top or red on bottom and when I have this combo the ceiling fan works, but the bathroom doesn't work at all. I believe, (im not there at the moment) I currently have the bathroom line and the red traveler on the common Aug 2, 2019 at 23:23
  • (original configuration was 14g black and red traveler on left side of switch in the quick connects, other 2 black wires were on the right side of the switch, one being in the quick connect, and one wrapped around the adjacent screw. That combination doesn't work with the 3 way switch which is why i thought maybe i had the wrong type of switch aside from the fact that I don't have 4 quick connect holes in the 3 way, but the screws have 2 wire housing clips for each screw. Aug 2, 2019 at 23:24
  • Sophia, I hope you took a photo of the wiring. I do this all the time and and it is usually a black / black wire swapped with the 3 ways. Not going to all the issues with single pole switches because white can be anything in some setups but should be hot with most homes only a few years old based on /0-7 NEC code.
    – Ed Beal
    Aug 3, 2019 at 0:59

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