As I have mentioned in other posts of mine - I struggle with electrical work. Now, I have an issue. Today, I went to change a couple of switches from whatever they were to rocker switches.

Now when I opened it up in the first place I noticed, that the switches are connected by a wire going from the right switch to the left. When I went to change the switches I did my best to maintain whatever had been created in an attempt to ensure the new switches would work.

I then removed the wires from old switches and placed them as best I could on the new ones the one the left trips the breaker. Any ideas? I have tried everything I can think of...Before I changed the switches the lights worked, the breakers didn't trip and now they do and I am at a loss. Any suggestions or thoughts?

Below are pictures of the how they are currently.

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As pointed out on the comments the red wire shouldn't be on the ground. Now, I have tried with it as described on the below photo. No matter where any of the wires have been connected it tripped. Thoughts?enter image description here

  • 1
    I'd start out by taking that re wire off the ground terminal of the switch. You said struggle with electrical work in previous posts. I'm sure someone has commented that you should take pictures before you disconnect any wires from the original switches... you need to follow this advise.
    – JACK
    Oct 21 '19 at 2:31
  • 1
    Yeah, that red wire has no business whatsoever landing on a ground screw! Oct 21 '19 at 2:42
  • @JACK - thanks for pointing out that I should follow the advise. Normally, I would have taken photos (I typically do that - as you would see in my previous posts). However, my phone was dead at the time. Now, the only reason the ground was on there is on the original configuration the ground was present. If it was present then, and attached roughly how it is in my configuration, why would it cause it to trip?
    – J Crosby
    Oct 21 '19 at 2:42
  • No way that red wire was on a ground post.
    – JACK
    Oct 21 '19 at 12:41


The answer is because you replaced a 3-way switch, and you do not know what a 3-way switch is or what that means, because you are lunging forward on these projects without nearly the adequate learning.

Nor do you know what a green screw means.

Further, you are prone to experimentation, in which you just toss stuff together and "try stuff". The problem with experimentation in electrical is there are many combinations that work and will kill you.

So please just stop.

If you insist, then please go to the library and read books on electrical-how-to, find a book that speaks to you, and read it cover to cover. Why would I advise that when Google is easy? Because Google gives you swiss cheese knowledge; it only answers what you ask, and doesn't tell you the 20 other things you didn't know to ask. You need a well-rounded primer on the subject so you aren't constantly tripped up on mistakes this dumb.

This isn't saving you any money. On selling the house, the buyer's or city inspector will detect one of the problems that "worked, but will kill you", and will inspect more closely and find more. You'll have to hire an electrician to bug-hunt all your mistakes, which is more expensive than just hiring it done in the first place. Especially because on simple stuff like this, a handyman will do.

  • 1
    While I appreciate your honesty - thanks! I realize that the red wouldn't go on the ground/green. It was like that when I found it and tried to mimic what they did before me. When that didn't work I tried other things - as detailed in my edit. Now, as for playing "bumbling juggernaut" this is why I stopped, with the breaker off, when I did and decided to consult people on here while I wait for business hours to call an electrician/handyman tomorrow. I have a book on the way from Amazon that I bought as a result of today. I am on here, not to try and get free help, but instead to try and learn.
    – J Crosby
    Oct 21 '19 at 2:57
  • No @JCrosby the other switch's screw was not green, but there was an odd color screw there. We're happy to have you here, but there's a structural problem when you arrive with so very, very little knowledge: it forces us into massive answers that teach you everything and cover every possibility, and that doesn't work. Oct 21 '19 at 3:49
  • You're right, it wasn't on a green screw. However it had no green...this house was built in 1978. Electrical is my weakest point, plumbing fine, framing fine, roofing fine, etc. I had done switches before just never seen something like this and frankly the complexity (yes I know it is relatively simple) caught me off guard, hence the book purchase - and willingness to call a pro.
    – J Crosby
    Oct 21 '19 at 3:53
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    @JCrosby Yeah, there are certain gotchas which are extremely common when doing outlets and switches. I put up a FAQ on the one for outlets... that particular switch is particularly troublesome, especially because wire colors are worse than useless there. Electrical is not inscrutable, it will come, it's just a broader subject than most people expect. Believe it or not, the people who are most awful at it are electronics engineers :) Oct 21 '19 at 3:57

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