My electrician and I have parted ways. This has resulted in my having to finish off various projects. I have managed to get 2/3 lights operating the way they were intended. However, I am having extreme difficulty following the living room's switch loop--in particular how the living room would return to the panel.

All 3 lights are on the same 15A circuit. The shared junction box has 1 14/2 from panel and 1 14/3 running to the bathroom/living room and 1 14/3 running to SW1 for the living room and dining room 3-way switches. The living room box is inaccessible, in terms of having a more clear run (switches and power cannot route there directly) and has 1 14/3 running from it to the bathroom box, which has 1 14/3 running back to the junction box mentioned above.

Living room fan: Objective

3-way switch to control lights. Fan controlled by the fan switch itself.

Wires are run as follows: 14/2 from panel into junction box. This feed powers a 3-way for the dining room light (Power to SW1 (on red), travelers to SW2 (red and black), Light from common SW2 (black), shared neutral), the bathroom light (Power runs along Red to bathroom, goes to a single pole switch (white), black off switch back to light, shared neutral on 14/3 which goes back to the junction box--all neutrals nutted together). Bathroom and Dining room I have working and understand the connections. Now for the living room....

The living room has 2 3-way switches currently wired (done by the electrician) . SW1 has black on the common and black and red for the travelers (Common (black) goes into the junction box mentioned above, travelers go to SW2). SW1 has 1 14/3 running to SW2. SW2 is wired as follows: red and black as travelers and a hot marked white on the common. In SW1's box (shared with 1 3-way for the dining room) the other 14/3 runs to the afore mentioned junction box. All neutrals (whites) at SW1 are martleted(wire nutted) together.

I have not, as yet, hooked up a fixture in the living room as I wish to avoid any possible "damage".

I assume that the electrician had intended that "power" be from the fixture box based on his "hot" white on SW2's common. However, I never use white as anything but a neutral so I'm just not logically seeing the layout of this.

Where I'm currently at:

Black from SW1 through junction box to bathroom and through to the living room and attach to the black (hot) of the light. Direct power for the fan to run from red in junction box to bathroom and through to the fan line of the fixture. Where my logic totally fails me is on the switch loop/"hot" white. With all the neutral's shared in SW1 (as done by the electrician) and the junction box (as done by me) I don't how the "hot" neutral on SW2 (switch loop of the living room) will function. I would be inclined to have the neutral just hook up to the neutral line of the fan(direct path back to the panel). I just do not follow the switching of the living room.

Again, all the wires where already run as noted above by the electrician--which he claimed was all that he required(so I've been working within that framework). The living room switches were also already wired by the electrician. The remainder has been conducted in my attempts to get the 3 lights working. Bathroom and dining room work fine. The living room remains an untested mystery.

Any assistance is appreciated--and a diagram would be wonderful.

  • What wires are in the fixture box, where the fan will be installed? A white wire with a black marking, usually denotes a switched hot (meaning it's only hot when the switch is on). I'm slightly confused by your description of the wiring, would it be possible for you to include a diagram?
    – Tester101
    Commented Oct 1, 2012 at 12:38
  • 2
    You can draw up a quick-and-dirty diagram using CoSketch and drop the link to the finished image into your post. Without a diagram, it's hard to tell what's going on here. Commented Oct 1, 2012 at 16:19

2 Answers 2


I think I get what you're describing. You need to get switched power from the living 3-ways back through the common box and bathroom box on to the fan/light in the living room, all the while powering bath and dining lights as well as the fan, all with only 14-3 cables between boxes.

I think where you are going wrong is supplying power to bath and dining using the red conductors from the common box, because the black is for the living room power. You don't need to do this, they are all on the same circuit. Use black as common power to all switches and fan. The red is then free to be used to run switched power through all the boxes to the living light. And except for the switched white, all neutral whites tie together. Do not ever connect switched power white to neutral whites. Instant short circuit once any switch is on!

In the dining/living 3way switches box, black from common box to common of BOTH 3-way switches. Travelers OK as connected. Switched living white to red from common box.

In common box, connect all like colors together.

In bath box, connect all like colors together. Pigtail from black to bath switch.

In living room. Black to fan power. Red (switched) to light power. White to common neutral.

  • +1. Switched whites MUST be marked as such with black or red tape. I wrap the white fully, lengthwise, in such a case. Commented Aug 23, 2014 at 19:20

A white wire connected to one or more black wires in a fixture box means that the white wire and its associated (in the same cable) black wire is a switch leg. The switch leg's black wire, after returning from the switch(es), is the one you connect to the light fixture as its hot wire. The switch leg's other end connects to either a single pole or a 3-way switch.

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