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enter image description hereenter image description hereI have a dining room light on a 3 way switch that also extends power into the hallway from the first switch. All the wires have been removed and now I'm lost. Trick is, there is a 14-2 power supply to the fixture, then a 14-3 from the fixture to the 1st light switch. This is where the power is suppose to branch power into the hallway (and other rooms/porch) while also continuing to the 2nd 3 way switch (which is a dead end switch).

Is there suppose to be a 4 way switch at the first 3 way switch location? I'm able to get the 3 way switches to work alone, the hallway (along with basement hallway, another room and porch lights) alone or both with the issue of only one switch working the dining room light.

I've looked online for this situation with power coming into the fixture on a 14-2 and leaving on a 14-3 without any luck.

P.S. Sorry about the sloppy drawing.

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  • Can you post photos of the insides of the boxes involved please? – ThreePhaseEel Aug 23 '20 at 2:12
  • I started to write an answer...and got confused. But the 14/3 fixture to 1st switch is because it needs to carry hot from panel via fixture box (but not connected to the fixture) and switched hot from switch back to fixture and neutral (needed for smart switches but also to provide power to hallway/porch/etc. Where it gets confusing is inside that 1st switch box as you need to get hot down to second switch (travelers bring switched hot back) and hot & neutral to hallway/porch/etc. Pictures please! – manassehkatz-Moving 2 Codidact Aug 23 '20 at 2:53
  • Thank you for your help! I can't get any light in there right now to be very clear so I'll have to post tomorrow when there's some daylight. I don't have anything connected at the moment other than running power past fixture to connect directly to black/white for 14-2 to hallway. Red wire isn't connected to anything. – Robert Aug 23 '20 at 3:00
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Your problem: too many hots, not enough neutrals, because the prior installer didn't know how to pigtail

Your problem is that in the fixture box, you somehow have two wires carrying always-hot power down to the switch but nothing carrying neutral to the switch location. Atop being a violation of 404.2(C) in the current NEC, this is what is stymieing your plans to tap power for the hallway circuit at the switch box, as you need two to tango: a hot to get power from the utility, and a neutral to return the "spent" electricity back to the utility (they want their electrons back, so to speak :).

Anyway, what you need to do is get into the light fixture's box and move the white wire in the 14/3 over from being nutted in with the always-hots to being nutted in with the existing neutrals and remove any tape flags or bands from said white wire while you are in there. Once that's done, you can button the light fixture back up and move onto the first switch box.

There, we take the tape off the white wire from the 14/3 to the light fixture box, remove it from the switch common screw, and then nut it to the white wire in the 14/2 exiting that box. From there, we take a black or red 14AWG pigtail (if you don't have any suitable wire laying around or shuckable scraps of NM handy for that matter, simply get some THHN of the appropriate gauge and color and use that) and nut it in with the junction of the red and black wires in the switch box, then land the other end of the pigtail on the black common screw on the switch that we just vacated. Once that's done, you should be able to button the switch back up, turn the power on, and enjoy having everything work again!

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    It works! You're a miracle worker! Thank you! P.S. My hair is no longer falling out :-) – Robert Aug 23 '20 at 18:43
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    @Robert -- we thank people around here by upvoting and/or accepting their answers :) – ThreePhaseEel Aug 23 '20 at 19:24
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The 14/3 fixture to 1st switch is because it needs to carry hot from panel via fixture box (but not connected to the fixture) and switched hot from switch back to fixture and neutral (needed for smart switches but also to provide power to hallway/porch/etc. Where it gets confusing is inside that 1st switch box as you need to get hot down to second switch (travelers bring switched hot back) and hot & neutral to hallway/porch/etc.

Since you noted in a comment: running power past fixture to connect directly to black/white for 14-2 to hallway. Red wire isn't connected to anything, you probably need to do the following:

  • Red from fixture goes to common screw on 1st 3-way switch (switched hot).
  • Black (the same black that comes from fixture and goes to hallway) is hot and needs to go down to the other 3-way switch.
  • Two travelers go between the 3-way switches.

So the only issue really is figuring out which wire is which on the 14/3 between the 3-way switches. You have 14/3, so that is 2 travelers + hot

I think the usual would be white (hot - marked with black tape on the ends), black & red = travelers, but the best thing to do is to look at the 2nd 3-way switch (you didn't disconnect any of those wires, did you?) and match the colors. Whatever wire goes to the common screw on the 2nd switch connects to black (hot) in the first switch box. The travelers connect to the other 2 screws on the 1st switch.

Summary, based on sketch and comments:

  • Fixture box (panel = 14/2 from panel, outgoing = 14/3 to first switch box)

    • Panel black (== hot) -> outgoing black
    • Panel white (== neutral) -> outgoing white and fixture neutral screw (or white wire)
    • Outgoing red (== switched hot) -> fixture hot screw (or black wire)
  • First switch box (incoming = from fixture, outgoing = hallway, second switch box = second switch box)

    • Incoming black (== hot) -> outgoing black and second switch box white with black tape added
    • Incoming white (== neutral) -> outgoing white
    • Incoming red (== switched hot) -> 1st switch common screw
    • 1st switch traveler 1 screw -> second switch box black
    • 1st switch traveler 2 screw -> second switch box red
  • Second switch box (only one cable)

    • White (== switched hot) -> 2nd switch common screw (mark wire with black tape)
    • Black (== traveler 1) -> 2nd switch traveler 1 screw
    • Red (== traveler 2) -> 2nd switch traveler 2 screw

@Harper please feel free to correct anything I messed up...

Harper would recommend marking both travelers on both ends with yellow tape. That will make any future work simpler because you will know right away which wires are the travelers. There is no functional difference between the travelers. It really doesn't matter which is which on each end, unless you want the switches to be a particular mode - e.g., "on = same position" or "on = opposite positions".

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    14/3 between the switches is fine -- you only need neutral at one of the switches in a multi-way switch complex – ThreePhaseEel Aug 23 '20 at 3:45
  • @ThreePhaseEel I had a feeling that was the case - makes total sense. And I suspect is the case here, but can't tell without more detail or pictures. – manassehkatz-Moving 2 Codidact Aug 23 '20 at 3:54
  • I've added pix & a very sketchy drawing. Unfortunately, I did take wires off 2nd switch :-( I've put it together like a normal 3 way w/ power from the fixture but attached the red for the 14-3 between fixture s& 1st switch to black line to the hallway for power. The 3 way works but attaching the hallway white to the black pigtail (from fixture and 2nd switch) doesn't work. I'm lost as to where the white goes. Is it suppose to pigtail off the 1st switch somewhere? Is the normal 3 way switch with power from the fixture not the way to go in this situation? My hair is falling out... – Robert Aug 23 '20 at 17:24

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