I have a three way switch I can't figure out why or how it works. I want to disconnect one of the three way switches and relocate it. I disconnected the switch (within three feet of the panel) that appears to be the wire providing power from the panel. When I connected the black power to the black wire of the 14/3 cable and disconnected both switches and capped the reds, both the black and red wires became hot at the other switch box. It is a long run (30 ft) from switch to switch and it powers a run of 8 lights and none of the lights appear to have been used as a junction box for the traveler. I hooked the switches up again and the switches work as intended. I just wanted to get power from the first box (closest to the panel) to the other switch, disconnect the traveler, and run another 14/3 line to a three way switch in a different room. Any ideas why both red and black remain hot when only blacks are connected?

  • Also, if I hook the power to the red of the traveler wire, the black in the other switch box becomes hot as well. The house was built in the 90s so it's a fairly new home. – Sara Dec 10 '12 at 5:38
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    This is going to be very difficult to answer over the internet, so it's likely you'll be better off contacting a qualified Electrician to help you out. – Tester101 Dec 10 '12 at 12:21

To be honest, I read your question a few times and I'm still a bit confused. I know it is hard to describe a complicated situation like you have. With that said. Any time you are going to work on a 3-way switch, it is important to know which switch you are dealing with, the source switch or the load switch. To do this, you need to know if the primary power feed is attached to that switch or if the load hot feed is attached to the power screw of the switch. There will be two cables entering the box, primary power and traveler. identify them, mark them with a tag or tape etc. Now you will be able to extend the conductors to another location. Remember, you will need to extend all 5 conductors plus the ground. I'd highly recommend that you put it back together as it was, so it is working properly, ID the conductors, draw it out, and proceed from there. Good Luck.

  • Thanks for the prompt responses. When I hooked the two switches back up, they worked perfectly. I identified the source in box #1 and the traveler as well. The red conductor in box #2 still becomes hot when I connect the source in box#1 to the black in the traveler 14/3 also in box#1. Can you think of any reason why I can't just cap the red in box #2 (leave it hot in the box) and hook the new 14/3 traveler to the conductor (now my source in box #2) in the box #2 and run my new three way switches off that? – Sara Dec 11 '12 at 3:17
  • On one hand, since you have power, neutral, and ground to a certain point, you should be able to create a new installation from that point with no issue. OTOH, abandoning a powered wire really rubs me the wrong way, it really needs to be de-energized. The fact both are powered means something is going on you are unaware of, which makes me question if you have a free run to the panel. It shouldn't be possible for the switches to turn off the lights if both wires you think are travelers are hot all the time. – bcworkz Dec 11 '12 at 5:22
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    one traveler is going to be hot all the time. You said "connect the source in box #1 to the black in the traveler" The travelers should be connected to the switch on their own screws, not to a source or hot wire. Gonna need a diagram or some pics. I'm not sure we are using the same vocabulary. – shirlock homes Dec 11 '12 at 10:42
  • is there a possibility that source voltage is being introduced in one of the light fixtures and not in the switch box #1 ? – shirlock homes Dec 11 '12 at 10:44
  • I don't like the idea of a hot being abandoned either, honestly. I do need another switched powered and considered using the extra hot wire for that but still would wonder about it and never feel completely comfortable. I can not find any lights that have the source run through its box. Well I just went around to all the lights to see if power was being fed there first. Nothing, HOWEVER, I have all the wires exposed currently and didnt want to shuffle the ladder to all eight so I attached my tester (the kind that beeps) to a long enough pole and stuck it up to the wires. When none of – Sara Dec 11 '12 at 23:31

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