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Since the new switches were not same make\model as the old ones I had to remove both switches (6 wires) and test for the hot wire and I found 1 hot wire in each to the 2 boxes. Now what? It seems which ever way I install only one switch truly controls the light. Let me say again, there is a hot wire at the top of the stairs and a hot wire at the bottom of the stairs and one light half-way up the stairs.

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    Did you photograph the original wiring or at least record it? If so, please edit that information into your question. If not, please photograph the wiring, looking into the boxes and add those photos into your question. – DoxyLover Apr 13 at 22:41
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    You need to look at the existing switches and identify the common wire, versus the 2 traveler wires. Normally common is black and travelers are brass. For most installations, the 2 travelers will be the same color at both ends. Further, the 2 travelers are always in the same cable. – Harper - Reinstate Monica Apr 13 at 23:22
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    Can you provide us with photos of the insides of the boxes involved please? – ThreePhaseEel Apr 13 at 23:52
  • When you see something like this and you're not sure what you're looking at, turn off every breaker except the one feeding that circuit. See if you still have two hot wires. If you do, find everything else in the house that still has power. You should be able to figure out where the back fed wires go to/come from. – K H Apr 14 at 5:29
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Two ways to connect 3-way switches and load. Firt feed and load in same junction box. Second feed and load connected in different boxes. In second only three wires run between boxes: two travelers and one phase return. So two wires live voltage.

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