I have two switches bottom and top that only control 1 light, which both used to work to turn the light on and off. Now I have to keep the bottom switch in a fix position and only use the top switch? I am looking to fix this and when I opened the switches I found four wires in each. One red, two black, one uninsulated. Why are there four wires? All appear to have a good connection.

  • Thank you for the answers. I was confused because I found a you tube video, based on the description I mentioned, that this was a two way switch vs. your correct information it is a three way switch. I replaced the switch, and it is working properly now.
    – Maleci
    Jun 30 at 23:00

So you have two switches at different locations that control the same light, right? Those are 3-way switches. Each switch has two separate wires, travelers, going to the other switch, a connection to either a hot wire or a fixture wire and each switch will have a ground wire, either green or uninsulated. That's 4 wires. If you haven't done any work to change the wiring, chances are one of the switches is bad.


If you have not changed anything and it did work correctly one of the switches has failed. When you change them note one of the screws is identified by a different color screw, keep that wire the same. The wire colors do not sound correct. When was this wired and how? The uninsulated should be earth ground and the other three wires connected to the switch. It is possible the three way switches were center feed from the light. Unless this is in conduit some wires are missing.

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