I've been helping a friend out to add some improvements to his house, and we've run into some issues with a 3-way switch/light setup and could use some assistance. For context, he bought the house ~3 years ago, and it seems to have been a rushed flip that was sold to him, which has caused him several issues.

The kitchen/dining room/living room area has two wall plates with 3 switches each, which are 3-way switches that control the dining room overhead light, the living room overhead light, and a set of 3 overhead LED lights in the kitchen respectively. About a year ago, we replaced the living room and dining room switches with smartswitches, and have had no issues since.

We recently tried to do the same for the set of 3 overhead kitchen lights (all 3 were controlled by 1 switch), however after installing the smart switch and turning the breaker back on, the overhead lights wouldn't light. We took photos before and after, and all installation was the same as we had done for previous smartswitches. Attempted to remove the smartswitch and reinstall the old switch, but the lights would still not light when flipping either of the 3-way switches that previously controlled those lights.

We had some spare overhead LEDs, and even tried replacing all 3 with new ones, but still no light. The odd thing here is that, using a voltage tester, I can confirm that both of the 3-way switches (now returned to original switches) when toggled cause the LED lights/wires to the LED lights to swap between registering a voltage and registering no voltage, so SOMETHING is changing when the switches are flipped.

Not sure what next steps to troubleshoot this would be, the only thing we haven't tried is replacing both switches, but given that both change the voltage detection of the lights it doesn't seem to be the issue here. I have VERY thorough before/after photos and can confirm that everything is currently installed exactly as it was before when things were working.

What would be some suggestions as to next steps here? Should I remove both switches and re-install with the typical hot->2xtravelers first box then common->2xtravelers other box config? Is there any other testing I can do to determine the cause? Appreciate any help, and if the answer is just "time to get an electrician" that's fine too!

Edit: Before images for reference on the switch configuration:

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  • Don't see the pictures, so only thing is to ask if the three wires are three different colours or two wires the same colour? If two are the same, any chance of mixing them up? Plus 1 for taking before pictures.
    – crip659
    Commented Dec 4, 2023 at 21:19
  • Sorry, something odd happened with the pictures so I just added links to them. Original was green wire to green screw, two red wires and one black. Red wire went to black screw on the original switch (so should be the common wire from my understanding) and red on same side to gold screw, black wire on the other side to gold screw. I labeled each before removing so I am 100% certain I re-attached these exactly as they were before when putting back the original switch.
    – Adam
    Commented Dec 4, 2023 at 21:36
  • 1
    Pictures plus labels and it does not work is weird. Would almost suspect the switch/es went bad or you have mice chewing on the wires in the walls.
    – crip659
    Commented Dec 4, 2023 at 22:39
  • 1
    "Registering a voltage" is a bit vague. Are you using a multimeter at the light fixture? What is the exact hot to neutral voltage? Commented Dec 5, 2023 at 7:16
  • Not to doubt the accuracy of your replication of original wiring, but one of the last resort fallbacks for the unsolvable is to have someone else check your work. Kind of like proofreading.
    – MadMonty
    Commented Mar 10 at 3:42


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