A friend was trying to help me install new dimmer switches and instead of disconnecting one wire and putting it on the new switch, he just cut the wires and couldn't figure out how to put them back.

I used my multimeter to find which wire was which and got the three way switch to work, however next to my three way switch I also have a single pole switch for the lights above my sink. Now, that switch alternates with the three way switch. One set of lights goes on, and the other goes off. If the switch by the garage is off the lights above the sink won't work. I think I have the traveler wires reverse??

  • 1
    You're going to have to provide a better description of the wires/cables in the box, and how you've connected them. A photo and/or diagram would be helpful.
    – Tester101
    Sep 27, 2013 at 17:31
  • You should really mention where you are located, as wiring standards vary wildly. Sep 30, 2013 at 6:00

3 Answers 3


Typically A dimmer that can be used in a three way circuit will have a common (black) wire, and two (non-black, non-white, non-green) travelers. Here is a wiring diagram from the installation instructions of a random dimmer.

Random wiring diagram
It can also be installed as the second switch in the circuit.
enter image description here

As you can see, in this example the common wire is black, while the travelers are red. Without further detail about your current wiring, it's impossible to provide more assistance.


In the UK, typical wiring would be as follows

enter image description here


Sounds like the 1 pole switch is getting its power from the travelers and not the common. One wire should have power no matter which position the other switch is on. This is the wire you also want going to your 1 pole switch.

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