I am replacing a 3-way switch that controlled two lights in a bathroom. There is only one switch, but controls two lights. The old switch worked fine. But now when I replaced it, in one switch position one light is on one light is off. In the other switch position, the lights switch so the other is on and the one that was on is now off. I tried a different 3 way switch just in case it was a bad switch. I also tried switching the red and white wires just in case I messed something up but the same thing happens. Any ideas? Thanks in advance!

  • In the box that you are working on, are there two, three or four cables (not wires) coming in?
    – bib
    Oct 5, 2013 at 17:27
  • 1
    Was it a 3 way switch that you replaced? And how was the old switch wired. Bathrooms don't often have two light switches to control their lights.
    – BMitch
    Oct 5, 2013 at 18:38
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    It sounds like original switch was a standard 2-way with both lights run in parallel off of the same terminal of the switch (i.e. both lights had their hot wires connected to the same terminal switch terminal -- likely using a short "pigtail" to connect the wires to the terminal). It sounds like you then replaced the 2-way switch with a 3-way switch and connected the hot wires for each light onto the two different terminals of the newly installed 3-way switch.
    – user14416
    Oct 5, 2013 at 20:53
  • To expand on BMitch's comment, unless there are two switches controlling the fixtures, it is not a 3-way switch. A thre3-way has one common terminal and two followers. A modern one also has a grounding terminal (4 terminals overall).
    – bib
    Oct 5, 2013 at 22:37

1 Answer 1


You are probably not replacing a 3-way. A 3-way switch system uses two switches to control one device. Try using a regular(single-pole) light switch. Connect the the 'live' line or power wire to one side of the switch. Now any device(s) connected to the other side of the switch will be controlled by the switch after you turn the power back on.

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