I've been in a house that was newly built 2 years ago. In about the last two months, I have had 3 separate 3-way switches quit working (all controlling different fixtures)

The first one would not switch off unless I forced the switch all of the way down. With the second one, the light got stuck on, no matter what I did with either switch in the circuit. With the third one, in one position things worked fine, but in the other position, when I switched the other switch, the light would cut off in the middle then back on when the switch was up or down. The only brand marking I could find on the switches were the letters "ps"

I have replaced all three switches and everything is working as it should now, but I am concerned as to what might be causing these failures.

Could this be that the electrician just got a bad batch of switches or used cheap stuff, or, could there be something wrong with the overall circuit that would cause them to fail?

Thank you for any insights you may be able to offer!


Were all three of those switches installed with poke in wire terminations?

If so then that is likely the root cause of the problem. Move the wires to the screw terminals on the new replacement switches. In the cases where there are more than one wire in the set of poke in holes for a given connection those poke in connections should be replaced with a twist on wire connector to join the wires and an added pigtail that then goes to the switch screw.

Another possibility is that the builder used the absolutely cheapest possible switches. With high usage such cheap switches do not last forever.

  • No, all of the wires were attached to the screw terminals, and I re-attached the new switches by the screw terminals. So you would lean to this just being bad switches and not caused by any wiring problems in the circuit? Thanks! – Patrick Wells Oct 19 '15 at 1:11

I've seen it time after time with contractors buying in bulk to save overhead, but the downside is often cheap products.

PS might mean Pass and Seymour. But I'm not gonna speak bad about P&S because I'm not 100% sure.

Leviton is great and so is Lutron. That I do know.

  • I replaced the switches with Leviton. – Patrick Wells Oct 19 '15 at 1:09

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