I have two wall switches that control the same light. One is a master in that when it is off the 2nd one does not do anything.

Is there anyway to undo it so both operate independently of each other without running new wires?

I have not unscrewed anything yet as I want to first make sure what I want to do is possible without having to run new wires.


Adding some pictures.

The upstairs/master switch:

upstairs (master) overview upstairs (master) left side upstairs (master) right side

The downstairs/slave switch:

downstairs (slave) overview downstairs (slave) right side downstairs (slave) left side

It looks like they are both the same type of switches with the master having more wires coming into it.

  • 1
    It totally depends on what wiring is currently between the two switches. Which invites the question: what wiring is currently between the two switches? Aug 2, 2016 at 3:45
  • Can you post photos of the wiring in the switch boxes? Aug 2, 2016 at 3:57
  • @ThreePhaseEel: I added some pictures. Aug 2, 2016 at 23:12
  • @DanielGriscom: Do the pictures tell you what you were asking or is there something else I need to check? Aug 2, 2016 at 23:12
  • @IMTheNachoMan -- can you get us photos looking into the back of the boxes? Aug 2, 2016 at 23:48

1 Answer 1


It's hard to be certain exactly how your existing wiring is working. It looks like the upstairs switch is just switching the hot feed to the downstairs switch. (But looking at the white wires, it appears to be switching something else too. Very odd. Does the upstairs switch turn off more than one thing?)

However, I think I can answer the question, "Can I make the switches operate independently without running new wires?" : Probably not. What you want is a 3-way switch setup between the two switches, and it appears you only have a single conductor connecting the two switches. You'd need additional conductors between the switches in order to install a three way configuration. Sorry.

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