I have 3-Way Switch 1 and 3-Way Switch 2 going to a light / ceiling fan. Older house. I replaced the old switches and the light works when I wire them as below, but I'm worried about the safety:

Switch 1 Box has 6 wires:
Black - HOT
Black - (Traveler?)
2 White - Pigtailed, not attached to switch
Red - (Traveler?)
Ground - believe was NOT connected on the old switch

Switch 2 Box has 3 wires: Black - HOT
White - (Traveler)
Red - (Traveler)

How do I know if this is safe? Neither switch has a ground wire to the ground screw on the switch.


  • It matters a LOT how those wires are "partnered up". They enter the box either in a multi-wire cable bundle (Romex) or in a conduit tube. Without knowing grouping it is very difficult to understand, with it, it's usually almost obvious. Sep 10, 2016 at 19:25
  • Can you post photos of the insides of the boxes? Sep 10, 2016 at 20:01

1 Answer 1


This looks to be wired correctly prior to the current code 2014 with the exception the white wire in the second box should be marked with tape black or red just not green or white. If there are metal boxes and the boxes are grounded things would be fine but you probably have plastic boxes so adding the ground to the switch would be a good idea. You did not mention if there is a ground in the second box there should be. And it should be connected to the switch also. The main difference in your wiring and current code is that the neutral needs to be run to the 2nd box with the ground and other 3. With the grounds added to the switch(s) it would be safe, with the whit leg identified as a Curren carying conductor, this would be up to code prior to 2014. your state may be on an older version of code so depending on that it could still be up to date with the changes.

  • I wonder why switches aren't constructed to meet the requirements of a "double-insulated" device, eliminating the need for a ground wire if everything in the box is likewise constructed?
    – supercat
    Jan 8 at 18:07
  • @supercat ,I guess if everything was double insulated that would make sense, however premises wiring is not double insulated in fact it may be metal that is grounded not insulated at all and some jurisdictions require conduit, in these cases or some metal is used and that metal conduit is usually the grounding method,
    – Ed Beal
    Jan 30 at 4:40

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