How To Wire Your Own Three-Way Switching System

Enjoy the convenience of having three-way switching by easy access from different parts of a room. Just follow simple directions.

To those who live in a home with only single-pole switching, here is a quick and easy way to install your own three-way switching system in any room of the house. You will be able to control the same light in any given room by two different switches. If there are two entries to the room, this will be ideal. You can turn on or turn off your lights from either entry.

In doing this job and any other job which will involve electricity, please make sure to take all precautionary measures to ensure your safety. It is also a good idea to practice wearing protective eye wear. Make sure that the electricity is always off before starting this project or any job involving electricity.

The one switch that is being utilized for light in room, will be the starting point. Once you have chosen the location for your second switch, measure and mark where it will go. You will want to make sure that it is the same height as your other switch in the room. Get your box which will go in the wall and house the wires. Trace front face of box unto the wall where switch will go. There are certain boxes out on the electrical market that really simplify a job of this sort. Those boxes are called "pop-in boxes" which, if you are fortunate enough to land in empty space behind a wall, slips into hole, but is designed to not go all the way through. Flaps open in back of box with a turn of a screwdriver and thus tightens and secures itself against inside of wall. Just ask for a "pop-in" box at electrical department or hardware store.



Once you have chosen location, marked your box, and have cut out your hole for switch box, you are ready to do some drilling so that you can run your wires. If you have someone to help you, have him stand on a ladder at where your hole has been cut for the box and knock on the ceiling directly above your hole cut. In the meantime, slip up into the attic and listen for the knock. The sound will lead you directly to the location. Not only will you hear where it is, but you will also feel exactly where the spot is. Drill a hole or holes down at the spot that will accommodate at least two to three wires going down to your cut out hole below.

While you are drilling the hole from above, your helper below should be able to see the wood shavings falling down the wall. This means you have found your mark. If the holes are filled up at first and original switch, make sure to drill whatever holes needed to accommodate two more wires. When you remove switch below, untwist all your wires. Trace your wire going from switch to light and remove from switch. After removing from switch, if there is enough wire left to drop at new switch, then simply do so. If not, then run a new wire from new switch that has been cut out to the light.

At this point, make sure to tag wire coming from light to switch. You will have to identify later when making up your switch. Remove your box from original switch. You already have electricity going to your switch, so all you need to do is run two wires from there to your newly cut out location for new switch. Make sure to mark both ends of one of your two new wires. These will be what are called "travelers" in the trade. This will actually be your link up between both switches to operate light from either of the two.

Now that you have your wires going down the wall at both locations, strip your insulated wire cover to expose three individual wires inside, enough to enter box, and exit front of box with about six to eight inches. Insert wires into box at new locations and place box in place and secure accordingly. Take the marked wire going from switch to switch and twist individual black and white of same wire together. Take individual black wire from light and twist around the other two twisted wires so as to distinguish your wire from light from wire of "wake up" between the two switches. Twist your "bare" grounds together and place a wire cap and push back into back of box. Strip and twist your two "white" neutrals together and place wire cap and push back into back of box. Place a wire cap on end of remaining black wire and push back into back of box.

At this half-way point, go to your other box and strip enough to enter boxes and exit about eight inches out of box. Replace and secure your box back in wall. Take the marked wire and twist together as in other switch. Twist together black individual wire that is bringing in the electricity with black wire of second unmarked wire going from switch to switch. Take a single strand of that black and twist with those two and leave three to four inches protruding so as to connect to switch. Strip and connect all remaining wires in same fashion as other switch, except here, you will not have an individual black wire left over.

You should have just successfully finished wiring your own three-way switching system. All you have to do now is simply install your three-way switches accordingly. Now you can switch your light on and off from two separate locations in the room. Turn on the power and enjoy your new three-way switching system.

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