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Replacing a 3-Way Switch


Replacing a 3-Way Switch


A 3-way wall switch controls a light or lights from two locations. Two 3-way switches are required in a 3-way application.


Important: Always shut off power to any electrical device before working on it.




• Identify the circuit breaker or fuse connected to the switch. If your home uses fuses, be sure to remove the 
   fuse from the fuse box.

• Turn off the power before beginning your project.

• Take a picture of the wiring on the current switch before disconnecting the wires in case you need to refer to it




• Always turn off power to a circuit before working on it and place a note on the electrical panel to warn others 
  not to turn it on.

• Stay safe by wearing rubber-soled shoes and using tools with rubber handles.




• Install switches yourself and save money.

• Consider replacing one of your three-way switches with a dimmer that can provide energy savings.

• Save time and interruptions by reviewing the tools and materials you’ll need for your project. Pick up 
  everything you need in one trip to the store before beginning your project.




Step 1: Turn Off Power

Turn Off Power 1.  Turn off power at the circuit breaker or fuse.  
2.  Remove wall plate.  
3.  Use the tester to verify power is shut off.  

Step 2: Remove and Inspect Switch and Wires

Remove and Inspect Switch and Wires 1.  Remove mounting screws and gently pull the switch out of the wall box.  
2.  Inspect the wiring. A loose or broken wire could explain why the switch doesn’t
3.  Disconnect wires – if the wires are stabbed into the back of the switch, insert a
     small flat head into the slot above the wire to release. If you are having problems,
     simply cut the wire.  
4.  When disconnecting the wires, mark the wire on the black or dark colored screw
     as common. Mark the wires on the brass or light colored screws as travelers.
     Make notes or take a picture to verify connections before removing the old

Step 3: Prepare Wires for Connecting to the Switch

Prepare Wires for Connecting to the Switch 1.  Remove insulation so ¾" of the copper conductor is showing.  
2.  Use long nose pliers to bend the end of each wire into a hook; make sure the
     hook is tight enough to fit around the terminal screw.  

Step 4: Connect Wires to the New Switch

Connect Wires to the New Switch 1.  Unscrew terminal screws of the new switch until they are difficult to turn.  
2.  Connect ground wire to the green screw.  
3.  Connect the wire marked common to the black or dark colored screw.  
4.  Connect the two remaining traveler wires to the two brass or light colored screws.  
5.  Connect wires to screw terminals by slipping the looped wire under the head of the
     screw. The end of the loop should point clockwise.  
6.  Use long nose pliers to squeeze the wire end tight around the screw.  
7.  Tighten screw terminals.  

Step 5: Wrap the Body of the Switch with Electrical Tape

Wrap the Body of the Switch with Electrical Tape Cover all terminals and bare wire with electrical tape for added safety.  

Step 6: Place Switch in the Wall Box

Place Switch in the Wall Box 1.  Carefully bend the wires and push the switch into the wall box.  
2.  Tighten the mounting screws to secure the switch to the wall box.  

Step 7: Cover with Wall Plate

Cover with Wall Plate Tighten wall plate screws with flat head screwdriver.