Another 3-way help thread!

Hey guys,

Unfortunately, I have to come back hoping for a hint or solution to a wiring issue I have. While my father in law is out of country, I wanted to get this hammered out.

I have a pendant light at my entry way door, that is on a 3-way switch. Unfortunately, I was an idiot when I started wiring GE switches, and never took enough pictures of this mess of wiring. But I have learned to trace this all pretty good, and think I know what everything is.

I have a standard GE switch, and the 12723 Add-on Switch. Downstairs, I have power coming in from the breaker, it powers two other GE switches (exterior house, and exterior entryway) (working fine) and this switch (interior entryway). All switches power on and report to the hub. Additionally, all 3 switches light the respective lights properly at this time.

I have all my neutrals pigtailed, and then attached to each of the three switches, and I have my two loads (for my first two switches) functioning perfectly. (By the way, this is a total of 7 bundles of wires going into a 3 gang box… ugh). Lastly, I have all my grounds pigtailed, and attached to all three switches. These first two switches are just standard 2-way switches.

Now for the problem I am having… On the 3-way, upstairs, I have only 1 set of wires coming in. 1 Ground, 1 Neutral, 1 Black, 1 Red. With the circuit on, and the bblack/red wires unplugged from any switch downstairs, both the black and red get no power (from my no-contact elec. detector). If I check, the 3-way master is hot on the traveler screw as well. (Noted to state its functioning at the switch itself).

The upstairs switch is wired with neutral, ground, and red as the traveler (as it was for the rest of my GE 3-ways). I capped the black at both ends.

So walking through this once I wired upstairs… I go downstairs, I pull the red wire to the 3-way master, into the traveler screw, lock it down, flip the breaker. I check and the black wire between the floors (believed to be) is generating no heat/power. I go upstairs, black is still “dead”. This is a good thing seeing as I believe its not plugged into anything–and it seems it is not. Yay.Then I check the traveler wire, and its hot. I go downstairs, the switch activates the light. I go upstairs…and nothing. The switch is a dummy switch, doing nothing.

I then tried to run the black and red wire, both travelers, at both sides. Nothing. This way, I do have voltage running across the wire on red and black, but cant control the 3-way from upstairs.

In attached picture, I show the wiring as currently setup. The switch in question is on the far left. The power is coming in from breaker in the far right. There is a “stray” wire in the upper right, which appears to be a dead wire, to my outside lights–which work fine. It seems it was just capped outside in the light box, but yet was energized. Last to note, the load appears to be accurate on second switch—its turning the second set of lights on (Exterior entryway light).

Any thoughts appreciated… I am at a loss here. Hours of trial and error—and talks with a coworker who use to be an electrician. At this point, I am wondering if one of my switches is bad? or I am doing something dumb. Both can be true too…

Thanks guys!

Does anyone know if there are compatability issues with the GE 3way switches? My master is probably 2 years old, my addon switch is a newer “Jasco 12723”. They claim it works with everything…

Personally I would pul all the switches that are part of the problematic circuit out of the wall and wire them up on the bench for testing.
If they work on the bench (or not) then you know where the problem is.

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A couple things I am concerned about reading your post…

  1. Your traveler should never be “hot”. If you hooked a hot wire to the traveler port of either the master or add-on switch you may have fried it.
  2. If I’m understanding your post correctly, you said you had two “dead” wires that are capped at both ends but still show having voltage. Both of these can’t be true.

You need to positively identify the function of each wire in both boxes before hooking up. I usually do this with a multimeter, either on continuity mode to identify travelers or voltage mode to identify line wires, and identify load wires by process of elimination. Guessing is a quick and expensive way to fry stuff.


Also it’s hard to tell in your picture, which wire is connected where on the back of the left switch?

I know it sounds simple but are you SURE you didn’t get the line and load crossed. I know sounds like you couldn’t. I just helped someone the other day that said " I KNOW" it’s wired right. Until he sent pictures with meter readings and his line and load were backwards. Easy to mix wires up when you get frustrated and start swapping stuff around that has no labels on the wires.

Just my 2 cents worth.

@TN_Oldman : Thanks, yes, my line comes in across all three switches, consistently. The load is accurately placed as well, as the light turns on.

@destructure00 : I suspect your #1 to be true. Until I figured out what all the wiring was (and rearranged some of the bundles) I think I may have mis-wired, and could have fried the master. If I unplug the traveler from the switch, It turns itself back on. Which makes me think that the internal switch is shot. I realize there was a sticker that says “no 120” so I am guessing I accidentally put in the wrong black wire once, while I was still figuring out the traveler, and bamo, killed it.

As for your #2, I may have worded something wrong. Right now, with both the red and black, they are dead, not hot, nothing on them. So you were correct about #2 seeming wrong.

That all being said, A neighbor is loaning me his millimeter, to re-validate everything.

Thanks guys. I think I am buying myself a new master, labeling the wires, and wiring that one up again.

You could swap the left switch with another as a test. Since you know the other circuit (switch / light combo) is correct. Get back to left switch working correctly without remote and go from there?

I may do that tomorrow, just to rule out bad wiring as well.

Thanks @TN_Oldman

You can bench test your switches to see if they work before buying new ones.

The red traveler wire from the master will send 120v to your Aux on the age switches. So nothing sounds abnormal. Just make sure the neutral wire going to your upstairs switch is also hooked up to your neutral bundle. The black wire is not used and should be capped on both ends.

If this is all good, you may have a bad Aux switch.

@ritchierich : Ok, so the red terminal on the master should be at 120v. This is good to know. Thank you for this.

I will be testing more tonight. Hope to figure this out and update the thread once resolved. :slight_smile:

So, I did what was suggested, and mocked up the electrical. With the first switch directly plugged in to the new light I purchased, it turned on perfectly, though if I tried to turn the master off, it would turn right back on—this to me is a dead giveaway that it is a bad switch.

But I then wired in my slave. Ran all the neutrals together in a bundle, ran the ground’s in a bundle, and used the unneeded black wire to the slave to carry the traveler. Plugged it all in… master turns the light o In and off perfectly, slave does nothing.

Based on the below picture, I think I did this all right… thoughts?


Looks and sounds right? I am perplexed by the comment where master switch works right with slave connected but not when slave disconnected.

Possibly you fried the master switch before?

Yeah, I suspect I fried it somehow.

It just fried in an odd way. Works fine when is plugged in? Hah.

Well, ordering a new set. Might as well rule out the secondary as well.

Well, I grabbed the 2nd switch in the bunch… mocked it up… and it worked fine, with the 3way.

Went back to the wall, wired it up to run the 3-way, worked fine.

Verdict: Bad master switch! Ordered a replacement already. Thanks everyone, hopefully this weekend, this is done!

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Glad you figured out your problem. Jasco has great customer service and they will get you a replacement if you prefer that route and cannot return your original.

Yep! I have this issue resolved.!

New switch came in, installed it effortlessly, and 3-way works perfectly. Woo!

That being said, @ritchierich : I called Jasco up, they have a replacement on the way. So, now to find a home for it. :slight_smile:

Thanks everyone

Good to hear!

I wish I had known Jasco was good with replacements. I fried a fan controller while trying to install on a hot circuit (I know, I know…), two wires touched places they shouldn’t have touched and switch no worky no more. I just threw it out. Would have been nice to get a replacement, although I’m not sure they would help since the cause was stupidity :grimacing:

Well, so, they didn’t question anything. They just wanted proof of purchase. I even told them, I have ordered so many, I will just provide a receipt within the last 2 years, and they said “ok, email it to us, and you will have your replacement in 7-10 days”. They didn’t even need me to ship the old one back.

I simply said that I was working on a 3-way, with this switch (model xxxx) it didn’t work, but when I swapped the master switch, it worked fine on a bench, and in practice. He said “ok, here is your reference number”.

Just to keep it in mind!. They did say it was a 2 year warranty. I do believe though I read the new jasco zwave plus switches have a longer warranty. Wonder how true that is…

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