The common terminals will always be connected to a hot wire, either from the source or on the light fixture. These connections can be reversed if it’s more convenient, as long as one of the 3 way common terminals connects to the hot source and the other one connects to the hot on the load, these circuits will work properly.
If the switch is good and things still don’t work, check the wiring to be sure the hot source is connected to a common terminal and the light fixture hot is connected to a common terminal. Likewise, be sure the traveler terminals are connected between switches only and not to any hot wires or the load.
The following 3 diagrams show the wiring for a specially made dimmer that can be used in these circuits in place of either of the the 3 way switches, or both. This arrangement allows for lowering the lights in a 3 way circuit. After the dimmer level has been set the other switch will turn the lights off and on at that level. This device can be used in place of any of the 3 way switches in these circuits, as well as to dim the lights in a 4 way circuit.
This wiring shows the light fixture and the electrical source between the switches. Three-wire cable runs throughout and the hot source is splice to the common on SW1. The common on SW2 is spliced through to the hot on the light fixture. The travelers from SW1 are spliced at the fixture outlet box to run to the 4 way switch.
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