If your switches stop working they may be worn out or the screws may have come loose. If you’ve wired a new switch correctly and the circuit still doesn’t work, the switch may be defective. Check that all connections are tight. Check the switch, remove it from the circuit and test for failure with a continuity tester or multimeter set on the Ohms setting.
This diagram shows the wiring to control a receptacle outlet with two 3 way switches. The source is at SW1 and 3-wire cable runs between all the devices. The hot wire from the source connects to the common terminal on SW1. The common on SW2 is connected to the hot terminal on the receptacle. The traveler wires are spliced in the receptacle box to run to the traveler terminals on each switch. The white cable wire is used as a traveler to SW2 and marked hot with black tape.
Three-way switches have 3 terminals to carry circuit electricity and one terminal for a ground wire. Of the three circuit terminals, one is called the common and the other two are known as travelers. The common terminal may be labeled and is usually a different color than the traveler terminals. Depending on the manufacturer, the travelers may be on opposite sides of the device or the two terminals may be on the same side. In any case, the common terminal will be distinguished from the travelers in some way.
When using this device for heavy appliances like washing machines and microwaves, it should be connected to a dedicated 20-amp/120-volt circuit breaker. As of 2014, a GFCI receptacle is now required in a laundry room for the washing machine.
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