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Discuss 4 way switch replacement issues in the DIY Electrical Forum area at ElectriciansForums.net

joshalan

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Good morning!

Replaced a 4 way switch yesterday and everything seemed fine. Around 3am this morning, the breaker tripped on that circuit. Resetting the breaker did not work, just tripped each time. I took apart the 4 way switch this morning and disconnected the wiring and reset the breaker temporarily, no issue, nothing tripped. Any ideas?

Not sure if the installation of this 4 way is standard but from the pictures you can see the black wires are twisted together ( was like this before replacing the switch ) and the red and red/white wires are connecting to the switch. The switch installation is your standard setup, (1) 3 way switch down stairs, (2) 4 way switch in the hallway upstairs and (3) another 3 way switch upstairs, same hallway. Downstairs, the black wire connects to the first 3 way switch and upstairs it's twisted together ( as seen in the picture - this is the 4 way switch ) and the black wire then reconnects to the (3) switch.

Curious, on the 4 way switch are the red and red/white wires just travelers, if so, how would these red and red/white wires be installed? Would it be the two red and red/white wires coming into the 4 way switch box connect to the brass screws and the two outgoing red and red/white wires connect to the black screws? Fyi, the ground wire was connected as well the entire time.

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westward10

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The four way switch is what we call "intermediate" but the principle is the same. Yes the wires at that switch are travelers so even if connected incorrectly should not cause tripping issues. Does it trip with the switch connected and the switch not secured to the back box. Not very clear but is the ground connected to the green ground terminal.
 

joshalan

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The four way switch is what we call "intermediate" but the principle is the same. Yes the wires at that switch are travelers so even if connected incorrectly should not cause tripping issues. Does it trip with the switch connected and the switch not secured to the back box. Not very clear but is the ground connected to the green ground terminal.
Great question. I ended up pulling the switch from the box AND disconnecting the wires this morning before resetting the breaker, I should've tested what you just said but it was early and well, wasn't thinking clearly. Yes, the ground was connected securely to the ground terminal. Thing is, I wired it all up yesterday and the the switches were used off and on during the day, no issues. No activity was going on around 3am, lights off, not much plugged into that circuit really yet poof, breaker trips. Ah, crap, I did replace an electrical receptacle and another switch on that same circuit. Total fog this morning. Could one of those have caused it?
 

westward10

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It is possible something else caused it. Check none of the wires are damaged and shorting to the grounded back boxes.
 

joshalan

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Must've been the 4 way switch and how the wiring was packed backed into the box. Refolded the wiring behind the switch and screwed everything in place. Haven't not had any issues in over 24 hours at this point.
 

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