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Light Switch Question
Posted by: Scooter
Date: January 16, 2006 09:48PM
We have some wall sconces that can be turned on from two different switches.When I just turned the lights on the switch on the other side of the room made a buzzing sound. The other switch also had a bit of "electrical" odor to it. The switch works fine right now...no buzz or odor. Any thoughts on if this is a problem?
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Re: Light Switch Question
Posted by: Jack D.
Date: January 16, 2006 10:00PM
Sounds like something is shorting out. If it smells "electrical" then something is cooking. I'd change the switch if you're handy (don't forget to shut the breaker off!) or get an electrician in if you're not.

Here's some good guidlines for working on your own 'lectricity and in your case I'd pay special attention to #8 :-)

Technicians Ten Commandments

1. Beware the lightning that lurketh in the undischarged capacitor, lest it cause thee to bounce upon thy buttocks in a most untechnicianlike manner.

2. Cause thou the switch that supplieth large amounts of juice to be opened and thusly tagged, that thy days in this earthly vale of tears be long.

3. Prove to thyself that all circuits that radiateth and upon which thou worketh are grounded and thusly tagged, lest they lift thee to radio frequency potential and cause thee to make as a radiator too.

4. Tarry not amoungst those fools that engageth in intentional shocks for they are surely non-believers and are not long for this world.

5. Take care that thou useth the proper method when thou takest the measure of a high voltage lest thou incinerate both thyself and thy meter, for verily, though thee hast no account number and can easily be surveyed, the meter doth have one, and as a consequence, bringeth much woe unto the supply department.

6. Take care thou tampereth not with the safety devices and interlocks, for this incurreth the wrath of the supervisor and bringeth the fury of the safety inspector upon they head and shoulders.

7. Work thou not on energized equipment, for as thou doest, surely will thy fellow workers buy beer for thy widow and console her in other ways.

8. Service thou no equipment alone, for electrical cooking is a slothful process and thou might sizzle in thine own fat upon a hot circuit until thy maker sees fit to end thy misery.

9. Trifle thou not with radioactive tubes and substances lest thou commence to glow in the dark like a lightning bug and thy wife have no further use for thee except thy wages.

10. Thou shalt not make unauthorized modifications to equipment, but causeth thou to be recorded all field changes and authorized modifications made by thee, lest thy successor tear his hair and go slowly mad in his attempt to decide what manner of creature hath made a nest in such equipment.





- Jack D.




New tasteless sig coming soon!
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Re: Light Switch Question
Posted by: Harry in MI
Date: January 16, 2006 10:16PM
It's a 3 way circuit that uses 3 way switches, available at any decent hardware store. They have a 3rd pole and have no on/off labeling on the face. I'd replace any switch that smelled or buzzed just to be on the safe side.

Make sure to put the wire back exactly the same way or you will end up pulling you're hair out.

I need to get the book out when dealing with many 3 way circuits as I just don't mess them often enough to remember the "tricks" ie: several versions of a 3 way circuit can be found depending on location of switches versus fixtures.
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Re: Light Switch Question
Posted by: shadow
Date: January 16, 2006 10:51PM
Generally, 3-way switches will have 2 brass screws and 1 silver screw. After turning off the power, pull the switch out an inch or two with the wires still attached.

Using some tape, label the wires thusly:

S1 - wire connected to the silver terminal
B1 - wire connected to the brass terminal on the same side of the switch as S1
B2 - wire connected to the brass terminal on the opposite side of switch as S1

Loosen the screws, remove the switch, throw it in the trash.

Get a brand new 3 way switch from the local hardware or big box store. I recommend against getting the cheapest ones ... look for a heavy duty unit for a dollar or two more.

Now, do everything in reverse. Hook up the S1 wire, then then B1 and B2 wires. Put the switch back in place and turn on the power.

That should be it.

- Shadow
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Re: Light Switch Question
Posted by: davester
Date: January 16, 2006 11:35PM
One more thing. Once you turn the breaker off, check the circuit to make sure it is off. After you do that, CHECK IT AGAIN to make sure it is off. Then, when you are working on the switch, behave as though the circuit is still live (because it might be).



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 01/16/2006 11:36PM by davester.
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Re: Light Switch Question
Posted by: Speedy
Date: January 17, 2006 08:19AM
You may have not thrown the switch all the way so it was arcing. It may not happen again.
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Re: Light Switch Question
Posted by: Marcos Malo
Date: January 17, 2006 09:58AM
shadow Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------

>
> Now, do everything in reverse. Hook up the S1
> wire, then then B1 and B2 wires. Put the switch
> back in place and turn on the power.

What shadow is referring to is the order in which you hook up the wires, in case you weren't clear.

Disconnect:

Hot wires first
Neutral next
Ground last

Connect:

Ground first
Neutral next
Hot last

This is for safety reasons.



_____________________________________________
I think….
there….
4a.m.
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Re: Light Switch Question
Posted by: RAMd®d
Date: January 17, 2006 11:13AM
Speedy is probably right about the arcing.

The cause is probably a switch going bad. Time to replace both of them.







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Re: Light Switch Question
Posted by: Scooter
Date: January 17, 2006 01:16PM
thanks for all the info....
I have a project now.
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Re: Light Switch Question
Posted by: Marcos Malo
Date: January 17, 2006 04:20PM
Incidentally, if you are too lazy to hit the breaker first, you can do it from the switch by shorting with an insulated screwdriver. This could ruin or seriously damage the screwdriver and leave scorch marks if you do it correctly, or kill you if done incorrectly. But it should trip the breaker or blow the fuse.



_____________________________________________
I think….
there….
4a.m.
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Re: Light Switch Question
Posted by: particleman
Date: January 19, 2006 10:02AM
Depending on the vintage of the house, check for aluminum wiring. Aluminum wiring was used for a while in the 70's. Using switches designed for copper wire only can cause problems when aluminum wiring is present due to differences in thermal expansion properties.
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