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A three-way switch allows you to control a light from two different locations. It also gives you the option to install a three-way dimmer. Whether you’re replacing a three-way toggle switch, or adding or replacing a dimmer, installing a three-way switch is a straightforward project that doesn’t take much time or money. Here’s what you’ll need for this quick task:
TOOLS & MATERIALS
- Needle Nose Pliers
- Non-Contact Voltage Tester
- Phillips-Head Screwdriver
- Flat-Head Screwdriver
- Three-Way Switch
- Electrical Tape
When taking on this DIY task, be sure to equip yourself with the proper safety gear.
- Eye Protection
Turn off circuit. Start by turning off the circuit that controls the switch will be working on.
Remove switch cover. Back out the screws holding the switch cover in place and remove.
Detach switch. Touch the voltage tester against each screw terminal to confirm the power is off, then back out both screws connecting the switch to the electrical box.
Disconnect common wire. You’ll see four wires connected to the switch. The bare grounding wire will be connected to a green screw terminal. Two wires, called travelers, will be connected to screw terminals of the same color, usually brass or silver. The fourth wire will be a different color than the others. This wire, known as the common wire, is typically black. Once you identify it, unscrew it from the terminal.
Disconnect travelers and ground. Disconnect the two traveler wires. If they’re attached via quick-connect holes, release by inserting a small flathead screwdriver into the slot next to each hole, then disconnect the ground wire from the ground screw.
Connect new switch. If the ends of the wires to the switch aren’t already bent into hooks, use needle nose pliers to form them into a hook shape. Secure the bare wire of the new switch’s green grounding terminal, positioning the hook clockwise so it will be pulled against the screw as you tighten. Attach the common wire to the common terminal the same way, then attach each traveler wire to a traveler terminal. Fold the wires back into the electrical box. Insert and tighten attachment screws and replace switch cover.
Your installation is complete. Turn the circuit breaker on and test your new switch.