Help with 3 way wiring no neutral I thought?

Hello everyone,

I’m trying to wrap my head around all of this.

I’m not exactly sure what someone has done with my wiring and would appreciate input to help me figure this out!

I have 2 blue switches, one 2in1 and one fan switch, and one aux switch.

I got the two switches working, but then realized the dumb switch didnt work without a neutral, which I didn’t think I had based on my old installation. So I ordered an aux switch as well.

So when I disconnected the red wire from the switch, the light would turn off (I have a tendancy of not throwing breakers, bad I know). Looking at the wiring of the 2in1 switch it looks like the grey is the travel wire.

However, it doesnt matter which wire I connect to "Travel on the Aux switch, the 2in1 switch will not turn back on. If I plug the dumb one back in, then it turns back on no problem. What am I doing wrong here?

I took some pics of my wiring, and upon digging into them, I see a bundle of grey wires back there just tied off, is that the neutral that someone just decided is not needed? How do I check that?

Fan switch is on the right, 2in1 is on the left. Aux is the empty box.

Any and all help is appreciated, I’m not a complete novice to electrical, usually only get buzzed one time before I get something figured out. :slight_smile:

1 - Which switch is for the 3-way, the fan switch or the 2-1? I’m guessing the 2-1 based on what I see so far, but it never hurts to ask.

2 - Can you possibly pull those bundles out farther and get better pics into the box. It looks like they are pretty short, though. I don’t think an electrician wired that.

3 - Do you have pictures of the 2 gang box with the dumb switch wired before converting to the 2-1?

4 - Are the fan and the light on the same breaker?

The 3way is for the 2in1 and yes they are pretty short, I can barely get the 2in1 plugged in.

Sadly I do not have pics of the box before I started digging into it, I didn’t acticipate it being an issue.

The fan and light should be the same breaker, its the same unit, like a combo fan/light. Just a switch for the light, and a switch for the fan.

I was reading and read that its typical for the grey(neutral wires) to be wired together in a bundle in the back, so went down and tried to pull them apart, and it started to spark and kill power to the outlets around the room…so I don’t think those are neutral wires like I was hoping.

Ok, so you are going to have to describe some connections to me. This will take some back and forth, unfortunately, because it’s too difficult to see what you have going on.

It looks like that 2-1 line conductor is a red conductor. Is that connected to a red bundle also going to the fan switch and pigtailed to a black conductor?? So 2 wire nuts to get to the switch? I realize that "initial black conductor is short, but I would eliminate that “double-pigtail” to make it easier tuck things into the box.

But I digress, is the double-pigtail black part of a 2-wire and is that what you think is the incoming hot connection?

(If you re-wire that double-pigtail thing, keep the conductor colors consistent. So if someone else has to look at your wiring, like now, their head won’t hurt. :slight_smile: )

I created a video trying to show the layout of all the wires and pointing them out…I hope it helps, its a mess.

Thanks, but I’d appreciate if you can answer my questions. I have a set way of diagnosing these.

You’re are going to have to identify your incoming line. Is it a Romex 2-wire or something else? You are going to have to test with a meter to determine your configuration.

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Ok sorry for my ignorance here I looked at the stuff and pulled out a lot. The red connector and gray go to a Romex of 4 wires (including ground)

The black from that Romex goes into the red pig tail which then turns into a red wire which feeds the fan switch.

This is where my ignorance gets me… I tried to test the wires to see what has power, and had my multimeter on the settings listed in photo and only got like 1 or 2 on the reading… So not sure on that…

Well, I got it to work… I somehow missed that I needed to plug both black and red cables into the neutral location… Did that and the original switch is working fine.

Now I am trying to figure out how to get the aux switch setup in Home assistant Zha integration. I’ve found documentation for zigbeemqtt but not Zha. So trying to figure that out now.

Hmmm, so I did the manual programming… I can turn on the light via the aux switch, but can’t turn it back off again. I tried programming it a 2nd time and it doesn’t change anything so the light just turns on via the aux switch, but not off.

I suggest that you consult with an electrician to get properly wired. Unfortunately, it is too difficult to see into that box with those short conductors, so you can’t do any sort of accurate analysis of the wiring topology. Your box needs some proper pigtailing to even begin to figure out the topology.

It looks to me as if this should be wired in a neutral configuration based on the presence of a white bundle, so how you have it partially working without one is beyond me. And since you weren’t able to measure voltage to determine the line and if that line is a neutral or non-neutral, you probably need some expert help.

A couple suggestions. When you are removing switches for troubleshooting, be aware of wire position. The first pictures you posted had the black conductor in the load terminal, but the last picture you posted with the switch removed has it in the line terminal position.

Also, when you wire a switch using the backstab connections, make sure that the insulation goes all the way to the switch. Don’t leave copper exposed. This will prevent a short should the ground come in contact as the switch is being tucked in the box.

If the electrician has questions, post that and we’ll be glad to help!

I would be astounded if that proved to be correct. I am all but certain it is not.

Something appearing to work fine and it being wired safely/properly are not always equivalent things. Bry’s advice to consult an electrician is very wise - please do it. A smoldering fire in your walls is no joke.


I’ll call a guy that is an electrician that has come out for a few larger things, and see if he can come out and look at this.

I don’t think that white bundle is neutral wires, I checked another light switch and it did not have neutral wires. What I think it was, is at some time in the past this house had the plugins tied to a light switch so you could plug a lamp or whatever into them, and flip the light switch and it would turn on. Someone got rid of that in the past, and that is that bundle of wires, its those wires that has been set to a constant hot, so they always have power like a normal plug.

Like I said I’ll call him and see how soon he can get out to see me.

Thanks everyone.

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Well called my guy, between a job he is on now, and his vacation and my vacation he can’t come until July 22nd. So I was like well I’ll just pull them out, I have another living area that is a three way maybe I can get them to work in there…same exact issue…

So I just put the normal 2in1 switch in a single box, which works fine, and will find all the three way swiches I want switched over before he comes and have him do them all.