BEyond Youtube: Replacing a Dimmer Switch...

Two-Part Question:
A) We have a faulty dimmer switch we want to replace with a toggle switch. However, there is an existing toggle switch on the same circuit in an adjacent room. As such, I imagine I will need to buy a new double pole toggle switch as a opposed to a single pole toggle switch?

B) Also, what should I expect to find when removing the existing dimmer switch? (I have yet to dig in and find out) I’ve seen a simple install demonstration on Youtube for a basic situation (i.e., a dimmer switch controlling the circuit). But, for my case, what will I run into? I imagine the new double pole toggle switch will require four terminal wires (plus a ground)…I presume I will find that the existing dimmer is attached to enough wires?

I know I can expect to unpigtail some wires (removing some wire nuts) to remove the dimmer switch. But, then what? Can I use the existing toggle switch (in the adjacent room) as an example to follow, and wire-up the new toggle switch the exact same way?

Obviously, this is new to me…

It’s a ‘three way’ not a ‘double pole’. That might be part of why you’re having a hard time finding help on the internet.
Next, pick up a new ‘three way dimmer switch’, cut the power and replace it, wire for wire. Look at what color wires go to what color screws on the old switch and do the same for the new one. You can read about how to wire three way switches, but it gets really complicated really fast. I promise, you’re better off just replacing it, flipping on the power and if it doesn’t work, we’ll go from there. Some switches just need some wires swapped, but it’s not a big deal.

Well, that did help, but two questions: (A) One demo shows you pigtailing the white (neutral) wires together AND (B) likewise, both ground wires found at both switches in a three-way switch configuration. Is that to say the ground wire is NEVER screwed to the three-way switch???

Also, knowing there are two black wires…what if I mix up the hot black wire for the “traveler” black wire? I assume the three-way won’t work right? Is there any safety hazard when touching the light switch? Is there some way to do a continuity test with the power off to tell which is which?

These answers should cover what I need.

This is basically why I was saying you shouldn’t try to read too much about it on the internet. Three way switches get very complicated very quickly. Every site that explains how to wire them, first, feels some need to explain how they work, which doesn’t really help when all you want to know is ‘which wire goes where?’. Second, they’re all a little different. Some have one screw on this side and two on that side or some other combination and if you’re following pictures or drawings it’s not going to line up. Finally, you never know what color wires are inside the wall. It tends to be a surprise when working with three ways. Then you’re back on the internet trying to figure out why there’s a yellow wire or two white wires or what to do with the blue wire with the black tape around the end of it.

Having said all that. Cut the power, look at what color wires go to what color screws (or take pictures). Remove all the wires from the switch, reconnect all the wires to the same colored screws on the new switch and you’re (maybe) done.

This is where you should, technically, tuck everything back into the box and screw the switch in, then turn the power on and test everything out. Being careful of where your fingers are if you don’t have the switch plate back on yet. If it works, great. If not, then we might have to swap some wires. In the past I’ve had problems with only one switch working, or only one switch works when the other switch is in a specific position. You can google that problem and find a solution. It’s usually pretty simple.

TLDR Start by replacing the old switch with the new one, see if that works.

The dimmer I have for that application has a single black and two red leads.

The red wires serve the same function as the wires on the double-terminal end of a three-way toggle; the black corresponds to the wire on the single-terminal end.

These are, BTW, SPDT switches, if that helps your searching.

As for ground wires, just replicate whatever the existing hookup is. Depending on the region, age of the house and thoroughness of the original electrician, the yoke or frame of the switch may or may not have a ground wire connected to the green screw. If you remove a green or bare wire from the old switch, put it on the new one. If there isn’t one, don’t worry about it.

With a very few and exceedingly rare exceptions, there will never be a neutral wire connected to a switch. Most installations of three-way switches muddle this for reasons you really don’t care about, and a “proper” installation will have the white wire wrapped with tape or painted/markered. Just study the old switch carefully to see which are the “common” wires and hook up the new one to match. Sadly, you can’t even depend on the colors of the screws anymore, but there should be either the word “common” or a “c” molded on the back of the switch or a picture of the connections on the package.