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Usually when a 3-way or 4-way switch fails, lights can be toggled on and off on all but one switch. Any switch that toggles the light(s) on and off is probably working properly.

  1. Turn off power to the switches at the circuit breaker and using a tester, make sure power is off. Remove all of the switches so you can access the switch terminals. The wire connections do not have to be removed.
  2. Follow the How to Troubleshoot 3-way Switches link to test the 3-way switches.
  3. Using a continuity tester on the 4-way switches, check continuity between one of the black terminals and each of the brass colored terminals. There should be continuity between the first black terminal and only one of the brass terminals.
  4. After toggling the switch, check continuity between the other black terminal and each of the brass colored terminals. There should be continuity only between the second black terminal and the brass terminal that did not show continuity in step 3.

When a 4-way switch fails, there will usually be no continuity In step 3 and/or step 4.

How to Troubleshoot Four-Way Switches

Step 3

Step 4

4-way Switch Up Position 4-way Switch Up Position

Place leads of continuity tester on the second black terminal and one of the brass terminals

Place leads of continuity tester on the second black terminal and the other brass terminal

4-way Switch Down Position

Place leads of continuity tester on one of the black terminals and one of the brass terminals

Place leads of continuity tester on the same black terminal and the other brass terminal

4-way Switch Down Position