Ok so my wife and I bought our first condo. It was built over 100 years ago but has some modern renovations and some early 90s renovations.

There were two light fixtures we hated so we shut the breakers down and took down the two of them and saw the wiring. One was straightforward it had a live controlled by the light switch. A respective neutral, a earth/ground connected to the bracket and some extra two black live wire tied together and and a blue and red live tied together not hooked up to anything and not controlled by the light switch that I assume are part of some whole house connection I heard about that is sometimes done with electrical wiring.

Here is a picture of the easier to understand fixture, this is in my dining room. The live wire controlled by the switch has a blue cap:

Dining Room

However the other fixture is confusing. This one is in my main entryway Foyer and when we bought the condo we actually noticed and our inspector noticed that the light connected to this fixture just didn't work. Also there was a switch nearby that appeared to not control anything so the inspector noted that we should replace the bulb and if that didn't work call an electrician.


Anyways obviously replacing the bulb didn't work and when I took the light down I saw that live was connected to live (blue and two black), neutral was connected to neutral and what appeared to be earth was connected to another live wire that was by itself and blue. I tested these with a non-contact tester and a multimeter. I can't seem to shut any of the wires off without using a breaker.

Here is the picture I am actually asking a question about:

Picture for my question

I need to know what I am dealing with here. If someone can't help me a bit online how much can I expect to pay an electrician for this kind of work? Additionally I would like to note the inspection report got it wrong he must of misnoted on the report it is actually the right lightswitch not the left I can't figure out what it does.

I can throw a fixture up there and connect it to the stand alone live wire but then that fixture I think would always be on. Maybe I could get a smart fixture or something but I still want to understand what I am dealing with not just blindly install a fixture. Also the old fixture wasn't working so likely was installed wrong or broken anyways.

After comments clarifications:

  1. I live in Chicago.
  2. One of the fixtures was so damaged there was no putting it back once I took it off. It was on it's last legs and basically fell apart. Luckly how things were connected is in my memory.
  3. I got the pictures of the Switch. switch

I want to install a 30 dollar IKEA NYMANE LED light in the Foyer. I want to install a Hunter ceiling fan in the Dining room. The NYMANE is easy to install I could probably install it in the Dining room if I wanted it to go there the problem is I want it in the Foyer. The Ceiling fan is a bit tricky cause I am not sure what my fixtures would support. I have a standard crossbar I took out of both fixtures... Does a standard crossbar support a ceiling fan?

  • You need to verify that the switch in question is wired up. Pull out the switch and take a few pictures of the wiring after turning off the breaker and post the pictures.
    – JACK
    Sep 10, 2020 at 23:08
  • Can you post photos of the insides of the switch boxes in question please? Sep 10, 2020 at 23:14
  • I will post an edit / update probably tomorrow. I need to shut down the breakers sometime during the day but better to do that when I have time on a Saturday. Sep 11, 2020 at 18:51
  • Do not remove any more wires when taking your pictures. Get good, clear photos of exactly how the existing wiring is attached, then put everything back. We've got some geniuses here who can divine what wass going on before things were disassembled, but it's much easier on everyone if the current connections are shown, not just random wires with nuts on them. Also, indicating where you live would be helpful. It appears that you've got conduit, and that would help account for blue wiring in the walls, but knowing for sure would also be helpful.
    – FreeMan
    Sep 11, 2020 at 19:17
  • 1
    The good news is, being in Cook County, your wiring is all in conduit (verifiable by the fittings in the photos, and the use of wire colors such as purple that do not exist in cables). So, worst-case, the wires can be ripped out and replaced without tearing up your walls.
    – nobody
    Sep 13, 2020 at 3:36

1 Answer 1


We ended up hiring an electrician. For the Foyer he ran a new switch wire and setup the wall outlets that were controlled by that switch to remain always live. So now that switch only controls that light.

For the fan since we didn't have a fan supporting box installed it needed to be reinforced with tapping screws then assembled to the wire I indicated.

The switch that does nothing still does nothing we left that as is.

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