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Subzero refrigerator 550  Rate Topic 
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 Posted: Thu Jun 26th, 2008 07:55 pm
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ronke
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The SN on this is P700645, made in May 1988 so yeah, it's old.  It also survived the 1994 earthquake which created all sorts of slowly developing problems in all our kitchen appliances leading to an eventual rebuild of almost everything inside the fridge somewhere around 1998 (I wish I had more details or receipts than that, but I can't seem to find anything today.) Anyway, two months ago, the fridge developed ice on the lower back wall on the right, just enough to keep the right vegetable crisper from sliding in entirely.  At the time I didn't know about this forum which has now informed me I probably needed a new evaporator and compressor.  I called our regular repair guys.  Tony showed up and said that the defroster heater had died and we needed a new one.  The invoice was actually for something called a Floor Heater Assembly, for the astronomical sum of 408.99 (plus labor to install).   I was ready to boot the guy out.  Six hundred bucks for a little ice?  but my hubbie is a sucker for these guys.  They're Russian as is he.   Anyhow, we forked over the dough, emptied the freezer, Tony lugged something big and heavy in and replaced the old big and heavy thing and  the ice went away.  We thought we would live happily ever after.  Recently, however, the freezer started making smaller and smaller ice cubes and then stopped entirely,    By now I had found this forum and figured the real problem was that the freezer wasn't getting cold enough.  Cranked up to its highest setting, it only hit 20 degrees and the ice cream was all mushy.    I called the repair guys to see if perchance what Tony refererred to as a Floor Heater Assembly was  the defrost heater assembly (which lists for about $40) or the bigger-bucks freezer evaporative coil which I thought looked similar to what had been replaced.  They said, no, the replaced part was neither but essentially an aftermarket item recommended by Subzero for the "ice on the back of the fridge wall" problem and it had nothing to do with the fact that my freezer was now not freezing.  1)  Is there such a thing as a "floor heater assembly" for the Subzero?  Or were we in fact charged ten times the retail rate for the "defrost heater assembly"?  2)  Is there any way to troubleshoot this problem suitable for a reasonably handy but not well-equipped (in the multi-meter, etc. department)  old lady?  Thanks. 

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 Posted: Fri Jun 27th, 2008 01:06 am
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Samurai Appliance Repair Man
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I'm not familiar with this "floor heater assembly"-- do you have a part number on the invoice? Does sound like a lot of money for a part.

If does sound like you may have a different problem not, though. Sounds like before you had an evaporator choked up with ice, like ahso. Not, absent that fuzzy ice on the evaporator, you may have a problem with the freezer not getting cold enough for a different reason. First step would be to get an accurate temp measurement in the freezer using either a thermocouple or infrared type thermometer or a mechanical thermometer calibrated to operate in that range.



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 Posted: Fri Jun 27th, 2008 02:56 am
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ronke
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Well, the part number on the invoice is 75440 but that of course could be a number specific to the repair company.  I couldn't find any such number on the Subzero system parts list, it 's way too short.  On the other hand, I seem to remember the replacement coming out of a Subzero box and it was pretty large and heavy. 

Re:  the frostiness of the coils, etc. I have to admit I am such a newbie at this that I have no idea how I even get to them on this refrigerator.    I do know that if I touch the plastic right above the freezer opening, it is really hot! 

I don't know if it's normal or not, but of the two fan switches at the back of the freezer, the left-hand one is permanently pushed in (i.e. the one between the light switch and the other fan switch)

I did put a mechanical thermometer that goes down to 0 in the freezer and with the freezer set at 10 it read exactly 20.  The refrigerator compartment, set at 7, is exactly 40 degrees.

Thank you so much for your help.  It is astonishing how depressed mushy ice cream can make a person at the beginning of summer. 

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 Posted: Fri Jun 27th, 2008 06:00 pm
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ronke
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Just to finish this up, I called Subzero today and talked to a very nice person in Tech Support.  She sighed when I told her what had been done to my poor fridge and said the first thing to do for ice on a small portion of the fridge interior is to replace the drain tube heater.  Only if that doesn't work, is there a need to install the "floor heater assembly" which actually has several different names but is more recommended for when the entire floor of the fridge (right above the freezer evaporator) is covered with ice. 

Armed with that info, my husband called the repair guys and got them to come out and look at this new problem.  Tony noted that we had a spanking new freezer compressor (so he couldn't claim we needed a new one of those babies) but that now its control, aka the defrost timer, needed to be replaced.  We battled over money for a while and compromised on something between the quote and zero. (He also had to do the whole Freon thing and cleaned the condensor coils while he was at it).  I put it on a credit card so should the freezer conk out again tomorrow, we have recourse.  Before he left, Tony said it probably was time to start looking for a new refrigerator but only recommended Subzero.  Even if I had the money, there is no way I would go down that route again.  Though I wasn't able to work out the problem on this forum I am still grateful I joined.  It was a mention here of someone talking to Subzero Tech Support that led me to make that very useful call. 

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 Posted: Fri Jun 27th, 2008 07:13 pm
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RegUS_PatOff
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ronke wrote: ... but that now its control, aka the defrost timer, needed to be replaced.  ... (He also had to do the whole Freon thing and cleaned the condensor coils while he was at it)... 

Why did it need the whole Freon thing (re-charged ?) again ?

When was the new Compressor put in ?



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 Posted: Fri Jun 27th, 2008 11:25 pm
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ronke
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I don't know why he recharged the freon, but I do know the company often does it when they're working around the compressor.   I seem to recall the freon being recharged after the replacement of the floor heater assembly, too and that was in a totally different part of the box.   Today he never said anything about a leak or anything.  He just hooked up his  YellowJacket to the compressor, frowned at the reading, installed the new timer, got a reading he was happier with (though only after cooling down said compressor with the only ice left in the freezer) and then hooked the middle tube up to the freon tank for a short while and said we were good to go.     And in fact the ice maker is now making ice so I guess we're getting cold.

I also have no memory of when exactly the freezer compressor was replaced.    Sometime within the past ten years;  probably within the past five.   It looked pretty shiny.   Interestingly, when he pulled the defrost timer, he said it was original equipment but in fact it was dated 1-90 whereas the fridge was made in 5-88 and installed in 8-88 so clearly the original timer was replaced less than 2 years after we got the fridge. 

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 Posted: Sat Jun 28th, 2008 12:31 am
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Samurai Appliance Repair Man
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Sounds like what you had was the Floor Defrost Package:

http://www.repairclinic.com/referral.asp?R=154&N=819060

Seems they may have overcharged you... unless that bill you gave was for the total yob, yanno....? : bandanna:



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 Posted: Sat Jun 28th, 2008 01:16 pm
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ronke
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Wow, didn't realize the markup was that huge.  The lady from Subzero also seemed astounded at how much they'd charged for the part... $400. ( The labor and tax brought it up to $600) but mentioned they'd probably purchased it not directly from Subzero but rather from an intermediary who would have added in their own profit.  We had had bad experiences with the authorized repair places early in the SZ's life but I definitely think that if we ever do any more work on this we will try a different one.   SZ recommended a place quite a ways from here (though within their work area) but said they did good work.  I wish I didn't keep reading such horrible things about every other refrigerator out there also, especially now that Maytag/Amana/Whirlpool seems to own everything but GE!  Anyway, thanks for the info.  Definitely better to be a sadder but wiser consumer.

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 Posted: Sat Jun 28th, 2008 01:56 pm
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Samurai Appliance Repair Man
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The part I linked you to IS the retail price, with a *normal* markup already included; that part normally retails for about $160. It sucks that you were taken advantage of and I hate hearing about these kind of ripoffs because they taint the entire trade in people's perceptions. And we need more bad publicity like we need a knife in the head. :knifehead:



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 Posted: Sat Jun 28th, 2008 01:57 pm
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RegUS_PatOff
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ronke wrote: ... especially now that Maytag/Amana/Whirlpool seems to own everything but GE! ...
GE's up for sale... who knows ....



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 Posted: Tue Jul 1st, 2008 04:05 pm
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ronke
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Well, if I were in NH, I'd know who to turn to.   But alas I'm 3000 miles away.

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