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- > Do-It-Yourself Appliance Repair Help > The Kitchen Appliance Repair Forum > Sub-Zero 211 RFD, gradual temp. drop in fridge, freezer

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Sub-Zero 211 RFD, gradual temp. drop in fridge, freezer  Rate Topic 
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 Posted: Sat Apr 25th, 2009 01:01 am
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astro
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I have read many, many posts, FAQs and listened to some podcasts before deciding to toss this issue into the arena of the Samurai.
I have learned many a great fact about refrigerators and freezers and for that, I am appreciative. It's been nice knowing the process of what keeps my bacon cold and fresh.
I am, however, still stuck in regard to any kind of solid answer as to what's going on. I'm an artist so I'm not super mechanically or technically inclined. To make matters worse, I'm an unemployed artist.
"Are there any other types?", you might ask. A mere 2 months ago, I was gainfully employed and making art things. Today, I am watching a lot of TV. Things got worse when the beer that I've been crying into started to turn warm.
"What's an unemployed artist doing with a fancy-fants Sub-Zero refrigerator?"
Good question. It was here when I bought the house 5 years ago. I never thought much about it until it stopped working properly and I found out how F**=+$# expensive they are.

I'm a single dude...I honestly don't keep much more than beer, soda, bacon and milk (sometimes) in my refrigerator. But now that she's gone...I miss her. Terribly. Yesterday was trash day so I removed a frozen pizza that looked like a shrink-wrapped eye-talian fajita.

There was no thunderstrike here...I noticed about 2 weeks ago that my ice cream was kind of frothy and my beer wasn't as cold as it should be. I decided that there was too much crap in there and cleaned house to help the convection of the unit and noticed not much of a difference.
Another week goes by and I'm starting to get concerned.
I check the condenser unit and clean it with an approved brush and vacuum it all out. I have cleaned it about 4 times since I've moved in but there was considerable dust bunny action. The fan by the compression unit was working like a charm...no problems there. Still very little if any improvement in the temperature.
Two days ago, I started reading posts and gathering info from fixitnow to see if I could diagnose the problem. Still, I am stumped and come humbly to ask for a sliver of advice.

The one thing I DID notice was that the vent plate was POSSIBLY keeping the freezer door down below from triggering the condenser fan in the freezer. I still cannot be sure. i did remedy that by shimming up the plate that contacts the button that triggers it. That was yesterday. No noticeable difference though I know it takes time to reacclimate a warm freezer.

Here's the main gristle of what's going on:

• Compressor runs smooth and hums as normal WHEN it runs.
it seems to run about 3 -4 times a day for about 1.5 hours each cycle.
• There is nothing built up on the freezer coils...no ice, no frost that I can see.. I know this is generally a sign of a sealed compressor problem but I'm holding onto hope of something else

• The refrigerator is running at about 50 degrees maybe (using my trusty palm thermometer...) and freezer running at about 35 maybe.
I just went out today and bought a thermometer for each but it'll be a while before I get a fairly accurate reading I'm guessing.

• There is no freezer control...single compressor with convection from what I understand but the refrigerator dial is turned up to 9...as far as it will go.

•No strange noises, no strange water or ice....seemingly nothing out of the ordinary.
I honestly can't recall how often it ran since it's pretty quiet. But running 3-4 times per day seems suspect to me because I thought the defrost cycle was only supposed to last for a half hour or so. Many hours go by without the booger kicking on.

One other thing to mention is that the ice machine hasn't worked for a while. I don't know how long but I'd say 4 months. Since I don't put ice in my beer, I never really noticed or took much interest in the ice maker. I'm guessing this stopped happening after the freezer quit freezing.

ONE other issue...it's a built in unit of course. I cannot even see where this thing is plugged IN.
This is, like I said, a freezer bottom unit. There is a vent plate at the bottom with some electrical/coil jigamabobs down there I am afraid to touch.

I DO have the original receipt of sale if that will help. This unit was purchased in January of 1983. I know...right? Long life up until now. I also have the original schematics of the electrical map AND the original book that came with it if that is something that would helpful to anyone else if they have the same unit and just need an electrics schematic for reference or just in case.

I apologize for being lengthy and overly descriptive...I know this is a lot to wade through so I just put the important info with some bullets/dots to help.
And in advance, I appreciate any help/suggestions people can offer. I know getting a sub-zero fixed (esp sealed work) is hefty and that I may be better off to buy a new one. Were I employed, I'd just get it fixed. And still may. But I'd like to see what the experts think before I jump off any cliffs.
Thanks.

Last edited on Sat Apr 25th, 2009 01:10 am by astro

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 Posted: Sat Apr 25th, 2009 07:13 pm
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If you remove the evaporator panel and there is no frost pattern or frost starting to form, the problem may be a low side leak, I.E. small hole in the evap coils..........Did you see an ice ball where the capillary tube ( small ) line enters the coils?? Can you take and post a  picture of the coils ? Preferably near the top where the high side/ low side tubing is ?? Easily  recharged and even if a very small hole it may last till you get gainfully employed till the evap. coil can get replaced  ( most leaks are in the evap coils with the sub-O)...............  evacuate and recharge $250.00  in this part of the woods..........keep us posted

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 Posted: Sat Apr 25th, 2009 07:58 pm
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astro
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CTG51,

There was only one small piece of ice I could see at all. (I've included a shot of the little, lone bugger).
The unit has been running without interruption (as far as power or me turning it off) non-stop so the lack of ice/frost/etc isn't a result of it not running at full clip.

Here are some images of the unit....apart from brown condensation dripping down, there was no sign of ice, moisture or frost to be seen.
The current temperature before I turned the unit off to remove the cover was about 34 degrees.

The overall evap coils (please click links to see the full sized image)http://i2.photobucket.com/albums/y30/dhp44/condfull.jpg

Close up of right side of coils:http://i2.photobucket.com/albums/y30/dhp44/conddet.jpg

Close up of the only ice I could find anywhere:
http://i2.photobucket.com/albums/y30/dhp44/condice.jpg

Close up of the left side:
http://i2.photobucket.com/albums/y30/dhp44/condleft.jpg

As good of photo as I could get to underneath:
http://i2.photobucket.com/albums/y30/dhp44/cond.jpg

Hope those images help some. I'm going to leave her unplugged for an hour, turn her back on and see if there are any further signs of life down south in the cold spot.

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 Posted: Sat Apr 25th, 2009 08:32 pm
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Evaporator should be evenly frosted within an hour of Compressor run time.



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 Posted: Sat Apr 25th, 2009 08:51 pm
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astro
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Thanks, RegUS...
I had read on the FAQ where that's the normal situation but I guess I'm just trying to figure out why there's no frost or ice on it.

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 Posted: Sat Apr 25th, 2009 09:12 pm
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either it's just came out of a Defrost Cycle,

OR there's a problem with the Sealed System (leak, etc)



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 Posted: Sat Apr 25th, 2009 09:33 pm
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astro
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Since it's been running warm for the past 2 weeks, I'm going to guess that it wasn't just coming out of the defrost cycle.

Is there no other component that would cause the compressor to run too infrequently? Or for the defrost cycle to stay on too long?
Could even a bad thermostat be keeping the coils free of ice/frost?

If a compressor leak is the only issue that can cause a lukewarm frig/freezer with no frost on the coils, I'll accept my fate and concede to move on to the next step.

I guess I thought since the compressor is only running about 4 times per day that there was an issue with overheating or an element that controls that.
My thought was that if the compressor would run for longer than 4 hours per day, those coils would frost right up.

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 Posted: Sat Apr 25th, 2009 09:47 pm
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The Evaporator should start frosting nicely after 20 minutes or so...

Depends on why the Compressor isn't running (Cold Control, Compressor over-heating... )



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 Posted: Sat Apr 25th, 2009 09:56 pm
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astro
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ahhh...RegUS,

Thank you very much for your continued input.
I'm going to try to bypass the climate control and see if the compressor kicks on. If it does, I'll let it run for a while and then check the coils again.

much appreciated.

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 Posted: Sun Apr 26th, 2009 04:55 am
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astro
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Well, after pulling everything apart by the thermostat, I was afraid to try to bypass the unit and try it that way. Not surprisingly, the wiring was more complicated than i thought it would be.

The extent of my electrical experience was hanging lights and wiring a security light so I'm looking for pos/neg/ground but there were two wires coming in and two wires going out from the thermostatic unit itself so I decided to play it safe and just put it back together.

One thing I did notice is that I turned the thermostat down to 5 (down from the 9 it's been on) and the compressor didn't run for almost 5 hours. I was convinced the thing just died altogether.
I turned it back up to 9 and the compressor kicked on within minutes and ran for the usual 1.5 hours and then kicked off again. And hasn't run since (which was about 2.5 hours ago).

I'm starting to accept the fact that there's a slow leak somewhere in the sealed system but I'm also concerned about the cold control at this point.
Seems that the compressor would want to keep running full clip as it tries to hit the cold point so that it would kick off properly.

If anyone else has any insight or suggestions, I would appreciate the help.

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 Posted: Sun Apr 26th, 2009 05:02 am
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astro wrote: ... Seems that the compressor would want to keep running full clip as it tries to hit the cold point so that it would kick off properly...
Yes, unless the Compressor is over-heating and shutting off ..



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 Posted: Sun Apr 26th, 2009 09:37 pm
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I will try and get a service manual or wire diagram from the Info-master himself (  the often imitated, never duplicated, the one and only) Reg U.S.  :geek:................... The comp. should stay running until the cold control is satisfied.....

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 Posted: Tue Apr 28th, 2009 06:36 pm
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astro
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Wow...after all of that, I had a subzero guy over today.
He was here for about 20 minutes, replaced the defrost timer and I'm running like new so far.

Surprised nobody mentioned the defrost timer as a potential problem.
Seems like everyone always wants to say 'sealed system' when I wrote the symptoms (posted on a few message boards).

I guess the final results remain to be seen...have to let her run for 24 hours to get back to normal but the guy seemed 100% confident.
Hopefully this will help someone else in the future.
I spent about 12 hours digging through google and various refrigerator message boards and I read about busted defrost timers but nothing directly tied to what I was experiencing.

So if you hit this post from google and everyone is pointing to the compressor or the sealed system, try the defrost tiimer first. I could have likely put it in myself and rescued it for about $45 if I had some kind of idea that it was the culprit.
And to be honest, even if it does end up being a leak, spending $45 to try a new defrost timer is nothing compared to the potential cost of fixing that sealed system or buying a new unit which seemed to be the consensus.

Wow. I'm relieved but I'm also surprised that it was something nobody thought might have been the offending piece.

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