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Common Sub Zero Refrigerator Failures and How To Troubleshooting Them

The Sub Zero brand is recognized as one of the most advanced options in refrigeration technology, and it has held the top rank for more than 70 years. Sub Zero refrigerators are like the Ferraris of refrigeration. Each refrigerator unit is rigorously tested before being supplied to the consumer, reducing the likelihood of breakdown and repair needs. However, like any other electrical appliances in the home, the Sub Zero refrigerator may break down, requiring one to call on a Sub Zero refrigerator repair company.

As great as they are, even a Sub Zero refrigerator has a life span of about 12-15 years. If they are properly maintained, they can last even longer. Typically after 10 years, the parts of the Sub Zero sealed system will start breaking down.

The sealed system is made up of:

  • Compressor
  • Evaporator
  • Drier
  • Heat exchanger (suction line and capillary tube)
  • Condensate loop
  • Condenser
  • Other connective tubing
  • On some Wine Storage models, a refrigerant valve (solenoid) is also part of the sealed system

Typically one of the following parts like the compressor, evaporator, and the heat exchanger will go back and you will need to replace them.

While some of these frequent issues are easy to resolve, others may need to contact a professional repair technician. Below are the common failures that you may notice when using a Sub Zero refrigerator

The Vacuum condenser light is on

When the vacuum condenser light activates, the refrigerator condenser is overworking to keep the items in your refrigerator cold. When the light starts, you should first check the condenser coils and determine whether they are clean. Accumulated dirt on the coils is one of the reasons why the vacuum condenser light activates. Repair technicians recommend cleaning the condenser coils at least twice yearly, although people with pets should regularly do the cleaning. Besides coil cleanness, the other reason that can cause the light to turn on is when the evaporator coil develops small holes that may cause Freon to leak. Contact a professional appliance technician to help diagnose the problem and perform the required repair.

Failure to cool items

Another common Sub Zero Refrigerator problem occurs when you find that it does not cool the items stored in it sufficiently. It is important to note that, unlike other models, the Sub Zero refrigerator comes with two dedicated compressors, each for the freezer and refrigerator. The compressors ensure sufficient cooling both in the refrigerator and freezer compartment. When you find that the fridge is not keeping the items cool, the compressor is not functioning properly. The main cooling problems arise when

  • The condenser fan motor does not function properly
  • Faulty start relay
  • Failure of the evaporator fan motor

Contact an experienced professional Sub Zero in your local area to visit your home and diagnose the problem. The expert will do the necessary repairs or parts replacement that restores the cooling functionality.

Refrigerator leaking water

Sub Zero refrigerators can also leak water, leading to water pools on the floor. The most common reason for this is clogging or freezing defrost drain. You can prevent further leakage by flushing the drain with hot water to unfreeze it. Flushing the drain clears the ice and other debris, allowing water to circulate properly. Some of the other problems that can cause your refrigerator to leak include;

  • Faulty water inlet valve
  • Cracked water filter housing
  • Improper water tank assembly leads to leaks

Water leaks may not only lead to insufficient cooling but can also damage your delicate floors. It is crucial to find a quick fix for the problem. Professional Sub Zero refrigerator repair technicians near you can help troubleshoot the problem.

Everything Is Freezing

While the freezer compartment’s main job is to freeze the items stored in it, the refrigerator compartment is designed to keep the things cold/chilled but not frozen. Therefore, if you find that your refrigerator freezes everything, then it means that there is something wrong with the freezer. The following tips will help in troubleshooting a refrigerator that freezes everything.

Check Temperature Setting

Begin by double-checking the temperature controller to ensure it is set correctly. You might set the temperature too low.

Damage to the door seal

The seal may be broken if you detect ice forming on the fridge or door seal. When room temperature air enters the fridge, it will strain to maintain the proper temperature and pressure.

Dirty or worn-out condenser

It is possible that the condenser is dirty or worn out. In such a case, the refrigerant does not cycle properly, resulting in over-freezing.

Clogged Defrost Drain

A defrosting cycle is available on Sub Zero refrigerators, which allows the refrigerator to remove excess ice and moisture via the defrosting drain. Ice will build if the defrosting drain is unplugged or has accumulated too much dirt.

If you still find that the refrigerator is still freezing despite following these home troubleshooting tips, it is time to call a professional Sub Zero repair expert. The technician will perform multiple tests to diagnose the problem and replace the faulty parts causing the refrigerator to leak.

Sub Zero Refrigerator Temperature Fluctuates

Adding new products to the refrigerator can lead to an increase in temperature. However, the temperature will return to the set level after some time. Another reason that may cause temperature fluctuation is packing the products too tight. Overstocking your refrigerator does not allow proper air circulation, making it hard to maintain the appropriate temperature. However, if you find that the temperature still fluctuates even after rectifying those mentioned above, you need to seek professional assistance from qualified repair technicians.

Sub Zero Refrigerator Won’t Turn On

If you have just moved your refrigerator, you could be having trouble getting it to turn on. Keep in mind that your refrigerator has Freon, a refrigerant or form of lubrication that must be kept in the compressor. The refrigerant could have leaked into the coils if you did not keep it upright when relocating it.

Relocating the fridge ensures that the lubricant returns to its proper location. After relocating the refrigerator, you need to give it time to rest. After that, you switch it on, and it should run properly. Next, you need to check and ensure that the drawer or unit’s door is not left open for a long time. You also need to ensure that the switch is working and not in Sabbath mode.

Ensure that the power cord is securely plugged into the outlet and that the outlet is functional. Please switch off the circuit breaker for ten seconds before resetting it. Check to see if the unit is linked to a GFCI. Are you still having trouble resolving the problem? If this is the case, it is time to contact a Sub Zero repair expert.

Sub Zero Freezer Temperature Problems

A freezer temperature problem where the freezer does not cool, but the fridge is cold is also common. Luckily, you can do something to resolve this before calling an expert. Ensure that the door has not been open for an extended period. If something is preventing the door from closing properly, remove it. Next, you need to check the gasket and ensure it does not have tears, cracks, or rips. Additionally, ensure that you clean the condenser regularly. Contact a local Sub Zero repair expert for assistance if you still find that the freezer has temperature problems.

Too much Frost in the freezer

Excess Frost collecting in the freezer is a common problem with older refrigerators. It is usually caused by warm water getting into the fridge. Check the seal surrounding the door and repair it if necessary.

If this is not the issue, a malfunctioned defrost sensor may be the issue. You will need the assistance of a Sub Zero professional to replace the defrost sensor.


When your Sub Zero refrigerator is experiencing one or more of these problems, it is time to call a repair technician. Appliance Cowboys technicians have proper training, adequate experience, and proper quick diagnostics and repair tools. The technicians also have the skills to repair the refrigerator safely, preventing further damage. The professional will help get the current refrigerator working optimally at a fraction of the cost, saving you a lot of money that you could have used purchasing a new refrigerator.

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