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Old 12-08-2016, 03:34 PM   #1
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SubZero 211RFD Temperature Variation


I have a 35 year old SubZero 211RFD built in. I have to repair this built in dinosaur because I cannot replace it. The kitchen designer 35 years ago put this unit in a place that is impossible to replace with any modern appliance. It would cost a fortune to modify the kitchen aesthetic to replace with a modern unit. Yes, I'd like to ring his neck right now.

I'm a handy DIY'er and have repaired this unit multiple times. The compressor runs well and the sealed system is....well sealed. The original R12 has been replaced with Sure Shot 2. Hopefully you techs are familiar with this stuff. I have also replace the refrigerator cold control and the freezer defrost timer. So far so good. The compressor has been replaced multiple times. The ex-changer has been cleaned and blown out with compressed air multiple times. Its clean as a whistle. I have also replaced the door gasket on the freezer unit and have on hand to a gasket to replace the refer door gasket.

Here's the problem.....I'm getting large temperature fluctuations in both the refer and freezer. The Refer will fluctuate from 27 deg to 45 deg. The freezer from -5 to 23 deg. Yes, I know not good. What is interesting is that when the unit warms up it actually uses less power so it appears that the compressor and the sealed system is operating OK. Is it possible that the Sure Shot stuff is not a good replacement for R12? I've installed a dryer on the line also.

Other than replacing the refer door gasket, does any one have any other suggestions to diagnose? Any help would be appreciated.
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Old 12-08-2016, 07:01 PM   #2
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Re: SubZero 211RFD Temperature Variation


Is the compressor cycling off? Or is it running al the time? I had a customer with the same setup about 5 years ago where I replaced the compressor but I used refrigerant 409. I can't speak for the hot shot as I haven't used it. We did another one a few months back as well.

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Old 12-08-2016, 07:18 PM   #3
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Re: SubZero 211RFD Temperature Variation


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Originally Posted by BayouRunner View Post
Is the compressor cycling off? Or is it running al the time? I had a customer with the same setup about 5 years ago where I replaced the compressor but I used refrigerant 409. I can't speak for the hot shot as I haven't used it. We did another one a few months back as well.
I believe the compressor is cycling properly. I monitor the the electrical use of the Subzero with a CT clamp on its dedicated circuit. It is a TED500 monitor. I know how the system absorbs power...ie when the compressor kicks on...when the system goes into defrost cycle...even when a door is opened. I know how long a cycle takes.

It is an energy hog...sucks about 7 to 10 kWh or around a $1 per day. Yeah, I know. But if I replace it will cost over $10k, maybe more. I won't live long enough to see a positive return to replace. Some things are best to just repair.
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Old 12-08-2016, 09:34 PM   #4
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Re: SubZero 211RFD Temperature Variation


I had a SubZero for about 20 years. Yes, it was an energy hog but I liked it. Finally had to give it up because so much condensation got between the walls it lost all its insulation. When I pulled it out I actually pulled dry wall of the wall. It was frozen to the wall.
Finally replaced it a couple years ago. Replaced it with a GE Monogram. I'm still in the process of making the panels for the replacement. Actually have the panels made, just have to stain and finish them. Wife finally figured out that *****ing doesn't speed me up.
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Old 12-08-2016, 11:41 PM   #5
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Re: SubZero 211RFD Temperature Variation


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Originally Posted by DanS26 View Post

Here's the problem.....I'm getting large temperature fluctuations in both the refer and freezer. The Refer will fluctuate from 27 deg to 45 deg. The freezer from -5 to 23 deg. Yes, I know not good. What is interesting is that when the unit warms up it actually uses less power so it appears that the compressor and the sealed system is operating OK. Is it possible that the Sure Shot stuff is not a good replacement for R12? I've installed a dryer on the line also.

What is your thermostat dial setting?

I have a 13-YO built-in (Northland). With the thermostat set at 3 (range of 1-5), min and max freezer temps are -7.6 F and 17.6 F.

I read that the recommended range is supposed to be -18 to -21 C (-0.4 to -5.8F), not sure if I remember that right. I could lower the max temp of my freezer by setting the thermostat dial to 4 or 5 but is it really necessary? 17.6 F is well below the freezing point. The air temp in the freezer is 17.6 F but frozen meat inner temp is lower (but not measured). I haven't timed how long it stays at 17.6 F during the defrost phase.
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Old 12-09-2016, 06:26 AM   #6
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Re: SubZero 211RFD Temperature Variation


Just trying to figure out what's going on. My guesses would be as follows. Compressor runs gets hot, cycles out on overload the. When it cools down it's coming back on causing a wide temp variation. Could be as simple as a bad thermostat. One thermostat works for both units? Most of the ones I work on have separate compressors for frig and freezer or are entirely separate units
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Old 12-09-2016, 09:24 AM   #7
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Re: SubZero 211RFD Temperature Variation


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Originally Posted by Druidia View Post
What is your thermostat dial setting?

I have a 13-YO built-in (Northland). With the thermostat set at 3 (range of 1-5), min and max freezer temps are -7.6 F and 17.6 F.

I read that the recommended range is supposed to be -18 to -21 C (-0.4 to -5.8F), not sure if I remember that right. I could lower the max temp of my freezer by setting the thermostat dial to 4 or 5 but is it really necessary? 17.6 F is well below the freezing point. The air temp in the freezer is 17.6 F but frozen meat inner temp is lower (but not measured). I haven't timed how long it stays at 17.6 F during the defrost phase.
Thermostat is set at 5 out of 10. If I move it up to 6 then things start to freeze in the refer section.
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Old 12-09-2016, 09:34 AM   #8
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Re: SubZero 211RFD Temperature Variation


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Originally Posted by BayouRunner View Post
Just trying to figure out what's going on. My guesses would be as follows. Compressor runs gets hot, cycles out on overload the. When it cools down it's coming back on causing a wide temp variation. Could be as simple as a bad thermostat. One thermostat works for both units? Most of the ones I work on have separate compressors for frig and freezer or are entirely separate units
Bayou I think you are on to something.

I recharged the unit with HotShot 2 but I could not find exactly how much of that refrigerant to use since the SubZero calls for R12. The door panel specs call for 14 oz of R12. What is the right amount of HotShot 2 to replace the R12?

So if I undercharged the sealed system I might be seeing the compressor timing out on overload and that is also why the unit is consuming about 50% more energy than original specs. What do you think?
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Old 12-09-2016, 03:24 PM   #9
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Re: SubZero 211RFD Temperature Variation


Keep in mind I'm not looking at it but I think it's low on refrigerant and the compressor is overheating and taking a while to come back on. Can't tell you the right amount sorry as I've not used it before. Make a call to the company maybe they could tell you. Suction line should feel cooler if it's been running for a while. If it's warm the I'd say undercharged. If it was overcharged the auction line would be freezing back to the compressor. If you could get a quick glance at the Evap coil it should be frozen all the way across the coil after it has been running for a while. If it's not you need more refrigerant. Problem is you can't always see the coil but on some of those old ones you can. Next time the compressor cycles off and your temperature is still warm check and see if you have power to the compressor. That will be the seas giveaway there. As compressor will be warm or hot but have power and not be running. It's kind of tricky when your using different refrigerants . I've not had enough of them to warrant a whole lot of research. But I understand that the unit is part of your cabinets so to speak so you've got to keep it going
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Old 12-09-2016, 03:27 PM   #10
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Re: SubZero 211RFD Temperature Variation


Can't edit my my post but it's suppose to say dead giveaway not seas.
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Old 12-09-2016, 04:00 PM   #11
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Re: SubZero 211RFD Temperature Variation


As luck would have it....now I find the conversion Guidelines for Hot Shot 2. It says that the initial charge of Hot Shot 2 should be 80% of the original R-12 charge. Then goes on to say ....if additional Hot Shot 2 needs to be added, do so in 5% increments and DO NOT exceed 115% of the original charge of R-12.

But I should only do this by checking pressures, subcooling, and superheat temperatures. Sounds like an excuse for me to buy more testing equipment....hahaha.

Anyway, thanks for your help. I may need to bring in an expert with all the right equipment.
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Old 12-09-2016, 04:01 PM   #12
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Re: SubZero 211RFD Temperature Variation


sounds like a thermostat problem to me. Where are you taking these temps? You said you replaced the thermostat. Does the thermostat sensor connect to anything or is it just sensing air temp. Hot shot back in the day was a very good substitute refrigerant with no problems
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Old 12-09-2016, 04:17 PM   #13
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Re: SubZero 211RFD Temperature Variation


Quote:
Originally Posted by DanS26 View Post
As luck would have it....now I find the conversion Guidelines for Hot Shot 2. It says that the initial charge of Hot Shot 2 should be 80% of the original R-12 charge. Then goes on to say ....if additional Hot Shot 2 needs to be added, do so in 5% increments and DO NOT exceed 115% of the original charge of R-12.

But I should only do this by checking pressures, subcooling, and superheat temperatures. Sounds like an excuse for me to buy more testing equipment....hahaha.

Anyway, thanks for your help. I may need to bring in an expert with all the right equipment.
I have never worked on a sealed system that I couldn't get an approximate charge in by nothing more than the feel of the suction line. The suction line should be a little colder than room temp after the compressor has been running for a while. To cold and frosting, indicates over charge too warm indicates under charge. Just a thought to give you an approximate idea of the charge
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Old 12-09-2016, 04:51 PM   #14
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Re: SubZero 211RFD Temperature Variation


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sounds like a thermostat problem to me. Where are you taking these temps? You said you replaced the thermostat. Does the thermostat sensor connect to anything or is it just sensing air temp. Hot shot back in the day was a very good substitute refrigerant with no problems
You know hardwareman....before I go off screwing around with the sealed system, I'm going to replace the thermostat. As Sherlock Holmes would say check the obvious first before grasping at straws. Large temp swings would indicate a temp control problem....I'll start there.
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Old 12-10-2016, 09:37 AM   #15
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Re: SubZero 211RFD Temperature Variation


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You know hardwareman....before I go off screwing around with the sealed system, I'm going to replace the thermostat. As Sherlock Holmes would say check the obvious first before grasping at straws. Large temp swings would indicate a temp control problem....I'll start there.
I never suggested you screw with the sealed system, I simply pointed out that you can get a good idea of your charge by feeling the suction line

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