Sub Zero Refrigerator Service Code EC 21 – Troubleshooting Guide

The Sub Zero refrigerator will display error code messages that tell you what’s wrong with it. Each code has a specific number that means a particular thing. The codes usually display the letters “ec,” which stands for error code, followed by a number. 

The Sub Zero refrigerator code ec 21 means the refrigerator’s temperature is too warm. Essentially, it means that the refrigerator’s condenser coils are dirty, which can cause bigger problems if left unattended. 

The following article is a detailed explanation of why you should clean your refrigerator condenser, which is the main thing that keeps hot air from getting into the refrigerator. It also includes a brief guide on doing it yourself versus having a professional do it for you. 

Why Do I Need to Clean The Refrigerator condenser Coils? 

Refrigerators create heat by running all of the parts necessary to function. A condenser part inside the refrigerator cools down this excess heat. If it’s dirty or clogged, the air can’t properly cool down, thus resulting in an overheated refrigerator. 

The main thing that keeps a refrigerator cool is a gas refrigerant, usually tetrafluoroethylene for newer models and freon in older ones. The fridge pumps this gas through condenser coils, where it gets cooled down and turned into a liquid.

This liquid then soaks up all of the heat that the refrigerator is producing and cools it down, making everything inside the refrigerator cold. 

However, condenser coils are prone to getting clogged with dirt and grime that builds up over the years. The condenser coils are usually at the bottom of a Sub Zero refrigerator and are thus more susceptible to dirt and dust getting into them.

This buildup can cause the gas to not be properly cooled, and then it can’t soak up the excess heat the refrigerator is making. As a result, the refrigerator gets overheated. 

This can then lead to other problems, such as malfunctioning parts of the refrigerator and spoiled food inside. To avoid these issues, it’s essential to keep the condenser coils clean. 

Read: How To Clean Condenser Coils On Refrigerator

Professional Service Versus Doing It Yourself

Having a professional clean your condenser coils is recommended if you have never done it before. It’s also recommended to have a professional do them if the refrigerator needs other repairs. However, it’s possible to clean the condenser coils yourself. 

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condenser coils are located on the back of the fridge near the bottom. You will have to gently and carefully pull the fridge out from the wall so you can easily look for them.

The coils have a thin, metallic sheet covering them, but it can be easily removed by unscrewing the screws on the four corners of the sheet. 

The condenser coils look very similar to a radiator. You can also tell which part is the condenser by holding your hand close to each of the parts.

However, you should not touch any of them directly, as this can result in a hand injury from the heat. A few ways to tell if your condenser coils are malfunctioning, besides the error code being displayed, include: 

  • Warm air coming from the refrigerator’s vents 
  • Air conditioner not turning on 
  • Refrigerant cooler leaking 
  • Odd noises coming from the refrigerator 

If one or more of these things is occurring, then it might be time to check on the condition of the condenser coils. 

Read: How Do You Know If Refrigerator Compressor Is Bad?

Professional Service

Hiring a professional to clean your evaporator coils is a good idea, especially if the refrigerator has other necessary repairs. However, it is worth noting how much a professional might cost and if it’s worth it compared to doing it yourself. 

Professionals can be hired to clean your condenser coils if you’ve never done it before, or if the refrigerator needs other repairs.

The cost of hiring a professional depends on the parts needed to repair the refrigerator, and the amount of time needed to do the repairs.

If you just need a thorough cleaning or a few minor repairs, then the average cost comes out to about $800. But if you need lots of repairs that require a lot of time and effort, then the cost can add up to about $3,600. 

It’s recommended that you research the best professional for you to hire that’s within your budget and fulfills your refrigerator needs. 

Raed: Why Is Fridge Making Rattling, Humming Or Buzzing Noise?

How to Do It Yourself?

Cleaning the condenser coils on your refrigerator is easier than you may think. It can also save you plenty of time and money in the long run if you frequently clean the refrigerator coils. 

To clean the refrigerator coils properly, the materials you will need are:

  • A vacuum cleaner, with a hose attachment 
  • A duster or wire bush
  • A clean rag 

Once you have all of your materials and the metal sheet above the coils is removed, you can get started. First, use the hose attachment on the vacuum cleaner to suck up as much dust and dirt as you can. Use it to only suck up the biggest pieces you can find. 

Once you’re done vacuuming, use the duster or wire brush to get in between each of the condenser coils. Dust out as much as you can onto the floor, and you can get the dust underneath and behind the fridge while you’re at it. 

After you’ve dusted, use the rag to get the last tiny bits of dust and dirt that are stuck to the coils. Push them out onto the floor like you did with the duster or coil brush, and give underneath and behind the fridge a good wipe down with another rag when you’re done. 

With as much dust as possible wiped off the coils, vacuum up the rest and give the coils another once-over for any small dust and dirt particles. Replace the metal sheet above the coils, and you’re all done.

The condenser coils should be cleaned every six months to a year. If the refrigerator is still malfunctioning after you’ve cleaned the coils, then it’s recommended that you call a professional. 

Final Thoughts

Keeping the condenser coils clean is one of the most important things you can do to keep your refrigerator running smoothly. Doing a thorough cleaning often will also help keep your refrigerator in peak condition for a long time, saving you time and money in the long run.

Read: Why My Refrigerator Keeps Running And It Does Not Turn Off? Protection Status