Subzero 736 TC problems...any experiences?

breezy_2May 27, 2008

We have been in our NH for 6 months now. About a month ago, we noticed ice cream not being firmly frozen in our SZ 736 and I posted about that. Responses and owners' manual said clean the coils so we did with limited success. Since then, the fan motor is making a loud vibration, the unit is icing up in the back, the ice maker is all but dead and the LCD panel keeps flashing error codes 24 and 40 (defrost error and compressor run time error).

The service gut came today and said he had to order parts and blah/blah/blah. When asked why such a new unit would have such problems, he just commented that even the best of units have initial failure sometimes. However, with all of the complaints I have seen about the SZ/Wolf line over the last 6 months commented on in this forum, I wonder if they are beginning to run off of past reputation and letting quality go down the drain.

So here I have the most expensive refrigerator in its line and it needs major repair. Anyone else had this experience? I mean it seems over the years, the more we paid for a refrigerator, the worse it was on service. SHould I dig in and refuse repair on a unit this early in its life?

In addition, the installers made a mess of our wood floors when they put the unit in. Now they have to remove it to repair and reinstall it. Just another issue to worry about I guess.

This is another of a LONG line of paying (big time!)for TOL during our build and getting stuff (and work) that needed to be fixed.

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We've placed about a dozen in the last 18 months (not a groundswell I know)and had no service issues.

Your wood floors were not damaged because of the model ref. you chose. Your inept installers are to blame. Hope the were simply ignorant and not stupid, or you'll be in worse shape after the repair.

Unless your state has some sort of lemon law on appliances or your dealer sells a lot of SZ/Wolf product and is willing to squeeze for you - you'll have no leverage w/ SZ getting a "new" unit. Their warranty is in place and they are honoring the terms of it.

The 736 is not even close to the most expensive SZ model.

    Bookmark   May 27, 2008 at 9:38PM
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We've had numerous SZs (in multiple houses over the years) that have not needed service until their late teen years.

We installed more SZs in our new house, and one of them, an undercounter refrigerator/freezer unit, needed service after just 8 months: its digital display died & the bell didn't work. It was repaired under warranty, which is very long compared to everything else. It's working great & we're happy.

I would get your 736 repaired ASAP. I don't think your unit will have to be removed to repair it--ours never have.

    Bookmark   May 27, 2008 at 11:35PM
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Antss, thanks for your very obviously biased input as a dealer! I have read your responses on this forum for quite some time thinking you were simply a well informed consumer, not a dealer. I, for one, from this point forward, will view your comments on this forum with a grain of salt. And yes, one of the few comments I will value from your input is that 12 units does not not rank as a quantifiable history much less a ground swell make!

I was seeking advice not a scolding. I am aware that the installation issues are not the result of the unit itself but they are indeed an irritant from those who proffer themselves as "qualified and authorized" Subzero dealers and installers. Yes, the unit was indeed purchased from and installed by an authorized SZ dealer. Do you sell, arrange for installation and then blame inept installers for your lack of professionalism in installing the units you sell? Or do you contend that your professional services as a Subzero dealer exceed that of other Subzero dealers?

To clarify, I NEVER said my unit was the most expensive SZ unit. I said it was one of the most expensive units in IT'S LINE..meaning of its competitors- same size - same configuration - same features. Yes, your reading comprehension aside, I am aware I could have spent double in the SZ line but we spent plenty for a unit in need of a major repair now within 6 months of its installation.

Thanks to gizmonike for the encouraging input. It is helpful at this stage to hear some positive consumer input and I sincerely welcome others.


    Bookmark   May 27, 2008 at 11:54PM
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breezy - perhaps you should check your reading comprehenshion and check your facts before you spout off at the mouth because someone didn't play yes man to your plight, pat you on the head and tell you it'd be OK. It should be obvious to any but the severely obtuse that going through authorized service is your best course. This is what gizmo advised, and you so highly lauded. The # of SZ units (s)he's had is no groundswell either if your metric is applied. I've had SZ's in my personal residences almost exclusively since the early 70's too, as well as the ones we sell, so what? How does either pertain to your specific prob. if your rational is applied?

BTW, I am not an appliance dealer, we sell appliances form time to time but it's more a courtesy than anything else, and yes our service does exceede many SZ dealer's. We have never damaged a customer's floor puting in a fridge. We make sure our guys are trained, have the right tooling, make the necessary logistical arrangements before the unit shows up. We've even rented cherry pickers to deliver fridges and removed windows when access was questionable. The boss is always present or shows up to check things, I don't leave much to chance.

While you are quick to point out that you codified you $$$ commnent with "LINE". That means different things to different people. To you it's obvious that you meant it's the most expensive totally integrated ref. To others it might mean it's the most expensive 700 series, no joke? Others may take it like I did. I think what you really meant to say was "class" didn't you? Meaning fully integrated, of which their are only 2. The 700 series and the Thermador/Gaggenau/Bosch and their soon Miele cousin. Even then it's possible that Miele's will eclipse the 736 in price. BTW it's hard if not impossible to find 2 diff. makes of integrateds with the "same size - same configuration - same features." You also trip on your own words: "could have spent double in the SZ line" - so which is it? Is it the most expensive in the "line" or not? Enquiring minds want to know.

What I'm really saying is there is always a flip side to the coin. I like to offer that, especially on the "internet" where many seem to talk the late Mr. Hearst's sentiments: If I print it, they'll believe it. You make no mention of what the tech. said was wrong with the unit, what parts he ordered or possible causes. If your computer board was bad and causing the havoc and thier was a recent elect. surge in your area that fried the board - then how would that be SZ's fault? You sould have protected you investment better. If a factory worker bent the tubing to the evaporator so it doesn't cycle properly, then that is definitely a factory problem and SZ should be admonished. I also don't see how damaging your flooring is germain to a discussion on product quality or reliability, so why bring it up in the first place, if not to add credibility to your side's arguement that SZ is obviously making a lot of junk these days? You also make no mention o where your dealer stands in all this other than tehy are coming to remove the unit for floor repair. Have they appologised? Agreed to pick up the re-finishing costs, go to bat for you on the new unit instead of reapair?

Just don't get caught up in the I read in CR that X brand has problems , I read on the internet that someone actually has X brand and had a problem, I got that brand and had a problem, so, it must be trouble. Be sure to give all the facts, which CR does not and most posters on the internet don't either.

    Bookmark   May 28, 2008 at 9:58AM
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I was seeking advice not a scolding.

fwiw, i didn't read any of antss' comments as 'scolding'.

Antss, thanks for your very obviously biased input as a dealer! I have read your responses on this forum for quite some time thinking you were simply a well informed consumer, not a dealer. I, for one, from this point forward, will view your comments on this forum with a grain of salt.

you should take everyone's input on this forum with a grain of salt. consumers have their own biases as well.

And yes, one of the few comments I will value from your input is that 12 units does not not rank as a quantifiable history much less a ground swell make!

which antss readily acknowledged. but 12 units in a year far surpasses what most consumers could report about.

i'm sorry to hear about your troubles with your SZ, and i can see how you'd be upset, but i don't think it's right to take it out on antss.

if you want only sympathy and support, then you should make that clear in your post. if you ask for advice or to hear about the experiences of others, then you might not like 100% of the responses. that's kind of how it goes with advice sometimes.

    Bookmark   May 28, 2008 at 10:39AM
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We have the 642 model, so this may not apply. About 6-8 weeks after installation we had similar symptoms: loud motor noise, soft ice cream, icicles, and increasingly warm temps in the freezer. I called customer service at 7:00am our time, was given a number to call locally, and by 9:00 am a technician was here to fix the problem. His theory was that the freezer door had been inadvertently left ajar and the ice melted and refroze around the fan etc. Since we had guests "vacationing" in our home while we were out of town, this is entirely possible. He took it apart, checked the parts, cleaned and dried them and put it all back together. No problems since and it has been three months. We are now careful about closing the door properly. Service was fantastic.

    Bookmark   May 28, 2008 at 5:43PM
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Breezy2, at our previous house, we had Subzero 700 refrig-freezer combination 2001 vintage. The fully integrated effect was beautiful and stunning. However, we had a few visits from our dealers service department due to electronic control panel problems, flashing error codes and an inoperative icemaker. All of this happened during the 1st year. We still had error codes from time to time until we moved 18 months ago. The Subzero technical experts were at a loss to figure that out.

I was very grateful to never have the refrig stop cooling, but that machine never inspired confidence and really made me anxious when we would leave town for a vacation. Before heading off to bed I would always check it to make sure it was not acting up.

Often, I wished we had put our foot down and requested another unit. Like you, we paid a hefty price for the look and always felt a twinge of disappointment.

    Bookmark   May 28, 2008 at 9:41PM
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Let me revive this one for the record.

Repairman came, made a repair and declared the unit fixed. It did return to normal operation and again froze ice cream sufficiently. One week later, the service codes reappeared - same ones. We called again and the repairman came out and declared the unit again fixed. Now 2 hours later, codes are again back and the freezer is losing temp quickly and substantially.

So much for the best in class.

    Bookmark   June 13, 2008 at 10:13PM
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This has little to do with best in class. It has everything to do with an incompetent or ignorant repair tech (who may not even work for SZ- you don't specify).

What was the repair done the first time? The second, the third. Were parts replace all three times. Did he simply clear the fault codes out without actually repairing what was/is causing them? Ran fine long enough for him to get away. Were you charged labor/parts all 3 times. Did you actually pay if you were- it should all be under warranty. After the 2nd gaff I'd have been on the phone to senior mgmt. in Madison getting someone who actually knows what they are doing sched. for a visit to my house. Certainly SZ bears responsibility to provide you with a working unit and compentent techs, they train and certify them afterall, but the human factor is hard to manage when someone is not actually your employee and only has 2 days training.

You have a part in this too, just because it was expensive, had a good rep, doesn't mean they are all perfect or that a broken one can/will be fixed with a phone call. You really need to stay on top of this and be tough but polite. It seems like the ol P.T. Barnum line: fool me once - shame on you ; fool me twice - shame on ..... BTW , what is the dealer that sold you this lemon doing to help you?

    Bookmark   June 14, 2008 at 12:19AM
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It has everything to do with best in class! That is what SZ advertises and holds out and what they charge a premium for.

After our now almost daily visit from the SZ repair folks, more parts had to ordered (no, I do not know what parts nor do I care!) only to initially find out NONE were available. Later that day we got a call that the part had been now located. In an interesting twist though, we overheard the repair person on the phone with the distributor only to learn that our unit was in need of repair on delivery and apparently had to be repaired at installation and we just were not aware of it b/c we had not yet moved in nor did anyone bother to tell us. In short, a defective unit was apparently passed off on us knowingly by the distributor.

I agree I have a part in this too. That was paying for the unit in full as agreed as a new and fully functioning unit on the purchase date. I fulfilled my responsibility by paying in full when due. Now the ball is in SZs court and it is their responsibility to deliver what I purchased - a fully functioning unit without defect when delivered and installed as such. The rest is hog wash!

    Bookmark   June 18, 2008 at 12:30AM
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If it was a $40,000 car that you had to pay the bill on would you ask any questions or just accept the $1500 repair bill?

    Bookmark   June 18, 2008 at 6:48AM
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cunuck99...WHAT? Are you serious?

Are you kidding? What is it with the anology to a car that seems to be example of choice for several threads one of which that I have seen recently that is rampant and rabbid at this point IMO.

If you are suggesting that I should accept repair to a fundementally flawed unit and even pay the repair bill then NO, I would never accept continued repairs from inception on a car or oven or TV that was plagued with problems from delivery much less expect to pay for them. However, if you are suggeting you would, I am sure every dealer of major purchase items loves to see you comeong!

PLEASE! Or maybe I missed your point.

    Bookmark   June 18, 2008 at 7:52AM
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Breezy - best in class doesn't mean every unit that comes off the line is perfect or lasts the stated lifetime.

THIS IS CLEARLY A DEALER PROBLEM - and you should be hounding them for a NEW unit period. Your agreement is with them to provide you with what you ordered. Sub Zero is certainly culpable in this to the extent that they have done their dealer a dis-service by providing the with crap unit, but who knows what's going on here with this particular unit. Like I said we've used over a dozen of these on our projects with ZERO problems. It's clear that SZ is not doing a bait and switch selling the dream and then delivering smoke!

I'd call SZ and quietly ask service for the history of your serial #, say you are considering buying this on the used market and would like to know it's history. Don't give you real name, # or address. Have a friend call if you can't stomach the cloak and dagger. Now you'll have ammunition to bust your dealer. Get him to remove the current unit and ship a NEW functioning one.

"no, I do not know what parts nor do I care!" - this is a dangerous attitude to take if eventually you have FORCE the dealer or SZ to do the right thing. You'll need solid documentation to show that: this was bad from the start , this piece was replaced 3 times, that piece once, this other one once ect... You have to establish a written pattern. It's unfortunate the situation you're in but to think that: "I paid a lot of $$$ for this , It's Sub Zero they'll make it right- all I have to do is keep calling , is a bit naive. It's clear that the M.O. in this case is to keep throwing parts at the unit until someone figures it out, it works long enough for you to not complain or long enough so the warranty expires. I've see this happen before on indiv. units- and at better firms than SZ. The PEOPLE that run these things get in a rut and cannot see the forrest because of the tree right in front of them. They'd rather beat their head against the wall for months than take a 1 second slap in the face.

    Bookmark   June 18, 2008 at 9:19AM
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My point is simple. If someone fixes anything in warranty or not I know exactly what they did and the parts they replaced and why. It is documented on paper before I leave or they leave.

    Bookmark   June 18, 2008 at 1:48PM
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cannuck - I agree if I am footing the bill but I am not. I have hedged my bets a bit and I DO know exactly what has been done so far that was disclosed but that is not the point and I really care not. The point is that, as I said before, a fundamentlly flawed product should be replaced not repaired.

As for best in class, I agree with antss 100% that that does not guarantee 100% perfection. What it does stand for in my mind is if the product is clearly defective from the start it should be replaced not repaired. I have dealt with best of class operations and manufacturers and they are VERY protective of their reputation and replace in similar situations without question.

I have not slammed the dealer yet b/c I had yet to put my foot down until I learned of the defect on delivery. He represents he was not aware of the issue either. It apparently was a condensation leak on the floor that required a part to be replaced. We have antique heart pine floors in our kitchen and the last thing they or I want is that repair bill.

The good news is that the dealer is now of the opinion that the unit should be replaced and, by his representation, this most recent repair is to buy us time until they can get us a new one. On a less encouraging note, the distributor alleges that the repair person did not follow protocol by calling the service into the distributor which both the dealer and we as witnesses know he did. Also, it was the actually the distributor that told the current repairman of the initial repair. Apparently the employee who intalled our unit is no longer with the dealer. In the current repairman's call to the distributor they apparently asked about the original repair October 2, 2007 which none of us knew about.

I admit I was more than miffed at antss' initial responses to my original posts but he/she did answer an important question..."Is this a persistent problem with these units or am I just the lucky one who got a lemon?"

Given the majority of the responses to date, I am convinced it is the latter and told my dealer I had not lost confidence in SZ or the 736 TC, just this particular one.

Hopefully we are on the road to satisfaction. I do not want anyting I did not pay for but I do want full value for dollar paid. Additionally, I will admit to major frustration. Of the the most expensive items we sacrificed for in this house 3 of the top 5 are the ones we are still battling with now 6 months later. Just like anyone else, when we do the research, check our facts then are willing to pay the extra bucks to get the TOL, it is very frustrating when you fairly consistently do not get it.

Thanks for the insight!

    Bookmark   June 18, 2008 at 6:48PM
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Based on the statement "no, I do not know what parts nor do I care" you were not up to speed on the repairs.

Good luck on the replacement.

Make sure you whip SZ into shpae before I order my BI-48S

    Bookmark   June 18, 2008 at 7:58PM
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Picking on a comment earlier:

"If your computer board was bad and causing the havoc and thier was a recent elect. surge in your area that fried the board - then how would that be SZ's fault? "

Yes, it is SZ's fault. And I say this as an electronic engineer who has designed many such circuits in 30 years. You can buy a surge protector for what, $10? You are not really telling me when I pay $8,000 for a fridge that its power supply feeing the microprocessor shouldn't have simple protection circuit like that? Or have components rated for higher voltage swings so that they don't short out?

We bought our SZ in 2001 I think for $4,800. The same fridge almost cost $8,000. Surely instead of raising the cost so much per year, they could improve the quality of the system. Ours has averaged a break down about once every 18 months. It is absolutely unacceptable to have this kind of reliability record. And please don't say it is just us and that this other person has had no issues. Consumer Reports has reported year after year that SZ reliability is well below that of every other maker.

They have designed a nice machine. It is a shame that they don't seem to either understand how to make them more reliable, or when it fails, to make sure it doesn't cost consumers so much money to fix it.

A fridge is the only "mission critical" equipment in the kitchen. If our stove breaks, we can cook outside. If the dishwasher breaks, we can wash by hand. If the toaster breaks, we can eat something untoasted. But when the fridge breaks and everything starts to go bad, it is a 911 situation in our house and stress level goes through the roof. So I don't for a moment accept any excuse for reliability a single bit below the best that can be achieved. Period.

Of course, we are following our own advice and purchasing another brand and spending nearly $10K with them. Not that this will make any difference to SZ corporation it seems. But as they say, fool me once, shame on you, fool me twice, shame on me! So there is no way we would give them the business in the future.

    Bookmark   June 18, 2008 at 8:21PM
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amirm- that xtra 3200 bucks is going to pay for Mr. Bakke's racehorse or new dishwasher factory. It's going to his steel supplier, his plastic supplier, their shippers, his shippers, and everyone else in the food chain.

Don't get us started of CR's ratings. Those are based on their readers surveys only, and the SZ (un)reliability is due to failing ice makers, particuliarly in door models. SZ only makes one of those and they are prone to failure as a group. CR's readers are generally not buying up luxury/expensive cars - appliances- electronics in numbers that make those reliability reports anywhere near accurate. In my years of owning and specifing SZ, dating back to the early 70's - I have NEVER seen or heard of a unit with an icemaker problem. Well you say, that can't be very many units, and it's not compared to the total SZ sells. Same thing gose on at CR, there sample is small and not indicative of the whole. It be like taking my sample and saying they're perfect and CR is full o......

NO refrig, in the consumer marketplace has surge supression, or power conditioning built into it. Even if it did it's doubtful it'd be robust enough to protect it from the kinds of things that knock out those boards. Does the top of the line Apple computer or PC have built in protection? NO , and they are way more complex than a ref. board. Same goes for a $15000 Rotel amplifier. Costs thrice what your SZ did and is gonna fry too if you don't protect it with seperate gear and power design. Doesn't even keep beer cold! I'm sure you're a fine engineer, but there is a reason that not many engineers head global conglomerates - the don't understand marketplace dynamics.

side note: There was an engineer around here a year or so ago touting a Jetson oven that cooled, cooked, could be turned on and adjusted from your Learjet telephone or internet cafe computer. Fabulous piece of kit from an engineering point of view. At close to 10 grand it's commercial potential is/was rather limited, I said as much and got chided. Down the tubes this year with Viking reportedly buying up the pieces (technology)

I totally agree with you voting your pocketbook. If they crap on enough people, the marketplace will punish them in time. It's one of the things that makes America great. Witness Maytag, Kmart, Oldsmobile, make crap long enough and no matter how storied and old your brand is, it will eventually wither and or die.

    Bookmark   June 19, 2008 at 2:10PM
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antss, I remember the refrigerator to oven unit you make refernce to. It seemed to be too much sugar for a dime to me also.

On to best in class now. Dealer/distributor and SZ have agreed my 736 TC should and will be replaced. I am promised it will arrive soon and have every confidence it will. Looks like this is one I will be able to cross off my list as successfully and 100% resolved.

    Bookmark   June 20, 2008 at 6:58PM
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Just to close the loop, The new 736TC was installed today. In addition, this technician did a much better job of lining up the unit in the opening so you can only see the white trim of the unit just barely (when before it was very noticeable on the handle side). Anyway, that is service and standing behind your product. KUDOS to SZ and my dealer!

Thanks to those who provided input here.

    Bookmark   July 1, 2008 at 6:59PM
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Hi Breezy -- just found your post. We also have the 736TC.. installed May 05. Didn't hook up ice maker for quite some time due to getting RO system installed. Ice Maker worked for a while but now cannot get it to work consistently. Also getting the frost build up in the bottom freezer drawer (same drawer as ice maker). Need to call SZ for servicing. Just thought I'd share.

    Bookmark   August 15, 2008 at 3:05PM
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az, Thanks for sharing! I hope your issue is resolved as successfully as mine. I did find cleaning the coils/vent thing as mentioned earlier or in another post (can't remember which)to be helpful but I clearly had other problems. I certainly have nothng but praise so far for SZ and the dealer though.

    Bookmark   August 15, 2008 at 7:51PM
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