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Condenser Problems

Condensers are similar to heat exchangers which cool a vapor and condense it into a liquid form. Condensers are widely used in heating, ventilation, air conditioning (HVAC) systems along with refrigeration units. Condensers are usually part of a bigger system with a specific purpose or role to perform. Listed below are a few common questions answered by the Experts on condenser problems.

What needs to be done when a Sub-Zero flashes a “vacuum condenser” message?

This message is an indicator or warning that the condenser is dirty and needs cleaning. However, the individual will need to do so by vacuuming the condenser. After vacuuming, turn off the unit at the circuit breaker. This should reset the warning. Simply shutting the system off and on will not be sufficient for the error to go off. The individual could wait for at least five minutes before turning the circuit breaker on.

If a Sub-Zero is still showing a “vacuum condenser” message after it has been done, what could be the problem?

This error message usually comes on when the control senses the condenser operation time has been too long. Vacuuming the Sub-Zero condensers does not help in doing a thorough job. You could try using a damp cloth and clip it over the entire condenser area. Next use compressed air (such as a keyboard cleaner) to effectively clean the condenser and the towel will help in minimizing the dust collected.

Why would a condenser fan on a Sub-Zero always operate, even though the freezer and fridge compressor seem to be working and cooling normally?

Typically, these units have only two fans. The evaporator fan in the refrigerator is one which operates when the fridge comes on or is set to get colder. The other fan is above the compressor and operates at all times to keep the compressor cool. The defrost timer is the only component meant to turn off the fan. It should go off for 30 seconds when the unit is in defrost mode. Hence if the fan is always operating, the main reason for this could be a faulty defrost timer.

Would it be okay to continue using a Samsung air conditioner when the unit isn’t cooling properly and water is dripping from the inside?

This problem is most likely due to a clog in the drain or could be dust build up on the cooling coils. To address this issue, the unit will need to be removed and cleaned thoroughly including cleaning of the drain holes on the outside. It is better for the cleaning to be done by an appliance repair technician and this should not cost more than a regular service visit. Operating the unit under these circumstances will not cause any further damage however a significant amount of water could get wasted.

What to check when a condenser fan motor is not working?

To begin with, condenser fan motor should operate at any time the compressor is running or turned on. To check why it is not working, you will need to first check if the power supply to the fan is 120 volts when it is running. If the supply is fine, the fan motor may need to be replaced since it could be a defective piece. If you are not receiving 120 volts between the two wires going to the fan motor, there could be a broken wire at some point. Test the wires by connecting to ground to check if they have 120 volts passing through them. This helps decipher if you have a broken power wire (coming from the defrost timer) or a broken neutral wire. 


The main issue you may face with condensers is the need for cleaning. Usually, once the cleaning is complete the issue gets resolved. Other times, another component being faulty such as a defrost timer can cause the condenser to malfunction. In such situations, it helps to follow a step by step process to break down the symptoms and find the problem area. This is where the Experts can provide answers and solutions to many individuals when being faced with condenser problems along with cleaning methods of their condensers.

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