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How Often Should I Change My Fridge Water Filter? Facts & FAQs

hand pressing fridge water filter button

If you have a fridge that dispenses water, it undoubtedly has a water filter. Unfortunately, not everyone knows that they need to change this filter or how often they should do so. To keep your fridge operating optimally, most manufacturers recommend changing the water filter every 6 months. This is just a rule of thumb, though, and not all filters need replacing that often.

Even if your water tastes fine and doesn’t appear dirty, the filter may be dirty or worn out and need to be replaced. Invisible contaminants like heavy metals and bacteria can slip into your water if the filter isn’t in good condition.

A large family that regularly uses the water dispenser and ice dispenser should replace their water filter every 6 months to ensure that the water is clean and free of contaminants. A single person or couple that rarely uses these features can get away with replacing the filter yearly.

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What Does a Water Filter Do?

Refrigerator water filters are designed to filter out contaminants that can make your drinking water taste odd or even get you sick. Most fridges use a carbon filtration system to clean your water, which has two layers: an outer layer made of a plastic-like material, and a carbon block core. Water flows through this chamber and washes away impurities on the outer layer, and the carbon block filters out smaller impurities and contaminants.

What happens to these contaminants? They adhere to the carbon block through a process called adsorption where the impurities cling to specific areas of the block instead of ruining the whole block.

Water travels a very long way to get to our taps, and it can pick up a huge variety of impurities and contaminants along the way. It may come into contact with chemical runoff, lead pipes, and all kinds of other filth.

The major three contaminants filtered out by fridge filters are lead, chlorine, and volatile organic compounds (VOCs). Other impurities include sand and dirt.

person replacing fridge water filter
Image By: David Spates, Shutterstock

What Happens if You Don’t Change Your Fridge Water Filter?

At this point, you’re probably curious about what’ll happen if you neglect to change your water filter. Thankfully, nothing especially catastrophic will happen, but you should definitely change it.

If you don’t change the filter, it will eventually get clogged up with dirt and other debris. When this happens, your water dispenser may stop dispensing water altogether, which is probably a good thing because your filter would also be full of potentially dangerous bacteria at that point.

If it gets bad enough, the filter can fail completely and allow unfiltered water to pass through. This can be hard to spot because the fridge will work normally, but you may notice a funny taste in your water or ice.

In the majority of the US, tap water is safe to drink and you shouldn’t have to worry about filtering your water. Sadly, if your fridge filter is out of order, you could be putting yourself at more risk than if you were using no filter at all.

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Your fridge water filter is a small but essential part of your fridge’s water filtration system. If it isn’t regularly changed, you risk impurities and contaminants getting into your drinking water. We’d suggest adhering to manufacturer recommendations, which typically say to change your filter every 6 months.

Featured Image Credit: David Spates, Shutterstock

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