So, you haven’t changed your refrigerator water filter in a few months, a year, or several years and you’re wondering if or when you should replace your fridge filter. Maybe it’s been a while and your refrigerator water still tastes fine, and you’re questioning if replacing the filter is even necessary. Just because your water tastes fresh, does not mean it is. Refrigerator water doesn’t turn funky overnight; degradation happens gradually.

Knowing whether you should replace your fridge filter depends on how long you've had it and how often you use it. A family of four who use their water dispenser and ice machine often should get a new filter every 6 months; whereas, a couple without children may only need to replace it once a year.

If you haven’t replaced your fridge filter in several years, you’re not drinking filtered water but something else entirely. Change your filter, drink a glass of fresh water, and you’re in for a revelation.

Here are the answers to your most frequently asked questions about refrigerator water filters: 

How do refrigerator water filters work? 

Most refrigerator filters are designed to remove bad tastes and smelly odors using a combination of sediment and carbon filtration. Water flows mechanically through the filter to remove debris and suspended solids, which gets rid of chlorine taste and odor.

Carbon in refrigerator filters act as an adhesive in a process called adsorption. Adsorption is not to be confused with absorption. Picture holding an absorbent sponge full of dirty water. If you squeeze it, the dirty water drips back out. Carbon filters are effective because contaminants adhere to the surface rather than being absorbed into it.

What does a refrigerator water filter remove?

Water travels through miles of piping before ever reaching your home or business. Along the way, it may pick up impurities from air pollution, waste from manufacturing plants, animal waste, dead animals, and drugs flushed into the water supply.

Refrigerator filters remove a variety of contaminants depending on the type of filter. For example, the Neo-Pure filter reduces volatile organic compounds (VOCs), chlorine, and lead. Some filters also claim to reduce pharmaceuticals.

Are refrigerator water filters effective?

Refrigerator filters are effective at what they are designed to do. They will not soften water; they’re not going to remove iron; and they’re not going to prevent health issues in unsafe water. They are excellent, however, at chlorine taste and odor reduction and sediment reduction, as intended.

Are refrigerator water filters necessary?

Well here’s what can happen if you don’t change your refrigerator filter:

  1. Your filter reaches a point where it will no longer filter because it’s clogged with dirt and debris. You know it’s time to change your filter when water no longer comes out.
  2. Your filter tires from the taste and odor-causing organics that bond on its carbon surface area. Water still flows through the filter, but the surface area gets exhausted. Imagine going to a mall at Christmas. After driving up and down rows of cars over and over and finding no place to park, you get back on the road and head somewhere else. Similarly, when all the spaces in an old carbon filter are taken, bad tastes and odors build up or pass through it.
  3. Your loaded carbon filter starts collecting things that living organism like and becomes a campground for bacteria. The longer the bacteria stay, the worse the problem becomes.

      Clean refrigerator filters provide clean water, reduce chlorine, inhibit contaminants from entering drinking water, and prevent newly formed bacteria from forming in water.

        Can old refrigerator water make you sick?

        Refrigerator filters are intended to work on already micro-biologically safe water. If your filter stops working, you’re drinking tap water enhanced with junk since it’s coming off the old filter or possibly a well water application. Some living organisms could enter your digestive tract or gastrointestinal tract and cause illness like Montezuma’s revenge.

        How often should you replace your refrigerator water filter?

        Refrigerator filters should be replaced every 6 months. Never leave a filter in place longer than a year; the longer bacteria reside in a refrigerator water filter, the more harmful your water becomes.

        Is replacing your refrigerator water filter worth it? 

        Let’s compare changing your filter with changing the oil in your car.

        Compare Car Filters To Fridge Filters

        Cost of replacing refrigerator filters: The price of refrigerator filters varies. Many we sell cost around $30, meaning purchasing a filter every 6 months would cost $60 per year.

        Cost of changing oil: Every 3000 miles or so, a car needs new oil to ensure the longevity of the engine and reduce costly repairs. 4 oil changes per year would cost approximately $140.

        Seventy percent of your body is made up of water, so if the water you’re drinking is not good quality, then your body is going to suffer. Isn’t the water you consume as important as the oil in your car?

        Two refrigerator filters a year will also conserve around 3,000 bottles of water, saving you $600 a year and reducing plastic pollution. Water bottles are certainly convenient to grab on the go but filling a reusable bottle with filtered refrigerator water most friendly to the environment.

        How you change your filter depends on the design of the refrigerator. A filter is inserted into the receiver. Receivers are located in the back corner, on the lower base grille, or inside of an opening like a mailbox. The following video demonstrates how to replace the filter in a Kenmore Elite refrigerator with a 9990 Neo-Pure filter. 



          • If you fall to change your water filter will effect our damage the service of your Ice maker

            Bobby Johnson on

          • You’re welcome, Terry! Thanks for letting us know how this article helped you!

            John Woodard, Master Water Specialist on

          • I bought the <a href =“”> best refrigerator before some time ago but i forgot to change the water filter. but how, i dont know so this is nice and informative information, thanks for sharing.

            terry on

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