How Often Should I Change My Refrigerator Water Filter?

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A fridge filter offers a great way to enjoy clean, filtered drinking water directly from your fridge’s water dispenser. But your refrigerator filter only remains effective for a few months. Once the filter reaches the end of its lifespan, you’ll need to replace it.

In this guide, we’ve shared all the essential information you need to know about how often you should change your fridge filter, why filter changes are so significant, and more.

📌 Key Takeaways:

  • Generally, you should aim to change your fridge filter once every six months, or as advised by the manufacturer in the user manual.
  • If your refrigerator water tastes bad, your water flow rate has slowed, or you notice debris or particles in your water, it’s a sign you need to change your filter.
  • Replacing your fridge filter is essential to prevent a reduction in flow rate, trapped contaminants escaping into your water, or bacteria buildup in the filter media.
  • Factors affecting a fridge filter’s lifespan are your water quality, your water usage, the filter size, and the type of filter media used.

📆 When Should You Change Your Refrigerator Water Filter?

Most refrigerator water filters need to be replaced at least once every six months.

Over time, fridge filters become clogged with impurities in your water supply. Eventually, the filter media will become too clogged to offer thorough water filtration. When this happens, you’ll need to change the filter.

💡 Check your user manual to learn exactly when your refrigerator filter should be replaced. The water from your fridge water dispenser and ice maker might look and taste clean, but if the filter needs changing, it might contain invisible contaminants that are no longer being trapped in the filter media.

how often to change water filter in fridge

🔎 4 Signs You Need to Change Your Water Filter

Not sure whether you need to change your water filter in your fridge? Look out for the following four signs:

1) Your Refrigerator Water Tastes Bad

If the tap water from your refrigerator has a musty, unclean taste, or an unpleasant taste that you don’t recognize, it’s a sign that you need a new filter.

You may also notice an unpleasant odor that you can’t usually detect in your filtered tap water. Both poor water tastes and bad odors are signs that certain contaminants are no longer being removed by your filter.

2) Your Water Quality Looks Different

Another sign that you need a new refrigerator water filter is the appearance of dirt, debris, or scale in your filtered fridge water. This suggests that your filter is no longer trapping these contaminants – or, even worse, that the filter media has degraded and is releasing trapped contaminants back into your water.

Refrigerator water filters remove a few types of major contaminants: chlorine & disinfection byproducts, volatile organic compounds (VOCs), and some heavy metals like lead. You don’t want dangerous levels of these contaminants re-entering your water supply.

Getting filtered water from fridge

3) Your Water Flow Rate Has Reduced

Finally, a reduction in flow rate or water pressure is a suggestion that you need a new filter for your fridge water dispenser.

The filter clogs over time, and an unusually slow water flow tells you that the filter has become so clogged that the water particles can’t easily pass through. Change your filter to resolve this issue.

4) Your Filter Change Indicator Light Is On

Most modern fridges have an indicator light that activates to let you know when you need to replace their refrigerator water filters. This takes the guesswork out of routine maintenance – you can simply buy a new water filter when you see the light switch on.

Keep in mind, though, that the light is on a timer, so it might not give an exact indication of when you should change the filter. If you notice one or several of the above signs before the filter change light comes on, you should use your initiative and change the filter anyway.

📉 Why Is Replacing a Refrigerator Water Filter So Important?

Wondering whether you can get away with simply not replacing your refrigerator water filter at all?

The answer to this is no. If you leave your filter for too long without replacing it, you risk the following:

  • Bacteria buildup, since the filter will contain a lot of nasty contaminants and has a moist, dark environment – the ideal conditions for microorganism growth
  • Reduced flow rate, due to the filter being clogged with impurities that end up blocking the majority of its pores, leaving minimal room for water to pass through
  • Recontamination of water, if the filter is allowed to become so degraded that holes form, leeching the trapped contaminants back into your water supply
  • Reduced contaminant removal abilities, due to the filter being so clogged with impurities that minimal space is available for contaminant removal

Essentially, replacing your refrigerator water filters on time is important to ensure the filters stay in good working order and don’t present a risk of recontamination.

Replacing a refrigerator water filter as recommended by the manufacturer

📖 Factors Affecting a Refrigerator Water Filter’s Lifespan

What affects how long a refrigerator water filter lasts? We’ve shared all the common factors affecting filter lifespan below.

Your Water Quality

When a manufacturer makes a fridge water filter, they test the filter with a water supply to determine how long the filter can continue to treat the water before it becomes too clogged with contaminants.

The manufacturer’s test water supply might be more contaminated, or less contaminated, than your own water supply. This will affect how long your filter lasts compared to the manufacturer’s expected filter lifespan.

For instance, let’s say that the manufacturer’s estimated filter lifespan is 6 months, based on their testing with mildly contaminated water. But if your water is very contaminated, more impurities will clog the media at a faster rate, and you may find that your refrigerator water filter lasts half as long as expected.

water testing with tap score

Your Water Usage

Your water usage is another factor affecting your refrigerator’s water filter lifespan.

Again, in their testing, the manufacturer will have considered an average daily water usage when determining the filter lifespan.

📌 Let’s say you have a family of four that drinks about 2 gallons of filtered refrigerator water per day. The manufacturer might have established a filter lifespan with the expectation that it would only be used to filter 1 gallon of water per day – meaning that you’d need to be changing your water filter after half the expected time frame had passed.

The Filter Size/ Surface Area

The size and surface area of the filter affect how much space is available in the filter media to trap contaminants, and how long it’d take for the filter media to become completely clogged.

The bigger the size and surface area of your refrigerator water filter, the longer it should last. That’s because the filter has more space to trap impurities, so it can trap a greater number of contaminants before it needs to be replaced.

Most fridge filters have a size limit, since they need to fit inside your fridge without taking up too much room. Inline fridge filters tend to be a bit bigger than refrigerator filters because they’re installed along your water line behind the fridge.

Ge gxrtdr refrigerator water filter installation

The Filter Media

The type of filter media used in a refrigerator water filter may also affect its lifespan.

Certain media types are more durable and resistant to wear and tear than others.

Some filter media, like ceramic media, can be washed and reused. However, most fridge filters aren’t made from ceramic media – they’re made from carbon, which can only be used once.

More on refrigerator water filters:

❔ How Often To Change Refrigerator Water Filters: FAQ

Is it really necessary to change your refrigerator water filter every 6 months?

Yes, it’s necessary to change your water filter in your fridge at least every 6 months to allow the filter to continue treating your water effectively and to prevent a reduction in flow rate due to clogging.

What happens if you never change your refrigerator water filter?

If you never change your refrigerator water filter, you’re at a high risk of getting sick due to the increased likelihood of bacteria buildup inside the refrigerator media . Your water will also take on unpleasant tastes and odors because the filter will stop removing certain contaminants.

How do I change a refrigerator water filter?

To change an internal refrigerator water filter, remove the top shelf of the fridge and pull down the filter housing, then pop the filter out. To change a fridge filter at the back of your fridge beneath the grille, open the water filter cover and push the button to eject the filter. We’ve shared more information on how to replace refrigerator water filters in this guide.

How often should I change my Frigidaire refrigerator water filter?

You should change your Frigidaire refrigerator filter at least once every six months, or when the indicator light turns red. Buy a new filter when the flow rate slows.

How often do refrigerator filters need to be changed?

On average, a refrigerator water filter should be changed once every 6 months. You may need to replace the filter more frequently if your water usage is above average or you have very contaminated drinking water.

  • Jennifer Byrd
    Water Treatment Specialist

    For 20+ years, Jennifer has championed clean water. From navigating operations to leading sales, she's tackled diverse industry challenges. Now, at Redbird Water, she crafts personalized solutions for homes, businesses, and factories. A past Chamber President and industry advocate, Jennifer leverages her expertise in cutting-edge filtration and custom design to transform water concerns into crystal-clear solutions.

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