How to Remove a Stuck Water Filter (6 Best Ways Explained)

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There comes a time when a water filter becomes too clogged to do its job properly, and needs to be replaced. But you’ve just come to your filter housing to find that it’s stuck, fast – now what?

Luckily, you’re not doomed to use the same filter forever. Removing a stuck or overtightened filter is easy, once you’re aware of a few simple methods to try.

First and foremost, before you do anything, check your user manual. You should find specific instructions on how to replace your filter there. Once you’ve confirmed that you’re doing everything right to replace your filter, but the filter is still stuck, check out our tips in the guide below.

πŸ“Œ Key Takeaways:

  • To remove a stuck water filter, try using your hands (and wearing a pair of good-grip gloves), a pair of needle nose pliers, or a wrench, or heat up the connection with a hair dryer or hot compress.
  • Water filters become stuck due to excess air pressure or accumulated debris that causes the filter to stick to the housing.
  • You might think your filter is stuck, but actually, you’re not turning the filter the right way or fully pressing the release button.

🧰 How to Remove a Stuck Under-Sink or Whole Home Filter Cartridge

Got a stuck filter cartridge or stuck filter housing in your whole-house water filter or under-sink filtration system? Here’s what to do, in this order:

1) Use Your Hands

First off, try dislodging the filter housing with your hands. You might have already attempted this, but it’s worth retrying with the right technique.

Grip the filter base with one hand, and the filter housing (which houses the filter cartridge) with the other. If the filter housing joins the unit from the top, turn clockwise. If it’s connected by the bottom, turn anticlockwise.

Try Wearing Gloves

If you can’t get enough grip with your own skin, put on a pair of good-grip gloves and try again.

Using gloves to remove a stuck water filter

2) Use a Plastic Filter Wrench

Your water filter system might have come with a plastic wrench that’s designed for the exact use of tightening and untightening filter housing.

To use the wrench, place it around the filter housing (tightening it if necessary), then turn it in the right direction to dislodge the housing.

3) Use Needle Nose Pliers

A pair of needle nose pliers can be a helpful tool for unsticking a filter that’s partly unscrewed.

Slide the pliers into the space between the filter housing and the unit, then use them as you would a crowbar, applying pressure until the cartridge comes out.

4) Heat Up The Connection

Heat should reduce the water pressure inside the filter housing, helping to release a stuck filter canister. Try using a blow dryer or a hot towel compress to heat up the connection point for 20-30 seconds. Then, get a good grip on the housing and twist. Hopefully, this should release the filter.

πŸ“Œ Don’t direct the blow dryer at the filter housing for too long – this is likely to warp the housing permanently.

Removing a stuck filter cartridge from canister

5) Add Lubricant

If you want to remove your filter cartridge to replace it with a new cartridge, you can add a little lubricant to the opening of the filter housing as a last resort.

Apply lubricant around the edges of the filter, then let it sit for around 5-10 minutes. Then, pull the filter. The grease should help you to pull the filter free.

Make sure to wash out your filter housing thoroughly after using lubricant to prevent contamination of your new filter cartridge.

6) Use a Proper Wrench

Another last-resort option, if you’re dealing with stuck water filter housing, is to use a bit of additional force. This may be necessary if you overtightened your filter when you first installed it.

You shouldn’t use tools unless you’ve exhausted all other options, since tools can cause you to apply too much pressure and damage the system. But if you’ve tried everything to remove your stuck whole house water filter housing, and contacted the manufacturer for good measure, using a metal filter housing wrench or a rubber strap wrench might be your only option.

Use a heavy-duty wrench as you would a plastic wrench, adjusting it to get a good grip on the filter housing, then twisting.

Rubber strap wrench on wooden table

πŸͺ› How to Remove a Stuck Refrigerator Water Filter Cartridge

Got a stuck filter in your refrigerator? Here’s what to do, depending on the type of filter you have.

Internal Filters

To dislodge an internal fridge filter, try this:

  1. Open your fridge door all the way.
  2. Dispense a large cup of water from the water dispenser to relieve some water pressure.
  3. Remove the top shelf of the fridge.
  4. Open the water filter compartment door all the way.
  5. Twist the filter counterclockwise.

Base Filters

To remove a fridge base filter, follow these steps:

  1. Turn off the fridge and remove the bottom grill.
  2. Cover the filter cap with a towel or cloth, then grab the cap with a pair of pliers and turn in the correct direction to unscrew it.
  3. Pull the filter towards you to remove it from the fridge.
  4. Alternatively, for a push-button filter, remove the filter by pressing both the button and the filter at the same time. If the filter gets stuck halfway, press it back in and try again.
Refrigerator water filter

πŸ”— Why Do Water Filters Get Stuck?

Different filters get stuck for different reasons. Below, we’ve outlined the most common causes of a stuck whole-house water filter, under-sink filter, or fridge filter.

You Overtightened The Filter

When you first installed your water filter, how tightly did you screw it? Some people assume that the tighter, the better, but this isn’t actually the case. If you overtighten the filter, you’ll have a difficult time getting it off. That’s why it’s recommended to only hand-tighten the filter housing, or use a plastic wrench, and apply plumber’s tape to seal the connection if necessary.

The Filter Is Clogged With Contaminants

An under-sink or whole-house water filter stuck in the housing is most commonly caused by a buildup of debris and contaminants in the cartridge. Excess contaminants cause the filter to swell and stick to the sides of the housing, increasing pressure and making it difficult to remove.

Old and dirty water filter clogged with contaminants

There’s Excess Pressure In The System

Over time, the pressure inside a filtration system can build. The filter cartridge might be stuck in place due to the pressure inside the system pulling it back.

You Need To Remove The Top Shelf (Fridge Filters)

One of the most common reasons for stuck water filters in a fridge is due to a design flaw inside the fridge. Some LG fridge filters, and filters by numerous other refrigerator brands, are installed in the top inside corner of the fridge. To remove the filter, the housing needs to drop lower than the top shelf allows. Removing the top shelf should enable the filter to be removed instantly.

You’re Not Fully Pressing The Release Button

Some fridge filters can only be removed if you press firmly down on the release button. If you don’t apply enough force, that could be the reason why the water filter isn’t popping out of the housing.

πŸ“ Removing A Stuck Filter: Top Tips

  • If your filter screws on and off, make sure you’re unscrewing it the right way. It sounds obvious, but your unsuccessful attempts to unscrew your filter might be due to the fact that you’re actually screwing it back in place.
  • Avoid heavy tools as much as possible. If your filtration system comes with a plastic wrench, then fine, use it. But metal wrenches may permanently damage your filter housing. Only opt for tools as a last resort.
  • Consider changing your filters more frequently. A stuck filter caused by excess contaminant buildup can be avoided. Replace your filters more frequently to avoid them from becoming oversaturated and sticking to the housing.
  • Contact the manufactuerer. First and foremost, before you attempt anything that could damage your filter housing, reach out to the manufacturer and explain the problem. Chances are, your filter’s support team has already resolved this problem for numerous customers in the past, so they’ll be able to give you more tailored advice than any article on the internet can.

❔ How to Remove a Stuck Water Filter: FAQ

How do you remove a stuck Brita filter?

To remove a stuck filter cartridge in a Brita filter, slide a fork into the filter housing and press the back of the fork against the housing, forcing the filter upwards and outwards. If the filter housing is jammed in the pitcher, remove the filter (if possible) and fill the pitcher all the way with hot water and a dash of dish soap. Turn the pitcher upside down. The force of the water and the soap should cause the housing to slide free.

How do you get a stuck water filter out of an LG refrigerator?

To remove a stuck water filter in an LG refrigerator, put on a pair of high-grip gloves, detach the filter cover, and turn the filter to the “remove” position. Remove the top shelf of the fridge, since most filters can’t drop far enough to be removed while the top shelf is still in. Then wiggle the filter back and forth to relieve the pressure, and pull it down.

Why is my water filter not coming out?

Your water filter might not be coming out if it is stuck in place by air pressure, you’re not turning the filter the right way or fully pressing the release button, or debris has accumulated in the filter.

Which way do you loosen a water filter?

Most water filters are loosened by turning them to the left, or anti-clockwise. Remember, righty-tighty, lefty-loosey. It depends on which way your filter is installed, though – if it hangs down from the top of your fridge, for instance, you’ll need to turn it clockwise to loosen it.

How do you remove a stuck filter house?

To remove a filter house that’s stuck, try unscrewing the filter with a pair of good-grip gloves, or using a plastic wrench to untwist the house.

  • Laura Shallcross
    Senior Editor

    Laura is a passionate residential water treatment journalist who holds an undergraduate degree in Print Journalism and a master’s degree in Creative Writing. Over a span of 5 years she's written on a range of topics including water softening, well water treatment, and purification processes.

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