If you’re like most people, you love a nice glass of crisp, clean water from the fridge. Unfortunately, this means you will have to replace your fridge’s water filter every four to six months.
It’s alright, until you realize that your water filter can get stuck. So, what happens when you have a stuck filter? How do you “unglue” it from your fridge?
If your water filter is stuck, begin by shutting off the fridge wrapping a cloth around the filter to protect it, and using pliers to unscrew it counterclockwise (left). You may need to remove the bottom grille to have better access to the filter cap. Applying light heat to the connector may help loosen it as well.
It’s important to know how to get your water filter unstuck the right way. Otherwise, you could break the filter as well as other parts of your fridge. This guide will help you learn about the proper technique to use, plus other factors that can come into play.
How To Remove A Stuck Refrigerator Water Filter
Once in a blue moon, you will have a water filter that just gets stuck. When you’re trying to troubleshoot your water filter issues, the fix all depends on the location of your water filter. To make things easier, we decided to parse it out by filter location.
Behind The Grille
Many of the newer refrigerator water filters are found in the base, or grille area, of the fridge. These types of filters are often easy to operate, install, and remove. Perhaps you were in a rush during the install and didn’t install the filter correctly. This will often result in the filter becoming stuck, as not turning it the proper way or not pushing the button correctly can cause this.
If your fridge’s stuck water filter is located in the bottom-front of the fridge, here’s what you will need to do:
- Before you proceed, ensure that the refrigerator is turned off and the bottom grille is removed. If you’re unsure how to remove the grille, you’ll find instructions in the installation packet that came with the appliance.
- If you have a turn-quarter filter, grab a cloth and some pliers. You will need to wrap the cloth around the filter cap to protect it, then use pliers to gently turn the filter a quarter of the way to the left. Then, carefully pop the filter out.
- If you have a push-button water filter, try pushing the button and holding it down first. Normally, this can eject it.
- If holding the button didn’t work, hold both the button and the filter down. This will make your water filter disengage and spring away from the fridge.
Be sure not to apply too much pressure when turning, as you could break the water filter. Even if the filter is really stuck in there, it should pull out easily with pliers.
Inside The Fridge
If you have a water filter that is located inside the fridge, it can be found inside the water filter compartment door. To gain access to the filter, all you need to do is open the door. From there, follow these troubleshooting directions:
- If you have a pop-out water filter system, just open and close the door again. More often than not, this will do the trick. If your water filter is located inside specialty filter housing, clear the area around the housing to give yourself a better access point to the filter. With the door open, turn off the fridge, and remove some of the water from the water line by using the water dispenser. This will help decrease the pressure in the line and should make it much easier to remove the filter.
- If your pop-out system still didn’t eject the filter, dispense several cups of water and try again. The other reason why water filters can get stuck with this type of setup deals with water lines that are filled to the brim. Getting rid of some of that water can alleviate the pressure and make the filter pop out as it’s supposed to.
- If you have a pull-tab setup, check to see if your compartment door is open completely. If it is, try to rotate the water filter a quarter of the way to the left. This should make your water filter come loose.
Why Do Refrigerator Water Filters Get Stuck?
A water filter can get stuck for a wide range of reasons. The most common reason is an older fridge model that’s just getting a little more finicky (when it comes to its mechanics). However, frost, water line pressure, as well as broken equipment can all cause a water filter to get stuck.
At times, a stuck water filter can also be a sign of poor maintenance. For example, many refrigerator water filter models can get stuck if they are not turned the right way. If you aren’t sure how to replace your refrigerator’s water filter, look at the instruction manual that came with it or check filter replacement instructions online.
Should I Call A Professional?
In most cases, this is not something you need to call a handyman for. This isn’t a major issue nor is it a sign that you need a new fridge.
You should not freak out if your fridge has a stuck filter, since it’s usually an easy fix that can be done by anyone. However, there are situations where calling in a professional may be a wise choice.
Signs it may be time to call in help include:
- You accidentally broke the water filter cap while trying to remove the stuck filter. Depending on what happened, this may suggest that you have additional damage in and around your filter area. At the very least, you’re probably going to need a cap replacement.
- There’s evidence suggesting your fridge needs additional help. If you notice mold growth in your water system, a call to a professional may be a good idea even if you are capable of cleaning the mold yourself. The reason why is simple: that mold suggests you may have a faulty filter setup.
- Your refrigerator has a stuck filter and the water isn’t working. This suggests that there is more to the problem than just a stuck water filter. A repairman will be able to diagnose the issue and also help you fix it.
- No matter how hard you try to get the water filter unstuck, it’s still jammed in there. Let’s say that you’ve followed the unsticking instructions to the letter. You’ve also called up your fridge’s manufacturers in hopes of getting more advice, and listened to them. Unfortunately, nothing is working. The only option you have left is to call a repairman.
- The water filter’s housing is broken. If the parts that house your water filter are broken, your water filter will remain stuck in there. The only way to fix this is to hire someone to replace the parts.
How to Remove a Stuck Cartridge Filter
There are a variety of reasons that could cause a water filter cartridge to become stuck. In most cases, the cause has to do with the initial installation being too tight. Regardless of the possible reasons, here are some strategies to help get your cartridge filter unstuck:
- Dislodge with your hands. Although this is the obvious first step, make sure that you have a strong grip on the filter and turn it counterclockwise to loosen.
- Use needle nose pliers. These can be used as a miniature crowbar to help dislodge the cartridge from the base of the unit.
- Try a plastic wrench. Sometimes, manufacturers include a tiny, plastic wrench that is meant to help replace the water filter.
- Heat up the connection. The final option to remove a stuck cartridge filter is to heat up the connect between the system and the cartridge. Using a hairdryer or hot towel, may help to loosen up the hold. However, only apply the heat for about 20-30 seconds, as too much can cause permanent damage.
How much water should I run through a new refrigerator water filter?
If you just replaced your water filter, then you are going to need to ensure that none of the sediment or chemicals in your last filter stay in the water you have in your fridge. This means you will need to dispense around three gallons of water to ensure your filtered water remains pure.
How often should I clean my fridge’s water lines?
Ideally, you will clean your refrigerator’s water system every six to 12 months if you have soft water. People who have hard water may need to do it every four to six months. Due to their access to the outside world, dispenser nozzles will need to be cleaned on a weekly basis to maintain their safety.
How can you tell if your fridge’s water filter went bad?
Most water filters will go bad at the four to six-month mark, but it’s possible to have them go bad earlier. If you notice that your water has an odd smell, looks murky, or has black specks in it, you need to replace your water filter. Moreover, you may also want to change your filter if you notice that your water hasn’t been running as smoothly as it once did.
Can you use a fridge water dispenser without a water filter?
You might be able to, but it all depends on the model. We don’t advise trying it out!