Refrigerators are known for being some of the more low-maintenance appliances you’ll find on the market, but that doesn’t mean you don’t have to maintain them. You still have to clean them, and occasionally fix whatever breaks. This is especially true if your refrigerator has a water tap. That filter needs to be changed on a regular basis.
If you don’t change your refrigerator’s water filter regularly, water mineral deposits can cause build up and seriously damage your fridge. Some symptoms can include slow water flow, mildew inside of piping, and tainted water from bacterial growth which can be toxic to ingest. Your water filter should be changed every six months.
It’s clear that changing your water filter is a must, especially if you are a fan of cold water from your fridge. But, is it really that big a deal? Can’t you just skip it and keep using your dispenser? You’d be surprised at what we were able to uncover about this topic…
What Happens If You Don’t Change Your Refrigerator Water Filter?
It’s important to remember that water filtration plants can only do so much. In many parts of the United States, drinking water will still have impurities by the time that you have it in your tap. Your water filter is there to protect you from drinking things you shouldn’t drink, and is meant to ensure that mineral deposits don’t end up blocking your water flow.
A water filter can only work when it’s replaced on a regular basis. Otherwise, it loses its effectiveness and becomes increasingly useless. The following are some of the things that can happen if you don’t change your refrigerator water filter:
- Consumption of Harmful Chemicals. The primary reason to keep your refrigerator filter fresh is so that it can effectively remove 99 percent of the harmful chemicals that exist in tap water. Your filter eliminates such contaminants as asbestos, lead, pesticides, mercury, lead, and dangerous bacteria.
- Mineral Buildup. The first thing you will notice, if you have hard water, is that mineral buildup will occur. This may slow down your overall system, partially clog your piping, and also cause damage to the interior of your water dispensing system.
- Your Refrigerator Ages Quicker. In the same way that harmful chemicals can affect your body, they also negatively affect refrigerators. The mineral buildup can cause substantial damage to your fridge, slowly down the system, and leading to low flow.
- Foul Tasting Water. Due to the increased impurities in your water, your normally clean water will start to taste a little funky. An old filter cannot successfully remove gross-tasting particles from your water and will leave it tasting sulfuric, metallic, or just plain bad.
- Increased Impurities. You cannot rely on water treatment plants to give you truly pure water. Most plants will leave trace amounts of lead, mercury, and arsenic in your water. Because your filter isn’t working to weed these out, you may end up drinking a lot of heavy metals.
- Potential Disease. Water filters don’t just clear out heavy metals from your drinking water. They also can help reduce the amount of bacteria you have in your water. Not using one can cause you to get tainted water that leads to food poisoning, though this is very rare stateside.
- Mold. Have you ever seen a fridge that had mold growing on the inside of the water dispenser? It’s pretty gnarly and it can happen as a result of not changing your filter.
- Cloudy Ice. Water that possesses a higher mineral content or other dissolved solids is generally much cloudier when it freezes. If you have crushed ice on your fridge it may be more difficult to notice, but will be very apparent in cubed ice. Cloudy ice is a strong indication that it’s time to switch out your refrigerator’s water filter.
Health and Safety Concerns
The most important thing you should worry about when a water filter wears out is that you are no longer being protected from microbes, chemicals, and heavy metals. Before you assume that your tap water is completely safe without filtration, always operate under the assumption that your city water authorities sometimes make mistakes. When you don’t have proper filtration on your drinking water, you open yourself up to the following health and safety concerns:
- Asbestos: A mineral most often found in insulation and construction materials, asbestos an get into our water through a number of different avenues such as piping erosion, industrial waste, and atmospheric pollution. The health problems that are associated with asbestos include severe respiratory issues like lung cancer and mesothelioma.
- Lead: Lead, which can seep into the water supply from old lead pipes, is known to cause health, behavioral and neurological issues in children and adults.
- Pathogens: Without even leaving your house, you can become exposed to parasites, bacteria, and viruses through your water supply.
- Mercury: Elevated levels of mercury have been known to cause damage to kidneys, the brain, and developing fetuses in pregnant women. In most cases, the mercury levels in drinking water are not high enough to cause significant health concerns but a filter eliminates the risk almost completely.
- Waste: Leaks or inappropriate waste storage can cause radioactive contaminates, chemical waste, and byproducts to enter your drinking water.In fact, medical and pharmaceutical waste has previously been confirmed in drinking water.
How Often Should You Change Your Refrigerator’s Water Filter?
The exact number of times you should expect to change your water filter will depend on your fridge’s model, how often you use the water filter, and other factors. Assuming that you have a home with normal water usage, you should expect to change your filter every six months. Larger families and people who love their water a little more than usual may have to replace their filters every four months.
How Can I Tell If I Need To Replace My Water Filter?
Not sure if you need to take a trip to the filter store quite yet? Not a problem. There are certain signs that you might need to get a replacement water filter for your home. If you notice any of these warning signs, you may need a new filter:
- Your water has started to taste funky or smell a little off. Do you notice a strong metallic scent to your water? Or, does your water have a strange, musky smell? It’s time for a new filter. The smell you are experiencing is the smell of impurities seeping into the water.
- The water dispenser has been flowing slower as of late. This is a sign that there is significant buildup in your water system. Along with replacing your filter, you should consider cleaning out any piping that is inside your fridge. (Or, you know, call a repairman.)
- You can’t remember the last time you replaced the water filter. Has it been so long, you can’t even remember the last time you bought a water filter for your fridge? Yeah, it’s time to replace your filter if this rings true.
- Your ice dispenser seems clogged. This often has something to do with a bad water filter. Give your filter a switch before you call a repairman.
- The water or ice dispenser in your fridge has started to make funky noises. Though this isn’t always the fault of a broken dispenser, it often has some kind of link to your water filter. Switch out the filter to see if things improve. If not, it may be time to call a repairman.
How Much Does It Cost To Replace A Refrigerator Water Filter?
This can depend on a number of factors, with the biggest factor being the model of the refrigerator and whether you use brand-name filters. A brand-name filter usually costs between $50 and $70 each, with most models usually hitting the $60 mark. If you go for a third-party filter, you may be able to find one for $25 to $45. Needless to say, costs can add up.
If you are looking to save money on a filter, it’s best to go for an aftermarket part. However, these don’t always have the same workmanship. It’s up to you to make sure that you choose a filter that is worth it.
Can You Switch Your Water Filter On Your Own?
Of course you can! Replacing your water filter is considered to be a perfectly normal part of regular home maintenance. To replace your water filter, check your owner’s manual for the type of filter you need to get. Once you purchase a filter that’s compatible with your fridge, you will need to check the manual to see how you can properly replace the filter.
Obviously, you can always choose to hire a pro with this, but most homeowners would find this to be a waste of money. If you go this route, expect to pay between $70 to $100 for both the parts and labor.
Our Final Take
Your fridge isn’t just a place to keep your food cool. It’s a major appliance that can help you get fresh, cold water into your life. If you have a water-dispensing fridge, you need to make sure to take care of it. This includes doing maintenance like replacing the water filters every four to six months.
Replacing your water filter might be pricey, and it might be tedious. However, it’s a must if you want to continue enjoying fresh water from your fridge. Not replacing your filter can lead to permanent damage to your fridge, foul-tasting water, as well as potential health risks. Besides, replacing your filter extends the life of your fridge.
Sure, no one wants to have to spend extra money switching out filters on the refrigerators. But, it’s the smart thing to do if you want great tasting water, fast ice delivery, as well as a functional fridge.