8 Signs Your Refrigerator Water Filter Needs Replacing (& How to Do It)

Appliance Express
August 24, 2020
Refrigerator Repair

Cold, clean water from your refrigerator is a wonderful luxury to have in the home, one that many people enjoy. Even simple refrigerators that only make ice provide some convenience. The one thing all fridges of these types share is the need for a water filter. Any refrigerator that dispenses ice or chilled water has an internal filter to ensure that all water dispensed is truly clean and safe to drink.

However, water filters are not forever. People often forget that their fridge even has a filter, much less that it needs to be changed. Even if you know to replace your fridge water filter, when is the right time? You may not know when the last time the filter was changed. You may not know the correct interval between filter changes. Today, we’re here to help you know, for certain, that your water filter must be changed and how to do it.    

1) Dispensed Water Tastes Bad

The water that comes from your fridge should taste clean, like nothing, or maybe very faintly like plastic. These are the only things you should taste from your freshly filtered fridge water. Tap water comes through your water line, runs through the filter, and then goes through the ice maker and water dispenser. However, if your water tastes, bad something has gone wrong. The water lines inside the fridge should be clean which means that the water filter is not effectively cleaning your drinking water anymore. In fact, a dirty filter can even start spreading its once-contained contaminants if left unchanged for too long. 

2 Ice has an Odd Smell

You fill your glass with ice, then your beverage, and raise the glass to your face. But as the ice just starts to melt and the glass is closest to your nose, you smell it. A strange, sour or metallic smell coming from the glass. It’s not your beverage, unless you just dispensed fridge water. It’s your ice. Ice smelling bad can have a few different causes, But if your freezer and ice bin are clean, then the most likely cause is an old water filter.

An unchanged water filter can make your ice smell bad for the same reason it makes water taste bad. You may also quickly notice that your iced drinks don’t taste right, either. 

3) Slow Trickle of Dispensed Water

The water filter is hooked into the fridge’s water system in-line. This means that all water that goes through your fridge first has to go through the water filter. If the water filter is full of filtered particles and is essentially clogged as a result, water is going to have a pretty tough time getting through. This can result in insufficient water pressure throughout the fridge as your clogged filter acts as a dam.

You will notice this most prominently when you try to dispense water and only get a small trickle. This means that water is stopped and can’t get through from the tap to the dispenser nozzle. 

4) Ice is Coming Out Small

For the same reason that your water dispenser might be at a trickle, your ice might also be coming out smaller than it’s supposed to. If you don’t have a water dispenser, small ice might be the clearest sign that your fridge water filter needs changing. The ice comes out small because the fill spout that fills the ice mold with water is not running fast enough. It can’t fill up the mold in the open-valve time allowed. With not enough water in the mold, each cube comes out small. 

5) Black Specks in Water or Ice

Most water filters are charcoal filters, made with millions of tiny flecks of charcoal dust inside the container that remove contaminants from the water that flows through. It’s normal for a few small black specks to escape every now and then. It’s normal for a new water filter to release a handful of black specks when the first run clean. However, if your ice or water has several black specks and the filter is not brand-new, that filter needs changing. It’s started to leak filter medium. 

6) Water Filter Light Turns On

The easiest way to know if your water filter needs changing is if you have a change filter light. On fridges with a water dispenser or a digital control panel, a water filter light is far more common. If that filter light comes on, it means it’s time to change out your refrigerator’s water filter. Press and hold the filter button to reset the timer or dispensed gallon measurement. 

7) Murky Appearance of Water or Ice

If your ice looks cloudy (not crunchy, but cloudy) or if water dispensed from the refrigerator looks murky, do not consume. You will need to change your fridge water filter right away and consider flushing the water lines with non-toxic cleaner. Murky water means there is enough contaminant in your fridge water or ice to be visible, which is quite a lot. 

8) It’s Been More than a Year

Finally, if you don’t know when the last time your water filter was changed, but it’s been longer than a year, then it’s time for a change. Most fridge water filters are designed to last between 6 and 9 months of heavy use. 

How to Change Your Fridge Water Filter

  • Find the Water Filter
  • Release and Remove
  • Replace and Seal
  • Run 2 Gallons Through

In order to change your water filter, you’ll need to go through a simple four-step process. First, locate your water filter. It will usually be near the ceiling or floor of your refrigerator compartment. Sometimes, it is between the compartments or underneath, behind the kick plate.

When you find the filter, identify the release mechanisms. Most are secured inside plastic housing with clips. A rare few require screws to be removed.

Remove the old filter with a twist and pull. Place the new filter in and click it into place. Then run two full gallons of water through the dispenser or discard the first full bin of ice to run the filter clear.

For personal help finding and changing your refrigerator water filter, contact us today!


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