How Often Should I Change My Refrigerator Water Filter?

by Jamin Arvig on August 20, 2013

Used Refrigerator Water FilterIf your refrigerator dispenses water, chances are it uses a water filter.  And if it’s been a long time since you’ve replaced it, the inside of it may be clogged with some of the gunk you see in the picture to your left.  And the crusty ice cubes below are likely an all too familiar image.

Changing your refrigerator water filter is the kind of routine maintenance that can be easily put off, but just like the batteries in your smoke alarm or the oil in your car, it’s important to keep a regular schedule.

One writer has an offbeat and humorous blog article about Why I Never Change My Refrigerator Filter. The photos in this post come courtesy of her article, in fact. While the post is played for laughs, she raises a serious point regarding the disturbing debris that an old refrigerator water filter may no longer be effectively preventing from making it into your drinking water.

Most manufacturer guidelines recommend that you replace your water filters every six months. Of course, these guidelines are based more on broad situations – rather than your specific situation. If your family uses a heavier than average amount of water, your filter could expire early, meaning it will no longer be reducing particulates and contaminants effectively. In fact, if you wait too long, your old refrigerator water filter may actually be growing bacteria and mold.

Dirty Ice From Old Refrigerator Water Filter

So how do you know when it’s time to change your refrigerator water filter? You may notice a “decreased flow.” Your ice maker may have stopped making ice cubes plural, and decided to make one dirty singular cube, instead.  Of course, most refrigerators will also have a  status indicator light in your fridge that can give you a helpful idea.

But overall, the most effective way to determine if your refrigerator water filter is shot is simply to explore your palate for an unpleasant taste or odor.  The type of contaminants reduced by a properly functioning filter will appear more and more as your filter ages.  And when it gets to the point that you start to notice – whether that’s three months, six months – or even nine months – it’s time to make a change.

And when that time comes, remember that our customer service department is always here for you, to answer questions or help you place an order, at 1-888-801-PURE.  Call by 4pm CST and they’ll even ship out your new filters same business day.

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Jamin Arvig

Jamin Arvig

In 2002, Jamin Arvig founded WaterFilters.NET from his small college apartment. Just over ten years later, his company has doubled in revenue each year, grown into a multi-year honoree on the Inc. 5000, and become the online consumer’s first choice for water filters and water filtration technology. Jamin's success with WaterFilters.NET can be seen through coverage in publications ranging from the Minneapolis Star Tribune to the Wall Street Journal, its consistent ‘Excellent’ status from customer service ratings provider STELLAService, frequent appearances in Best Places to Work lists and in the pages of Upsize Minnesota who recently named the company Business Builder of the Year. Jamin also helps to ensure that WaterFilters.NET supports its core value of charitable giving by making significant contributions from its profits to various water-related charities. Posts from Jamin are contributed regularly to this blog.

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{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

Margaret August 20, 2013 at 5:14 pm

First of all, thank you for calling my column humorous and offbeat – two adjectives that are near and dear to me. Secondly, thanks for the link love. Somebody commented on the post bringing up another scary point, that the water could be cleaner out of the tap than the filter. It’s enough to drive us all crazy with worry what the right thing is.


Jamin Arvig Jamin Arvig August 20, 2013 at 7:27 am

You’re welcome, Margaret. Thanks for writing such a “laugh out loud” column. For those of us in the water filter business, it was a great perspective to read. Perhaps you could put a filter on your kitchen tap as well, and then you could write a follow-up article about why you never change that filter cartridge either. Keep on blogging!


Jim August 22, 2013 at 12:42 pm

A filter (in this case a water filter) has very small “holes” in it that will stop anything too big to pass through those small “holes”. As the “holes” get clogged up from stopping anything too big to pass through them, less and less water can pass through them. So…a filter that is left unchanged for too long will let stuff it wouldn’t let pass now somehow pass through.


Jorge January 9, 2014 at 11:00 pm

I have a 2 yr old Kenmore Fridge that dispenses ice and water. Havent changed the filter yet. Water looks and tastes fine. Ice cubes are clean and clear… The indicator light has been red for months but no change in ice or water. Thoughts?


Jamin Arvig January 10, 2014 at 5:47 pm

Hi Jorge,

Thank you for your comment.

At the end of the day, the strongest barometer of drinking water quality is how it looks, smells and tastes – all of which can be fairly subjective.

That said, the longer you go between filter changes, the greater risk you take that impurities both seen and unseen may be making it into your drinking water. If your senses have accustomed themselves to the taste and odor, it’s possible that you may not even be aware that your water can taste that much cleaner.

You also take the risk of contaminants or sediments slowly leading to clogs that can cause future water dispensing issues.

For your situation, we would definitely recommend a refrigerator water filter change, based on the length of time you’ve gone.

You may also consider a water test kit, an inexpensive version of which is linked to below, which can provide you with a better idea of the type of contaminants, sediments or impurities may be lurking in your water:

Thanks again for connecting,


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