What is the Best Water Filter for your Refrigerator?

Refrigerator water filters offer an easy way to make your water safe, but cost and short life are serious drawbacks. There’s a better way to purify your water.

Refrigerator filters are the most expensive, least effective way to purify your fridge water. A more economical and effective way is to install an exterior-mounted, In-Line filter.  An even better and more effective way is to supply your refrigerator from a multi-stage filter system.

One drawback to these refrigerator water filters, is that due to their small size, they don’t have a very long life span, despite what the manufacturer’s claim.

Installing a New RPWFE GE Refrigerator Water Filter

So How Long Do Refrigerator Water Filters Really Last?

 Most manufacturer’s claim their fridge filters to last about six months, depending on the contaminant level of the source water, and how much water is used for making ice and dispensing water.

As the filter removes impurities, it becomes more and more fouled.  As this happens, it also becomes less and less effective in removing additional contaminants.

Failing to change your fridge’s water filter can cause scaling and deposit buildup in the water and ice machine, which can seriously damage your fridge. This buildup tends to slow down the system, causing low flow, and negatively affects the flavor of your water.

How Well Do Refrigerator Water Filters Work?

The larger the filter, the more filter material is available to clean the water.  The longer the water can remain in contact with the filter material, the more effective the filtering process will be. So, the small size of refrigerator filters limits their ability to do a good job purifying your drinking water.

Size of the Water Filter Greatly Affects the Effectiveness

Because fridge designers try to save space within the refrigerator, the filters are designed to be smallish.  The size of a water filter plays a large part on how effective it can be at filtering and how long they last.  The small size of refrigerator water filters naturally shortens their life by becoming fouled and clogged in a short time.

Refrigerator Water Filters are Very Expensive

A single, brand-name refrigerator filter can run $60 to $70.  If you only change it twice a year, that’s a lot of money.  They may start out by doing a good job purifying your water, but due to their small size fridge filters will foul quickly, making it necessary to replace them more frequently.  This is both costly and inconvenient.

What if I Just Don’t Change My Refrigerator Water Filter as Often?

 A built-in automatic ice maker and water dispenser in your fridge is extremely convenient.  That means you won’t have to refill and empty ice trays any longer.  Yippee!  The fridge will also pre-chill the water for you.

How to Install EveryDrop Filter.

The only thing you need to do to make sure you replace the filter when it needs it.  Because of the expense and perhaps the inconvenience of having to do this, you might be tempted to stretch out the interval between filter changes.

Remember, refrigerator filters have a short effective filter life.  Here’s what happens when you use a fouled filter:

A Slower flow rate – As the filter collects and holds more particulates, minerals, and contaminants in the filter material, it’s more difficult for water to flow through it.  It’ll take longer to fill your drinking glass and to fill the ice cube molds.  When using a fouled filter, it’ll be much more likely that the fouled filter will release contaminants that it once captured, and to allow new contaminants to pass through the filter.  Minerals and particulates will flow through the system to cause scale to form and buildup in critical components of the ice maker and cause it to fail early.

Replacing a fridge water filter.

The ice maker refills the molds that form the ice cubes with a timer.  It doesn’t measure the volume when refilling the tray.  A slower flow will cause the ice cubes to be smaller.  If the molds aren’t filled completely, it could cause a malfunction in the ice making process.

Smells and tastes different – When your filter is spent, it’s lost most of its ability to remove microbes, chemicals, and other pollutants from your water.  You’ll likely become aware of this when you can smell the odors and taste the chemicals that are no longer being filtered out.

This isn’t just about how nice the water looks, more importantly; it means you’re no longer being protected from harmful contaminants.

Even if your water comes from town or city water, with the prevalence of pharmaceuticals, pesticides and other toxic chemicals, it’s becoming harder for a treatment facility to remove all the chemical and pharmaceutical contaminants from the water they pass on to you.  There’s also a chance that municipal water can pick up pollutants on the way to your house.

Water from a private well may be even more contaminated.

Cloudy Water  – You may also notice that your water is no longer crystal clear in your glass, This is due to the dissolved solids that are no longer being removed.  You may even visually see particulates floating in the water the old filter can no longer remove. 

Watch Out for Low-Quality, Counterfeit Fridge Filters

Counterfeit filters, which have infiltrated the marketplace and are inadvertently being sold by major online retailers, do not meet the certification requirements of NSF, ANSI, WQA and Canada’s CSA standards that genuine-brand filters have worked hard to achieve.  These fake filters will not protect us from the harmful chemicals, pharmaceuticals, and microbes like we expect and have paid for.

Inline Filters Offer Better Filtering for a Much Longer Time

Filtering your fridge water is a smart thing to do, but instead of buying short-lived fridge filters, a better way to purify your water would be to install an In-line filter.

In-Line Refrigerator Water Filter.
In-Line Refrigerator Water Filter.

Like the fridge filters, these are multi-stage, single-cartridge filters, meaning the replaceable filter cartridge has distinct layers of filter media within it.  Each layer is a specialized material to take care off specific types of contaminants.

The effectiveness and long filter life are two major advantages to using an In-Line Fridge filter.  The other big advantage is the cost savings for you.

The cost to replace a typical fridge filter, costs about $60.  Since their effective lifespan is only 3 to 6 months, fridge filters need to be replaced 2 to 4 times per year at 60 bucks a pop.

The cost to replace a typical In-Line Filter Cartridge, which can easily last 1 to 3 years, is only about $60.  Not only is this a tremendous cost savings for you, but since you rarely have to change out the filter, it’s also much more convenient.

An accessible location of this filter housing when you install it, is the only thing you need to worry about.

Multi-stage Filtration Systems Offer Even Better Filtration

Multi-Stage Utrafiltration (UF) Filter System.
Multi-Stage Utrafiltration (UF) Filter System.

Refrigerator water filters are severely limited when you compare them to the exterior-mounted, in-line filters, or a high-efficient, multi-stage system, such as an RO system.

The reason for the superiority of these systems over the fridge filter is that they have much more filter area and this maximizes the amount of time the water is in contact with it.  They purify the water more thoroughly by removing more contaminants.

Fridge filters can remove many of these contaminants, but not as thoroughly and for not nearly as long.

Do I Need a Refrigerator Water Filter if I Already Have Reverse Osmosis?

If you already have a multi-stage reverse osmosis filter system in your kitchen, or are considering on installing one, you can definitely supply your fridge with that highly purified water. In fact, I highly recommend it!  It’s a far superior way to filter your refrigerator water and will produce the highest purity water, better than any other.

It’s not necessary to also have a filter in your fridge.  You simply install a Refrigerator Water Line Kit.  With it, you tee into your filter system’s supply line and run a supply tube to your fridge’s inlet line.

Refrigerator Water Line Kit
Refrigerator Water Line Kit

After that, you’ll want to remove the fridge filter and reinstall the By-Pass Plug that was supplied with your refrigerator.  If you can’t find it, don’t worry, they’re available from the manufacturer, you’ll just have to order a new one.

This effective setup eliminates the need to use those expensive, short-lived, inferior refrigerator filters.


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