Call me crazy, but this water smells like eggs. You spent the extra cash to get the best refrigerator water filter you could find, but that was over four years ago. You don’t even notice the slight discoloration because your cups are made of colored glass.
Changing your refrigerator water filter isn’t always as simple as following the manufacturer’s instructions.
Depending on how often you use the filter, it could last anywhere from three months to a year. So how do you know when to change it?
Here are five signs your current fridge water filter needs to be retired.
1. Your water tastes different
As your water makes its way through city pipes and household faucets, debris gets pulled along for the ride. Air pollution and different forms of waste may contaminate the water as well, contributing to a funky taste.
Iron, lead, manganese and other minerals can give your water a metallic or salty flavor. But, a typical carbon refrigerator water filter may only remove the lead.
Specific filters like catalytic carbon can remove iron and manganese when combined with hydrogen peroxide in a special system. Most water filters will remove the metallic taste on their own, but depending on the water quality in your area, additional filtration may be required.
Water that tastes like chlorine has been treated to kill off bacteria. This treatment reduces the spread of diseases like cholera and dysentery. But when chlorine in tap water reacts with naturally occurring organic matter, Trihalomethanes form which may contribute to negative health outcomes.
Properly functioning fridge filters will reduce the presence of chlorine and its taste. So when your water starts to taste different, it’s time to change the filter.
2. Your water starts to smell
80% of what you can taste is affected by your sense of smell. So your nose may tip you off to a gunked up water filter before your taste buds do.
Water that smells like rotten eggs will do more than just gross you out. The stink of hydrogen sulfide means your water has passed through some decaying organic matter underground.
Impurities such as animal waste or straight up dead animals have been found in water supplies before. So if you smell something funky, you should get your water checked as soon as possible.
3. You see sediment and deposits floating around in your water
The thick tube of carbon inside your refrigerator water filter collects contaminants like the sticky side of a piece of adhesive. When the surface is completely covered, particles can slip by un-adsorbed.
Adsorption is different than absorption. Think of a sponge absorbing water. When you squeeze out the sponge, the water is still just as dirty. When a carbon filter loses its ability to absorb, it becomes just as effective as a sponge when it comes to filtering contaminants out of your water.
This may be one of the later signs that your filter needs to be replaced. Fridge filters that are no longer removing contaminants can still deliver water that doesn’t smell or taste particularly off. So by the time you see things floating around, there’s no telling how long your filter has been clogged.
Using a clear, colorless drinking glass is the easiest way to spot this sign. When particles are no longer being removed, it’s time to change your filter.
4. Your refrigerator water filter flow slows down or stops altogether
Microbial bacteria isn’t the only think hitching a ride in your water pipes. Flakes of rust, sand, clay, and bits of organic material may also flow up into your filter.
When your fridge filter’s water flow slows to a dribble or stops altogether, those larger particles have formed a clog. Just like with the previous sign, these particles have maxed out your filter’s adsorption capacity. But instead of passing through and floating around in your drinking water, they build up and stop the system entirely.
Build up like this could affect the life of your appliance and damage the system if left unresolved.
5. Your water changes color
A major red flag in poor quality drinking water is an unusual color. Your body’s natural capacity for disgust will alert you to the potential dangers as soon as you lay eyes on some yellow or red tinted water.
If the water isn’t crystal clear, it is no longer potable.
Cloudy White Water
A cloudy glass of white water suggests there are tons of little particles present that are too small to see as individual particles.
The color may also be due to the presence of air bubbles, but if you let the glass sit undisturbed and the color does not disappear from bottom to top, a test of the water’s turbidity will determine its portability.
Excess amounts iron or manganese may surpass your fridge’s filtration abilities, and turn the water a rusty red-brown color. While these elements are non-hazardous, they do have the potential to stain plates and fixtures. The tint will typically appear after the water is exposed to air and the dissolved solids solidify and change color.
These elements will affect the taste and appearance of certain foods and beverages. For example, if you use your refrigerator water filter to fill a cup and brew some coffee, the tannins in the coffee will react with the iron and manganese to produce a dark-colored sludge.
Green or Blue Water
Corroded plumbing releases copper into drinking water, giving it a blue or green tint. High doses or long-term exposure may lead to health problems.
Small amounts of copper are essential to good health, but you might prefer to get this from mushrooms and chocolate as opposed to blue colored water.
Change Your Filter and Drink Easy
So you forgot all about that dang refrigerator water filter and have been drinking tap water for the last six months thinking it was filtered. Don’t worry, it’s not the end of the world.
The city regularly tests the water, and so long as they haven’t sent out a boiled water notice, you’re fine. But most people with fridge filters use it because they don’t want to taste the metal pipes running underground.
If you’ve noticed one of these five signs in your water, you can find the right filter for your fridge at Discount Filters.