Did you know that food left at room temperature can spoil in just two hours? They may even go bad within an hour if exposed to temperatures of at least 90° F or higher. That’s because pathogens like bacteria thrive in such conditions.
Unfortunately, bacteria that cause food spoilage can still grow in the fridge. Moreover, some bacterial species, including the listeriosis-causing Listeria monocytogenes, flourish in the cold. Listeriosis, in turn, is a food-borne illness afflicting an estimated 1,600 people in the U.S. each year.
What’s more, those microorganisms can also live in your refrigerator water filter. That’s why it’s imperative not only to clean your fridge but to maintain its water filter, too.
This guide discusses the basics of fridge water filter maintenance, so be sure to read on.
Why You Need to Maintain Your Fridge Water Filter
Unless you use a whole house water filter, then unfiltered water flows into your fridge. That unfiltered water comes straight from your local water supply line. That supply, in turn, can either be from a municipal water line connection or your private well.
The problem is that health-based violations occur in 3% to 10% of U.S. community water systems each year. For example, some of them may have contaminant levels higher than the maximum allowed. Others may have ineffective or insufficient water treatment protocols.
Those violations may then result in consumers developing water-borne illnesses. There are even cases of local water supplies being toxic; think of what happened in Flint, MI.
Now, don’t be so quick to say you’re safe because you have your own private well. Private wells can be as dangerous, too, especially if ill-maintained. For example, heavy metals can pollute well water and cause acute and deadly diseases.
So, if not for your fridge filter, you may end up drinking water with harmful stuff in it. After all, the job of this water filtration system is to trap dangerous elements in the water. It can remove chemicals, metals, particles, foul tastes, bad odors, and more.
However, as the fridge filter captures unwanted stuff, then it would get clogged over time. This can then constrict the flow of water released by your fridge’s water dispenser. In addition, the ice your fridge makes will likely look cloudy and leave a bad taste after melting.
Worse, your filthy fridge filter may no longer be able to do its job of trapping contaminants. That’s why it’s so important to maintain your fridge water filter.
How Often Should You Replace Fridge Filters?
Many refrigerator filter makers indicate a specific number of months on their products. For example, you may see filters labeled with a note saying, “Replace after six months.”
Your fridge itself may have a built-in timer that lets you know it’s time for a new water filter. In some appliances, the timer has a default setting of three months, while in others, it’s six months. This often depends on the filter’s size and efficiency; the smaller it is, the shorter its service life.
In more advanced models, the timer connects to a gauge that monitors the water flow. The light would then go on once the fridge has filtered a certain volume of water.
Filter manufacturers base those default settings on the average household drinking water usage. So, if you and your family members are average consumers, it’s best to abide by those guidelines. If you’re unsure of how long your filter should last, 6 months is a good fallback.
Where Is the Refrigerator Water Filter Anyway?
First, you need to locate the filter, which usually looks like a round tube and is usually 2 to 4 inches wide.
Check your fridge for a grille located at the interior bottom or back panel. If it’s not there, check the upper or lower back corners. If you still can’t find it, inspect the exterior backside of the fridge.
Once you find the filter, the next step is to remove it from its case. If your fridge uses a push-in filter, twist off the filter cap or push the eject button. If you have a twist-in filter, you only need to twist the old tube out and remove the cap.
Either way, don’t throw the cap away; you need this to lock in your replacement filter.
What If You Already Need to Replace the Filter?
If your current filter is past its prime, it’s best to replace it with an OEM or an aftermarket filter. However, note that like OEM car parts, OEM filters also cost much more than aftermarket ones. The good news is that high-quality aftermarket fridge filters work just like the OEM ones, at a lower cost to you.
However, if you decide to go with an aftermarket filter, be sure it’s compatible with your fridge. You can do this is by using an online fridge filter search tool. This way, you can search with ease by entering your fridge’s model number, filter part number, or use the finder for your filter.
To install a new push-in filter, place the cap over the fresh cartridge and make sure the arrows align. Then, push the new filter with the cap into the case until the eject button engages.
To replace an old twist-in filter, remove and clean the cap before putting it on the new cartridge. Then, twist the replacement filter into the filter compartment.
With the new filter in, run about three to five gallons of water to clear any residue. You can then use the dispensed water on your plants or for cleaning other tasks. After this, you can start drinking fresh water straight from the fridge dispenser.
Keep Your Fridge Water Safe to Drink
Always keep in mind that drinking water is key to averting health woes, such as dehydration. However, you also need to make sure that what you’re drinking water is safe and free of harmful contaminants.
So, as early as now, inspect your refrigerator water filter and see if it needs changing. If it does, replace it right away, as you don’t put your health and wellbeing at risk.
If you’re looking for the best selection of OEM and aftermarket refrigerator filters, we’re here for you. We have both OEM and our own ClearChoice brand aftermarket filters. Click here to find your replacement fridge filter today!