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The Dangers of Not Changing Your Refrigerator Water Filter

The Dangers of Not Changing Your Refrigerator Water Filter

Although we hardly ever think about it, the refrigerator water filter is one of the kitchen’s hardest workers. It takes tap water and purifies it down to the tiniest particle, ensuring that every sip you take is clean, tasty and free of any harmful substances. But are there dangers of not changing your refrigerator water filter regularly? Though probably not life-threatening, failing to swap your filter out on occasion may cause some adverse effects that you want to keep in mind.

filling up glass of water

Luckily, keeping your water safe and potable is fairly easy as long as you remember to occasionally change the filter according to the instructions provided by the refrigerator manufacturerIf you have a hard time finding your filter, knowing where to install it or replacing on time, check out our Water Filter Finder.

What Happens When You Don’t Change the Filter?

  • You May Consume Harmful Chemicals—The No. 1 reason to keep your filter fresh is because it removes 99 percent of harmful chemicals and contaminants from your drinking water, including lead, asbestos, mercury, cysts, pesticides and harmful bacteria. According to the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), nearly 77 million Americans drink water from systems that do not meet federal standards designed to protect their health. Some common contaminants include:

    • Lead—Lead, which tends to seep into the water supply via old lead pipes, can cause neurological, behavioral and health problems in children and adults. Water filters can significantly reduce the amount of lead in your drinking water.
    • Asbestos—The World Health Organization (WHO) warns that asbestos—a material found primarily in construction materials and insulation—gets into our water through a variety of channels, including industrial waste, atmospheric pollution and the erosion of piping. Health hazards associated with asbestos include serious respiratory issues, such as lung cancer and mesothelioma. 
    • Mercury—High levels of mercury have been shown to damage the brain, kidneys and developing fetus in pregnant women. Generally, mercury levels in drinking water are not high enough to cause serious health problems, but a filter will eliminate it almost entirely.
    • Pathogens—Yep, you can be exposed to bacteria, parasites and viruses without even leaving your home. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), waterborne disease outbreaks resulted in nearly 300 cases of illness, over 100 hospitalizations and 17 deaths between 2013 and 2014. 
    • Waste—Did you know that chemical waste, byproducts and even radioactive contaminants can wind up in your drinking water? The NRDC reports that, due to leaks or improper waste storage, water can be tinged with radioactive material from the production of nuclear weapons and energy. Additionally, medical and pharmaceutical waste has been tested in drinking water.
woman holding glass of water
  • Your Refrigerator Ages Faster—In the same way that these harmful chemicals can affect our bodies, they can also affect our refrigerators. 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.
  • Your Water Tastes Bad—Let’s not forget the fact that an old filter fails to properly eliminate gross-tasting particles in your water, making it taste metallic, sulfuric or all-around bad. The best way to ensure that you have high-quality, great-tasting H2O is to select a good water filter and make sure you swap it out at the proper intervals. Having water that tastes and smells good will help make it more appealing so you drink your daily recommended amount!

How Often Should You Change the Filter?

How often you need to change your water filter depends on a few factors, including the make and model of your fridge, the quality of your existing tap water and how often you use the water and ice features on the appliance. Additionally, different fridge manufacturers have different recommendations. For example, some Samsung and GE replacement water filters should be changed every six months, while other manufacturers recommend replacement every three months. 

If you’re looking for a versatile replacement water filter, we suggest browsing EveryDrop water filters. Many of the EveryDrop water filters are compatible with leading refrigerator brands such as Whirlpool, Maytag, KitchenAid and more.

Looking for a replacement water filter for your home fridge that is also trusted by commercial kitchens? Consider purchasing an Everypure water filter. With a reputation of high-quality products that are long-lasting, Everypure water filters are a great option for both residential and commercial kitchen alike.  

For kitchens that use reverse osmosis water systems, look to APEC water filtration systems whenever you need a replacement. As a top reverse osmosis manufacturer, the APEC brand is a go-to choice that will not disappoint. 

refrigerator dispenser up close

The good news is that if you have a relatively modern refrigerator, there’s a good chance it will let you know exactly when it’s time to change the filter. By using built-in sensors, the fridge is able to detect when it’s time for an update, and it will alert the user via an indicator light on the front of the fridge. Once you know it’s time to replace, you can find the correct filter that fits and get it delivered on schedule with the right subscription. Make sure to keep your kitchen stocked with backup filters so you never go without clean, delicious water!

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  • Reply
    David Henry
    January 21, 2021 at 8:17 am

    Hi Pete!
    Thanks for sharing a great article!
    I don’t know all these damage that could happen if we not changing the refrigerator water filter until I read your post. Keep going and sharing great post like that.

    • Reply
      February 17, 2021 at 8:25 pm

      Does the water get warm when filter is bad

      • Reply
        Pete R
        February 28, 2021 at 7:34 pm

        Teray, the filter should have no effect on the temperature of your water.

  • Reply
    Darlene Rosales
    June 7, 2021 at 12:59 am

    My husband thinks the water out of a filter that’s is over 2 years old is safer to drunk than out of the tap. Is this true? To me it made our oce taste terrible. Thank God I finally ordered the new filter.

  • Reply
    Nelson s
    March 22, 2022 at 5:38 pm

    Does the water filter affect the temperature in the fridge?

    • Reply
      Michelle Stephens
      March 25, 2022 at 4:12 pm


      Water filters remove impurities and pollutants from water. They do not impact the temperature of the refrigerator.

  • Reply
    April 26, 2022 at 7:40 pm

    My Kenmore Elite fridge’s filter replacement light is on and the fridge has stopped pumping out cold air. Is this a coincidence or is the filter issue is affecting the fridge?

    • Reply
      Sean Ryan
      May 9, 2022 at 10:42 am

      This must be a coincidence, as the filter replacement light and compressor have nothing to do with each other. We do not sell Kenmore Elite refrigerators, either, but we do sell new refrigerators if you’re in the market.

  • Reply
    May 27, 2022 at 6:58 pm

    I have a WRF540CWHZ04 and the filter light is on. However we don’t have it hooked to the water supply or use the ice maker. Do I still need to replace it?

    • Reply
      Sean Ryan
      June 17, 2022 at 11:04 am

      Hi Brian,
      There’s no need to replace your filter if your refrigerator is not hooked up to a water line.

  • Reply
    February 1, 2023 at 4:59 pm

    Could an old filter cause the fridge to make a kmocking sound. It is in about 3 second intervals. It stops if I open the freezer door, but does not stop if I open the refrigerator door.

    • Reply
      Sean Ryan
      February 21, 2023 at 10:24 am

      Hello, and thanks for reaching out! An old filter would not cause knocking. We will need to find out a little more information to determine just what might be the cause. Please reach out to our live tech support team at [email protected] or 847 544-2295 to speak to our experts and we’ll try to get to the bottom of this.

  • Reply
    March 28, 2023 at 2:22 pm

    If the filter needs to be replaced would the ice maker stop working? The water still works.

    • Reply
      Sean Ryan
      March 29, 2023 at 12:55 pm

      Hi Abby! If the filter needs to be replaced, the icemaker and water dispenser will still work but the quality of water and ice will not be as pure. It is best to replace the water filter every 6 months to ensure you are getting the best-filtered water possible.

  • Reply
    April 28, 2023 at 4:14 am

    My filter needs replacing, this morning water started flowing out from the top of the filter and flooded the fridge and kitchen floor before I could turn the water off, could this be because of an out of date filter. I contacted Samsung and they were unable to help because the fridge was out of date.

    • Reply
      Sean Ryan
      April 28, 2023 at 5:12 pm

      Hi Terry! If you’re near our Chicagoland location, we are happy to send an Abt installer to take care of the water filter replacement (for a labor cost of $69 plus the cost of the filter). In order to find the compatible water filter, we need the specific refrigerator model number. Let us know if you’re interested, and we can have customer service follow up with you! If you don’t live nearby, you can buy from our website and we’ll ship within the US. We recommend you buy a brand new filter and, with the water turned off, replace the filter according to the owner’s manual.

  • Reply
    July 3, 2023 at 6:45 am

    My ice maker has stopped producing ice. My Samsung refrigerator is 5 years old . I never replaced filter. I wonder if I caused any permanent damage… what are my options?. I live in corpus Christi Texas

    • Reply
      Sean Ryan
      July 24, 2023 at 10:27 am

      Hi Gabriel! The best idea is to replace the water filter as quickly as possible. They need to be replaced every 6 months. A filter that hasn’t been changed in 5 years is likely clogged to the point where no water can make it through.

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