How to Replace a Refrigerator Water Filter

man replacing water filter

Many refrigerators come with built-in ice makers and some with built-in water dispensers. Many water dispensers also include water filters that need to be replaced approximately every six months, sooner if the filter indicator light goes on. Homeowners can replace them with a filter from their refrigerator manufacturer or may buy an OEM (meaning a compatible product made by a different manufacturer). Be aware that the use of third party water filters may void the warranty on a refrigerator.

What Water Filters Do

Different filters handle different types of contaminants. Most manufacturers produce several different filters for each refrigerator so homeowners can select the type of filtering best suited to their needs and the water that comes to their home. Some filters concentrate predominantly on removing particulates, or sediment and minerals in the water. Others remove specific chemicals such as chlorine and mercury or focus on pesticides commonly used in agriculture. Despite filtering, there are also many chemicals and microorganisms that can only be removed through other purification processes.

Cysts are another potential water contaminant. Some water professionals claim they are a significant danger in unfiltered water. NSF International, a company that sets standards for water quality and certifies water filtration systems, recognizes cysts as a potential contaminant but does not place any more importance on their removal over that on contaminants of other types. Cyst removal is not a standard feature of most water filters, but the number of filters supporting their removal is increasing.

Municipal water and well water typically have very different types of contaminants. Additionally, water supplies with runoff from farmland will likely be vastly different from water which comes from more industrial or urban areas. Homeowners should consult local experts to determine any specific water problems in their geographic location and purchase water filters best suited to removing as many of those contaminants as possible.

How to Do-It-Yourself

Installation of a new water filter is usually straightforward and quick, even for the least mechanically inclined homeowners. John Sowden, Vice President of Purchasing and Technical Services at, claims that in most cases "it takes longer to remove the food to gain access to the filter than it does to change it."

In most refrigerators, removing the old filter is as simple as twisting the old filter either a quarter or a half turn counterclockwise then pulling. Reverse the turns to install the new filter . push it in until it won't go any farther, then turn it a quarter or a half turn clockwise. The process can be slightly more complex in certain Frigidaire refrigerators and in Whirlpool and Kenmore Base-Grille models, but it is still simple.

Be sure to remove all caps and protective covers before installing a new filter. Flush the new filter by running two or three gallons of water through it before drinking or making ice. Finally, reset the filter indicator light . a process that varies from refrigerator to refrigerator but typically involves pressing and holding one of the refrigerator control buttons for several seconds. Refer to the product documentation for exact instructions for specific models.

Like most disposable products, refrigerator water filters do not include a warranty. However, defective products can usually be returned to the seller.