Do New Refrigerators Come with a Water Filter?

Do New Refrigerators Come with a Water Filter?

If your old fridge has given up the ghost, and you’re in the market for a new one, you may be wondering what kind of features a new refrigerator comes with. Will you need to go out and buy anything? Specifically, will your new fridge come with a water filter?

A new refrigerator that dispenses water is likely to have a water filter built-in, whereas a fridge that only dispenses ice will most likely not have a water filter. Even if your refrigerator does come with a water filter, it will need to be replaced after a while to ensure optimal water quality and taste. 

Keep reading to learn more about water filters in new fridges, how to tell if you need one, and how to select the best water filter for your new appliance.

Read my ultimate guide on refrigerator filters.

Does My New Refrigerator Have a Water Filter?

Many modern refrigerators that dispense water as well as ice come with a water filter built in. If you’re not sure whether or not the fridge you’re about to buy has a built-in water filter, there are two places where the filter is likely to be located.

The two most common places for a refrigerator’s water filter to be located are on the rear top-right corner of the fridge’s interior, or within the front lower grille of the new fridge. The filter will resemble a small tubular canister and is usually made of metal. If you’re not sure of the water filter’s location, consult the user’s manual that came with your new fridge.

Another good move is to check with the appliance center before purchase to determine if you’ll need to buy a water filter before using your fridge to dispense ice or water.

What Type of Water Filter Should I Buy?

If you do need a water filter for your fridge, what kind of filter should you buy? Check the model number of your refrigerator, and make sure that any water filter you are shopping for is compatible with that model number. This information should be available on the packaging of the filter in-store, and on the website’s product information if you’re shopping on-line.

Though you can also choose to go with a filter direct from the manufacturer, there are plenty of great options out there that will work just as well with your new appliance.

Does My Water Filter Need to Be Branded?

Not necessarily! While refrigerator manufacturers understandably would prefer you to buy branded water flyers for your fridge, there are plenty of high-quality and more affordable fridge filters out there.

Make sure that you select a refrigerator filter that is compatible with your appliance and is from a manufacturer you trust. As long as the water filter is a good fit for your refrigerator and is from a trusted company, it doesn’t need to be direct from the manufacturer of your refrigerator.

What Does a Water Filter Accomplish?

The water filter on your new fridge will accomplish a number of things. The water filter works hard to improve the smell and taste of water, filter out harmful chemicals or impurities from drinking water, and ensure that ice from your ice machine tastes great and is safe to use in beverages.

But not all water filters are created equal. Water filters for refrigerator have different ratings that help the consumer understand what the filter is capable of filtering out.

Some Water Filters Sift Out More Than Others

The NSF or National Sanitation Foundation classifies water filters on several levels, depending on the kind of impurities the filters are capable of eliminating. The most common ratings are

  • NSF 42. These water filters improve the taste of water by filtering out chlorine
  • NSF 53. These water filters can filter out harmful contaminants such as lead, mercury, bacteria, pesticides, and herbicides which may be found in drinking water
  • NSF 401. These filters can trap and sift out “emerging contaminants” which are substances which may be harmful to human health, but whose effects have not yet been well-studied. This includes trace amounts of medications, hormones, and cleaning agents which may be present in drinking water.

Which level of water filtration you choose depends heavily on the safety of your local water. You can check the safety of your local water by getting a Consumer Confidence Report as put out by the EPA.

Read my article about the value of NSF certification for water filters.

Refrigerator Water Filters Need to be Replaced

Now that you’ve chosen a water filter for your fridge, how long will it do its job before it needs to be replaced? Read my article about how to know when it’s time to replace your refrigerator filter.

Most manufacturers recommend replacing your fridge’s water filter every six months to ensure optimal water quality, taste, and safety. If your fridge’s water filter gets very light use, it may last as long as a full year before needing to be replaced.

Failure to change out your fridge’s water filter in a timely manner may result in water that is poor in quality, tastes funny, smells odd, or may even contain harmful particles or substances. An old water filter can also be a magnet for deposits which can affect water quality and even harm your fridge.

Depending on how heavily you use the water or ice in your fridge may require you to change the filter more often than six months. If you begin to notice an unpleasant taste or odor in your drinking water, it is time to change your water filter.


Many new fridges that dispense water come with a water filter built in, but a fridge that only dispenses ice may need a filter installed. Check the appliance before purchase to see if it comes with a water filter.

The best way to check what type of water filter your refrigerator needs is to check the model of your fridge and match it to the filter you’re seeking to buy. The water filter should also be NSF rated to filter out the types of contaminants that you’re worried about, depending on the quality and safety of your local drinking water.

The water filter in your fridge should be replaced every six months on average, and the maximum that a very lightly used water filter can go before being replaced is one year.

Boch Richard

Richard Boch is a chemical engineer responsible for designing water filtration systems for industrial and residential customers. He has more than 20 years of experience with ion exchange, activated carbon, and reverse osmosis. Richard's expertise has made him a go-to source for municipalities and businesses looking to improve their water quality. When he's not working, Richard enjoys spending time with his wife and two young children.

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