How Well Do Refrigerator Water Filters Work?

How Well Does Your Refrigerator Water Filter Work

Do you have a refrigerator that dispenses filtered water or ice? If so, you may be wondering how well do refrigerator water filters work.

Refrigerator filters can eliminate taste and odors as well as some contaminants in your drinking water. But can you rely on them to protect your family’s health from harmful chemicals?

In this article, we’ll show you what to look for when choosing a fridge filter and explain why some are better than others. You’ll also learn how refrigerator filters work, the pros and cons of using one, as well as tips on how to maintain it so that it continues working properly for years to come!

If you’re looking for more than just general information, then this comprehensive guide has exactly what you need! It covers everything from testing your water quality before buying a fridge filter, third-party certification programs, as well as other considerations like price point and availability. So if there’s anything else you want to know about refrigerator filters or their maintenance requirements – don’t worry because we have it covered!

Read my ultimate guide on refrigerator filters.

How Refrigerator Water Filters WorkRefrigerator water and ice dispenser

Most refrigerators sold today come with water filters. These filters are designed to remove taste and odor compounds from your drinking water and ice. Some refrigerator filters also remove contaminants like solvents, lead, and mercury from your water.

Not every water filter is the same. It’s important to know what to look for when choosing one.

Refrigerator filters work by passing water through a filter media. This media can be made from activated carbon, zeolites, or other materials. As the water passes through the media, it removes contaminants and impurities.

Some refrigerator filters also include a built-in water purifier. This means that the water filter not only eliminates contaminants from your drinking water, but also kills bacteria and viruses.

Let’s review the most common treatment technologies that you will find in refrigerator water filter systems.

1 – Particle filter

Sediment filter cartridge
Particle filters remove sediment and turbidity to prevent fouling of water lines.

Most modern refrigerators include particle filters. These filters use a synthetic fiber membrane to remove suspended particles from the water.

Particle filters are effective at removing dirt, sediment, and other debris from your water. A particle filter will not remove dissolved contaminants like chlorine, lead, metals, or organic compounds.

One downside of particle filters is that they can clog over time. When this happens, the flow of water through the filter is reduced and the filter needs to be replaced.

2 – Activated carbon filter

A lot of refrigerators use activated carbon filters. These filters are made of activated carbon, which is a porous material that attracts and traps organic molecules.

Activated carbon filters are effective at removing taste and odor compounds from your water. They also remove contaminants such as chlorine, pharmaceuticals, pesticides, and organic compounds.

Activated carbon filters do not remove lead, heavy metals, arsenic, or mercury from your water. If your water has these contaminants, then you need additional treatment to ensure your water is safe to drink.

A good refrigerator filter will have enough activated carbon to remove impurities for 3 to 6 months. Once the carbon media is spent (it can’t hold any more contaminants), then you have to replace it with a fresh water filter.

3 – Other water filters

Some premium refrigerators include ultra-filters or even reverse osmosis filters that can remove additional contaminants. These are usually optional features in high-end fridges or filter systems.

Ultraviolet light disinfection is offered by a few built-in refrigerator manufacturers. These treatment modules kill bacteria, viruses, and other pathogens to keep your water safe.

Features to Look for in a water filter

Not all refrigerator filters are the same. It’s important to know what to look for when choosing one.

Most refrigerators come with the water filter installed, but not all of them are made equal. Some filters remove more contaminants than others and some have a longer life before needing to be replaced.

When shopping for a refrigerator filter, you should consider the following:

  • Type of filter (particle, activated carbon, or other)
  • Media type (carbon, zeolite, etc.)
  • Filter life (months)
  • Amount of activated carbon

You also need to match the contaminants in your water with the water filter. For example, if you want to remove pharmaceuticals from your drinking water, then you’ll need an activated carbon filter.

How Well Do Refrigerator Water Filters Work?

The key question everyone asks is whether refrigerator filters really work. The short answer is yes. However, the longer (and more accurate) answer is that it depends on the type of filter, what contaminants are in your water, and how hard your water is.

Particle filters remove dirt, sediment, and other debris from your water. If your goal is to remove turbidity and cloudiness from your water, then this type of filter will work great.

If you have contaminants like pharmaceuticals, pesticides, chlorine, or organic solvents, then an activated carbon filter will reduce their concentration. However, most refrigerator filters are small and only provide a limited amount of overall treatment.

Does a refrigerator water filter remove chlorine?

Refrigerator filters are designed to remove chlorine from your drinking water. Most fridge water filters contain activated carbon, which is a very effective treatment method for chlorine. Some filters can remove 99+% of the chlorine in your drinking water. Other filters, however, are poorly made with very little carbon and can’t remove all of the chlorine.

To ensure that your water filter is removing chlorine, look for NSF 42 certification.

Read my article on refrigerator filters and chlorine removal.

Do refrigerator water filters remove chloramines?

Chloramines are difficult to remove, and most refrigerator filters don’t remove them effectively. Activated carbon only removes some of the chloramines. The go-to technology for chloramines is catalytic carbon, and most refrigerator filters don’t use this media.

If you’re concerned about chloramines in your water, you should look for a whole-house carbon filter with catalytic carbon or a reverse osmosis system.

Do fridge water filters remove fluoride?

Refrigerator filters do not remove fluoride from water. However, there are water filters that are specifically designed to remove fluoride such as reverse osmosis filters.

Do refrigerator filters remove lead?

Lead is not typically removed by refrigerator filters, but some filters may be certified to reduce lead levels in your drinking water. Look for NSF certification if you need a lead filter.

Check out my article on refrigerator filters and lead removal.

Do refrigerator filters remove PFAS?

Most refrigerator filters contain activated carbon, which is known to remove PFAS from water. However, these filters don’t remove all of the PFAS compounds, so you should consider a whole-house carbon filter or a reverse osmosis filter.

To learn more about refrigerator filters and PFAS in drinking water, check out this article.

Other contaminants

If you are trying to remove contaminants that can harm your health, then you shouldn’t rely on your fridge filter. It just doesn’t have enough capacity and it probably doesn’t remove 100% of the impurities to make it completely safe.

In this situation, you are better off using a whole-house filter to remove the contaminants. This type of filter is large enough and designed to treat your water to safe levels. In addition, larger units usually have NSF or other third-party certification to give you some assurance that they actually work.

Pros and Cons of Refrigerator Filters

Refrigerator filters have both pros and cons.

Benefits of refrigerator filters

There are several benefits to having a filter for your refrigerator. On the plus side,

  1. Removes turbidity and cloudiness from your water
  2. Reduces contaminants like chlorine, pharmaceuticals, pesticides, and organic compounds
  3. Easy to install
  4. Can last for several months before needing to be replaced
  5. Improves the taste and odor of your water
  6. Provides peace of mind

Drawbacks of refrigerator filters

There are also a few drawbacks to refrigerator filters. On the negative side,

  1. Do not remove lead, heavy metals, arsenic, or mercury from your water
  2. Not effective at removing certain bacteria, viruses, or parasites
  3. May not adequately remove enough contaminants that can harm your health
  4. May only last for a few months before needing to be replaced
  5. Can be expensive, especially if they include optional treatment
  6. Installation can sometimes be tricky
  7. Difficult to know if they’re working

Other considerations for house water treatment

Refrigerator water filters have become increasingly popular as people look for ways to ensure clean and safe drinking water at home. But how well do they really work?

The short answer is that refrigerator water filters are effective in removing chlorine and reducing other contaminants in your tap water. They are measured in microns, which is the size of the particles they can capture. Most refrigerator water filters are capable of filtering out particles as small as 0.5 microns, which includes common contaminants such as lead, asbestos, and cysts.

One thing to keep in mind is that fridge filters are not perfect, and some pollutants may still be present in the water even after filtration. In some cases, filters can even dislodge some of the trapped pollutants back into your drinking water. Therefore, it’s important to use a high-quality filter that has been tested and certified by a reputable organization.

Compared to pitcher filters, refrigerator water filters have been shown to be more effective at cleaning water due to their larger size and better filtration technology. This means that they are effective at reducing contaminants in your tap water, as long as you keep on top of filter replacements. The lifespan of a refrigerator water filter can vary depending on usage, but it’s generally recommended to replace them every 6 months to ensure maximum effectiveness.

Overall, it can be concluded that refrigerator water filters are effective at removing chlorine and reducing other contaminants in your tap water. However, it’s important to note that they are not perfect and some pollutants may still be present in the water even after filtration. Therefore, it’s recommended to use a high-quality filter and replace it regularly to ensure optimal performance.

Refrigerator Filter Maintenance Requirements

Replacing refrigerator filter
Filter maintenance is critical to keeping them working properly.

An important consideration for refrigerator filters is they must be properly maintained for them to function properly. Every filter has its own requirements. It’s important to read the manufacturer’s instructions to make sure you’re following the correct procedure.

Good filters make a difference

Particle filters should be replaced every 2 to 4 months, depending on how much water they filter. If you use a lot of water, then you’ll have to replace the filter more often.

Activated carbon filters should be replaced every 1 to 6 months, depending on their size, the type of contaminants in your water, and how much water they filter. Again, if you use a lot of water, you’ll need to replace the filter more often.

Filter monitors are an effective tool

Some refrigerators have a monitor to let you know it’s time to replace the filter. Others don’t, so you’ll have to keep track of it yourself.

I write the date I put the filter into use on the housing, so I know when it’s time to change it.

It’s important to replace the filter when it’s needed, or else your water will not be properly filtered. If you don’t keep up with the maintenance, then you’ll end up with water that’s still dirty and may contain harmful contaminants.

What Else Can You Use to Purify Refrigerator Water

If you’re concerned about the quality of your water, then you may want to consider using something in addition to your refrigerator filter. The standard fridge filter is great for removing taste and odor from your water, but if you have dangerous contaminants like lead or pesticides, then you should really use a treatment system that is meant to keep you safe.

A good solution to supplement your refrigerator filter is a whole-house filter (also known as a point-of-entry treatment system). These POE filters are larger than refrigerator filters and are designed to treat your water to safe levels. Furthermore, because of their size, larger units usually have NSF or other third-party validation to provide you with assurance that they are safe to use.

There are several types of whole-house filters to choose from, so you can find one that fits your needs and budget. They come in a variety of sizes, so you can find the perfect one for your home, and some even have built-in ultraviolet light technology to kill bacteria and viruses.

Another great thing about whole-house filters is they last longer than refrigerator filters which means fewer replacements and less hassle. Some filters only need to be replaced every six months or even a year, and many have a lifespan of two or more years.

Other Considerations with Refrigerator Filters

If you are using a refrigerator water filter, there are a few other things you should be aware of. Let’s start with what contaminants they can and can’t remove.

What contaminants do refrigerator filters remove from tap water

Refrigerator filters remove a variety of contaminants from your water. Here is a list of impurities they can treat.

  1. bad taste
  2. odor
  3. chlorine
  4. pharmaceuticals
  5. pesticides
  6. benzene
  7. radon

The University of Arizona conducted a study of refrigerator water filters to see how well they removed a variety of contaminants. They found that they don’t remove as much as you might think, even those contaminants that are listed above. This is why you should use a whole-house filter system designed for the impurities you’re looking to remove rather than relying on a smaller fridge filter.

What contaminants can’t a refrigerator filter remove from house water

Refrigerator filters are not effective at removing all types of contaminants and may not adequately remove enough to be harmful to your health. Here are the contaminants that a refrigerator filter cannot remove.

  1. Arsenic
  2. Bacteria
  3. Barium
  4. Beryllium
  5. Cadmium
  6. Chromium
  7. Copper
  8. Fluoride
  9. Lead
  10. Mercury
  11. Nickel
  12. Parasites
  13. Selenium
  14. Sulfates
  15. Viruses

Testing your water

Do you know what’s in your drinking water? If not, you should test it. You can either have your water tested by a professional or use a do-it-yourself kit to get the information you need.

If you’re not sure which type of filter is best for your home, testing can help identify any harmful contaminants that may be in your water and determine what kind of filter you should get.

Once you have a filter, it’s important to test your house water regularly to make sure the filter is still working properly and producing clean water. You can often do this by using water-quality testing strips, which are available at most hardware stores. I test my water and the filters once each year.

Testing your filter is the best way to ensure that you’re getting clean and safe drinking water from your refrigerator. It also allows you to catch any problems with the filter before they become too serious.

Third-party certification

It’s important that you realize that most refrigerator filters are small and are really only intended to remove taste and odor from your water. If you want to remove a dangerous chemical to protect your family’s health, then you should look for third party testing and certification.

NSF International is a not-for-profit, independent organization that tests and certifies products to verify they meet public health and safety standards. NSF has been testing water filters for over 70 years and provides an extensive list of certified refrigerator filters.

Water Quality Association (WQA) is another third-party organization that tests and certifies water filters. They have been testing and certifying products since 1963 and also provide an extensive list of certified refrigerator filters.

Refrigerator Filter Brands

LG refrigerator filters

LG LT1000P Refrigerator Filter

This refrigerator filter lasts up to 6 months and can treat 200 gallons of water. It is NSF certified and removes 99.99% of cysts, 99% of asbestos and almost all mercury, lead, and benzene

Check Amazon

Whirlpool refrigerator filters

Whirlpool everydrop Ice and Water Refrigerator Filter

This filter works with Whirlpool refrigerators. It is certified to reduce 99% of 28 contaminants including lead, pesticides, pharmaceuticals, and waterborne parasites. Includes NSF 401, 53 and 42 certification.

Check Amazon

GE refrigerator filters

GE Refrigerator Filter

This filter is able to treat 300 gallons of water and has a service life of 6 months. It is certified to reduce chlorine-resistant cysts, lead, select pharmaceuticals and 50 other contaminants. It can reduce PFOA and PFOS concentrations by 99%.

Check Amazon

Maytag refrigerator filters

Maytag Waterdrop Plus Refrigerator Filter

This filter comes with certification from WQA, IAPMO, and NSF 401, 53, 42 and 372. It significantly reduces levels of ibuprofen, phenytoin, naproxen, estrone, bisphenol A, and nonylphenol. The filter is also certified to remove mercury, benzene, and lead from water.

Check Amazon

Kitchenaid refrigerator filters

Kitchenaid PureSpring Refrigerator Filter

This PureSpring filter is built to NSF/ANSI 42 and NSF/ANSI 372 standards for lead-free compliance. It is certified for the reduction of chlorine, lead, taste and odor. 

Check Amazon

Frigidaire refrigerator filters

Frigidaire Refrigerator Filter

This Frigidaire filter is NSF 42, 53 and 401 certified to reduce the concentration of chlorine and lead.  

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Samsung refrigerator filters

Samsung HAF-CIN Refrigerator Water Filter

This filter is for Samsung refrigerators. It removes more than 99% of contaminants, including lead, using a high-grade carbon block.

Check Amazon

Final Take on Refrigerator Filters

We’ve covered a lot of ground here, so let’s review what we learned.

First things first – refrigerator filters work! In fact, they are very effective at removing taste and odor from your water. They also help reduce the suspended particles in your water and can effectively remove a list of contaminants.

The type of filter you choose will depend on how much money you want to spend and which features are most important for your needs. When shopping around for fridge filters keep an eye out for third-party certification from NSF or WQA as these standards offer assurance about quality control. Finally, make sure you maintain your fridge water filtration system properly with regular cleaning according to manufacturer instructions since this is key to keeping it performing well for years.

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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