Why Doesn’t My Refrigerator Have a Water Filter?

Why Doesn't My Refrigerator Have a Water Filter?

With an increasing number of modern refrigerators supporting ice-making and water-chilling functionality, it’s no surprise to see more and more written about water filters. Not all refrigerators have a water filter, though, and so you may have found yourself wondering why that could be the case.

Many models of new refrigerators do not have water filters, primarily because they do not have a water dispenser or an ice maker. Some budget refrigerators have an ice maker but do not provide a water filter to keep the price low. Most refrigerators that have water filters allow users to remove the filter by installing a filter plug.

Understanding exactly why your refrigerator doesn’t have a water filter can be a bit confusing, as it depends on a number of factors. Keep reading to learn more about why your fridge may not have a water filter.

Read my ultimate guide on refrigerator filters.

What Refrigerators Do Not Need a Water Filter?

An increasing number of modern fridges include features that would have been considered rare a decade or two ago, and the features that require water certainly fall into this category. There are two main features that require water:

  • Ice making
  • Water chilling

While ice can be made “manually” in a freezer unit, it is not an especially convenient process because it involves carefully filling an ice tray, balancing the water as you carry it back over to the freezer, and then hoping it doesn’t spill as you place it down and shut the door.

Automatic ice-making, therefore, has found its way into refrigerators as a more convenient experience for consumers — being able to push a button and have ice dispensed is far easy and more impressive for any guests you may be entertaining than having to pop ice cubes out of a tray.

Similarly, with modern refrigerators looking to capitalize on any opportunity to provide a competitive edge, the ability to store and chill water is another feature that appeals to consumers. Along with ice-making, this feature is a big driver of the need for modern fridges to have a direct connection with the water supply.

1. Discount refrigerators

If you have deliberately chosen a model that does not have these features — either for the sake of price reduction or perhaps because you do not need them at all — then your refrigerator has no need to connect to the water supply. Where this is the case, there is no reason for the fridge to have a water filter (as there is no water) and so you won’t find one inside the appliance.

You’ll often find refrigerators like this in apartments or small homes. If these homes have chlorinated water or low-quality water, then they will have to use a Brita filter to improve the taste of their water.

Read my article – Do Refrigerator Ice Makers Have Filters?

There are a couple of other reasons, though, why you might have a refrigerator that supports water-requiring features but does not have a water filter. These typically both occur when the refrigerator is not brand new and so has had another user prior to yourself. They are:

  • The water filter is being bypassed
  • The water filter has been removed but not replaced

2. Filter bypassed

The role of a water filter is, as the name suggests, to filter the water. Water filters are especially effective at removing chlorine from the water, as well as mechanically filtering out large particles that may make their way into the water from the pipework, such as rust and dirt. Some filters are also effective at removing lead, which is incredibly important in areas where lead pipes are still in use, given the serious health effects of consuming lead, and especially in children.

The quality of the water coming into your property is dependent on many different factors and will be specific to your area, meaning that the quality of water across the country can vary significantly, and on two main factors:

  • Taste
  • Contaminants that may impact health

Inevitably this means that in many places, the water quality is actually great, and the water can safely be consumed straight from the tap without any risk to health and with an acceptable taste.

In these instances, some users may decide that the water filter in their refrigerator is unnecessary if they are already happy with the quality of the water coming directly into the property. As a result, when the fridge signals that the water filter that came with the new fridge is ready to be replaced, there is an option to bypass the filter entirely, which may be desirable.

Bypassing the filter entirely effectively connects the piping inside the interior of the appliance on both sides of the filter, meaning that the water can continue through the system just as if it had passed through the filter. In doing so, the filter is bypassed, and no replacement filter is required.

If you have acquired the fridge from someone in such an area, this may be the reason your fridge does not have a water filter. It’s a good idea to consider your own water quality and, if required, purchase a new filter to undo the bypassing.

3. Filter removed but not replaced

In this instance, it may be that in preparing the fridge for sale that the filter was due to be replaced and so was removed. In this instance, the most common remedial action would be to buy a new water filter and replace it prior to looking to use the functionality in the appliance that requires water.

Related articles:
Can I Run My LG Refrigerator Without the Water Filter?
Can I Run My Samsung Refrigerator Without the Water Filter?
Can I Use My Whirlpool Refrigerator Without the Water Filter?

If your fridge offers the ability to bypass the filter, then you may also wish to consider whether your water quality is good enough for you to simply bypass the filter entirely. In this case, you should follow the manufacturer’s instructions to do so, and then you do not need to buy an additional water filter.


It’s clear that there are a number of different reasons for a refrigerator not having a water filter. If your fridge does not offer ice-making and water chilling, then you can forget about the issue. If, however, your fridge does support a water filter, then you should either replace it prior to use or be extremely careful with regard to the quality of the water to ensure that you do not risk the health of your household due to the substances that may be in your area’s water system.

Chief Guru

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. You can also follow him on LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook.

Recent Posts