Why Is My Samsung Refrigerator Filter Light Red?

Why Is My Samsung Refrigerator Filter Light Red?

An increasing number of refrigerators, including models made by popular manufacturer Samsung, will show a red light on the water filter at certain points. If your refrigerator is new or you have not noticed it before, you will understandably ask yourself — why is my refrigerator filter light red?

A Samsung refrigerator filter light will turn red to indicate that it is time for the water filter to be changed. Refrigerator filters must be replaced every 6 months to ensure they are effective and removing sediment and other impurities from the water. The red light is a reminder to change the filter, but it does not necessarily mean the filter needs to be changed immediately.

Trying to figure out exactly what the red filter light means and why it’s on can be confusing. Keep reading to understand the action you should take if your refrigerator filter light turns red.

Read my ultimate guide on refrigerator filters.

What Exactly Does a Red Filter Light Indicate on Samsung Refrigerators?

Water filters can be found on many refrigerators where there is a direct connection to the water supply. This is typically the case when the refrigerator provides chilled water or ice-making capabilities, which is something that more and more modern refrigerators are doing in order to satisfy consumer demand.

The role of a water filter is to remove different contaminants from the water. This can cover many different substances but typically refers to particles such as:

In order to remove different types of particles from the water, a few different approaches are taken.

1. Activated carbon needs to be replaced

Activated carbon is a form of carbon that has been treated in order to significantly increase its surface area. Increasing the surface area is important because it maximizes the chance of the substances in the water coming into contact with the carbon, which can then react with certain substances to effectively remove them from the water.

The best example of this is chlorine, for which activated carbon is considered a reducing agent. This means that as the chlorine passes over the surface of the activated carbon, a reaction can take place where electrons — tiny charged particles that orbit the chlorine atoms — are transferred to the chlorine, reducing it to a chloride ion.

This process happens extremely quickly, and for this reason, activated carbon is considered extremely effective at removing chlorine from water. This is a very desirable removal, as chlorine is often responsible for the water that does not taste appealing.

2. Particle filter needs to be replaced

By the nature of having to pass through a restricted space, water filters are also generally effective at removing particles over a certain size. This is called mechanical filtration and serves to remove particles that are too big to pass through the filter.

Mechanical filtration is useful for larger particles, which include rust and dirt, which can often make their way into the water as a result of leaky or old pipework. While it is rare that these particles cause health issues, finding sedimentary particles in water is visually unappealing and so certainly undesirable.

Water filter light indicators

The way that Samsung indicators work is very similar to many other popular brands. It’s not feasible for a refrigerator to be able to tell directly from the water filter how close it is to becoming ineffective, and so instead, it uses a proxy to enable it to give a ‘best guess’ of the state the filter is in.

There are generally three different states and four different colors for Samsung indicator lights:

  • Normal – Blue/Green
  • Close to Replacement – Orange
  • Replacement recommended – Red

This means that the indicator is not always completely accurate but is instead an indicator of another measure. Many refrigerators will have the indicator light change color after a certain amount of time. For example, Whirlpool refrigerators often show that the filter needs changing after six months of use.

Samsung, however, also uses a measure of how much water has passed through the filter, which is more accurate than just a measure of time but does still need to make assumptions on the average quality of water coming into the refrigerator.

A water filter that has not had sufficient water pass through it is typically either green or blue, depending on the model of the Samsung refrigerator that is owned. The light will usually turn orange once the water filter has had 450 gallons of water pass through it or five months have passed. The indicator light will turn red once 500 gallons have passed through or six months have passed.

How Do I Reset the Filter Light on My Samsung Refrigerator?

When a water filter is replaced, the refrigerator system is not able to automatically detect that this is the case. As a result, the refrigerator owner needs to let the refrigerator know that the water filter is new so the monitoring cycle that controls the water filter lights can be restarted.

The exact way to adjust this setting on your Samsung refrigerator will be dependent upon your model, and in all cases, it’s always worthwhile to check your instruction manual so as to be sure of the guidelines that are specific to your model.

If you don’t have these to hand, though, it’s generally the case on Samsung refrigerators that the control for the indicator light will be hidden in the settings, which are accessible via the display.

Many Samsung refrigerators require you to use the button reserved for another purpose and depending on the model. This may be:

  • The alarm button
  • The water button
  • The fridge button

In each of the cases, the refrigerator requires the user to hold down the button for three seconds in order for the new water filter to register. At this point, there is usually an audible beep noise to indicate that the instruction has been understood — but even if this is not the case, you should see the indicator light change from red (or orange if you changed the water filter early) back the color for the normal state (either green or blue).


It’s clear that while you do not need to rush out and buy a replacement filter immediately if you see the filter light turn red, it’s probably time to think about how much you’ve used your water filter since the last replacement and whether it could be beneficial to the taste and quality of the water your household is drinking to replace your filter with a new one.

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.

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