These days, most newer refrigerator models have in-door water and ice dispensers. While this won’t cover every household need for clean, filtered water, they are convenient for grabbing a quick drink and staying hydrated.
However, these replaceable fridge water filters need to be changed regularly to keep the water and ice tasting pure.
When Should You Replace Your Fridge Filter?
How often you need to change your filter depends on how much you use the water and ice dispensers, how many people are in your household, and the quality of your water supply. The general rule of thumb amongst most manufacturers is to change your fridge filter every six months. Waiting longer than six months may be acceptable in some cases, if you’re only using it sparingly, but never leave a filter in longer than a year.
You might think your water looks and tastes fine, but just because your water seems fresh does not mean that it actually is. Most contaminants are odorless and tasteless, making it even more important to change your filter regularly. The longer you use a carbon filter past its capacity, the more harmful your water can become.
How Does a Refrigerator Water Filter Work?
The purpose of a water filter for your fridge is to remove contaminants, bad tastes, and foul odors using a combination of carbon filtration and sediment. Refrigerator filters contain a carbon block core wrapped in polypropylene. As water flows through the outer material, it removes debris and suspends solids while other unwanted particles and contaminants cling to the surface of the carbon block. This process is called adsorption — not to be confused with absorption, when something soaks into the surface rather than adhering to it.
What Does a Fridge Filter Remove?
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has set standards for drinking water quality, referred to as The Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA). Under SDWA, the EPA oversees the states, localities, and water suppliers who implement those standards. However, once the water leaves the treatment facility, it must travel through miles of underground pipes before it ever reaches your home. Unfortunately, these pipe systems are not regulated, so along the way, the water may collect agricultural runoff, lead from old pipes, and other harmful compounds.
Most refrigerator filters are designed to remove three major contaminants: lead, chlorine, and volatile organic compounds (VOCs). Some filters are also rated to remove chloramine and cysts as well.
Prior to the twentieth century, lead was considered harmless and was used in the production of pottery, paint, and plumbing pipes. Before 1986, 50% of solder used for plumbing also contained lead. Unfortunately, by the time the harm of long-term lead exposure was evident, it was already too late. Buildings constructed before the SWDA will likely still have lead pipes and soldered copper that can easily leach into your water. It enters the drinking water when plumbing materials that contain lead start to corrode, especially where the water has high acidity.
Since lead is toxic, the EPA set the maximum contaminant level for lead in water at zero. Even at low exposure levels, lead is harmful to human health. It can also bioaccumulate in the body over time. Ingesting lead leads to problems with reproduction, premature birth, and damage of the heart, kidneys, and brain. Lead exposure is even more harmful to children.
Chlorine and Chloramines
Although chlorine is an effective disinfectant of drinking water and has virtually eliminated waterborne diseases such as dysentery and cholera, it can change the flavor of your water.
Water treatment facilities use chloramines to reduce the formation of harmful disinfection by-products like trihalomethane.
Fridge filters that use catalytic carbon remove chlorine and chloramines by separating the chloramine and converting the chlorine into chloride, delivering fresher tasting water through your refrigerator dispenser.
Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs)
VOCs are harmful chemicals like pesticides, insecticides, and herbicides. Exposure to these compounds comes from agricultural runoff, air pollution, and industrial waste. Many VOCs are carcinogenic and can also cause kidney, liver, and reproductive issues.
Why Are Refrigerator Water Filters Necessary?
The average adult body is 60% water. Therefore, if the water you are drinking is of poor quality, your body will suffer, and you can get sick.
Changing your fridge water filter reduces contaminants and prevents the growth of bacteria. Refrigerator filters are made to work on water that is already microbiologically safe, such as your municipal water that has been treated for pathogens and viruses. Suppose you have not changed your water filter in a year or more. In that case, it can become a prime living space for contaminants and living organisms and bacteria that can enter your gastrointestinal and digestive tract and cause you to get sick.
Another reason for changing out your fridge water filter is to save money. Sure, grabbing a plastic water bottle to go is convenient, but the plastic bottle is not exactly environmentally friendly or cheap in the long run. Using a refillable container and changing your refrigerator’s water filter twice a year can conserve an average of 3,000 plastic bottles and $600 per year.
What Happens When You Don’t Change Your Fridge Filter Regularly
Failing to change your fridge filter every six months has potential consequences, including:
- Increasingly poor water quality and taste.
- Your filter can get clogged. Once a filter is packed with dirt and debris, it will no longer filter the water going into it. But this unfiltered water will continue to flow through to your drinking glass, and so will the contaminants, rendering the filter useless.
- A loaded carbon filter collects particles that attract and feed living organisms, becoming a breeding ground for bacteria.
The Science of Water
Having a whole home water filtration system is important for ensuring the water in your home is clean and pure across the board. This includes helping your fridge filter to work properly. Refrigerator water filters are not made to clean unfiltered water but rather are the final step in removing the last of any contaminants that have entered your home through your pipe system.
At The Science of Water, we offer a stronger line of defense. Our Puronics line of filtration and water softener systems offer the highest quality of clean water for your home. Simply visit our website to sign up for your free water test. Once we receive the results, we will provide you with a free estimate about which of our whole home filtration systems will work best to keep you, your house, and your family safe with the cleanest, purest water possible.
Sign up for your free water test today, and let’s get started providing you with clean water and peace of mind.
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