How Long Do Water Filters Last? A Guide to Refrigerator and Other Types of Water Filters

A refrigerator water filter is essential to make sure your family drinks clean, fresh water. Learn how long water filters of all types last and more.

Darrell Smith
02.2020 in Water Filters
Refrigerator Water Filters
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Because your body is about 60% water, it goes without saying that it's crucial to get plenty of clean, fresh H2O throughout the day. But without a clean water source, it's harder to stay hydrated and healthy — which is why water filters are so important!

Knowing when to change the water filter in your refrigerator (and other places) is just as important as knowing how to use it. Otherwise, you'll be losing the added protection against water contamination that your filter provides. Read on to answer the question, "How long do water filters last?"

What Do Water Filters Do?

Quite simply, water filters remove harmful chemicals or elements from either a municipal water source or a private well source. They can be small enough to fit into the lid of a water bottle and large enough to consume all of your under-sink space.

The effectiveness of any given water filter varies. Some may remove many common heavy metals, chemicals, and other contaminants buddt not affect the taste, while others may provide better taste but poorer protection.

While most locally-sourced public water is safe to drink without filtration, some may have higher-than-normal sulfur or calcium concentration. The sulfur can make the water stink like rotten eggs, while the calcium can form hard crusty residue on surfaces.

A water filter/water softener combination may be the best option for those seeking a solution to contamination concerns, foul-smelling water, and hard-water stains. However, those seeking a portable, affordable option that can be taken anywhere may want to explore water bottles with built-in filters.

Common Water Contaminants

There are several possible water contaminants. Even the safest, most reliable water systems occasionally suffer from breakdowns or sewage issues. Busted sewage pipes, natural and artificial chemicals, industrial pollution, and treatment-center malfunctions can all turn clean water foul.

Some of the most common contaminants include:

  • Arsenic
  • Lead
  • Pesticides
  • Cyanide
  • Mercury
  • Fertilizers
  • Human Waste
  • Ammonia
  • Bacteria
  • Copper

Heavy metals can build up in your body over time, so you may not know that your water is making you sick until it's too late. Bacteria-ridden water can cause more immediate negative effects such as bacterial or viral illness.

Pharmaceutical drugs are also becoming an issue for public water-supply systems. Because so many people are taking prescription medications, traces of the drugs can seep into the water supply.

Long-term exposure to tainted drinking water has been linked to cancer development, chronic illness, and organ damage. A water filter can help prevent many of these issues.

Benefits of Using a Water Filter

A heavy-duty water filter can remove virtually all contaminants and dangerous elements from your home's drinking water that might have been missed during the treatment process.

Also, a water filter will likely help you increase your daily water intake. There are many benefits of drinking water, including clearer skin, lower blood pressure, and easier breathing.

If you drink bottled water regularly, you should definitely consider investing in a water filter. Not only will you save hundreds — if not thousands — of dollars on water, but you'll also dispose of far less plastic waste. Go green, and get hydrated!

It's important to note that improper water filter maintenance can be just as bad, if not worse, as drinking water from a polluted source. Old filters can be moldy, slimy, and full of harmful bacteria.

Are Refrigerator Water Filters Necessary?

Yes! Refrigerators dispense water and ice from the home's local source. This means that the public municipal supply or your well water is supplying water to your fridge. So, if that water isn't 100% pristine, you're asking for sub-quality drinking water.

Most refrigerators come with a basic water filter, though it's important to change this filter every few months (or according to the manufacturer instructions). Otherwise, you may be dealing with some funky, stinky fridge water.

Different Types of Water Filters

There are stand-alone water filters (think water pitcher or water bottle), faucet filters, under-sink filters, and well-water filters. Each type of water filter works differently and requires a different frequency of replacement.

Stand-Alone Filters

These filters typically clean small amounts of water and store them in a pitcher or reusable bottle. They need to be replaced (the filters, not the containers) every two months or 40 or so gallons.

Faucet Filters

Faucet filters attach directly to your sink faucet and filter water immediately from the faucet. These water filters have a hugely variable replacement period of three months to eight months.

Following the manufacturer's guidelines is a must!

Under-Sink Filters

Under-sink water filters tend to be a bit bulky or unseemly, which is why they hide so well beneath the sink. However, what they tend to lack in style, they make up for in filter lifetime.

The average under-sink filter can last between six and 12 months before needing to be replaced. That's half-a-year or more of clean, tasty water without any stress.

Well-Water Filters

These filters also tend to function as water softeners. They're one of the largest and most expensive types of water filters and tend to be housed near the well, sitting outside without shelter.

These filters need to be changed every two to six months, but because they're heavy-duty and multifunctional, you can forgive their somewhat short lifetime.

Do I Really Need to Change My Refrigerator Filter?

Absolutely! A substandard filter, an old overused filter, or no filter at all can be worse for your fridge water. Old filters can become bacteria bombs, adding extra contamination with every glass of water.

The reason for this is that standard carbon filters trap nasty bits of pollutants, only letting clean water pass through. But when these filters are expired, their ability to absorb contaminants decreases. At this point, they can begin expelling the stuff they've been holding onto.

To avoid letting your refrigerator water cause any issues, change your fridge filter frequently. Also, be sure to sterilize the filtration area every time you change the filter. Food-borne bacteria and gunk can travel into your water storage unit and wreak havoc.

How Long Do Water Filters Last?

The life of a water filter varies. Smaller water filter systems, like pitchers and bottles, tend to last the least amount of time. The hardiest water filters belong to under-sink filters.

If you're looking to avoid constant upkeep and maintenance — and remove the greatest amount and variety of contaminants — an under-sink filter may be right for you. However, if you don't mind trading convenience for a little extra maintenance and re-supply cost, a smaller filter system may be the answer.

How to Keep Track of Filter Maintenance

There are several ways to keep track of your water-filter maintenance. No matter how you keep track of your errands and appointments, there's bound to be a solution that works for you.

Check out these reminder ideas that can help you stay on top of your home's water filter maintenance.

Use Your Smartphone

Many of us own or have access to a smartphone, and most smartphones have "to-do list" apps or calendar apps. Utilize this technology. When you first install your water filter, take note of the manufacturer's recommended replacement time.

Before you've moved on to the next task or errand, schedule a water filter replacement for the future. Set a loud, buzzing reminder. You can even ensure that your phone warns you about the upcoming replacement several days ahead of time.

Use Your Calendar

If you're more of a wall-calendar type of person, that's fine. Perform the same steps as above, except write down the replacement date on your calendar instead of typing it in.

Also, you can add notes or helpful colors and stickers to help warn yourself when replacement is needed.

Tell Your Spouse or Friends

You can confide in a spouse, family member, or friends that you are determined to keep consistent with your water filter replacement. They might not remember, but by reciting your intention to them, it might help you keep it in mind.

Keep Your Water Clean -- Change That Filter!

By following the practices discussed above, you'll minimize frustration, disappointment, or confusion you experience with your water filtration system. You'll also get to continue enjoying clean, fresh drinking water!

If you have additional questions about water, water quality, or water filters, please contact us today!

In this post: refrigerator water filters, water filters

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The way we see it, when you're informed about the quality of your water and then empowered to protect your family (and your community), you've achieved "water zen".