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Refrigerator Water Filter Buying Guide

What they do, why they’re important and how they can benefit you

Your refrigerator’s water and ice dispenser is more than a quick way to get a cool drink of water. When the right water filter is in place, your fridge will also be a source of clean, pure water that will keep you and your family healthy and hydrated. Find out why it’s important to replace the filter on time, what the filter does, how to replace it and more.

Why is a refrigerator filter important?

Regular replacement of the filter is critical to maintaining their effectiveness and reducing bacterial contamination. An overused or out-of-date filter can become dangerous because the filter will no longer trap contaminants, allowing them to leach back into your water. For the safety of you and your loved ones, it’s important not to put off replacement too long.

What is the filter doing?

More than just making your water look and taste good, fridge filters can remove a variety of contaminants that can cause illness. Some can filter out as many as 66 different contaminants including pharmaceuticals, waterborne parasites, lead and mercury, pesticides, asbestos and industrial chemicals. Drinking water filtered by your refrigerator will help you and your loved ones stay healthy and hydrated.

Why do I need to replace my fridge filter?

All refrigerators that come with a water dispenser include a filtration system that removes impurities so that you have clean, great tasting water. Old refrigerator filters can develop a build up of the captured contaminants, which can cause your water quality to drop and result in an unpleasant smell or taste. Over time, filters can also become a breeding ground for bacteria that can actually contaminate your drinking water — instead of cleaning it. Replacing your fridge filter ensures clean, safe drinking water.

When do I need to replace my fridge filter?

Most manufacturers recommend replacing the filter every six months, depending on water quality and use. If there’s a lot of sediment in your system, it may need to be replaced more frequently. If you have a large family that drinks a lot of water, it’ll need to be replaced more often than a single person’s filter.

There are four reliable ways of knowing when it’s time to replace your refrigerator water filter:

  1. Follow the manufacturer’s recommendations. Their specified replacement timing will err on the side of caution so you can be assured that your water quality is always safe.
  2. Look at the light. Most fridges with built-in water systems have a status indicator light that will glow when it’s time to replace the filter.
  3. Pay attention to taste. Your taste buds will tell you when it’s time to replace the filter because when the filter is exhausted and no longer purifying your water, the flavor will become unpleasant. It might change in visual appearance too.
  4. Monitor flow. If your icemaker is only producing one or two cubes at a time, it’s time for a fresh filter. The slowed production is a sign of a “full” or blocked filter.

Where do I buy replacement filters? Do I buy them from the manufacturer?

Most filters can be found at big box stores, you don’t have to order them directly from the manufacturer. Because remembering to buy a replacement filter every six months can feel like a hassle and is easy to forget, ordering online can be more convenient. And you can make your life easier and cross “reorder filter” off your to-do list by signing up for a filter subscription that will auto-ship your order every 6, 12 or 18 months. Bonus: Save 10 percent on subscription orders.

How do I find the right filter for my fridge?

With dozens and dozens of filter sizes and styles available, finding the right filter can feel like looking for a needle in a haystack. Don’t worry, all the information you need is right there in your fridge—no user manual needed. Using the Fridge Filter Finder tool, follow the four step-by-step instructions to identify the right replacement filter. It will ask you easy questions about your fridge’s brand and style. In just a few clicks you’ll have a selection of right-size filters to choose from.

What’s the difference between brand-name filters and Tier 1?

Generally, the only significant difference between a brand name filter and a Tier 1 filter is the packaging and label. With only a few exceptions, they perform the same and produce the very same results.

Why buy Tier 1?

The highest quality aftermarket filters, and Tier 1 filters are a perfect replacement for filters made by big-name brands like Whirlpool, Kenmore and Maytag. Created with serious consideration for a healthy home environment, Tier 1 products come with a promise that every filter is a great value, meets the highest quality standards and is backed by the Tier1® Guarantee for fit, quality and price.

Why is my refrigerator water filter discontinued? Now what?

Like cars, computers and cell phones, water filtration systems are continually being updated and improved. One of the most common enhancements is the filter’s ability to remove contaminants. WhirlPool recently released a completely new line of filters that now remove 66 different contaminants, a significant increase over their previous line. While the name and some features of a filter may change, the shape and fit of it does not. So when you search for your filter number and it’s listed as “discontinued,” there’s always a perfect-fitting replacement option with a different name or number.

How do I install my new refrigerator filter?

Even though there are seven standard fridge styles and dozens of different fridge filters, every replacement filter can be installed without tools or the help of a plumber. While the process varies between fridge styles and filter placement, in less than simple 10 steps, you can replace the filter yourself. Each replacement filter comes with easy step-by-step instructions, or you can review the steps online by fridge brand:

FRIDGE FILTER FAQs

Why does my water taste funny?

A change in the flavor of your filtered water is a sign that the water filter needs to be replaced. As the filter is used, the particles filtered out are collected and eventually build up to the point that the filter can’t do its job anymore. After you replace the filter the water should taste good again.

Why are there tiny particles in my water?

If there is “stuff” floating in your water, it’s time to replace your fridge filter. Your filter has become too old to trap contaminates so they are passing through the system and ending up in your glass. A new filter should fix the issue.

How do I find the filter name or number?

Filters are usually labeled with their name and part number, but you can also use our Fridge Filter Finder tool to order the right filter for your fridge. Also, your refrigerator model number should be printed on a label that’s place in your fridge. It should be inside on an upper wall, on the fridge’s face frame, behind a crisper drawer or behind the lower kick plate.

Do I have to turn off the water to install a new filter?

Possibly. It depends on the brand and model of your fridge. The majority of refrigerators do not need the water to be turned off, but a few brands, like Samsung do. The installation instructions will tell you if it’s need.

Does a plumber have to install the replacement filter? Are special tools needed?

You can easily install a new fridge filter on your own. Depending on your fridge, it can be done in as few as five steps — and no tools are needed.

How do I reset the change-filter light on my fridge?

If your refrigerator has an indicator that tells you when to change the filter, it needs to be reset when you replace the filter. Each manufacturer has different instructions for resetting the indicator.

Amana: Press and hold the dispenser lock and auto light buttons on the dispenser (at the same time) for 4 seconds until the filter status indicator begins to flash, and then release the buttons. On some Amana fridges you need to press the dispenser lock and water buttons for 4 seconds until the filter status indicator begins to flash, then release the buttons.

Frigidaire: Press and hold the reset button on the dispenser until the green light flashes (up to 15 seconds).

GE and Hotpoint: Press and hold the reset water filter button on the dispenser for 3 seconds.

Kenmore: Kenmore refrigerators are made by a number of different manufacturers, so follow the directions listed for the specific manufacturer of your fridge.

LG: Press and hold the reset button for 3 seconds.

Maytag and Jenn-Air: Press and hold the lock and light buttons (lock and water on newer fridges) on the dispenser for about 4 seconds or until the indicator light blinks.

Samsung: Press and hold the ice type and child lock buttons simultaneously for 3 seconds. Note: Hold the buttons for only 3 seconds. If you press these two buttons simultaneously for 5 seconds, the reset fails. Release the buttons and repeat the steps. The water filter indicator light should turn green.

Whirlpool and KitchenAid: Press the light switch 5 times within 10 seconds. If the fridge has a filter button, press and hold it for 5-10 seconds.