One of the most important steps you can take in living a healthy life is to make sure you’re drinking enough water.
That being said, the water needs to be as clean as possible and free from any type of bacteria or other contaminants that could cause health issues down the road.
Many refrigerators and other water sources are designed with built-in water filters.
The water filter allows the water to trickle through and for any contaminants to be cleaned out to get the healthiest type of water you can get. But those filters only work at their peak performance for so long.
The truth is if you leave your water filter in your old refrigerator, which is where many people get their filtered water from, you run the risk of making yourself, and those in your home, sick.
This is because the contaminants build up in that water filter. Then, the filter begins to be less effective in removing said contaminants after a while.
We want to take a more in-depth look so that you understand the ramifications and advantages of staying up to date on your water filter maintenance.
Let’s answer the question: “can an old refrigerator water filter make you sick” so you can make an educated decision for yourself and your family.
Table of Contents
What Happens When Your Refrigerator Has An Old Filter?
Many people rely on their refrigerators as their water source. This is especially true if you live in a hot climate or are just someone who is really health conscious.
Having access to this system allows you to have pure and clean drinking water that is refreshing and helps you revitalize your energy. But just like with any appliance, there is consistent maintenance that needs to be done.
One piece of that maintenance when it comes to your refrigerator is ensuring you are changing your old filter out as needed.
As your refrigerator ages, its performance begins to decline, especially in components that are intended to be replaced.
This will mean that clean water will become more and more contaminated. As we said above, as the water filter ages, more and more dirt and particles are trapped, affecting the water quality.
Most filters are outfitted with a carbon property, and as the water passes through the carbon, it absorbs bacteria and removes other contaminants, leaving you with clean and fresh water.
But if the filter is clogged, the water is not pushed through that carbon process, and you end up with unpurified water.
This means that you will be not only taking in the minerals from the water but also contaminants and bacteria that could potentially cause health concerns down the road.
Drinking refrigerated water through an old filter can expose you to elements like coliform and mercury, which could, when built up in your system, cause a lot of problems.
Besides exposing yourself to unfiltered water and contaminants that could cause you to get sick, a couple of other things happen when your refrigerator water filter is left unchecked.
At the technical level, the dirt and particles building up in that water filter could eventually start causing wear and tear on other functions within the appliance.
Not all the water will be able to push through and could potentially leak into other aspects of the refrigerator affecting the overall performance.
Because you’re not taking out all those minerals and bacteria, your water may begin to taste funny. So, an unchecked water filter can result in repairs and maintenance to the appliance and poor tasting water.
This will inevitably lead to you not drinking as much water, which will also impact your health.
Changing A Water Filter: When is the Right Time?
Because so few people pay attention to their refrigerator’s water filter, there won’t be any question about whether it needs to be changed until you actually fall sick or taste a very metallic flavor when you grab a glass of water.
Waiting this long is detrimental, and so you want to try to change that filter as often as possible.
Like with any other appliance, manufacturers often give you a suggested time frame for which your water filter is good. Ideally, most manufacturers suggest it should be changed every six months.
But there are other reasons for timely changing your old water filter.
That six months might be significantly reduced if your refrigerator is working with hard water because that requires it to work at a higher efficiency.
The filter will get dirty quicker when dealing with this type of water, so you have to switch it out more frequently.
Along with this, you may have to remain vigilant on certain other aspects.
Things like if your water starts tasting metallic or even has a strange smell may signal that it’s time to change your water filter.
Another way to tell if it’s time to change your water filter is that your machine is not making ice as quickly as possible.
All of these factors play a part in deciding when it’s time to change your water filter, but many of us have no clue how to do that. So let’s take a look at how to change a refrigerator water filter.
How to Change A Refrigerator Water Filter
It’s clear that it’s essential to maintain a clean and working water filter in your refrigerator.
Though the process may vary from model to model, you have to follow a couple of basic steps to ensure you can change out your water filter.
(If you’re unsure, you can always hire a professional, but it’s not necessary as when you’ve done it once you will be able to repeat the process and save yourself a little money.)
So here are the step-by-step instructions you’ll need to follow to change out your refrigerator’s old water filter.
Find the Filter
Typically no matter what model you are dealing with, the filter will be in one of two places. Either it will be on one side at the top of the fridge or behind the trim plate. This is the plate that is located at the bottom of the fridge door.
Those with a built-in refrigerator may find it behind a service panel at the top of the refrigerator. If you have trouble finding it, you can always utilize Google and search for the manual online.
Once you have located it, you can move on to the next step.
Some refrigerator models will have a filter cover protecting the filter from external debris. If your model has this, you need to remove that before getting to the filter itself.
Each model will have a different way of removing this filter cover.
Some will twist off and others will have an eject button. Once you’ve removed the filter cover, it’s time to dive into the actual changing of the old water filter.
Take Out & Replace the Filter
The method of removing and replacing the filter depends on the model of the refrigerator.
Some you’ll be able to pull straight out, others you’ll have to twist, but once you get it out and the new filter back in, you’re almost entirely done with replacing your old refrigerator water filter.
Flush New Filter Out
You want to make sure that you get out all of the contaminants that might be in the water system. So once you have the new filter, you’ll want to take out two gallons of water from this system.
This will help with removing contaminants that are still in the water line and errors that may have come from you changing the filter.
Feel free to use this water for whatever you wish – just don’t drink or waste it.
So can an old water filter in the refrigerator cause you or your family to become sick if you drink water from it?
The answer is yes, and it’s primarily because the old filter is not removing contaminants like bacteria and heavy materials that, when building up in your system, could cause health problems.
Along with this, the water through an older filter will not taste as fresh, and this could be demotivating when you’re trying to drink enough water to stay healthy.
We hope that our quick look at this topic and some tips on keeping your water filter in your refrigerator fresh have helped you just a little bit.
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Founder of homeappliancegeek.com, avid cook, and lover of Asian food.
Signature dishes include Thai Red Curry, Chicken Saag, Bibimbap and Sushi.
Massive clean freak; a habit baked-in after spending 9 years in the catering industry.
The one appliance he couldn’t live without? Easily the dishwasher (total relationship saver!).