For many people it’s hard to know how often to replace a refrigerator water filter. You obviously want to get maximum value out of your investment by using it as long as you can, but at the same time, you don’t want to push it too far and end up drinking unfiltered water once the filter stops working.
It doesn’t matter what brand you have. Samsung, LG, and Westinghouse fridge water filters all work in a similar way. It is common for people to use these filters for far too long. This exposes them to ingesting contaminated water, which is the exact opposite of what they wanted in the first place when purchasing their filter. It is also very common for people to completely forget that they need to replace their water filter every 6 months to a year, depending on the level of usage.
Even if you’re water still tastes fine, there may be contaminants getting through the old, clogged up water filter. Some of these chemicals or metals have no noticeable taste, so you might still unknowingly ingest them.
If you have a large family, say 4 or more people, and you use your fridge ice dispenser and cold water tap fairly often, you should be changing your filter every 6 months. For a smaller family or a couple, who use their fridge ice maker and water dispenser less often, changing the filter every year would suffice. Even if you rarely use water from the fridge, you should never leave your filter unchanged for more than 2 years at an absolute maximum.
Water usually travels for miles and miles before reaching your home. Along the way it collects dirt and contaminants from the metal piping, including lead, and may also include other chemical from agricultural runoff and other pollutants etc. Most refrigerator filters are made of carbon and are designed to remove three major contaminants: lead, chlorine, and volatile organic compounds (VOCs). Some higher end filters are also rated to remove chloramine and cysts from dirty water as well.
Carbon filters work by acting as a magnet for contaminants. The pollutants stick to the large surface area of the carbon, where they are held and restricted from flowing on, into your drinking water or ice. As the surface area of the carbon is filled up with toxins however, the filter gets less and less effective at cleaning the water.
If you don’t change your water filter and use it past its capacity, it will eventually clog up and stop filtering properly. The carbon will reach maximum capacity of the contaminants it can hold, and water will flow on through the filter, almost completely unfiltered. The dirty and clogged up filter will also become a breeding ground for bacteria, which can cause even more contamination of your drinking water supply. If you don’t know how to switch out the filters you can always ask a local handyman or plumber to come and help you do it.
Due to the above, it is recommended you change your water filter regularly. Set a reminder on your phone or calendar so you don’t forget. Having an old, clogged up, bacteria harbouring filter can actually be worse for you than having no filter at all, so don’t risk it just to save a few dollars. Change you filter at least every 2 years, but more regularly if you use your fridge water often.