Are Fridge Water Filters Universal?

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Rising levels of environmental pollution make many homeowners worry about the quality of their drinking water. Thankfully, the water filters fitted in our refrigerators’ water dispensers or ice makers ensure we have a steady supply of clean and safe drinking water or ice. However, these must be replaced periodically, and it may not be easy to find the right fit.

Most fridge water filters are universal. These filters work with most refrigerators as long as they’re compatible with the waterline. Fridge water filters with universal-fit designs are labeled such. Most refrigerator manufacturers recommend replacing your fridge water filter every two months. 

In this article, I’ll list the signs that indicate it is time to replace your water filter. I’ll also explain how you can remove your fridge water filter and replace it with a new device.

Can You Use Any Water Filter In Your Fridge?

Sometimes it can be difficult to find a universal-fit water filter for your refrigerator. It may then be tempting to skip the lengthy search process, save time and energy, and settle for any water filter. 

You can’t use any water filter in your fridge unless the device has a universal design and fits your water line. Using a filter that doesn’t fit your refrigerator properly can cause leaks and water wastage. It won’t filter water effectively, and you risk voiding your fridge warranty.

How Do You Know What Water Filter You Need?

Many of the currently available fridge water filters are made by just a few manufacturers. For instance, manufacturers like Ametek, Pentek, Culligan, USFilter, and American Plumber make interchangeable cartridges. The confusion among consumers arises when other companies buy these filters and market them under their brand names. 

You can find out what water filter you need for your refrigerator by looking up the user manual or searching the manufacturer’s website. You can also check a couple of filter manufacturers’ websites where they list the popular brands and models of fridges along with compatible water filters.

If you don’t know the brand or model of your refrigerator, you can dismantle the water filter and take it to your local hardware or home improvement store to find a similar one. You should replace your fridge water filter every six months, so you can save money by buying replacements in packs of two or three. 

How To Know When To Replace the Fridge Water Filter

Most refrigerator manufacturers specify in the user manual how often you should replace the water filter. You should ideally replace your fridge water filter every six months. If yours is a busy household, you’ll need to change the filter sooner. 

The following are the signs that your fridge water filter needs to be replaced:

  • The filtered water tastes like tap water, and the ice has a foul taste.
  • There’s a foul odor in the water or the ice.
  • The water isn’t crystal clear and appears murky.
  • There are numerous black specks in the water or the ice.
  • The filter alert changes color or emits beeping sounds.
  • A light comes on the water filter.
  • The pressure of the water dispenser is low.

You shouldn’t use a refrigerator water filter for more than a year. If you continue to use it beyond its maximum capability, it can’t filter the water effectively. The water you drink or the ice you consume won’t be free of disease-causing microorganisms. 

How To Replace the Water Filter on Your Refrigerator

Your refrigerator can have a twist-on water filter or a push-in one. Let’s now look at how you can replace a water filter in a refrigerator.

Replacing Twist-On Water Filters

A twist-on fridge water filter is located in the front and usually behind the bottom grill. It can also be inside the fridge in the upper right corner or near the bottom. 

Here are the steps on how you can replace a twist-on filter:

  1. Turn the filter counterclockwise. At about 1/4th of a turn, you’ll feel it loosening.
  2. Pull it straight out.
  3. Remove the cover from the old filter and fit it onto the new device.
  4. Push the new filter straight into the housing unit. Usually, there’s a mark on the filter to help you align it vertically.
  5. Turn the new filter clockwise. At about 1/4th of a turn, it’ll lock into position.

Replacing Push-In Water Filters

A push-in water filter is usually located in the front of the refrigerator behind the bottom grill. It can also be inside the fridge, on the top of the back compartment, or in a drawer. 

Here are steps on how you can replace a push-in filter:

  1. Push the button to loosen the filter. If there’s no button, push the filter to loosen the spring latch and release the device from its housing.
  2. Pull the filter out.
  3. Remove the cap from the old filter.
  4. Place the cap on the new filter.
  5. Insert the new filter in the housing unit and keep pushing it until you feel it lock into position. 

Most refrigerator water filters are carbon systems. 

After replacing your old filter, the water that comes out of the new filter might have a gray color or contain tiny black specks. The water isn’t harmful to you to drink. 

However, if you want crystal clear water, you have to flush the new filter. Run a gallon (3.79 L) or two (7.57 L) of water from the dispenser. Collect the water in a pitcher and use it to water your plants.