Do Ice Makers Work Without a Filter? (What You Need To Know!)

Getting a new water filter for your fridge is probably on the bottom of your to-do list with so much going on right now. New filters can be expensive, difficult to put in, or challenging to find. But when that little red light comes on requesting a new filter, how quickly do we need to react? 

Most refrigerators and ice makers can function without a filter as long as you’re willing to put in a filter bypass for them. You’ll first need to check if your fridge is compatible with a bypass product or if it already has one built-in.

The rest of this article will detail what happens when you put in a filter bypass system. It will also provide you with the steps you need to do so. 

How an Ice Maker Works With No Filter

Understandably, getting a new water filter for your fridge can be a huge hassle.

New filters can be expensive. Depending on how often you use your fridge for ice or water, getting a new filter could be a monthly occurrence, which means you’re spending quite a bit of cash. If you feel the water in your home is relatively safe and clean, going to the store for a new filter can feel like a waste of time altogether.

The ice maker in your fridge can still work without a filter, but whether or not you need to do anything to ensure it’s functioning depends on your fridge. 

A filter bypass is something that more updated fridges have built-in. If your fridge doesn’t have one, you’ll essentially have to add a part to your fridge where the water filter usually goes.

Fortunately, doing so isn’t a complicated process. You can order bypass filters online, which means one less trip to the store. You also won’t have to replace a bypass filter once you’ve installed it. So while you’re still spending some money upfront, it’ll be a one-time cost, whereas buying a water filter every six months can add up. 

How Do I Know if My Fridge Has a Bypass System?

Unfortunately for some, going filter-free isn’t as easy as taking the water filter out and just tossing it. 

While some fridges can function without a water filter, others won’t work unless there is something in the place of the filter. You’ll have to check and ensure your fridge has a water filter bypass system before committing to a filter-free lifestyle. 

You can check if your fridge has a filter by exploring on your own or checking the manual you received when you got your fridge. If you’re able, take the filter out and try to get ice or water as you usually would. If nothing comes out, likely, you don’t have a bypass system built-in.

If you have suspicions there’s something wrong with your ice maker that may not be a bypass error, you can always check the manual you received when purchasing your fridge. If you lost your manual or never had one, most are easily accessible through Google.

There may also be important information in your manual about bypassing your filter system. For example, some newer fridges require a more advanced bypass filter than those inexpensive ones you can buy on Amazon. These filters have a chip built-in for efficient interaction with your fridge. 

Can I Still Bypass the Filter if My Fridge Doesn’t Have a Bypass Built-In?

Don’t feel discouraged if your fridge doesn’t have an automatic bypass built-in. Going filter-free is still possible. 

You can still get rid of your filter even if you don’t have a built-in bypass system. It’ll just take a few extra steps. You’ll need to order a part for your fridge to replace the filter and install it. 

The key to bypassing your system is a bypass filter, which you can buy from most hardware stores or online. Bypass filters can come as caps or plugs like the Refrigerator Water Filter Bypass Plug or the Refrigerator Water Filter Bypass Cap, both available from Even better, they’re relatively inexpensive, and you can often purchase them for very reasonable prices.

These products are relatively easy to install, but you’ll need to do your research beforehand. Not all bypass filters work for all fridge models, so it’s always a good idea to double-check your refrigerator model and read the information provided before spending any money. 

How Often Should I Change My Water Filter?

Depending on how often you use your fridge’s water and ice system, the number of times per year you’ll change your filter differs. 

Some people use their fridge ice maker multiple times a day, and some barely touch it. It can also come down to personal preference. If you feel that the water coming directly through your tap is safe and clean, you may decide that you want to wait it out before changing your filter. Or you may want to get rid of your filter altogether, as we discussed above!

Most experts recommend changing your water filter at least every six months. If you are a frequent user of your fridge’s water system, you may want to do it even more often. 

If your fridge has a light indicating the filter’s status, it’s always a good rule of thumb to keep an eye out for the light and change accordingly. 

Again, the life of a filter can vary depending on many factors, including usage and quality.

Why Do I Need a Water Filter?

There was a point in time where humans used to drink water from rivers, right?

Yes, humans used to drink all kinds of bacteria-filled water, but we have the luxury to avoid that now. 

Unfiltered water contains dirt and other natural materials and can be home to harmful parasites and bacteria. Modern water filtration systems run the public’s water through several processes that remove contaminated materials. 

Having a water filter on your fridge ensures that the water is purified. Water filters help to remove materials that are added during the cleaning process, such as chlorine. Water from a water filter may taste more pleasing to some as well, especially if you aren’t a fan of your area’s tap water. 

The choice to drink straight from the tap or get a filter is ultimately up to you. Suppose you have confidence in your city’s water supply and enjoy the taste. In that case, you can choose to remove your water filter altogether. Tap water is generally pretty safe in the U.S., but there are exceptions to the rule, so be cautious. 

Is Tap Water Filtered?

You may have heard people complain about how tap water tastes or say that the water from their tap tastes way better than someone else’s. 

It is the responsibility of the public water agency in your area to filter water and keep it clean, safe, and drinkable for the public. However, every city has a different system and gets its water from an additional source. Some places have better tasting and cleaner water than others. 

All public water goes through a filtration process taken care of by an organization in your community. So, if you’ve drunk water directly from the tap and are now worried you have parasites swimming around in your stomach, don’t. Tap water is filtered and generally safe. 

The filtration process via your local water entity is usually pretty effective, but they aren’t perfect all of the time. There have been many occasions where a city’s water supply is dangerous to consume, and people have to boil their water to ensure it’s clean. In this situation, experts recommend you still boil water that comes through your filter. 

Where Can I Get a Replacement Filter?

If you’ve decided you’re still interested in the added ease of a water filter, you’ll need to replace it at least every six months.

You can find water filters in your local grocery store or at a hardware store. If you’re interested in the ease of online shopping, Amazon also has water filter options for various fridge models.  

If you order a water filter from Amazon, you can sign up for a subscription service, so one is sent to you every six months. 

You can also buy a multipack of filters from Amazon, like this GLACIER Fresh Water Filter. Buying in bulk like this means you’ll usually have an extra filter onhand in case you forget to order one month. Additionally, you can sign up to have these multipacks delivered at set intervals, as well.

Always be sure to double-check the model of fridge you have and that the filter you are buying is compatible.