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How Effective Are Refrigerator Water Filters?

Water is a vital resource that we need all our lives. Whether we use it for drinking, cooking, washing, or other household activities, water is always present in our daily routine.

However, people do not often think about the quality of the water in their homes. Even if the US has one of the safest drinking water supplies in the world, yet about 7.2 million Americans get sick every year from diseases spread through water. 

This is also because people do not think about the importance of a water filtration system in their homes. If not filtered, the water you drink may contain certain contaminants that are harmful to your health.

The Refrigerator Water Filter – What It Is And How It Works 

A solution designed to remove the harmful substances from your drinking water is the refrigerator water filter. When you buy a new refrigerator, a water dispenser and an ice machine are some big bonuses. By choosing a device with these features, you will always have available drinking water and ice cubes in your home. 

Those refrigerators usually came with an included filter that makes the water from your dispenser and ice maker safe to be consumed. Therefore, refrigerator water filters should remove impurities and contaminants that are unhealthy and gives an unpleasant taste and smell to your water due to its excessive amount of chlorine. 

This happens through the process of carbon filtration that uses active charcoal to get rid of contaminants by adsorption. In other words, the carbon is attracting contaminants just like a magnet, making the unclean water healthy and safe to drink.

Is It An Efficient Filtration Method?

To answer the question - YES, refrigerator water filters are effective in removing chlorine, the substance causing water bad smell and taste, but that's about all it can do. However, even if you are happy to have a refrigerator with a water dispenser and ice machine, you should consider the fact that the water from there is not 100% safe.

In brief, a refrigerator water filter will clear away chlorine from your water but will leave behind many substances such as heavy metals and other contaminants that can’t be removed by the carbon inside. 

Below are some of the pollutants that a refrigerator water filter cannot remove from your water:

  • aluminium
  • arsenic
  • barium
  • cadmium
  • copper
  • fluoride
  • mercury
  • radium
  • selenium
  • uranium

Even though these are some of the most common contaminants, the list does not end here. The U.S. EPA identified more than 80 contaminants that may occur in drinking water and pose a risk to humans, with higher chances for those with a weakened immune system. Keep in mind that the effects of these contaminants may occur within hours, days, or even years after a person consumes unclean water. 

Even if the human body does its best to fight these contaminants, it cannot cope alone with some high-risk bacteria and viruses. Therefore, you should not take your water's quality for granted even if you can't see or taste its impurities.

The Dangers of Not Changing Your Filter Periodically 

If you are about to buy refrigerator with a water filter, take into account that it will require some maintenance. An overused filter will not be able to operate at full capacity, and this means that the quality of your water will also be affected. 

For this reason, many people who do not pay attention to changing their filters will have issues with the build-up in the water dispenser and ice maker machine which will inevitably lead to damage of the refrigerator over time. 

When your refrigerator water filter wears out, the dispenser won't be a clean source of water anymore. But being unclean can be the smallest issue of the water passing through a dirty and old filter. 

If not changed periodically, it will become a favorable environment for bacteria causing serious health problems. This usually happens because harmful substances that have been retained over time by your refrigerator filter will be filtered back into the water that passes through it if not replaced at the right moment, giving it a bad odor or a strange taste. 

To avoid such situations, you should change the refrigerator water filter at least twice a year. This also depends on the manufacturing company and the technical specifications of the product. 

On the other hand, there are many refrigerators using water filters that do not inform you when the filter needs to be changed. Thus, it is very easy to forget or not pay attention to the importance of regular filter change.

Operating Without a Built-In Water Filter

Most refrigerators with water dispensers and ice makers have a built-in water filter. But this is not an absolute rule. You can still have a refrigerator that gives you fresh drinking water and ice cubes whenever you need without a filter. 

The average refrigerator has a lifespan of about 12 years. If you change the refrigerator water filter twice a year, this means 24 filters over the life of your refrigerator. 

Depending on the manufacturer, a refrigerator water filter can cost about 60$ in the US. And that means you'll spend an average of 1,440$ until you buy the next refrigerator. All these numbers have a great chance to make you change your mind about buying a refrigerator with a built-in water filter.

Therefore, using a water filtration system to remove impurities starting right from your house's water supply line will clear all the water you use in the house, not just the one that goes into the water dispenser or ice maker. This way, you will save money from changing the refrigerator filter twice a year or even more often and you will also be sure that any source of water in the house is safe. 

The Alternative - A Whole House Water System 

NSF International conducted a national consumer survey of 1,106 American adults related to their drinking water. Even if most respondents were aware that there are many types of filtration solutions designed to treat specific water contaminants, most of them are using the filter that came with their refrigerator. 

Built-in refrigerator devices were the most used filters with a response rate of 24%. This statistic is quite worrying considering that many people who use refrigerator water filters are thinking that the water they drink is completely clean.

Because refrigerator water filters are not designed to remove all contaminants, the best solution for filtering water in your home would be a whole house water softener. With such a system, your water will be safe from many other contaminants, not just chlorine. 

And it is not just water that will be protected from impurities. A whole-house water softener will also take care of your pipes and appliances that can become clogged due to the hard water passing through. 

Moreover, by choosing a whole house softening system, you will enjoy clean and fresh water directly from the water dispenser of your refrigerator without a built-in filter. To put it in another way, this system will purify the water in your entire home, including the one that supplies your refrigerator.

The Most Effective Water Softening Solutions Today

There are several types of water softeners on the market at the moment. The best known of these is the salt-based water softener that removes hard minerals from water through the ion exchange process. This water softener is an excellent choice if you want to get rid of scale build-up from your pipes and fixtures and extend the life of your appliances. However, due to its salt usage for regenerating, we cannot say that a salt-based water softener is the best solution for filtering drinking water. 

The added sodium from the water resulted after the ion exchange process can be harmful to people on restrictive diets. In such cases, we recommend a Reverse Osmosis System or a Magnetic Water Softener. These two can treat water without adding sodium ions to its composition and they have a higher effectiveness in removing impurities.

Having such a device attached directly to your home's water supply line will give you clean and safe water when using your refrigerator's dispenser and ice maker as well. Therefore, there will be no need for a refrigerator water filter that involves replacement after a certain period. 

In fact, some of the advanced water filtration solutions on the market today don't even need a filter to operate. This means that you will only invest one time when buying the device, without having to constantly replace filters or add salt for the regeneration cycle as in the case of salt-based water softeners. 

To get the best from both worlds, if your refrigerator already has a built-in water filter, you can pair it with a water softening solution to protect your pipes, fixtures, and appliances. Our Yarna CWD24 Water Descaler treats the water with electric impulses that effectively reduce the scum in the sinks and baths and increases the life of your pipes, fixtures, and appliances. 

If you are looking for a cost-efficient and low-maintenance softener that has no adverse effects on the chemical composition of the water, an electronic water descaler meets both aspects. 

The Bottom Line 

That being said, we can agree that refrigerator water filters have their advantages and disadvantages.  In terms of user experience, it can be time-consuming and expensive to replace the filters twice a year. 

However, if a water dispenser and an ice maker are a must for you, you should always think of the water's quality that passes through these when you consider buying a refrigerator with such features. Fortunately, there are various water filtration methods which you can use to replace the refrigerator water filter or to treat the water along with it.