Water filter enclosure inside a refrigerator

How to Tell if Your Refrigerator Filter Needs Changing

Refrigerators are essential – and many of us these days also rely on them to deliver cold, filtered drinking water straight to our glasses. In order for these appliances to be able to do so, however, it’s imperative that the water filter be changed regularly. Many water filters in refrigerators have indicators of various types that tell you when a filter needs to be switched out – however, they aren’t always 100% reliable. If you’ve just moved into a place with a fridge or you have no idea when the filter was last changed, you’ll need to rely on something other than an indicator light.

If you use your water dispenser in your refrigerator regularly, you’ll need to look for signs that tell you when you need to change that filter. Following are some of them:

  1. Water Color

Paying attention to the color of the water being dispensed is a good way to tell if your filter needs changing. Visual clues like discoloration of any type is a sign that your filter is letting things through that it shouldn’t be. Properly filtered water should be crystal clear. A red, yellow or orange tint can indicate iron in the water, while gray or murky coloring could signal excessive dust. Regardless of the color, the filter will need changing.

Speaking of murky water, you may want to consider calling an appliance repair expert if there are swirls in your water color or it is very murky. While many discolorations are harmless, excessive murkiness could signal a very high concentration of an unknown water contaminant. If you change your filter and the murkiness continues, call an appliance repair expert and your water company, even.


  1. Black Flecks

Many black flecks in your water can be a sign of the need for a new filter. The occasional fleck is normal, because filters are made of carbon particles, some of which occasionally escape that filter. However, as filters age and wear down, these carbon particles that escape increase.


  1. A Change in the Taste

Any unpleasant taste that is unusual is often an indication of filter failure. Keep in mind that truly clean water has no color or flavor except for a very mild metallic or sweet hint. Soft water can taste slightly salty, but if the taste you’re accustomed to changes, it’s time to change the filter. Note: If your water tastes very bitter or very metallic, it could signal algae blooms, bacteria, or dissolved copper corrosion in your water.


  1. It’s Been a Year of Use

A good rule of thumb when all else fails is the one-year rule. If your family regularly uses water or ice from the refrigerator, your filter is going to get a full workout. Most water filter manufacturers advise that you change the filter every 3-9 months, depending on use, and after one year at the very latest.


  1. Foul-Smelling Water

A great means of chemical detection – whether it comes to water or anything else – is using your nose. The most common smell in unfiltered water is what smells like rotten eggs; this is most likely sulfur or sulfites that leech into local underground water pipes. Other common odors include chlorine or bleach, metallic odors, and more. If your nose alerts you that something isn’t right with the water, avoid using the dispenser (including ice) until the filter is changed.


If you aren’t sure if your filter needs changing, or you need help finding the right filter, give us a call and let us know how we can help! We’re also available for all your appliance repair needs in San Francisco and the surrounding areas, including emergency service calls. Contact us today.