How to Locate a Refrigerator Water Filter

If you have a refrigerator with a water dispenser, you can be pretty sure it has a filter built in. You probably know you should replace the filter at some point, but like many people, you may wonder why you should bother replacing it, how often you should replace it and how to remove the filter. There's no reason to put off replacing a water filter when the process is so simple.

Hungry man peering into refrigerator in kitchen
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How to Locate a Refrigerator Water Filter

When to Replace Your Filter

Refrigerator water filters should be replaced every six months, when the filter notification light turns on or when the water starts to taste or smell noticeably different. The change in smell and odor occurs because the filter is full of contaminants and can no longer work effectively, leaving you with water that's essentially the same as tap water. Neglecting to change your filter for too long will not only leave you with inferior tasting water, but the mineral deposits from the unfiltered water could even damage your refrigerator's water system.

In some areas, the water filter may be exhausted in far less time than six months; however, it may work much longer than six months in locations with notably clean tap water. Even so, six months is an easy-to-remember time frame for changing the filter, especially since you might not notice a change in the water's taste if it occurs gradually over the course of six months or more.

Finding Your Filter

Most water filters are located in the grille at the bottom of the refrigerator or the back, upper-right corner of the inside of the refrigerator. Some models, usually older ones, have the filter on the outside in the back of the refrigerator on the water supply line.

The best way to find your filter is to look at the inside corner of your refrigerator and at the grille at the bottom. The filter will look like a round tube, about 3 to 4 inches wide. If you don't see the filter in one of these two areas, you might want to check your owner's manual or look up the model number online to find out the exact location before pulling the unit away from the wall to look at the back of the refrigerator.

Replacing the Water Filter

If the removal process for your specific water filter doesn't seem immediately obvious, you may want to consult your user manual or look your model number up online to find out how to remove the filter. That being said, there are three general removal methods for taking out a water filter: push in, twist in and inline:

  • Push-in filters can be removed by pushing the "eject" button or twisting off the filter cap. To install the new filter, line up the arrows, snap it into place by turning the filter clockwise and then push it in until the eject button pops.
  • Twist-in filters can be replaced by twisting the old cartridge out, removing the cap, putting the cap on the new filter and twisting the new unit in.
  • Inline filters are those found on the back of the refrigerator, hooked up to the incoming water supply line. Some units will be easy to remove and simply twist out like the twist-in filters, while others are more difficult to replace as they require cutting a portion of the tubing. As a result, you may want to work with a professional to replace these filters.

Whatever type of filter you have, it's a good idea to write down the make and model number from your old filter before throwing it away so you can get the right replacement if you haven't already bought one.

After replacing the filter, run a gallon of water through the unit to clear carbon residue from the filter. Once that's done, your filter is ready to go.