Many fridges have filters for ice and drinking water. Today, we’ll explore if you really need a fridge filter and how they stack up against the competition.
How Fridge Filters Work
Residential refrigerator models are commonly equipped with ice and water dispensers as well as filters for the water that travels through them. But is fridge-filtered water really healthier than tap water? Do you need to change the fridge filter as often as the manufacturer recommends? Is there a better water treatment option for you?
To answer those questions, we first need to look at what fridge filters do and how they do it.
All water filters operate by the same general method: water is forced through a filtering medium that attracts and catches undesirable chemicals or other substances. The medium then holds onto those substances, allowing clean water to move on to its next stop (like your tap). Eventually, the filtering medium reaches capacity and must be replaced for the filter unit to keep functioning.
Do You Need a Fridge Filter?
There are two parts to this question. The first is if your fridge can function properly without a water filter. Fortunately, most machines run perfectly well using regular tap water. If you want to keep using the water/ice dispenser, know that some models require a bypass plug to be inserted in place of the filter. Check your fridge’s user guide or contact the manufacturer to see if this applies to you.
The second part of the question is if you need a fridge filter to improve your water safety or quality. As you might expect, that depends on the water coming into your home and your own personal preferences.
As we’ve discussed before, public water suppliers are required to share the results of routine water tests in Consumer Confidence Reports (CCR). The CCR will tell you what, if any, contaminants have been found in your local system, the concentration of the contaminants, and any precautions you may have to take. However, these reports are not specific to your home. You can also have your home’s water tested at a certified laboratory or through our free water test!
Of course, safety is only part of water quality. Tap water may be safe and still not have the best taste or odor.
Fridge Filters vs. The Alternatives
Once you know what you want to remove from your water, be sure to get a filter that can take it out. As the CDC says, “No filter eliminates all contaminants, so understanding what filters do and do not do is important.” Make sure your filter is NSF-certified for any substance of concern. (The Water Quality Association and NSF keep a database of filters.)
Most fridge filters use activated carbon as a medium. This is good for removing some heavy metals and chemicals, but fridge filters are not as effective against nitrates, bacteria, or dissolved minerals. In addition, you only get filtered water at one location and at a relatively slow rate.
Generally, a carbon filter can be a reliable, inexpensive method to improve the taste and order of drinking water, whether in a fridge, attached to the sink or faucet, or in a removable pitcher. A self-sanitizing bottleless cooler can also be the ideal solution if your fridge doesn’t have a water dispenser.
However, if your concerns extend to hard water or overall water safety, you may want to look into house-wide filtration options. Home filtration systems, like traditional and compact water softeners, or whole house carbon filtration provide treated water to every water outlet, from the fridge to your shower, providing clean water at all of your taps.
At Hague Quality Water of Maryland, we can help you assess your water quality with a free water test! We can then help you choose the treatment strategies that best meet your needs, ensuring you enjoy high quality water throughout your home or business. Hague has units that can be configured to meet all your water quality needs.