Nowadays most consumer-grade refrigerators come with water and ice dispensers. They have complicated components and if they break down, repairing is a hassle. You can search for “refrigerator repair near me” and hire professionals to fix your refrigerator for you. All the water and ice dispensers in refrigerators have a water filter attached to them and they can get filthy. Let’s check out why it is important to change the water filter in your refrigerator.
- Refrigerator water filters – Refrigerator water filters are there to filter out foul odors and bad tastes from the water by using primarily carbon filtration and sediment layers. While old refrigerators used wood or nutshell-based filters, modern refrigerator filters constitute a core made out of activated carbon that’s wrapped in a polypropylene shell. As water flows through the filter, the other material removes suspended solids and all sorts of small debris.
On the other hand, the activated carbon core is there to absorb other unwanted and smaller particles. Those contaminants cling to the carbon and get absorbed in it rapidly. This process is known as adsorption and the carbon core is intentionally designed to be a giant cylinder with a large, exposed surface to absorb all those filthy particles.
As water makes its way from the city’s water supply to your home via a massive underground network of pipes, it can collect all kinds of particles like lead, different types of metals, agricultural runoff, and all sorts of harmful compounds. Your refrigerator filter is designed to filter out three main pollutants – chlorine, lead, and VOCs(Volatile Organic Compounds). Some filters are even rated to remove more challenging contaminants like chloramine and cysts. Let’s check out how those contaminants can harm you.
- Lead – Lead is a widely available cheap material that was extensively used to produce pottery, paint, plumbing pipes, and more till the twentieth century. In fact, before the late 1980s, lead constituted around 50 percent of the solder material used in plumbing. Since water is an excellent solvent, it can collect lead from old pipes and carry them right to your home. It wasn’t till the Safe Water Drinking Act was passed that lead soldered copper, lead fixtures, and pipes were used in homes, offices, and other spaces.
So, if your home was built before that act was passed, you may be getting lead out of the faucet. Lead is a highly toxic substance. Ancient Roman elites who liked to cook and drink in lead vessels and channel spring water into their home via lead pipes paid dearly for it. EPA has set the maximum level for lead in drinking water to be zero and that says something. Consuming even small amounts of lead over a long period can cause many diseases of the heart, brain, kidney, and even your reproductive organs.
- VOCs – Volatile Organic Compounds include all kinds of harmful chemical compounds like pesticides, herbicides, insecticides, and more. VOCs primarily pollute the air during the use and production of paints and preservatives. However, they can also enter the water supply from industrial waste or agricultural runoff. VOCs are dangerous since they cause many problems in your reproductive system, kidney, and liver and are carcinogenic in nature.
- Chlorine – Chlorine is widely used in pools and in drinking water to kill off germs. Chlorine alone has eliminated dysentery, typhoid, and other waterborne diseases. However, it also makes the water taste awful. A fridge filter with activated carbon removes that taste and gives your water a fresh flavor. Local municipalities also add chloramines for treating the water.
These compounds are made of chlorine and ammonia and reduce infection due to nasty products like trihalomethane. So, the use of chlorine for treating water is highly debated and the few studies conducted on the effects of chloramines are still murky. Activated carbon inside fridge filters can remove not just chlorine but also chloramines by separating it from ammonia and turning it into a harmless chloride.
- Things that can happen when you don’t change your water filter – Water filters need to be changed after a certain period. Otherwise, you may face many problems. Your filter collects a lot of particles and debris. As time goes on, the filters get full of debris and dirt and may get clogged. That means nothing comes out of the ice and water dispenser.
Apart from that, activated carbon cores inside water filters have a certain lifespan. The carbon core absorbs contaminants on the surface via adsorption and despite its large size, the surface will get saturated at some point. After that, contaminated water would pass through the filter with the carbon core sitting as nothing more than a useless piece. Moreover, the particles collected by the water filter are nutrients for all kinds of harmful bacteria colonies. When you leave it unchanged, the colony thrives and makes its way to your glass.
- Frequency of filter change – Manufacturers always recommend changing your water filter within 6 months. However, that may not be necessary in your case. Water filters approved by manufacturers are usually more expensive than perfectly functional third-party filters. So, there’s definitely a monetary incentive for those manufacturers to recommend frequent filter changes.
If you live in a city where local municipalities treat and test the water for safety, that filter doesn’t have a lot of contaminants to filter out. You may get away by not changing the filter even after a year or more. However, if you live in a rural location where the quality of water can’t be guaranteed, it’s best to change the filter within 6 months.
Refrigerator water filters are there to filter out a lot of nasty things from the water before it gets chilled or turned into ice. That’s why you need to change them after a certain period. However, it doesn’t need to be frequently changed if your fridge is connected to the potable water line supplied by the city. On the other hand, you can search for “refrigerator repair near me” and hire pros to fix your fridge if it starts malfunctioning.