Today, I’m going to break down everything you need to know about refrigerator filters into one simple article At the end of it, I promise you’ll be the most educated consumer around!
When my family purchased a new refrigerator, I held up our fridge filter to my dad and asked, “Do we need this?” He replied with a roll in his eyes, “No, we definitely don’t. They aren’t in the refrigerator business at all. They are in the fridge filter business.” For a second, I was stumped, but then realized how right he was!
If you look at the cost of a fridge, it’s about $1,500 and lasts, on average, around 13 years. It’s recommended to replace the filter every 6 months with filters costing $50 each. In the average life of a refrigerator, you’ll buy and use roughly 25 filters.
25 x 50 = $1250.
$1250 for filters plus $1500 in equipment cost comes to a grand total of $2750 for a refrigerator with no other maintenance. The real question is: are refrigerator filters really worth $1250?
The History of Refrigerator Filters
Ancient Roman aqueducts supplied filtered water to the city through a mixture of sand, gravel, and charcoal in these cylindrical vessels(pictured above). This allowed them to create complex infrastructure and purify the water for the masses. While technology has dramatically in the current day, intelligent minds have been around since the very beginning!
In 1996, Omnipure used the most up-to-date technology to its advantage and invented the disposable fridge water filter. Partially due to this incredible feat, the refrigerator filter industry later grew into the invented 35$ million dollar per year industry it is today.
How do Refrigerator Filters work?
Fridge filters work by using a chemical reaction between activated carbon and chlorine in the water. The activated carbon acts like a sponge and absorbs chemicals and contaminants in the water; it also neutralizes chemicals, pesticides, and herbicides. You may think that your fridge filter is successfully removing everything harmful, but I hate to break it to you- it’s not. Some are designed to filter, while most are not. Filtration means that that media bigger than that size cant get through. Unless it’s certified passed 5 microns this filter can only remove bigger sediment and debris. Its main action is a chemical reaction between carbon and chlorine, neutralizing the chlorine.
The effectiveness of the filter is dependent on the size, temperature, and contact time the water has with the fridge filter. The longer the filter and water connect, the more the filter removes.
Since chlorine is the most readily neutralized, fridge filters remove about 90%; however, the untold truth is these filters hardly do anything else. Most claims are falsified and not backed up by research or certification leaving the consumer to suffer.
The CDC says the main reason most homeowners filter water is largely due to taste. With the chlorine removed and the water chilled, consumers may notice a slight improvement in the taste of their water. However, what about all the other nasty chemicals left in the water? What about the ones you can’t taste that could be affecting your health?
What the Refrigerator filter doesn’t remove
- Total Dissolved Solids
- Other inorganic sediments
What does my Refrigerator filter remove or reduce?
- 90% Chlorine
- some chlorine bi-products
- some filters can reduce lead
Fridge filters overall aren’t cutting it anymore, and if you truly want pure water and ice stored in your fridge, then you must consider other options. Before we talk through those other options, below are a couple of common questions we often get from consumers as they make the journey from fridge filters to alternative options.
The Counterfeit Refrigerator Filter Industry
The counterfeit industry has boomed since the rise of online shopping. Many companies have made a quick dollar off of selling look-alike filters for a discounted rate.
When installed they begin to leach contaminants into your drinking water and leave you with a clogged, dirty glass of water. These filters release arsenic (a carcinogen) and octane (a petroleum-derived solvent) into your drinking water based on this 2018 Report by filteritout.org.
Why do I need a Refrigerator Filter?
Think of the water filter like a dish sponge. As the filter cleans your water, it’s collecting all the dirt and grime. It’s designed to collect and absorb the excess chemicals. As that sponge fills up, it should be thrown away and replaced.
However, with the difficulty of ordering a new filter and the ease of pressing the reset button, filters often go neglected and foul out. Like a slimy dish sponge that has overdone its usage, fridge filters get slimy and filled with bacteria. A 2013 study by the National Sanitation Foundation labeled the water dispenser as the most contaminated place in the kitchen. Mold & yeast levels were concerningly high and lead to sickness in some cases.
You wouldn’t continue to use a dirty sponge to clean your dishes but a dirty filter is touching every single drop you drink.
Even if your filter is brand new the water coming out usually has more total dissolved solids than your tap! It’s time to toss that old filter and get something that actually works, like a Kinetico K5. The K5 drinking water system and a bypass plug for your fridge will solve all your filter problems, and you’ll never think about it again.
Solutions: Kinetico k5 + a Bypass Plug for your fridge
A bypass plug is a slot holder that allows water to bypass or go around the previous filter slot coming straight out of the tap. They never need replacement and cost around 30$. They beat fridge filters any day because filters take money out of your pocket and are a pain to change a simple filter, not to mention how you must remember to change it every 6 months. After installing a high purity drinking water system, a filter on your fridge is no longer needed. With water that is 99% free of everything it even puts a fridge filter to shame. You will never have to replace a refrigerator filter again, living hassle-free from the expensive fridge filters.
Steps to Finding a Bypass Plug:
- Read your owner’s manual and the manufacturer’s consumer help website (linked below) to help you determine if you need a bypass plug when the filter is removed.
- Manufacturers that typically do not require a Bypass Plug for continued operation:
- Samsung (800-726-7864)
- LG (800-243-000)
- Subzero(Twist style filters)
- Manufacturers that require a Bypass Plug for continued operation:*
Fridge filters are a good start in the progress towards healthier water; however, they certainly don’t do all that they claim. Hopefully, you now feel armed with the information you need to make smarter water choices for you and your family!
Since 2005, Aqua Clear Water Systems has been dedicated to testing and recommending solutions for East Tennessee and surrounding areas. If you have questions or are interested in getting rid of fridge filters for good, we recommend you have a professional water technician test your water and discuss possible solutions to your water needs. We can certainly help you test your water or recommend the correct professional to do so.
As always, we can change your water, and we truly believe it will change your life! Give us a call or text, today, and we’d love to serve you in whatever way we can!