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Dangers Of Not Changing Refrigerator Water Filter

Writen by Ronald Brown

Fact checked by Natalie Bridges

dangers of not changing refrigerator water filter

What will you do if you notice a sudden change in the overall quality of your fridge water? Typically, a dirty and old refrigerator water filter is the main culprit of awful-tasting water.

Dispensed fridge water offers substantial benefits for our daily water needs. However, failure to change a fridge filter before its retirement can constitute numerous problems like scaling and buildup, making the filter less efficient in removing various contaminants over time.

Today, I’ll be discussing the dangers of not changing refrigerator water filter. Read on and gain a better understanding of the importance of changing your fridge filter regularly.

Table of Contents

The Negative Effects of Using a Refrigerator Water Filter Longer than Its Lifespan


Although water filters are generally more eco-friendly than their bottled water counterparts, they can constitute numerous problems when left unchanged – What happens if you don’t change your water filter? In truth, dangerous contaminants can slip into the water in great quantities – That’s what we know.

There are more! Take note of these alarming dangers of not changing the water filter:

1. You may unknowingly ingest harmful chemicals

Can you contract a disease from not changing the refrigerator water filter? Yes, your drinking water can catch many known hazardous chemicals that can make you sick :


The primary sources of lead are the plumbing materials used in the new construction or replacement of pipeline systems (e.g. lead pipes, fittings, and fixtures).

According to the World Health Organization, any amount of lead ingestion is dangerous to our health. Lead contamination is detrimental to our health as it can cause adverse health effects to both children and adults. Possible exposure to high levels of lead may cause irreversible brain damage.

Moreover, lead poisoning is elusive; Even healthy adults can develop high blood pressure and kidney problems. Additionally, young children (less than six years old) are at a greater risk of lead exposure. It tremendously affects their physical and mental growth.


Mercury is a liquid metallic element that is commonly used in thermometers and other conventional blood monitoring devices. Although it has many industrial applications, chronic exposure to mercury poses numerous health effects such as fatigue, tremors, changes in vision and hearing, loss of appetite, sleeping problems, and many more.

Elevated levels of mercury in pregnant women are fatal. It can damage their lungs, kidneys, nervous system, and their developing fetus. Additionally, mercury can pass through breast milk which is particularly harmful when nursing infants.

Mercury gets into our home water through rainwater and snow. Both precipitations can carry mercury from the air into surface water supplies (e.g. rivers, lakes, and reservoirs). Mercury can also enter underground water through the combustion of fossil fuels and industrial waste disposal.

Generally, high levels of mercury are very unlikely to blend with drinking water; fridge filters are still necessary to eliminate small amounts of it. Mercury concentration in drinking water is usually less than 0.5 microgram/liter.


Asbestos is a group of heat-resistant silicate minerals that are mainly used for construction and insulation. We may not hear it as often as we hear lead and chlorine in water, but Asbestos can have disastrous effects on our health.

Long-term inhalation or ingestion can lead to “mesothelioma”. It is a rare form of cancer in which a malignant tumor is developed in the mesothelium (a thin layer of tissues covering most of your internal organs).

Plumbing systems generally wear out over time. Once the pipes crack and fail, water pipes containing asbestos loose fibers can freely leach away and spread throughout your entire water supply.

According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), prolonged exposure to Asbestos above the permissible maximum content level of 7 million fibers per liter heightens the risk of having benign intestinal polyps.

It is highly recommended to use NSF-certified refrigerator water filters to remove the vast majority of Asbestos from water.


Chlorine is the most common chemical found in water. It is added to raw water to remove viruses, bacteria, protozoans, and other disease-causing organisms. It has been one of the cheapest ways to disinfect water; However, chlorine is still a volatile compound, and we know that VOCs can harm our health.

The National Primary Drinking Water Regulations indicate that safe chlorine levels in water are a maximum of 4 milligrams per liter. Although chlorinated municipal water is relatively safe, we still need to remove chlorine to ensure that it won’t adversely affect the water supply, such as taste and odor alteration.


We can never be sure of what lies beneath our water supply, so it is better to be safe than sorry. Pathogens are transmitted in water through floods, treatment disruptions, and power outages.

Four groups of pathogens are commonly found in water: bacteria, viruses, protozoa, and parasitic worms. If your fridge filter is past due for a replacement, then you’re at a high risk of contracting waterborne diseases like diarrhea, malaria, polio, and cholera.

Chemical Waste / Byproducts

According to EPA, 68 % of community water system users use surface water. However, improperly managed waste from different industrial plants can potentially contaminate surface waters that are the main drinking water source.

Wastewater treatment facilities remove a vast amount of these harmful byproducts but not all of them are removed in the screening process, including pharmaceuticals and pesticides. Therefore, you have to ensure that your fridge filter is still in good shape to trap the remaining impurities.

2. Your refrigerator will deteriorate fast

We are not just talking about the dispenser and the ice maker hardware of your fridge but the overall components of your refrigerator system. If you don’t change the water filter, a build-up will take place and damage the fridge.

Water quality can fluctuate drastically.

An unchanged filter can alter your water’s taste, smell, color, and texture all at once. That is because the filter has been clogged with various contaminants for a long time and could no longer serve its purpose.

That metallic smell from the water may come from dissolved iron, copper, manganese, and zinc that your filter probably failed to remove. The worst case scenario is that sulfur has entered your water supply and messes up the already unbecoming smell of your drinking water, giving a rotten egg odor and flavor.

Lastly, you will notice that the color of your ice and water started to become dark and cloudy. If your water condition is similar to any of these warning signs, it’s about time to change your water filter.

How Do You Know it’s Time to Change a Refrigerator Water Filter?


If you search for a definite time frame for changing your fridge filter, you will see the “6-month” rule. Although it’s a good rule of thumb and most manufacturers recommend it, it would still depend on your refrigerator model, water quality, and water usage frequency.

Some filters may require a 3-month schedule. A good gauge is to record the day you installed the current filter and write down the date when you should replace it. Make it a habit. Modern refrigerator models like Samsung, LG, Paykel, and Fisher have an indicator light that automatically alerts you when it’s replacement time.


Now that you’ve learned mind-blowing facts about the dangers of not changing refrigerator water filter. You should be able to substitute your current filter with a new one. Just don’t forget to jot down the replacement schedule, and you’ll be fine.

Always have the backup filter ready beforehand, so it will save you a lot of time instead of buying the filter on the same day of installation. How was today’s article? Don’t forget to share your fridge filter replacement routine in the comment box below!

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