Saveourh2o is supported by its audience. When you purchase via our links, we may get a commission. Learn more

How Long Do Water Filters Last? – Water Filter Lifespan

Writen by Ronald Brown

Fact checked by Natalie Bridges

how long do water filters last

Water filters are our forever companion in providing purified and safe drinking water for our family. No wonder there are lots of enhanced water filter technologies available in the market today to suit our lifestyle and domestic needs.

Given how paranoid many of us are about keeping an uninterrupted water supply for our family, we often wonder “how long do water filters last?” A water filter with a service life of 600 gallons could last for 4-6 months for an average household.

But water filter lifespan varies, depending on the type you are using. Read on and find out everything you should know about the longevity of domestic water filters.

Table of Contents

What Do Water Filters Remove

Water filters remove a wide array of harmful contaminants such as sediments, hardness minerals, chemicals, bacteria, toxins, dissolved inorganics, and organic compounds.

Water filters can last pretty long. However, the quality of your home water profoundly affects its service life.

Why Is It Important to Change Water Filters Regularly

Using a water filter past its due date constitutes numerous problems. Aside from generating unfiltered water, a dirty water filter can damage all of your water-using appliances. That is why it is advisable to buy a high-quality water filter to ensure that you have toxic-free drinking water.

Used Vs. Unused Water Filters

Do water filters expire? The answer is a big YES! According to experts, water filter cartridges are designed to last about 6-12 months. That’s the maximum time frame for most water filters.

Some meticulous homeowners bulk-buy water filters for their emergency supplies. But the question is, “do unused filters expire?” Technically, no. There is no fixed time stamp set for water filters as long as they are stored in a safe environment away from moisture.

Still, water filter manufacturers suggest storing unused water filters for no more than a year to preserve their adequate efficacy.

Typically, dry water filters age slowly in well-ventilated areas. However, if you place them in a place exposed to UV rays and humid air, it will encourage bacteria to grow and decay the filter membrane. Thus, knowing the basic maintenance for water filters is necessary.

Shelf Life of Commonly-used Household Water Filters


The capacity of water filters is determined by how much water they can treat before needing replacement. A water filter may last longer or shorter than its estimated lifespan depending on the model you have:

1. Whole-House Water Filter

As the name implies, a whole-house water filter treats water as it enters your home. It is installed in the main water line of your home. A preventive whole house water filter maintenance requires you to change three major filters periodically: Pre-filter, Carbon Filter, and Post filter.

A pre-filter can last for about three to six months. A carbon filter can endure 18-24 months of continuous usage, but some carbon filters can only last a year. Lastly, a post-filter usually lasts from 9 to 12 months.

2. Reverse Osmosis System

Reverse Osmosis water filtration systems have become popular and in demand for residential and commercial settings because of the sheer amount of contaminants they can remove.

An RO system can last for approximately 10 to 15 years, but you should replace RO membrane filters after some time. Reverse Osmosis Systems often consist of three to five filtration stages. The number of stages often varies based on the type of water filter used.

Pre-filters, Carbon Filters, and Post Filters can last from 6 to 9 months. On the other hand, RO membranes can last for about 2 to 3 years. In truth, there’s probably no lifetime water filter.

3. Water Pitcher Filter

Water Pitcher filters are affordable and straightforward domestic filters. They often force water to go through five stages, give or take a few: sediment filter, suspended solids filter, bacteria filter, inorganic compounds filter, and a post-filter. As a result, water becomes crisp, clean and free from residual contaminants.

Normally, the service life of pitcher filters shortens the moment they’re exposed to water. The filter then begins to oxidize. Hence, using it beyond the 6-month interval is not recommended.

4. Refrigerator Water Filter

Modern refrigerators today have water dispensers and ice makers that connect to the water supply. Typically, they utilize a built-in carbon filter to reduce your exposure to chlorine, fluoride, and other toxic pollutants.

On average, built-in fridge filters have a maximum lifespan of 6 months. Some refrigerator models use universal inline water filters that can last longer than internal filters.

They still purify water adeptly even after 18 months of use. But a fridge filter’s effectiveness varies according to the filter capacity and water conditions. Some of these products can last for 2-5 years.

5. Undersink Water Filter

Under-sink filters are filters you install in the cabinet under your kitchen sink. They utilize carbon block cartridges. They can also last longer because they only treat cooking and drinking water.

For residential settings, under-sink filters can perform optimally for between 6-12 months. On the flip side, under-sink filters can last for about 4-6 months for commercial settings.

6. Countertop Water Filter

Among the prominent water treatment technologies for hydro homies is countertop water filters. They are one of the best remedies to improve bad-tasting tap water, and they can last for a maximum of 6 months.

7. Faucet Water Purifier/Filter

Faucet purifiers are in-demand water filter technologies with the least complicated installation process. These portable filters are for people who are cautious about drinking tap water. Typically, they can last for 6 months for a small family and 5 months for a large family.

How Do I Know if My Water Filter Needs Replacement


You do not need to overwhelm yourself with too many “how-tos” on the internet. There are two quick and easy methods on which you can rely to determine when to change your water filter at home :

1. Water Filter Notifications

If you own a water-dispensing refrigerator with a built-in water filter, knowing when to replace the filter is as easy as ABC. Modern refrigerators have a filter warning system that will alert you when your filter needs replacement.

Moreover, other brands and models of water filters also offer LED light indicators that will alert you whenever it is time to change to a new filter cartridge, whether you’re using pitcher filters, faucet-mounted filters, or reverse osmosis filters.

2. Significant Decline In Performance

You will detect changes in odors, taste, and color. In addition, decreased flow rate and water pressure become more evident. Once you notice that your water is dispensing slowly, it indicates that there is something wrong with your water filter.

Always check the user manual of the model you purchase and know the recommended replacement time.


Not knowing the perfect time to replace your water filter is worrisome. How long do water filters last? Our discussion showed that standard water filters last for six months. The takeaway is that the contaminants present in our home water will determine how long our filters last.

I hope you have gained sufficient knowledge and insights about the whole topic. You may now start replacing your water filter with ease! For any questions and suggestions, don’t forget to share your thoughts in the comment section!

5/5 - (3 votes)