How does a refrigerator water filter work

How Do Water Filters Work

How Do Water Filters Work? Well, modern refrigerators come with a water dispensing system with a water filter. The water filtration system of your fridge removes the contaminants left in tap water by your local water treatment plant.

Cities have water treatment plants that work hard to provide safe water for drinking. In fact, most of us expect tap water to be safe to drink. But, cities are only legally obligated to remove specific contaminants in water. Aged infrastructure in water treatment plants and other factors contribute to the presence of pollutants that make tap water unsafe for drinking.

But, how exactly How Do Water Filters Work? And, do they actually work? Read on to find out.

Tap water needs to be filtered

As mentioned earlier, tap water is not always safe for drinking. In most cases, it only meets the minimum water quality standards set by the EPA. The truth of the mater, these standards are quite lenient. Bacteria, viruses, and other unwanted chemicals such as lead might still be present in tap water. Along with the contaminants that water treatment plants miss, other impurities are picked along the way.

Tap water needs to be filtered

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The point is, your home needs a water filtration system. There are many types of water filter out there. One of the more common ways of filtering water in home nowadays is using the refrigerator water filter.

What are refrigerator water filters?

A refrigerator water filter is a water purifying system found inside the water and ice dispenser of a fridge. These filters remove particles and other contaminants in the water going through the water dispenser of your fridge.

Do refrigerator water filters work?

It is understandable why you would question the effectiveness of a refrigerator water filter. Many people see them as a way for fridge manufacturers to add to the price of the fridge. But, do not dismiss the water filters as they most definitely work.

According to a study conducted by Good Housekeeping in collaboration with the University of Arizona, refrigerator water filters are one of the best water filters. They are effective in removing water contaminants found in tap water. In fact, refrigerator water filters are more effective in purifying water than pitcher water filters.

 How Do Water Filters Work?

How does a refrigerator water filter work

Refrigerator manufacturers make filter housings differently so your size and shape of your filter will probably vary from one fridge to the next. Water is either filtered through physical or chemical means to produce clear drinking water.

Physical filtration uses substances like carbon granules to take particles out of the water, but this does very little for chemical substances in the water such as any herbicides.
Chemical filtration purifies water through an ion exchange process. This filtration method catches chemical impurities that are too small for a physical filtration system to pick.

Refrigerator water filters use activated carbon filtration method. This type of filtration is a combination of physical filtration and chemical filtration. This filtration method is preferred in water filtration systems as it does not add anything harmful to the water.
Activated carbon filtration system uses carbon-based materials such as wood, nutshells, and bituminous coal (charcoal). Refrigerator water filters use charcoal as it is a form of carbon that is highly porous. It traps large particles on the surface thereby removing sediments from your tap water.

Charcoal removes chemical disinfectants from water through two principal mechanisms; adsorption and catalytic reduction. Organic particles and compounds are removed through adsorption while chemical contaminants and residual disinfectants are removed through catalytic reduction.

Organic materials are common in public water. They originate from decaying plant life and are highly soluble in water as they exist as organic acids. The adsorptive properties of activated carbon help remove organic contaminants in water. The molecule exerts forces to adhere to each other and to water molecules. Activated carbon adsorbs the organic molecules since the adhesive forces between carbon and the organic contaminants are stronger than the adhesive forces keeping the contaminant molecules dissolved in water.

Chemical impurities in water include lead, chlorine, and chloramine. Activated carbon removes these impurities through a chemical reaction called catalytic reduction. This chemical process involves the transfer of electrons from the carbon surface to the disinfectant. That is to say, the activated carbon in the water filter acts as a reducing agent. In lay man’s terms, the activated carbon reduces the chemicals to an unharmful form.

That is how the refrigerator water filter works. Its water filtration method, activated carbon filtration, is effective in removing not only particles in water but also chemical and organic contaminants.

What contaminants does a refrigerator water filter remove?

How does a refrigerator water filter work What contaminants does a refrigerator water filter remove?


As mentioned earlier, refrigerator water filters use the activated carbon filtration method. This filtration method will completely remove more than 80 chemicals listed by the EPA to be contaminants. These chemicals include Iodine, Chlorine, Hydrogen, Fluoride, and Bromine. It is effective in removing another 30 chemicals and moderately effective in removing another 22 impurities. See a list of these chemicals on this website.

The major concern about tap water is chlorine. Water treatment plans use it to disinfect water. Unfortunately, chlorine’s by-products, including chloramines and trihalomethanes (THMs) have been identified to be potentially cancerous. And, chlorine affects the taste and odour of water. Activated carbon is highly effective in removing chlorine and its byproducts.
Activated carbon is the recommended filtration system for organic disinfectants, pesticides, such as heptachlor and chlordane, and herbicides.

Lead is another major concern in tap water. In most areas, lead pipes have been replaced by PVC. Still, it is better to have a water filter that can remove this contaminant. A crenulated activated carbon filter is not as effective in removing lead as a carbon block filter.

Replace your refrigerator water filter regularly

The process through which a built-in fridge water filter works is adsorption. After some time, the contaminants trapped will clog the filter making it ineffective. Therefore, you should replace these filters regularly. A refrigerator water filter should be replaced every six months.

The challenge with replacing built-in fridge water filters is locating them. Each fridge has a different water filtration system. Consult the manufacturer’s manual to find the filter and for directions on how to remove and replace it. If you cannot remember to replace your water filter regularly then it is recommended that you use a Water Filter Subscription Program to have filters sent to your home at regular intervals of your choosing.

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You now know how to answer the question, how does a refrigerator water filter work, and we have confirmed for you that it is effective in removing contaminants. One crucial detail to remember is that you need to replace the filter every six months. A refrigerator water filter is just what you need to alienate any concerns over the safety of tap water.

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