USA Water quality is supported by its audience. If you buy something through our links, we may earn money from our affiliate partners. Learn more

Dangers of Not Changing Refrigerator Water Filter? Everybody Should Know!

Fact checked by Stephen Conklin

dangers of not changing refrigerator water filter

Refrigerator filters can work wonders on your water supply, making it safe for drinking and making ice. Being able to enjoy the benefit of clean water from your refrigerator filter entails the responsibility of changing it regularly because there are dangers of not changing refrigerator water filter.

Typically around six months, a refrigerator filter would be filled with contaminants and require replacement. Failing to replace your filter would result in the ingestion of harmful contaminants, damage to your fridge, etc.

Table of Contents

The Adverse Effects of an Unchanged Refrigerator Water Filter

There’s no questioning the effectiveness of refrigerator water filters in providing clean water and ice straight from the refrigerator’s dispenser. But you might wonder, “What happens if you don’t change your water filter?” An old refrigerator water filter that is left unchanged can lead to all sorts of problems, which are listed below:

Dangerous to Your Health

As a refrigerator water filter does its job in filtering your water supply of harmful contaminants such as sediments, lead, volatile organic compounds (VOCs), and chlorine, these contaminants build up in the filter over time. If you fail to change your refrigerator filter, your filter will remain clogged and be way too full of catching any more contaminants.

Congested with all sorts of dangerous particles and substances, an old refrigerator water filter make you sick because you can no longer get contaminant-free water and ice from your dispenser. The water will simply pass through the filter, not get filtered, and still be contaminated.

And those contaminants can put you at risk of the dangers of not changing water filters, which are the possibility of getting all sorts of health problems. Below are the contaminants you can ingest when you don’t change your filter along with their effects:

  • Sediments – are foreign particles that are either sand, rocks, minerals, or plant or microbe organic particles that have mixed with your water supply due to disturbances in the water distribution system. They make the water look unappealing and not advisable to drink, especially for persons with compromised immune systems, infants, and children. Moreover, dangerous pathogens and pollutants such as bacteria, viruses, pesticides, and arsenic can attach to them, which are potential health risks.
  • Lead – can be mixed with water when there is lead corrosion. Lead contamination usually happens in old lead plumbing and lead solder and can get in your water supply. It can cause delayed growth, anemia, hearing impairment, behavior and learning problems, low IQ, and hyperactivity in children. For adults, it can cause cardiovascular problems, high blood pressure, hypertension, kidney problems, and reproductive problems.
  • VOCs – are harmful man-made chemicals like trichloroethylene, chloroform, and pesticides that come from industrial waste and agricultural runoff. VOCs can weaken the immune system; cause liver, kidney, and reproductive problems; increase the risk of cancer, and cause central nervous system depression.
  • Chlorine – used at a limited level, can effectively disinfect water. However, it can also cause long-term adverse effects to our health, such as the high risk of bladder and rectum cancer; exercise-induced asthma symptoms; promotion of food allergies; and birth defects such as ventricular septal defects, poor brain development, and cleft palates.

Bad Taste and Smell

Refrigerator water filters are also supposed to get rid of bad-tasting and smelly substances in water. But when an old filter gets clogged, it loses its effectiveness in getting rid of bad tastes and smells. Since it can no longer grasp any contaminant, you’ll be left with a bad taste and smell in your water.

Dark, Cloudy, Strange-Textured, and Smelly Ice Cubes


If a refrigerator water filter has not been duly changed, the ice cubes from the ice maker will have a dark, cloudy appearance. Although normally, ice cubes would appear somewhat cloudy from within, they would still be relatively clear when produced with actual filtered water.

However, if a refrigerator filter is old and malfunctioning, the contaminants that it failed to clear away from the water would give ice cubes a dark, cloudy appearance.

A strange texture may also be noticed apart from the dark, cloudy appearance. And sometimes, you may even smell a foul odor from the ice cubes caused by the presence of the contaminants.

Reduction in Water Flow

Since an old, unreplaced refrigerator water filter has been clogged with contaminants, the water flow would be hampered. There would be very little water coming out at a slow pace, as the contaminant buildup would reduce the pressure in the filter.

If the refrigerator filter remains unchanged, the pressure will continually reduce until the filter gets entirely blocked.

Little or No Ice Production

Similar to the water flow, ice production is also adversely affected. Since the water flow is slowed down, the ice maker’s production of ice cubes would also be slow, and the size of the ice cubes it produces becomes smaller. Or other times, it doesn’t produce any ice at all.

Lessens Refrigerator’s Lifespan

Just as how harmful an unchanged refrigerator water filter is to your health, it can also adversely affect your refrigerator. Not changing your refrigerator filter can lead to scaling and buildup of contaminants in the water and ice dispenser, which would not only cause a bad taste to your water and ice but also can cause serious damage to your refrigerator.

The contaminant buildup would eventually cause the system to malfunction, performing at a low flow and slow pace.

How Often Should You Change Your Refrigerator Water Filter


In changing refrigerator water filters, there is a general rule that it must be performed every six months. However, this may also vary among refrigerator manufacturers, ranging from three to six months or even more.

So if you haven’t changed your refrigerator filter yet and are wondering when to change it, you may also check on your refrigerator provider’s website.

The six-month general rule is applied in refrigerator filter changes because after the duration of six months, water filters would start wearing out and their filtration ability declines.

But because different factors can affect a water filter’s working condition, the frequency of changing your personal filter would depend on those factors. You may be required to change it more often or less often based on those factors such as:

  • Your fridge’s make and model
  • Your water’s quality
  • How often do you get water and ice from the dispenser
  • How many people are using the dispenser
  • The filter’s quality

To make it easier for refrigerator filter users, some refrigerators come with indicator lights to give a notification when it’s time for a filter replacement. But since some refrigerators don’t have that feature and the refrigerator filter is often out of sight, there is a tendency for refrigerator filter users to forget to replace their filter.

There are a couple of things you can do to remember to change your refrigerator filter. You can either set particular schedules in a year for your filter change, write a reminder on a sticky note and place it on your fridge, or use a reminder app on your phone.


Not timely changing your refrigerator water filter can cause all sorts of problems, starting from the taste, smell, and appearance of your water and ice to the performance of your water and/or ice dispenser, the lifespan of your refrigerator, and even worse, a variety of health problems.

So always make sure to change your filter to prevent the aforementioned dangers of not changing refrigerator water filter. Ensure that you and your family are safe from harmful contaminants that could possibly be ingested through your water supply.

5/5 - (3 votes)