A refrigerator water filter can do a pretty good job of getting common contaminants out of your tap water. Problems may arise if you have unusual contaminants in your water and also if you don't change your filter frequently enough. In this article, we'll discuss some things to keep in mind when using a refrigerator water filter and provide some sound advice on helping your filter work in the most efficient and effective manner. Read on to learn more.
How Does a Refrigerator Water Filter Work?
These filters work on the same basic principle as filtration pitchers by putting the water through a carbon activated filter, but they are a bit more effective because they force the water through the filter rather than simply relying on a gravity drip.
Carbon is a good filtration substance because it binds with particles and pollutants, thereby removing them from your drinking water. It is just simply essential that you change the filter regularly because the surfaces of the carbon particles eventually become completely coated with contaminants.
When this happens, the contaminants pass right through and end up in your drinking water. Furthermore, loose bits of contaminants can become dislodged and also end up in your drinking water.
What Contaminants Will A Carbon Activated Water Filter Remove?
Once water has come from your local utility to your home, it is piped into your refrigerator. Your local tap water probably contains chemicals such as chloramine or chlorine which are often used to kill viruses, bacteria and unfriendly microscopic fauna in general.
Even with these chemicals used to kill germs, there may still be some dangerous contaminants in your water, such as pharmaceutical traces, mercury, lead and some germs, bacteria and viruses that are resistant to chlorine in chloramine. For example some types of cysts (e.g. Giardia or Cryptosporidium) are unfazed by these chemicals.
Refrigerator water filters are typically capable of removing:
Some contaminants that may be present that your typical refrigerator filter cannot handle include:
You may or may not have these inorganic compounds and heavy metals in your water, so before you choose a water filter it's a good idea to have your water tested to see exactly what you're dealing with. This will allow you to make an educated choice.
Refrigerator water filters can do a good job of removing chlorine, but they may not be equipped to remove chloramine. They may also not have the wherewithal to remove heavy metals and some of the more resistant germs.
If you test your water and find that most of the contaminants contained in it are organic compounds, you'll probably be fine with a simple carbon filter. If you find that your water is full of heavy metals, you should look into a reverse osmosis filter.
A Refrigerator Water Filter May Not Do the Whole Job
Even if you have a wonderful filter on your refrigerator, you have to remember to keep the entire system clean. The dispenser on the outside of the refrigerator is exposed to the air, and you touch it very frequently and it comes in contact with the rims of glasses and other containers that may have come in contact with your mouth. It's very important that you clean the dispenser on a regular basis to prevent contaminating your water with mold and yeast that may be growing on its surface.
If you overuse your water filter, or if you don't change it frequently enough, it will not only stop filtering out the things that it is capable of filtering, it may actually add them back into the water. This is why it's very important to choose a refrigerator that has an indicator light that tells you when it's time to change your water filter.
All things considered, there are lots of variables that can challenge a refrigerator water filter’s ability to deliver fresh clean water to your glass. This is why it might also be a good idea to have a household filter in addition to your refrigerator water filter.
Remember that a reverse osmosis system will remove more contaminants than just about any other sort of system, so you may wish to add this sort of filter to your clean water system, as well.
When you do choose any water filter, be sure that it is NSF certified which gives you some guarantee that it will remove a large percentage of contaminants from your tap water.
Is It Worthwhile to Get a Refrigerator Water Filter?
Even though refrigerator water filters can have some downsides, generally speaking they work quite well. Keep in mind that your local water treatment plant is legally required to remove a certain percentage of the contaminants in your local water. Even so, substances such as chlorine, lead and even rust and sediment remain in the water that comes out of your tap. When you filter that water through a refrigerator water filter, it gets rid of the larger particles and quite a bit of what's left of the other contaminants.
Good Housekeeping and the University of Arizona got together and conducted a study of refrigerator water filters. They concluded that these filters are some of the most effective simple solutions for water pollutant removal. In fact, they said that refrigerator water filters are much more effective than water filtration pitchers, which are quite common.
Even if you do have a household water filtration system and/or use a water filtration pitcher or reverse osmosis system separately, having a refrigerator water filter is a good idea.