Does The Refrigerator Water Filter Affect The Ice Maker?

Owning a modern refrigerator means having to take care of multiple parts. Replacing them isn't cheap, making us question whether or not doing so is necessary. More specifically, does the water filter on a fridge affect the ice maker? If you'd like to know, we have the answer for you!

Water filters inside a refrigerator are there for a reason. Ice makers connect to a water source, thus connecting them to the filter. If it's impure, it will take a noticeable effect on the ice's quality. Filters remove these impurities to give the ice maker clean water to work with. Therefore, refrigerator water filters do affect the ice maker.

Although it may not seem like it, refrigerator water filters play an essential role. They ensure the fridge uses clean water. Though, what happens if you use the ice maker without one? What if you don't replace the filter routinely? These are some concerns we cover further ahead in this post.

Woman taking ice cubes into bowl in kitchen, modern refrigeration equipment, home chrome refrigerator background, Does The Refrigerator Water Filter Affect The Ice Maker?

What Does The Water Filter In A Refrigerator Do?

Woman's hand holds glass and uses refrigerator to make fresh clean ice cubes.

Maintaining a fridge with a water line is not always affordable. Refrigerator water filters can cost anywhere from 30-60 dollars, making us question how important they truly are.

For example, does the water filter make a noticeable impact on the other functions, like the ice maker? It does affect the overall quality of the water you use. Though, it's a limited case.

Refrigerator water filters will mostly remove chlorine from their water source. This substance is what typically makes the water smell and taste funny. Manufacturers like Frigidaire also claim their water filters can remove heavy metals, volatile organic compounds, and pesticides, so using one is recommended.

However, it's sometimes questionable how effective they are at doing their job. This usually depends on how diligent you are with replacing the filter when it's time, as many newer ones feature activated carbon.

These carbon water filters will remove small amounts of sediments but quickly need to be replaced. With that said, water that passes through an overused filter might even dislodge pollutants back into your drinking water, which isn't good for your health.

For this reason, most would typically recommend changing your filter twice per year. This way, you get quality drinking water, and the ice maker provides quality ice every time.

Will An Ice Maker Make Ice Without A Filter?

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Now, let's say you discover that it's been some time since you've changed the filter in your fridge. So, in the meantime, you'll want to remove it to avoid the adverse effects it can have on your ice/water. But is it possible to continue using the ice maker without a filter?

Yes! It's possible to use the ice maker in a refrigerator without a filter. However, it will depend on the refrigerator model you own, as some have a built-in bypass mode that will allow the ice maker to continue working.

Models that don't have this mode will need a bypass plug to work. Sometimes refrigerators include a cap that you can use in place of the filter. 

See this bypass plug on Amazon here.

Refrigerators from brands like GE will need a bypass plug to continue working. In some cases, it won't be easy to find answers. So, if you want a simple test to check if you need a bypass plug, let's go over these steps:

  1. Remove your refrigerator's water filter.
  2. Attempt to use the water dispenser or the ice maker.
  3. If they continue to work, the fridge has an automatic bypass mode (no plug needed).
  4. If they both stop working, you will need a filter bypass to continue using the ice maker.

How To Determine If You Can Use A Bypass Plug/Mode

Finding out you can use the ice maker and water dispenser without the filter might be a great option for you if you don't want to spend money on a filter. As we covered, this can save you between $60 and $120, which can make quite a difference.

That said, you may not want to go filterless because what is stopping harmful chemicals and bacteria from getting into your water/ice?

The question you'd have to answer is, would it make sense to use the fridge without a water filter? It would make sense to consider removing the refrigerator's water filter if you already have a whole-house water filter or a reverse osmosis water treatment system in place.

In this situation, you're paying double to replace filters. So, if you already have one on the main water distribution line, the fridge's filter can be redundant.

What Happens If You Don't Replace A Refrigerator Water Filter?

Woman's hand holds glass and uses refrigerator to make fresh clean ice cubes.

Failing to replace a refrigerator's water filter on time can hurt its water quality. That said, the bad aspect of an activated carbon filter is that it can clog relatively quickly. When this happens, there are a lot of contaminants stuck on the water filter with nowhere to go.

These filters have limited space. So, once it becomes oversaturated with contaminants, it will fail to continue filtering your water. As a result, you'll experience a noticeable difference in the performance of your water dispenser and ice maker. 

Mechanical parts will have to work harder to deliver the water. The reason for this is that you'd be allowing minerals to build up over time. When this happens, your fridge is at a higher risk of breaking down.

It will also expose you to more contaminants. For this reason, many would recommend changing the filter every six months. If you'd like to stop spending a lot on filters, you can also choose to use the fridge without one. 

However, this would only be advisable if you already have a water filtration system in place.

How Do You Know If A Refrigerator Water Filter Is Bad?

There will be many hints that are hard to miss when it's time to change your fridge's water filter. The first sign that indicates the filter is bad is a noticeable change in water flavor.

The same goes for the ice inside your refrigerator, which may also develop a strange taste. If it has been some time, the water and ice cubes will also carry an odor. Some would describe it as a sour or metallic smell.

Unfortunately, it doesn't stop at the quality of water and ice. Your refrigerators performance will take a hit too. As a result, the water dispenser will begin to leak.

Thus, you'll also see that the ice cubes are coming out smaller than usual. As far as appearance goes, both the water and ice cubes will look murky. Finally, the activated carbon inside the filter will contaminate the water and ice cubes.

That said, it's normal to see black specks when you're using a new filter. However, if it leaks when it's old, that means you need to change the filter immediately. The carbon that pollutes your water is likely holding contaminants too.

How Long Does It Take For An Ice Maker To Make Ice After Replacing The Filter?

Icemaker remove shown with human hands

After purchasing a new filter, there will be a settling period. During the manufacturing and shipping process, carbon particles will become loose. As we mentioned, it will be normal to see black specks in the water and ice in the first few uses of a new filter.

For this reason, you would need to flush it. To do this, you'll need to run 3-5 gallons of water through the water dispenser. If your fridge doesn't have a water dispenser, discard two batches of ice to flush the filter.

Initially, the water/ice will be grey with black specks floating around. In general, the main concern would be getting the water clear. So, dispense as much water or ice until it looks clear.

How Often Should An Ice Maker Drop Ice?

The amount of ice your ice maker can drop will vary depending on the refrigerator you own. However, most refrigerators should be capable of making ice relatively quick. Some can produce as much as 8-10 ice cubes every 90 minutes. In a 24-period, you can expect around 130 ice cubes.

Whether this is good enough depends on how often you need ice. Regardless, this means you're getting enough ice cubes for 6-8 drinks a day. Any lower than that could indicate there are issues you need to address.

As mentioned, one of them could be a dirty filter. If that's not the problem, you'll need to investigate further.

To Wrap It Up

It can be tempting to avoid replacing your refrigerator's water filter. But, if you do, it could affect the ice maker regarding quality and functionality. All in all, whether you decide to continue using one or not is up to your circumstances. We hope you found the information above helpful, and good luck!

Before you go, do you have other ice maker concerns? If you want a more detailed answer regarding making ice, check out our post:

How Long Does It Take For An Ice Maker To Make Ice?

Are you curious to know if ice makers turn off automatically? To find out more about how they function, check out our post:

Do Ice Makers Turn Off Automatically?

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