There has been a loud and ongoing debate on the safety, quality and taste of tap water in the United States. The perception that bottled water tastes better and is more healthful for the consumer has led to the creation of the multi-billion-dollar premium bottled water industry. Although the water supply in the vast majority of U.S. municipalities is approved as safe for consumption by the government, many consumers still object to the taste of certain minerals, sediment and chemicals such as chlorine that can be in the water. Filtering has become an additional step consumers can take to add another level of purity to their drinking water.
Unless the home has a whole-home water filtration system, it is likely that the primary water filter only applies to the tap water in the kitchen. In order to filter the water and ice that passes through the refrigerator, an additional filter must be installed on the water line that feeds that appliance. Although there are numerous types and brands on the market, most are quite similar in design and function, and all require the filter to be replaced on a regular basis.
Most refrigerator water filter manufacturers recommend changing the filter every six months, but certain factors may require more frequent changing. These units typically filter by quantity rather than time, so large families that use more water may need to change their filters more frequently. Geographical areas with a lot of sediment or hard minerals in the water supply may require more frequent changes. Homes that get their water from a well rather than a treated municipal source may wish to change their filter more often than every six months.
Always follow the manufacturer's instructions when changing your refrigerator water filter. The process typically requires you to shut off the supply of water to the filter, wipe down the filter casing, remove the old filter from the case, insert the new filter into the casing, tighten all fittings and restore the flow of water to the filter.
In addition to cleaning the area surrounding the filter prior to changing it, you will probably also need to flush the new filter out before allowing the water to be used for drinking. Most refrigerator filters utilize activated charcoal as a filtering agent. Flushing the filter for a few minutes will remove any carbon residue that may be present.