There are about 40 million Americans suffer from waterborne diseases every year. The safety of water has become a focal point since the water crisis in Flint, MI. If you have come to the step where you’ve realized that you need to take some control measures to protect your water, then you probably know some basic information about water filtration systems.
Home water filtration systems help remove lead, chlorine, and fluoride from water. There are various water filtration products on the market ranging from filtration method and filtration accuracy. Many American households own refrigerators that come with a water dispenser, which the internal water filters of those refrigerators can dispense clean filtered water to your home. It is one of the easiest ways to access clean water for most Americans.
How do the internal water filters work? What contaminants can these refrigerator filters remove? What are some pros and cons of this type of filter? The following sections will answer these questions and provide you with a buying guide for refrigerator filters.

Why Should I Use A Refrigerator Water Filter?

The simple answer to this question is safe drinking water. The quality of tap water is skeptical with cases of water crises being reported in recent years. Though the city water would be treated before pumping into every household, over the past 20 years, the public infrastructure has deteriorated and therefore has increased the risks of water contamination in the U.S.
The commonly found pollutants in tap water include lead, rust, chlorine, and so on. The importance of water filters has been noticed by more and more people. The home appliance manufacturers, on the other hand, have sensed the business opportunities from those water scandals and launched products like refrigerators with a water filtration feature.
Unlike other home water filtration systems, the refrigerator water filters allow you to enjoy clean water without generating a significant amount of water waste. The refrigerator filter requires very little expense and maintenance effort. As long as the refrigerator is working properly, the filter can dispense clean water to your home without waiting.

How Does Refrigerator Water Filter Work?

The filtration process is quite simple. Refrigerator filters force water through the filtration media and trap pollutants and particles found in city water sources. Depending on the filtration media of a refrigerator water filter, some of the filters have two stages and some have three stages. The more filtration stages of a filter, the finer the filtered water would be.

What Contaminants Does Refrigerator Water Filter Remove?

The refrigerator water filters help remove contaminants that water treatment facilities fail to remove. It offers an easy but effective way to get clean water. Lead, chlorine, and volatile organic compounds (known as VOCs) are the three most common contaminants that can be removed by fridge filters.
Not only the quality of water has been improved but also the water taste. Most of the refrigerator filters adopt active carbon as the main filtration media, which can effectively remove the bad taste and odor in water.

Limitations of Refrigerator Water Filters

Though a refrigerator filter is a cost-effective filter to access clean water, there are still some limitations of this type of water filtration system. Below are some of the limitations that you might need to consider.

Filtration accuracy

Generally speaking, the refrigerator water filter does a great job of removing major contaminants in city water. However, due to the limited filtration accuracy of the activated carbon, refrigerator filters cannot achieve the same filtration performance as more advanced systems like reverse osmosis systems. If you are looking for water filtration systems that can remove pharmaceutical leftovers, bacteria, and viruses, then the refrigerator water filter would not be the ideal choice.


Like almost all the water filters, refrigerator water filters also need to be replaced after a certain time. Yet, the service life of a refrigerator water filter is short compared to the reverse osmosis and ultrafiltration counterparts. Different refrigerator model operates differently, meaning you’ll need to manage your replacement protocol based on its schedule. If you do not replace the filters on time and they get worn out, the filters can lose their ability in impurities removing and defeating the entire purpose of accessing clean water.


Many refrigerator brands charge a high price for their replacement filters. For a single pack of the replacement filter, the price ranges from $20-$60. Though the unit price seems affordable, it would be a huge expenditure when you replace about 3-4 times a year, not to mention the years after. Therefore, before making your refrigerator purchase, you might want to consider the replacement frequency and cost for its corresponding filter.
Alternatively, you can easily find cheap replacement filters from other water filter manufacturers. A lot of water filter brands like Waterdrop offer compatible replacement filters for most of the popular models on the market. Simply search your fridge model name with keywords like replacement filters, you will be able to find a lot of cheap alternatives online.

Why Does NSF Certification Matter?

NSF International is a third-party organization that develops and examines standards for clean water, food and other consumer products. An NSF certified product indicates the pass of the NSF check as well as the fulfillment of the features that have been advertised. Companies are not required but voluntary to submit product samples to NSF labs for testing and verification. The products will go through rigorous testing based on the NSF standards.
The certification of NSF can ensure the water filtration product meets all the requirements as well as the filtration performance it has claimed to achieve. For example, the NSF standard 42 will check the ability to remove water contaminants like chlorine, taste, odor, and particulates that might be in your drinking water, while the NSF standard 53 will check the ability to reduce specific contaminants like cryptosporidium, giardia, lead, and volatile organic chemicals (VOCs). Before you make a purchase, it is advised to check the NSF certificates and understand the filtration capabilities of your targeted water filters.