How Often to Change a Water Filter (6 Types)

See exactly how often to change your water filter to keep it clean.

Are you beginning to notice particular tastes or odors returning to your filtered water? If you haven’t changed your water filter, it could be time to do so. A dirty filter could make your water even more contaminated than it was before — yuck!

How often to change a water filter depends on the filter type and your local water quality. Luckily it’s an easy job, and shouldn’t take too long.

How Often to Change a Water Filter 101

Regularly changing the water filter is crucial if you want to maintain clean drinking water. Here’s our breakdown by each main type of filter.

1. Refrigerator Filter

Refrigerator water filters are a great way to get clean and cold water straight from your fridge. However, failing to replace the filter can result in unabsorbed contaminants and bacteria penetrating the filter. If this happens, it will most likely leak, which can end up in highly contaminated water.

How Often Should It Be Replaced?

Experts and manufacturers recommend that you change the refrigerator filter at least every six months. Keep in mind, this does depend on usage and how contaminated your local water is to begin with.

2. Whole House Filter — Well and Municipal

A whole house filtration system is a filter that cleans all the water that enters the house. This means you get pure water out of every outlet, even in appliances such as dishwashers and washing machines.

Whole house systems are an excellent choice for homeowners with a weakened immune system since they effectively remove contaminants and bacteria (1).

These are also common in households where tap water is too impure to use. Replacing these filters can be challenging and often requires professional help.

How Often Should It Be Replaced?

It’s recommended to change the sediment pre-filter every six months. However, some might require replacement every three months. This depends on whether your source is municipal or well water.

Well water requires replacement more often since there’s a higher risk of contamination (2).

3. Under Sink Filter

Under sink water filters are installed, well, under the sink. These are connected directly to your cold water line, so it’s easy to see when to change them.

This water is essential for our day to day lives, so it’s crucial to keep it clean.

How Often Should It Be Replaced?

How often an under sink water filter should be changed depends on usage and water quality. In areas with more pollutants, the filter will absorb more. As a general rule, it’s a good idea to replace it every nine to 12 months.

4. Countertop Water Filter

Countertop water filters are trendy in the U.S. These devices are compact, easy to install, and effective. They also come with various types of filtration systems such as activated carbon blocks, alkaline, and even coconut-based shells.

They’re directly connected to your faucet via a small hose and an adapter. The water is then filtered on-demand, and you can easily change between filtered and unfiltered.

How Often Should It Be Replaced?

Countertop water filters are a bit different from others. Some are not replaceable, but instead, purify a fixed number of gallons. For example, some models can filter through 10,000 gallons of water before they become ineffective.

Most countertop water filters require changing between three and 12 months. It depends very much on the filter quality, manufacturer, and water quality. Some will have a transparent casing so that you can check the filter without removing it.

5. Faucet Water Filter

Faucet water filters are installed directly onto the spout. They filter water efficiently as it leaves the tap. These are commonly used all over the world to remove fluoride, lead, and other nasties.

They’re easy to install and don’t require any complicated plumbing. A drawback to these is that they can reduce the flow rate significantly.

How Often Should It Be Replaced?

A large family will need to replace the filter more often; every three to five months could be necessary. Smaller households will only need a replacement every six months.

6. Pitcher Water Filter

Pitcher water filters are practical and very easy to use. They don’t require any installation, and you can enjoy pure water in no time. These resemble regular water pitchers, except they consist of two parts: a filling reservoir and a holding tank.

You pour water into the top part, and it will slowly run through the filter. The most common filter used is activated carbon.

How Often Should It Be Replaced?

Experts and manufacturers recommend that pitcher water filters are replaced at least every six months. If you use it multiple times a day, it will need to be replaced more often.

Tell-Tale Signs a Change Is Needed

Here are a few signs you should be looking out for regardless of which filter you’re using:

  • Unpleasant taste.
  • Bad odor.
  • Discoloration in water or filter.
  • Decreased water flow rate.

We highly recommend that you replace your filter before any of these signs are noticeable. In most cases, once you notice a change in quality, it might already be too late.

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Better Safe Than Sorry

Failing to change the filter can be an open invitation for more contaminants into your drinking water.

How often to change a water filter depends primarily on usage and water quality. The average does tend to be around six months. However, it’s crucial to look out for the signs we mentioned above, such as unpleasant odor or taste, and discoloration.

When was the last time you changed your water filter? Leave us a comment below!

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About the Author

Peter Gray

Peter has been a homeowner for 35+ years and has always done his own repair and improvement tasks. As a retired plumber, Peter now spends his time teaching others how they can fix leaks, replace faucets, and make home improvements on a budget.