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Is changing icemaker water filters a scam?


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#1 of 46 Dennis Nicholls

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Posted February 17 2008 - 05:34 AM

I have one of those nice Whirlpool side-by-side refrigerator/freezers with ice and water in the door. The connection to house water goes through an integral water filter cartridge. Now there's an LED on the front panel that turns red every so often which indicates that you should swap out the filter cartridge with a new one.

Is this really necessary, or is this just a scam to make you cough-up $35 every six months for a not-really-needed fresh cartridge?
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#2 of 46 mylan

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Posted February 17 2008 - 05:58 AM

I think it is a little of both. I have an Amana side by side and I change my filter every year or so. We really notice a drop in the flow of water through the door so the filter is trapping something but I would hate to think there are that many impurities in city water.
In our old house we had a well which had a whole house filter that I changed once every two months that there was no question that it was filtering settlement, add to that it was horrible to drink so we spent more on bottle water than we are spending on the filter, so we're going to pay one way or the other but $39 at one time does seem kind of steep.
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#3 of 46 Dennis Nicholls

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Posted February 17 2008 - 06:48 AM

I'm wondering whether the red light comes on at a pre-set date from a simple timer, or whether it comes on based on a flow-restriction sensor. I'd put money on the former.....
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#4 of 46 Bryan X

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Posted February 17 2008 - 07:38 AM

Quote:
I'm wondering whether the red light comes on at a pre-set date from a simple timer, or whether it comes on based on a flow-restriction sensor.

You could check that next time the LED light comes on. When it does, take out the old filter, put it back in and wait a few hours or so to see if it comes back on. If it just comes on after a preset length of time, since you have city water you could probably ignore the light and maybe just change it once a year or whenever.

#5 of 46 mylan

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Posted February 17 2008 - 07:44 AM

I'm betting on flow sensor since I didn't have to change mine the last time for a year and a half and it did seem the water was trickling into the glass. It is just my wife and I so maybe we use less ice or water.
Try resetting the red light and see if it comes back on soon, if not you'll get the answer. On mine you press two buttons at the same time to reset.
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#6 of 46 Jon_Are

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Posted February 17 2008 - 07:46 AM

Quote:
I think it is a little of both.

I agree. We're supposed to change ours every six months, but it's like $40 a pop, so we do it maybe once a year. I'm certain the price is jacked up beyond reason; whenever I change it, I get that same feeling in my gut as when I spring for a new ink cartridge for the printer.

Once the new filter is in, though, the flow of water increases noticably. Also, in eyeballing the old cartridge, it's pretty obvious it's been trapping something nasty in there.

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#7 of 46 Eric_L

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Posted February 17 2008 - 10:35 AM

city water is not perfect. My brother in law gets sand in his water every time there is a new house under construction nearby.

#8 of 46 Dennis Nicholls

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Posted February 17 2008 - 11:28 AM

I think I'll use my power mitre box and slice open the old filter tomorrow. We'll see how much junk is inside it.
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#9 of 46 Mike Frezon

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Posted February 17 2008 - 12:22 PM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Dennis Nicholls
I think I'll use my power mitre box and slice open the old filter tomorrow. We'll see how much junk is inside it.

Are you qualified/licensed to perform such procedures? Posted Image

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#10 of 46 Dennis Nicholls

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Posted February 17 2008 - 01:01 PM

Believe me, I'm an expert in rapidly taking apart cartridges.
Posted Image
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#11 of 46 drobbins

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Posted February 17 2008 - 01:24 PM

Quote:
I think I'll use my power mitre box and slice open the old filter tomorrow. We'll see how much junk is inside it.
Let me know what you find out. It sounds like we have the same frig and my light just turned yellow. 10 months, with a family of 4 who drink a lot of water.

#12 of 46 Edwin-S

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Posted February 17 2008 - 01:31 PM

You have to take into account where the water is sourced from. If it is taken directly from a river there is good chance that it will contain more impurities than if it was taken from an underground aquifer.
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#13 of 46 Dennis Nicholls

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Posted February 17 2008 - 02:05 PM

I have a Whirlpool "Gold" model purchased in 2006. I'm a single guy who doesn't use that much ice/water but the darned thing goes red about twice a year. This time I used a Sharpie permanent marker and wrote the install date on the filter element so I can track it by install date.

The green light turns yellow, and then about 10 days later turns red.

Those filters can be purchased for about $28 each online with free shipping if you buy four at a time.
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#14 of 46 Al B. C

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Posted February 17 2008 - 03:21 PM

I just happen to own an appliance store so I have a little bit of experience with these filters.

Basically they are an annuity for the manufacturers, but if you have a model that has the filter inside the refrigerator compartment, you would be best served not to leave them in there for too long.

I have seen these things get full of crap, freeze up, and then split the casing leaving you a nice flood.

One customer had the great fun of having about $40k worth of damage to his kitchen because of this.

So, if you don't feel like messing with it, take it out and put the plug in that came with the unit.

Just sayin'

#15 of 46 Joseph DeMartino

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Posted February 17 2008 - 03:57 PM

Quote:
Is this really necessary, or is this just a scam to make you cough-up $35 every six months for a not-really-needed fresh cartridge?

Unless the manufacturers have a monopoly on the filters, I don't think it is a scam. I don't have an icemaker, but I do have an under-sink water filter, and there are generics available that fit it. They also recommend replacing it every six months, and there's a reason for that. As the filter begins to become saturated with captured particulates, bacteria, etc., it will hit a point where it can become a breeding ground for the very stuff it is designed to remove. This usually happens before the point where the water flow is obviously reduced.

Quote:
I would hate to think there are that many impurities in city water.

City water is treated to kill bacteria and other critters, but minerals and other things that aren't dangerous, but can still affect the taste of water, generally aren't removed. That's why water softeners and filters are so popular. And your local water authority can control the quality of the water as it leaves the plant, but after that it all depends on the pipes it passes through, including the ones in your house or apartment.

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#16 of 46 Jay H

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Posted February 17 2008 - 11:42 PM

I have an older refridgerater with a water/ice dispenser and it doesn't have an inline filter like the newer ones have but I simply have one connected to the water line in my basement that runs to my refridgerator and that is a basic canister filter and I use basic generic filters from Lowes that is not from the mfgr. I forget the mfgr but it's blue and nothing special, it might be Brita? I don't recall.

In any case, no problem here with water clog, if there is a clog, it'll leak in my basement with the sump pump there...

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#17 of 46 LewB

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Posted February 18 2008 - 12:02 AM

I bought a Kenmore fridge (Whirlpool ?) last July. The filter indicator went yellow/red after about 6 months. When purchasing a new filter at Sears for $40, the salesperson said that if your water comes from a well, change the filter when the indicator says to. If your water comes from the city/town, then leave the filter in there and reset the indicator, use filter 'till the indicator goes red again. I got all this info AFTER I bought the new filter Posted Image

One more thing, when I bought the new fridge I got rid of my Brita pitcher, figuring that I now had filtered water. That was a mistake. I think that the Brita pitcher did a much better job of filtering the water than the filter in the fridge. Maybe I am comparing apples and oranges here, but I think that the water from the Brita pitcher tasted much better than the water from the fridge.

#18 of 46 Chris Lockwood

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Posted February 18 2008 - 04:42 AM

Wow, "scam" is one of the most misused words in English.

This would only be a scam if the filters did absolutely nothing, or the water was never routed through them, or the like, but it's absolutely not a scam by the meaning of the word.

It's funny- if there were no filters, nobody would call this a scam, but they also wouldn't have the option of cleaning the water.

As for whether it's worth replacing the filters, it depends on how bad your water is. Looking at a used filter is not a valid test, since not everything "bad" in your water is visible.

#19 of 46 Joseph DeMartino

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Posted February 18 2008 - 05:30 AM

Quote:
This would only be a scam if the filters did absolutely nothing...

I think the scam aspect comes in with the suspicion that consumers are being made to replace the filters more often than necessary. If the filters are really good for a year, and the light says to change them every six months, then people are buying twice as many expensive consumables as they need to. It is akin to the "rinse, repeat" instruction on the back of shampoo bottles, which is only there to get people to use the stuff up twice as fast as they otherwise would.

If most people buy the manufacturer's filters because they don't know generics are available or because they just think they're better, the manufacturer would make some extra money. But since the manufacturers don't actually make the filters (they are made by OEM filter specialists and resold under the brand name at a small mark-up) I doubt they're making enough off the filters to make doing something like this worth the trouble of jiggering the filter thing to generate a false positive. Posted Image

Regards,

Joe

#20 of 46 Dennis Nicholls

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Posted February 18 2008 - 07:30 AM

Joe's right about my use of the term "scam". A corresponding scam would be oil change places that tell you to change your oil every 3,000 miles even though modern oils (at least part synthetics) and modern machining has made the auto companies themselves recommend something like 7,500 mile oil changes.
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