Will a Refrigerator Work Without a Water Filter?

Modern refrigerators make it easy to have clean, fresh water accessible at all times. Most refrigerators now have built-in water dispensers and ice makers, which means they also have a water filter installed. But what if you don’t need the filter? Will your refrigerator work without a water filter?

Can a Refrigerator Work Without a Water Filter?

In some circumstances, a refrigerator can work without a water filter. Here, we’ll go over the importance of refrigerator water filters and when it’s appropriate not to have one:

How a Refrigerator Works Without a Water Filter

A typical refrigerator comes installed with a water filter. It gets rid of impurities from the house water supply before it reaches your glass. But can your refrigerator work without a water filter?

Without the filter installed, the water skips the filtration step and goes straight to the ice maker or water dispenser. Some refrigerator models require an extra part, called a bypass plug, for the water to skip the filtration step. However, some refrigerators do not need this part. We don’t recommend bypassing the water filter, as this can lead to water and ice that tastes bad or possible breakdowns.

What is a Refrigerator Bypass Plug?

Does a refrigerator work without a water filter? Yes, as long as the bypass plug is installed. The plug replaces the water filter in the water filter housing. Essentially, it blocks the water from entering where the filter should be. The water system won’t function if the water filter or bypass plug isn’t installed.

However, some refrigerators don’t need a bypass plug. They still have water filters installed, but the bypass system works a little differently. The filters on these models include a cap that should be installed in place of the filter.

Why Should I Change My Refrigerator Water Filter?

Generally, if you don’t have a house filtration system, you should still use the water filter, not the bypass plug. The filter is there to protect you AND your refrigerator’s health.

But, be aware – refrigerator water filters do need to be changed regularly. If you leave the filter in too long, you’ll start to notice issues like your ice tastes bad. Sometimes, the filter will get so clogged that the ice maker won’t make ice at all.

If you’re wondering how often to replace a refrigerator water filter, the answer depends. Most manufacturers recommend changing the filter every six months. Heavy usage of the ice maker and water dispenser increases the frequency.

Don’t worry if you don’t know how to replace refrigerator water filters. The location and how it’s installed depend on your brand and model, but the basics are the same (use these instructions to install the bypass plug as well):

  1. Locate the water filter housing according to the user manual.
  2. Twist the filter a quarter turn counterclockwise and remove (some model have a button to release the filter).
  3. Install the new filter with a quarter turn clockwise (or push into place with button release models).

Note: If you need help installing the filter, one of our refrigerator repair technicians would be happy to help!

refrigerator work without a water filter

Photo from video by GE Appliances

If you are still left wondering, “Will my refrigerator work without a water filter?” give Dave Smith Appliance a call today, and we’ll answer all your questions.