Water lines that connect straight to our fridges so we have our hands on chilled water and ice around the clock are privileges we might sometimes take for granted, considering the alternative is forgetting to refill a pitcher or ice-tray and realizing it too late on a scorching, thirst-ridden day. But just owning a fridge with an in-built water and/or ice dispenser is not enough – if your fridge doesn’t come with an in-built filter, you’re basically getting ice cubes and cold glasses of tap water, swimming with anything from unpleasant tasting chlorine and by-products from disinfection to poisonous heavy metals and chemical contaminants.
The problem persists with in-built filters, too, since they tend to be standard devices requiring frequent replacements, likely not capable of tackling any heavy metals, volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and other harmful organic and inorganic matter. Though some filter pitchers are up to the job and can, technically, be popped into the fridge to cool, several of the most popular filter pitchers may fall short when it comes to tackling far more harmful contaminants than chlorine – which is where inline filters come in. Hooked outside your fridge, directly to the water line feeding into your cooler and leading to your dispenser, these filters allow you flexibility since you don’t have to pick options that are brand specific, giving you a wider range of choices for more versatile, thorough and durable water filters. Inline filters deliver already filtered water to your fridge’s dispenser, meaning that cool glass of water you just filled is several degrees safer than anything out of your tap – as long as you pick the right one. Interested? Take a look at our top picks.
GE GXRLQ SmartWater Inline Filter System
Say goodbye to foul smelling water and stale ice cubes with this heavy-duty inline filter. You can install this filter to any water- and/or ice-dispensing fridge of any brand, whether or not it has in-built filters, and rest assured that not only will the end result be free of chlorine, but also poisonous contaminants like lead and asbestos. With a nearly 100% accuracy at capturing and removing several of the deadly contaminants we might have been sipping up unawares, the filter comes with NSF endorsement under both standards 42 (for getting rid of odors and unpleasant tastes) and 53 (for its ability to remove potentially dangerous contaminants, including lead, a poisonous heavy metal).
The slim, compact design of this filter makes it ideal to install via the copper or plastic tubing of your water line, easily fitting into tight spaces behind or around your refrigerator. Filters are recommended for replacement every six months or per 750 gallons of water filtered, easy to uninstall and re-install when the time comes.
It’s important when selecting your filter, though, to know what types of contaminants you should be wary of specifically, since they tend to vary from state to state – for instance, there might be markedly more lead in water in some states (as illustrated by the Flint water crisis) than others. A handy hack is to check the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)’s annual reports about the contaminant ratios of your state, and making sure those contaminants fall in the SmartWater Filter’s hitlist.
KEN’S BUGDET PICK
Omnipure K2533JJ Inline Water Filter
If your state checks out in the safe zone for drinking water, but it still smells or tastes too clinical or medicinal to be palatable, this is a brilliant budget option to opt for. NSF certified for reducing unpleasant tastes and smells, this inexpensive filter has a capacity of 1,500 gallons, the intuitive design with a quarter of an inch Quick Connect fittings cutting down the chances of a leak, while its slender design lets you hook it not only to your fridge’s water line but also water fountains, coffee machines and under your sink. Easy to install without any tools or specialist help, the filter comes with granulated active carbon, a great filtration method that acts as a natural magnet for impurities, their porous constructs maximizing the surface area and efficiency of filtration, so you never have to deal with funky tasting ice cubes again.
Culligan IC-EZ-3 EZ-Change Inline Filtration System
NSF certified not only to completely rid your water of that nasty chlorine smell and bitter taste, this filter also meets and exceeds the NSF 53 standard with its active filtration of contaminants like lead and chlorine-resistant cysts, among other nasties. An in-built bracket mounts the filter behind or beside your fridge, the filter having a capacity of 500 gallons, requiring a replacement cartridge roughly every six months. The twist-on, twist-off mechanism makes replacing the cartridge a breeze for this heavy-duty cousin of the Basic Icemaker and Refrigerator Filter of the same brand, which, though a more affordable option, only tamps down on the chlorine without filtering out any heavy metals or chemical contaminants.
Ecopure Universal In-Line Refrigerator Filter
This versatile filter goes well not only with your fridge’s water or ice dispenser but also with your kitchen sink or other plumbing around the house – especially helpful when considering it’s designed to filter out lead, sediment and other undissolved solids, and microbial cysts carrying bacteria or protozoa that we not only don’t want in our drinking water, but also anywhere near our laundry or dishes. With a capacity of 750 gallons and a lifetime of about 6 months before recommended replacement, the intuitive design of the filter offers two stages of filtration – standard, or maximum, depending on your requirements.
Installation is a simple matter that you won’t have to call in help for, the filters easy to replace with a push-in system that lets them slip into place, ideal for fitting with both plastic and copper tubing in spite of what the manuals say, so you won’t have to worry about forking out extra costs if you don’t have the plastic variety.