A person changes the refrigerator water filter at the top of their fridge's fresh food cavity.

Does your fridge beep at you whenever you use the water dispenser? Is the flow of water slower than usual? Is the “Change Filter” light blinking over and over again? That’s a sign!

It’s time to change the water filter in your refrigerator—something you should do every six months. They can cost $50, but that's another story (literally: How to Find a Cheap Replacement Water Filter for Your Fridge). Not sure if your refrigerator even has a water filter? If there's a water dispenser, it probably does. Here, our experts help you find the filter and swap it out in a matter of minutes.

Step 1: Find Your Fridge’s Water Filter

Look for the filter off to one side of the top fridge compartment, or behind the trim plate between the floor and the bottom of the fridge door—a favorite hiding place for Whirlpool side-by-sides. If you have a built-in, it might also be behind the service panel at the top of the appliance. It's a rare feature on bottom-freezer models—only three models of that type in our ratings have water dispensers, and none have filters.

Still can't find it? Search the model number and "manual" and scan the pdf for "filter."

Step 2: If There's a Filter Cover, Remove It

Easy. Some twist off, some have tabs you squeeze, some have an eject button. But it should be pretty intuitive.

Step 3: Remove the Spent Filter

Depending on the make and model of refrigerator, you may need to first swing the old cartridge out from its slot. Then either pull it straight out of the housing or twist it counterclockwise, then pull it out. Check the packaging of the replacement cartridge so you don't have to guess—you don't want to risk breaking one of the plastic parts.

Step 4: Install the New Filter

Insert the new filter into the housing; it should lock in place. If you had to twist it to remove it, you’ll need to twist it clockwise to seat it in place.

Step 5: Flush Out the Filter

Dispense about two gallons of water to remove air and contaminants from the water line. You can use it to water your plants. 

If your refrigerator has an indicator to change the filter, remember to reset it. You should be good for about six months.

More on Refrigerators

Refrigerators come in five major configurations: top-freezer, bottom-freezer, French-door, side-by-side, and built-in. Consumer Reports tests them all. We buy every model that we bring into our climate-controlled test chamber, where the appliances get wired up with temperature sensors and run for six weeks. That allows our testers to collect over five million temperature readings for each model. All that data is distilled into our refrigerator ratings charts, which cover over 300 models, so you can shop with confidence.