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How to Tell if a Water Filter Needs Replacing? – 5 Signs

Writen by Ronald Brown

Fact checked by Natalie Bridges

how to tell if a water filter needs replacing

Have you ever considered buying a water filter for your home? Most of us value a healthier lifestyle, and part of this scheme is to supply our bodies with purified drinking water.

That is why we need water filters to prevent microbes from harming our organs and immune system. But how to tell if a water filter needs replacing?

Although it depends on the type of product, you will often notice a drastic change in the taste, odor, and texture of your water– the significant warning signs that your filter has run its course and needs an immediate replacement.

Signs You Need to Replace Your Water Filter


Generally, water filters need replacement after 3-6 months. To determine when to change water filter, here are the five most apparent signs to look for:

1. Sudden Change In Taste and Odor

A water filter that has reached its expected lifespan loses its ability to sift out contaminants, allowing them to accumulate in the filter cartridge—causing odd tastes or smells.

Some impurities behind the foul-smelling and funny-tasting water are dissolved solids, industrial wastes, and heavy metals like copper and iron.

If you detect an unusual smell or taste in your water supply, it is a warning sign that your home water filter needs replacement.

2. Drop In Water Pressure

Low water pressure in the fixtures around your home is one of the typical water filter problems.

If you notice a slow trickle from your water filtration system after some time, it only means that it is clogged with sediments and can no longer keep the contaminants at bay.

You would eventually need to buy a new water filter to restore its original performance.

Faulty installation of valves and other parts may also be the culprit behind this problem, so make sure to inspect the assembly of your water filtration system or consult a plumber to diagnose the problem.

3. Cloudy Appearance

The cloudiness/milkiness in your filtered water indicates that there’s a high mineral content that wasn’t properly filtered out.

Once you see turbidity in your drinking water, replace your filter to prevent the metallic taste and scale buildup.

4. Visible Sediments

The presence of sediments in your water supply is another obvious sign that the filter screen has already exhausted its solid loading capacity. Thus, dirt particles begin to float in a glass of water.

5. Black Mold

If left unchanged, a water filter can be a perfect breeding ground for bacteria. Mold can grow fast in your damp water filter, especially in humid locations.

If you notice dirt-like substances with a musty odor in your water supply, it’s a sign of mold growth. Remove the old filter carefully. Make sure to wash your hands properly upon installation to avoid bacteria transferring to the new water filter.

Do You Really Need to Change the Water Filter?


Changing your water filter is necessary. The rule of thumb is to replace your filter every 3-6 months, but this estimated lifespan depends on your water quality, usage, and filter material/type.

Using an expired filtration unit can expose you to harmful contaminants. You may unknowingly ingest them and become sick as a result.

Your water filter works as a sponge that absorbs all sorts of contaminants and releases purified water for you and your family. Hence, replacing it from time to time is essential to enjoy a continuous clean water supply for sufficient hydration.

Common Water Filter Types and Their Lifespan

1. Reverse Osmosis System

Reverse osmosis has been one of the most sought-after water filtration methods because it is highly effective yet energy-efficient in eliminating contaminants.

A standard RO system is equipped with three main filter stages: sediment pre-filter, carbon filter, and a semi-permeable membrane.

A sediment filter needs to be replaced after 6-12 months, A carbon filter may also last for the same amount of time. Lastly, an RO membrane can survive up to 24 months before needing replacement.

2. Activated Carbon Filter

You can see this type of filter in the market everywhere.

Aside from being the least expensive, it has superb physical properties that effectively remove volatile organic compounds, fine particles, heavy metals, and other contaminants from your drinking water.

Depending on the carbon type, quality, usage, and local water conditions, an activated carbon water filter may last between 6-12 months.

3. Refrigerator Water Filter

Most fridge water filters today are specifically designed to remove chlorine that often causes an acidic water taste and bleachy smell.

They can also discard lead and volatile compounds, making your water taste better. Depending on the brand and type, your fridge filter can last up to 6 months.

If the water flow starts to get slower than usual, check if the refrigerator water filter is clogged as it can cause contaminant leaks.

4. Pitcher/Jug Water Filter

When it comes to convenience, we can never go wrong with pitcher water filters. Their impressive filter-as-you-pour technology allows us to hydrate our bodies on the go.

The average lifespan of a pitcher filter is six months, but it still depends on the model.

  • A standard Brita water filter needs replacing every 40 gallons (2 months), whereas the Brita Longlast filter has a service life of 120 gallons (6 months).
  • How to know if Brita filter is bad? If the indicator light of the old filter switches from yellow to red, it means it is failing, and it is about time to replace it.
  • Other telltale signs that you need to change Brita filter are slow filtration rate, clogged cartridge, funky taste and odor, dirty outflows, and algae presence.
  • Aside from Brita, PUR is the other popular name for pitcher water filters. Their filters work on the same premise as Brita. A PUR water filter needs replacing every two months.

Like Brita, A PUR pitcher filter has a notification light on the lid of the pitcher that will signal you when it is time for a replacement.

5. Whole House Water Filter

A whole-house water filter filtration system is in high demand in most homes today. It is connected to your main water line and eliminates all the contaminants from the water entering your home.

Multi-step filtration is one of its features, making it versatile enough for diverse uses. Plus, this system is also perfect if you have well water.

A sediment well filter replacement should take place every two months, depending on the TDS of your water. A carbon filter can last for 3-6 months.


How to tell if a water filter needs replacing? Given the many filter types and different household usage, it’s tricky to find out the exact timeframe, but guess what? We just unlocked the answer!

Most water filters have an average service life of 6 months. And this interval mostly depends on the type of your filter. Beware of the signs that reveal your filtration unit’s lifespan to keep your family healthy and safe from contaminants!

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