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Can I Use My Refrigerator Without the Water Filter?

Writen by Ronald Brown

Fact checked by Natalie Bridges

can i use my refrigerator without the water filter

Modern refrigerators have undoubtedly redefined our lifestyles. They altered the course of our life by providing innovative ways to preserve food for the whole family. Our homes are different now than they were 50 years ago.

Most refrigerators today provide easy access to fresh and clean water that does cooking and drinking less burdensome, but the question is “Can I use my refrigerator without the water filter?” The answer is yes!

Let’s figure out how fridges run without a water filter in this handy guide today!

Table of Contents

Can I Use My Fridge Without the Water Filter?


Why do some people run their refrigerator system filterless? If you have soft water or readily available purified water, a fridge filter would be unnecessary. But can modern refrigerators work without this component?

The answer is yes. Most refrigerators today can function without a water filter. Depending on the brand, model, and size, there may be an integrated bypass technology that you can use in place of your filtration unit.

How Does a Refrigerator Work Without a Water Filter?


A refrigerator operates without a water filter through a bypass device that sends incoming water directly to the ice maker and dispenser. In short, it skips the filtration process, and the liquid you get is not filtered.

If your water dispenser and ice maker work without a filter, it only means that your refrigerator has an automatic bypass mode. Otherwise, you would need to buy a fridge filter bypass.

A bypass comes in two variations: cartridge and plug, and both work differently. Let’s say you have the bypass water filter cartridge (shaped like a standard/sediment water filter).

  • Once installed, the blank cartridge will displace the water filter housing, but it doesn’t necessarily replace the entire water filtration system. It is designed to deceive the refrigeration system into detecting it as a regular fridge water filter.
  • On the other hand, a bypass plug replaces the entire water filter and restricts water from flowing through the former filtration slot.

Frequently Asked Questions


Are refrigerator water filters necessary?

Yes, they help ensure that we drink healthy and pristine water. Although our home water goes through multiple pre-treatment procedures before it reaches our faucets, it can still collect contaminants along the way from large distribution pipes.

Hence, a fridge water filter is your last line of defense against unwanted impurities that can make you sick. Our tap water is generally safe to drink with some caveats, but investing in a fridge water filter guarantees your peace of mind.

Now, you may want to read about the dangers of not changing the fridge water filter.

What happens if you don’t change your refrigerator water filter?

Generally, water filters are designed to last for about 3-6 months. If your filter has been used beyond its maximum capacity, its effectiveness will slowly decline and eventually affect the odor and taste of your water.

An exhausted fridge filter cartridge will also cause scaling and mineral buildup in the water dispenser and ice maker that can damage your refrigerator system. You are also putting yourself at risk of becoming ill from drinking contaminated water.

Does a refrigerator without water dispenser have a water filter?

That will depend on whether it has an ice maker. For example, if you have a Whirlpool refrigerator that includes an icemaker but not a dispenser, it will still have a water filter somewhere.

However, if both components are absent, there won’t be any filtration unit.

What refrigerator brands require a bypass plug to work properly?

GE refrigerator is one of the most prominent brands that require a bypass plug to function correctly and efficiently.

Likewise, Kenmore is also a reliable manufacturer because it has a corresponding bypass plug that works well with a whole house water filtration system. More importantly, it fits appropriately with older Kenmore fridge models.

How do I know if I need a refrigerator bypass water filter?

Whether you need a bypass water filter or not mostly depends on the following factors:

  • Refrigerator Model

Do all refrigerators have water filters? No, a fridge without a water dispenser often does not need them. Deciding whether you need a bypass filter or not depends on your fridge model.

Most fridge water filters are located within the top compartment of the appliance. You will typically get twist-in, push-in, and push-tab release filters. These designs can easily be removed and exchanged with bypass devices.

  • We can safely assume that most modern refrigerators with a water filter already have built-in bypass technology. Samsung refrigerator models are the best example of this feature.
  • However, some products don’t have internal water filters. That’s why inline refrigerator filters are often used for plumbed-in fridge freezers. Still, there is no direct way to bypass inline fridge filters, which means that you can’t use the typical portable bypass plug.

Instead, you would need ¼ to ¼ push-to-connect fittings. You may also need a ¼” tubing, depending on how much space the back of your fridge has.

  • On the other hand, a non-plumbed fridge won’t require you to have a water filter. It has an innovative design that allows you to enjoy chilled water without worrying about the installation.

For instance, you can use an LG refrigerator without a water filter. This option is a bottom-mount model, where you don’t have to hook the fridge up to the water supply.

All you have to do is pour filtered water into the water reservoir sitting in the lower compartment of the fridge.

  • Water Filtration System Assembly

If you have a complicated water filtration assembly, mounting and dismounting your refrigerator system to clean and replace filtration parts may seem inefficient and pretty daunting.

  • Pre-filtered Water Supply

Generally, you would need a fridge filter to eliminate the byproducts and other toxic compounds, especially if you live in areas with a substantially polluted water supply.

In suburban areas, on the other hand, most homes usually have a stringent water filtration system. Therefore, fridge filtration may seem redundant.

In this case, using a bypass filter is more efficient rather than doing extra work to adjust and maintain another system.


Refrigerator filters are highly effective in removing traces of chlorine and heavy metals that frequently cause unpleasant taste and odor in our drinking water.

Can I use my refrigerator without the water filter? Yes, certainly. Depending on your fridge filter, you may use a bypass plug, cap, cartridge or none if it has an automatic bypass.

For any questions and suggestions, please don’t hesitate to leave a comment below, and I’ll be glad to answer them!

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