Whether you get drinking water from the refrigerator or the kitchen faucet, you need a filter to keep water tasting clean and fresh. A fridge filter typically lasts six to nine months, depending on use, before it needs to be replaced.

If you spot any of the following signs, then it’s time for a new water filter.

1. Poor taste

A new strange taste of plastic or metal could indicate the filter is clogged and not doing a good job of removing contaminants. A dirty filter can even reintroduce particles it has filtered out from your water over the past few months.

2. Odd-smelling ice

If you smell a sour or metallic odor coming from melting ice, the cause is likely a dirty water filter. A clogged filter will not only affect water, but also the ice that is made by your freezer.

3. Slow trickle of dispensed water

The water filter is placed in the refrigerator’s system, and all water flows through it. If the filter is filled with particles, it can become clogged and diminish the volume of water that can get through. As a result, water will come out in just a small trickle.

4. Small ice

A clogged or dirty water filter could also lead to small ice. If the ice maker isn’t getting enough water, then the ice molds are being filled completely with water during the open-valve time. As a result, you will get small ice cubes. 

5. Black specks

Most water filters contain a charcoal filter made with tiny flecks of charcoal dust that remove contaminants from the water. It’s normal to see a few black specks every now and then, especially if you’ve just replaced the filter, but if it’s been a while and you see black specks consistently in your water, then it’s time for a new filter.

6. Murky water or ice

If your ice has become unclear, then you likely have a significant amount of contaminant in your water. Avoid drinking the water until you’ve replaced the filter and flushed the water lines with a non-toxic cleaner.

7. Water filter light turns on

The most obvious sign it’s time to replace your water filter is when the water filter light turns on or becomes red. Don’t delay replacing the filter or you risk consuming contaminated water.