How to Install a Refrigerator Water Filter

Updated: Jun. 26, 2019

Quick-connect fittings make installation and maintenance easy

FH02SEP_REFRIW_01-3Family Handyman
Purify the water supply to your ice- and water-dispensing refrigerator. Simple inline water filters help remove chemical tastes and odors, making water fresher and better tasting.

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External Water Filter for Refrigerator: Cut the pipe and install the fittings

Photo 1: Cut the supply line

Turn off the shutoff valve and disconnect the supply line. Mark the filter width on the supply line and cut it out. Tighten the pipe cutter in small increments to avoid pinching the soft copper tube. Deburr the cut end with sandpaper or a file (cut plastic tubing with a utility knife).

Photo 2: Add the fittings

Slip the brass nut and ferrule onto the tubing. (If you have a plastic water line, insert the brass reinforcers into the tube ends). Thread the brass nut onto the fitting until finger tight, and twist it one full turn with two wrenches (the longer fitting goes on the supply side).

Photo 3: Snap in the filter

Snap the filter into the supply side. Make sure the waterflow indicator points toward the fridge. Support the filter and slowly open the water shutoff valve until water sprays out of the unhooked end. Hang a bucket from a screw and flush water through the filter for approximately five minutes (two to three gallons), and then snap it into the other fitting.

Install a refrigerator water filter to remove the bad taste from drinking water and ice cubes. An inexpensive inline refrigerator water filter reduces chlorine, rust, sediment and odors for water- and ice-dispensing refrigerators. Filters are available from home centers and appliance stores.

The filter splices into the standard 1/4-in. copper or plastic refrigerator water supply line (Photo 1). Locate the filter as close as possible to the water shutoff valve. Leave at least 6 in. of clearance between the wall and refrigerator when installing the filter behind a refrigerator. Once you install the system, quick-connect fittings make it easy to change the filter.

Turn off the shutoff valve and disconnect the 1/4- in. supply line from the valve (hold a bucket under the valve to catch residual water). Some types of valves leak. You may have to turn off the main water supply valve to your home. Cut back the tubing (Photo 1) and attach the quick-connect fittings (Photo 2). Snap the filter into the fittings.

Secure the tubing on the fridge side with a 1/4-in. copper strap and flush the filter to dispense any fine loose carbon particles (Photo 3). If a leak occurs, tighten the nuts or fittings. Strap the filter to any nearby support to take stress off the tubing. Write the installation date on the filter and replace it every six months with a new one.

Required Tools for this external water filter for refrigerator project

Have the necessary tools for this DIY project lined up before you start—you’ll save time and frustration.

  • 4-in-1 screwdriver
  • Adjustable wrench
  • Bucket
  • File
  • Rags
  • Slip joint pliers
  • Tube cutter

Required Materials for this external water filter for refrigerator project

Avoid last-minute shopping trips by having all your materials ready ahead of time. Here’s a list.

  • 1-1/4-in. screws
  • Inline water filter
  • Pipe strap