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Where Does the Water Come from in a Refrigerator?

We take so many things for granted in life, particularly those of us living in relative comfort in the West: Clean air, freshwater, safe roads, the electricity that works when you need it, and far more.

These things have been around for most of our lives, so we seldom give them a moment’s thought. Where does water from a refrigerator come from?

Drinking water in a refrigerator is provided from one of two sources: A reservoir within the fridge that requires filling by hand and via a hose connected to the building’s main water supply, which fills the reservoir automatically as water is dispensed, usually from the refrigerator’s door.

Not everything about cold water on tap from the fridge is positive, however. There are several factors to consider to keep your new refrigerator providing your loved ones with a healthy stream of water.

Are All Refrigerators Plumbed Into The Main Water Supply?

Certainly not. The initial range of refrigerators did not offer any water dispensing system, and if you wanted chilled water, you would have to fill a bottle and place it in the fridge or use ice from your freezer. Incidentally, the ice was produced using water you would have to put in the freezer yourself, using ice trays.

The next generation of fridges offered ice and water via a dispensing system, usually mounted beside the door. However, these units still require that you hand-fill a reservoir with water, and many of these fridges continue to use this method today. Samsung Refrigerator models RH62/RS58/RS62 still do, and so do certain fridges from most other manufacturers.

Is Refrigerator Water Safe To Drink? 

When you first use your refrigerator, remember to properly flush the water dispenser and ice-making unit, ensuring the cleanest hoses, pipes, and tubes for healthy water and ice production.

The risks associated with drinking water cleaned by a fridge’s water filter include exposure to micro-organisms like coliform and salmonella.  These risks can compromise your health, and unfortunately, the truth is that water-carrying pipes and hoses do not always remain hygienic after prolonged usage.

Fridge filters on the market today commonly use carbon, thereby removing compounds that affect taste and smell. The effectiveness of a refrigerator filter using this element relies on the water being in contact with it for extended periods. 

If drinking water is constantly dispensed, the filtration may not have sufficient time to contact the carbon and be inefficient. Unless you maintain a rigid checklist, the filter-checking may be too infrequent, resulting in a compromised water filter.

How Can I Make My Fridge Water Taste Better?

If your fridge water is tasting bad, it’s possible that the copper tubing has given it a metallic taste after a long period of disuse. You can add water-purifying tablets if you wish, but I’d suggest you drain six to eight liters or 11/2 to two gallons of water from your reservoir and taste it again.

If the problem persists, it may lay with your refrigerator’s water filter.

Should You Clean or Change a Refrigerator’s Water Filter?

Consult your manual on this one, but the chances are high that they recommend you change the filter every six months. Naturally, they make after-sales profits from this, and unless your water supply is abysmal, I suggest you change it every two years unless:

  • You find solid particles in your drinks. These may be lime or calcium.
  • You notice that the water is flowing slower than usual into your glass.
  • Less ice or dirty ice is being dispensed.
  • The water tastes different.
  • Your water filter’s nozzle is caking up.

Checking (and Cleaning) a Refrigerator’s Water Filter

Water filters are located in different places depending on the brand of refrigerator you own. Still, in a Samsung, for example, the water filter is located in one of two places:

  • In the upper right rear section of the refrigerator
  • Behind the vegetable drawer

Many units are sealed and cannot be cleaned, but those that can, can be cleaned using these steps:

  1. Locate the filter and remove it, usually with a counter-clockwise twist of your wrist.
  2. Check the filter and if there are no visible cracks or breaks in the seal, move to step 3. If the filter is damaged in any way,  place the filter in the bin and replace it with one recommended in your owner’s manual.
  3. Tap the water filter sharply against something blunt to remove calcium and other deposits that have solidified. Don’t use too much force.
  4. Place it in a bowl of hot (not boiling) water for about a half-hour to 45 minutes. You may add a special cleaning agent designed for cleaning water filters, but I usually add vinegar or dishwashing soap, which is inexpensive and works well.
  5. After about 30 minutes, remove the filter from the water and tap the cylinder again to dislodge any stubborn solids.
  6. Once you are convinced that the filter has been soaked for long enough, rinse it under cold water and replace it in the holder.
  7. Rinse five to eight liters of water through the system to flush any remnants, and taste the water again. Replace the filter if no improvement.

How Do You Turn Off The Water To Your Refrigerator?

Should you spot some leaking water on the floor in the vicinity of your refrigerator, there is a genuine chance that the hose connecting your unit to the main water supply is compromised. In this case, move the fridge away from the wall by grasping it firmly in both hands and sliding it out. Newer fridges will roll out easily, but older models may need to be wrestled. Either way, be careful.

You will see the valve at the rear of the refrigerator where the water hose from the mains enters the unit, usually in a recessed section. Turn the valve off by hand – it will move easily – ensuring it is turned as far off as it will go.

If your hose goes to a tap (in the sink, for example), turn the tap entirely off. Now, dry the hose first, checking if a split or tear is visible, allowing water to leak from the hose. Then dry up any spills on the floor and recheck the hose to see where the hose is leaking. There should be some drips or a small puddle created in a few minutes.

If your hose is plumbed straight into the mains, you may want to turn off the central water supply to the building if the leak is bad enough. If the hose is leaking, you will want to replace it. Patching a water hose is not a repair recommended here.

Can I Plug In My Refrigerator Without Water? 

Sure, you can. Bear in mind, however, that your fridge can no longer dispense water or produce ice until you add a water source. It’s important to note that temperatures in the freezer and cold section will not be affected in any way.


If you’re a lover of cold water, it will not matter if your chilled glass of ‘life’ comes to your door dispenser via the building’s mains or a water reservoir in the fridge that you have to fill. Just remember to check the glass when you drink and the water filter from time to time and rejoice that you have cold water on hand…if, and whenever, you want it.