A refrigerator water filter removes pathogens and harmful chemicals from water, including mercury, lead and chlorine. Some Whirlpool refrigerators have a sensor that monitors the filter and flashes a warning when it's time to change it. For models without this feature, Whirlpool recommends changing the filter every six months. On side-by-side models, the filter is located in the base grill below the freezer compartment. On other models, it's inside the refrigerator in the upper right-hand corner.
Symptoms of a Saturated Filter
The filters in most refrigerators, including Whirlpool models, contain carbon in the form of a solid block or as granular activated carbon. It takes time for water to pass through, and as it does, the carbon absorbs impurities. Eventually, the carbon becomes saturated and can no longer absorb any more. When it reaches this condition, it can contribute even more pathogens to the water than are already in it. The symptoms of a saturated filter are odorous water, visible sediment in ice and reduced water flow, because water no longer passes freely through the filter.
When to Replace the Filter
Long before the symptoms of saturation become noticeable, the filter is working at less than its peak performance. If your Whirlpool refrigerator has a sensor, it will flash a warning to remind you the filter needs replacement before the filter actually becomes saturated. It's wise to heed this warning, because it means you're already getting less-than-pure water from the dispenser. In the absence of a warning from a built-in sensor after six months, Whirlpool recommends changing the filter anyway. Maintaining this routine is a more reliable way of ensuring water purity than counting on your senses of smell and taste.
Filter in Refrigerator Lining
In all but side-by-side models, the water filter is installed in the top right corner of the refrigerator compartment. To access the filter, you must open the filter cover either by pushing or pulling the tab in the front -- push tabs are identified by the word "push." The cover will swing down to reveal the cartridge; you remove it by turning it counterclockwise a quarter-turn. Install the new cartridge by lining up the indicator line on the filter with the mark on the holder, pushing the threaded end into the holder until it is seated, then turning it a quarter-turn clockwise to lock it in place. Push the cover up until it snaps into place.
Filter in Lower Grille
On side-by-side Whirlpool refrigerator models, the water filter is located behind a door in the grille on the bottom left side of the refrigerator. When you open the door, the filter pops out far enough for you to grip it; pull it straight out. Some water may spill onto the floor when you do this, so have a rag handy. To insert a new filter, first remove the red protective cap -- ensure that the O-rings stay on the tubes on the end of the filter when you do this. Insert the filter with the arrows imprinted in the back pointing toward the left. Push until it's seated, then close the door.