How Long Does a Water Filter Last?

So let’s say that the water supplied at your household was of a low quality and you decided to install a filtration system. Now both you and your family are happy with the new water provided that tastes great and has beneficial properties for your body, health and even plants or house appliances.

Yet, over the time you see a slight change in your water which might include noticing sediment, discoloration or funny taste.

To prevent the latter it is important to know that in order to enjoy your filtered water simply installing a filtration system is not enough as it requires frequent maintenance.

By this we refer to changing the essential part of your water cleaning system – filter. But how do you know when it is time to change your filter and how long does a water filter last?

On average a water filter lasts up to 6 months. However, the exact lifespan depends on a filtration system you own, primary water condition, and the amount of water that has been filtered.

Also, take into consideration the type of your system as pitcher or under sink filters will need a rather frequent change (every 3-6 months) than a whole house one (every 6-12 months).

To be sure that your filters are being changed on time keep notice of the information provided by the manufacturer as every water cleaning system has different lifespan that depend on different factors which determine the exact period eligible for your filter specifically. Take a look at an estimate filter lifespan depending on its type:

Filtration systemHow often do you need to change its filter
Whole house system6-12 months
Pitcher Cartridge4 weeks
Under Sink system3-9 months
Refrigerator6 months
Shower6 months (every 10k gal)
Fish Tank Cartridge4-6 months (for 10gal tank)

How Often to Change Whole House Water Filters

Whole house water filters need to be changed every 6 to 12 months. However, most of the whole house water filtration systems have several stages of filtration. Therefore, each of these stages have its own separate filter that has to be changed accordingly.

In short, a pre-filter (the one that collects larger particles) has to be changed every 3-6 months, a carbon filter (if present) lasts for 12 months and a post-filter (which concludes a cleaning process) also has the lifespan of one year. Of course there are other options on the market that would need less maintenance throughout the year.

For example, Reverse Osmosis systems are a great option if you are seeking for perfect quality water and less care. Whole house RO system would provide you with 99,9% clean water and would require to change all of its filters (except the membrane) once a year to ensure the maximum effectiveness.

How Often to Replace Pitcher Cartridge

Ideally a pitcher cartridge has to be replaced every 4 weeks. As much as pitcher filters are convenient in their price and availability it comes with a downside of frequent maintenance. Pitcher filters are a great choice for those who have to make an on-the-spot decision to clean their drinking water, yet not a great choice for a long term use.

Although cartridges clean your water effectively from contaminants like zinc, copper and unpleasant tastes its lifespan is very short due to their primitive mechanic way of operation. 

How Often to Replace Under Sink Water Filters

Normally under sink water filters have to be replaced every 3-9 months. However, the actual lifespan of a filter is very much dependent on the pollution level of unfiltered water at your household. These types of filtration systems are a great choice for those who need high quality water supply locally in their house, e.g. kitchen.

Under sink water systems are highly effective and require low maintenance due to their technological advantages. If you are considering installing an Reverse Osmosis system then keep in mind that you can also have an under sink RO system as well as the whole house one.

How Often to Replace Refrigerator Water Filters

Depending on the manufacturer, refrigerator water filters need to be changed every 6 months. Having a water filter or ice maker installed within a refrigerator is a very convenient feature chosen by most families.

However, because this feature is usually used daily the filters that provide you clear water and ice have to be cared for. Changing refrigerator filters at least twice a year will ensure to remove any impurities, contaminants or tastes and odors from the water it supplies.

How Often to Change Shower Water Filters

On average shower water filters have to be replaced every 6 months or every 10.000 gallons of water. This average has been estimated counting the amounts of a daily use of shower water of a family of four.

Shower filters are very important to maintain since they protect your skin from toxic contaminants like chlorine and heavy metals that would damage it and cause dryness. Moreover, untreated shower water would also negatively affect your hair as it would be more prone to dryness, loss of shine and discoloration.

How often to change Fish Tank Cartridge

Fish tank cartridges have to be replaced every 4-6 months for a 10 gallon tank. Therefore, the exact lifespan of a fish tank cartridge depends on the size of your aquarium. An easy way to identify whether a filter cartridge needs to be changed is to notice water flow – once it is decreased you have to change the cartridge.

To prolong the lifespan of your fish tank cartridge consider using RO water which is ideal solution for a fish tank. Because Reverse Osmosis water is completely pure it will decrease workload for your cartridge extending its effectiveness for a longer time.

Factors that Influence the Need of Water Filter Replacement

The lifespan of your filter or cartridge depends on many uncontrolled factors. Learn what they are in order to manage your water systems work effectively:

Type of filter

The lifespan of a filter directly depends on its type. That is because certain types of filters are designed for certain tasks.

So when you have a filter for a whole house system it is made in a way to deal with large amounts of water when on the other hand a pitcher cartridge has a rather primitive design for a quick water cleaning solution in small amounts.

Type of water

Different filters are made to deal with certain contaminants and only to some extent. Therefore, if your water is more polluted your filter has to deal with removing more substances and in larger amounts hence, decreasing its effective lifespan.


The more filtered water you use the more workload your filter has. As every filter has an estimated amount of gallons of water that it can filter, once it reaches its maximum filtration scope it loses effectiveness. Therefore, when using filtered water in large amounts it may reduce the lifespan of your filter.


Depending on the area you live in your water might have more sediment than normal. Filtering out sediment is very hard for your filter and in some cases might simply clog it. If you are aware of the presence of sediment in your water consider using a pre-filter or any other methods to treat the sediment first and then give the rest of the job to your regular filter.

Some systems like RO have sensitive membranes that would be easily damaged by the sediment resulting in a failure of the whole water system.


Water is the main source of health and wellbeing of your body and your house overall. Accordingly, you want to have a device that would filter your water perfectly giving you the best quality possible. To attain this, we advise in choosing water systems and filters from a renowned and certified manufacturer.

In this way you will be guaranteed that your filters work to their maximum capacity and even if any inconveniences occur you will receive full support.

Signs Showing that You Already Had to Change Your Filter

Forgot when was the last time you changed your filter? Follow these signs to identify if your filter needs to be replaced already:

  • Taste: when your filter is failing you might feel a funny taste in most cases resembling metal or flatness
  • Odor: if you feel that your water has an unpleasant smell it might be that your filter had to be changed some time ago since odor comes from growing bacteria or presence of iron and chlorine
  • Color: the change in water color also shows that your water filter is no longer effective since it is not dealing with iron or other particles that mix and create discoloration
  • Low water pressure: if you notice a change in your water flow this means that your filter might be clogged or has a hard time filtering your water, therefore needs to be changed
  • Odd noises: if you hear any odd noises from your filter it might also signify that it is clogged and needs to be replaced
  • Signals: some of the newest models of water filters have special signals that notify when it needs to be replaced. Hence, skim through the manual and find out if your filter has this feature and if so check your filter for any of these signals

Why Should You Replace Your Water Filters Frequently?

Failing to change your water filters frequently might have serious consequences both for you and your whole water system. By not changing the filters you lose all the benefits that a water filter gives.

Hence, an overused filter is not working properly and does not remove all the toxic contaminants from your water meaning that you will consume it with drinks and meals, your skin and hair will be in contact with it by showering, and your pipes and appliances will get damaged as well.

Moreover, not maintaining your filters might result in a failure of the whole water system. If you find it hard to keep up with changing your filters frequently, consider scheduling filter delivery when needed and prevent yourself from any of these inconveniences.


This is my blog about the ways and solutions that can help you improve your health by taking more value from drinking water. As improving health means a lot to me, I decided to create the Water On Top project with the purpose to reveal the benefits of water, the finest products to take our daily water to another level, and much more great stuff about water that I believe is on top of our nutrition.

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