How to get your water filter unstuck

Hand Changing Refrigerator Water Filter

Owning a water filter of almost any kind means occasional maintenance, like replacing worn-out tubing and, most frequently, changing the water filter or cartridge. Usually, switching out an old filter for a new one is a quick and easy job.

However, from time to time this typically simple job can be frustrating and time-consuming because the filter itself becomes stuck and we’re not able to get it out.

In this article, we offer up some useful tips that will help you deal with a water filter that’s stuck in place, whether you have a simple cartridge filter system (e.g. carbon filters or reverse osmosis systems) or a filtration system in your refrigerator.

Of course, in any and all cases, always consult the owner’s manual that came with your water filtration system first. But if the instructions there just don’t seem to work, then consult our list below.

Removing a Stuck Cartridge Filter

Water filter cartridges can become stuck and difficult to remove for a variety of reasons, but the most common by far is that the initial application is too tight. Water filter cartridges have O-rings (or an equivalent) to create a watertight seal, and physically tightening the connection more than a little won’t make the seal any better.

Still, with filters and other mechanical products, many still think ‘the tighter, the better.’ While this might make intuitive sense, unfortunately, it can create an annoying problem – a stuck filter that just won’t budge. Here are some strategies to help:

Removing a Stuck Refrigerator Water Filter

Unfortunately, sometimes water filters that are embedded in your fridge can also get stuck. There are two typical locations of water filters in a fridge, either at the base of the fridge or in the door. We’ll go over what to do if your filter gets stuck for both cases.

Base Filter Stuck

In many fridges, the water filter is located at the base of the fridge, near or underneath the bottom front grille.

If this is the case for your fridge, and you’re attempting to change, remove or fix the filter but can’t seem to remove it, follow these simple steps.

Some fridge water filters are called ‘quarter turn’ filters because you have to turn the cap in order to remove them.  If this sounds like your filter, first, make sure the fridge is turned off and you’ve removed the bottom grille.  You should be able to find instructions on how to remove the grille in the owner’s manual.  Alternatively, try contacting the manufacturer’s customer service department.

Once you can access the filter, place a small cloth over the cap to ensure you don’t damage it, and then use a pair of pliers to grab the front of the filter cap.  Taking care to be gentle and not apply too much force, turn the filter cap a quarter turn to the left (remember, lefty loosey).  In most models, this will align the cap vertically with the rest of the unit.

From here, we should be able to pull the entire filter straight out, and then we can replace it with a new one by putting the cap on the new filter and simply reversing the process.

The other type of base filter is called a push-button filter because removing it requires you to push a nearby release button.  The first step here is also to remove the grille and unplug the fridge.

If the release button isn’t working, try pushing and holding the button and then pushing on the filter.  Alternatively, try pushing on the filter at the same time you push the button, to help it along.

Sometimes, the filter may be halfway out but seems to have gotten stuck along the way.  In such a case, push the filter back into the assembly, and then firmly push the release button again.  This will make filter changes easier in the future and allow the mechanism to fully engage and disengage the filter.

Removing a Stuck Refrigerator Water Filter

Door Filter Stuck

If you’re finding that the water filter on your fridge door is stuck in place, start by closing and reopening the door where the filter is located.

Once the door is completely open, turn off the fridge and relieve some water pressure from the water line by using the water dispenser.  Simply use a glass or another receptacle to pour some water.  Now, try removing the filter again.

Lastly, you can remove the shelf that is below the filter compartment.  After you’ve removed the shelf, try rotating the filter to the left (counterclockwise) and then gently pulling on it to remove it.

Stuck Water Filters

Whether you’re dealing with a stubborn filter in a fridge or a stand-alone cartridge system, we hope that the strategies and tips outlined in this article will help you with your stuck water filter. Happy filter changing!