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We have a Kenmore Coldspot 106 refrigerator that has a water dispenser. The refrigerator came with our current place. It was working fine for about 9-12 months. Then we installed a whole home water softener.

A couple months after the water softener was installed, the water dispenser slowed down. No big deal, replace the filter right? We replaced it, then it happened again 2 months, slow. Maybe a bad filter? Replaced again, 2 months, slow. We've replaced it about 4 times now.

If we remove the filter, the water pressure is fine. Everywhere else in the house, the water pressure is fine.

Then we had a Sears technician come, checked the line, no kinks or anything he could see. His final recommendation: either spend 600-700 to replace the filter housing ("throw parts at it") or just use it without a filter. My SO doesn't like the idea of using it without a filter.

At this point, I'd rather just buy a new refrigerator than spend 600-700 trying to repair and debug. But I am worried that if it's an issue with the plumbing that a new refrigerator will end up having the same issue. Any thoughts? Thanks in advance.

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Under some conditions of incoming water chemistry (pH, type of iron content, oxygen content), a water softener can actually cause rust to appear in your water when you saw no rust before the softener was installed. If you still have any used-up filters for the refrigerator, cut one open with a hack saw and take a look inside. Full of rust? There's your problem. Have the toilets been getting rust stains or rusty rings at the water level recently too? If so, more confirmation.

The water softener company (if you used one) should have run a full water analysis before doing any work in order to to predict and prevent such an outcome by using equipment that would deal with all contaminants without creating new problems. You should have a talk with the company.

To solve your immediate problem, you could install a separate filter for the water line that supplies the refrigerator. You could use a 2- or 3- canister filter with replaceable sediment and carbon filters. These should be much less expensive and last much longer between changes than the refrigerator filter. Then just remove the refrigerator filter, since the refrigerator will be supplied with filtered water.

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  • Thanks @MTA - so you think that rust might be coming in from the softened water and clogging up the refrigerator filters, thus causing them to need replacing quicker than before? Jan 30, 2022 at 21:39
  • @DarrenAlfonso Yes, that's my conjecture. Easiest way to check is cut open a clogged filter and see if it's full of rust.
    – MTA
    Jan 30, 2022 at 22:04
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    @DarrenAlfonso Further: if you find rust and your SO prefers to use the refrigerator filter, you could instead add a 1-canister "whole house" filter to the refrigerator's water line just for sediment. A very effective wound-string filter element costs only $4-$5 and should last a year. The housing for it is under $20. The refrigerator filter would then never clog and you could change it according to the manufacturer's suggested schedule.
    – MTA
    Jan 30, 2022 at 22:15

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