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TDS: Are GE in Fridge Water Filters a Scam?

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endorphin8 View Drop Down
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    Posted: December 05 2013 at 2:28am
I am curious if anyone has taken a TDS meter and tested their fridge inline water filter?

I was replacing my GE MWF water filter in my fridge.  Being the water quality geek I think I must be turning into, like many of you who cared about the heading of this topic enough to read this post, I decided to check the TDS of the new and old filter.  My very surprising results:

Using a baseline, sink water, old filter (unknown age since we purchased fridge with house a year ago), new filter after removing first 3 gallons (install instructions recommend running 1 1/2 gallons before use primarily to remove air from line.  Test was taken multiple times on each test with RO/DI between to verify no existing water contaminates from previous test.

Baseline: RO/DI Water - O ppm
Water from Sink - 347 ppm (test 1)
Water from Sink - 350 ppm (test 2, 2 days later at same time as Filter test 2)
Water from 1yr+ Old GE MWF Filter - 359 ppm
Water from New GE MWF Filter - 365 ppm (test 1 after running 3 Gallons through system)
Water from New GE MWF Filter - 370 ppm (test 2 after installed 2 days, est 15 gallons)

Yes, Water going into fridge was 347-350 ppm, Water after GE MFW Filtration 365-370ppm!!!
Logically I would think the chlorine and contaminates the filter is supposed to be removing should be recognized by TDS.  Realizing that there is clearly something I must be missing, should the filter not logically at least reduce the TDS.  I was expecting the old filter to be a little less than water going in on both new and old filters.  The new filter I was anticipating would be maybe 150-200, or half of whatever TDS going in.  It actually was HIGHER?

So I called GE today now more curious than before what they heck the filter is removing, and even if quality of water is not recognized by TDS meter why it would be higher.  First agent over Large Appliances (Fridges) had no clue, she transferred me to another agent over Small GE Water Products.  He also had no clue and referred me to GE Customer Relations which was closed just after 4pm MST when I called as they are on EST.  So at this time knowing with GE being the huge company that it is, the popularity of the MWF filters in fridges, and FDA controls, that they have to be legit or there would already have been a big class action lawsuit.  In my mind I am still wondering though if the filters are a huge scam. They recommend replacing the filters every 6 months at a cost of $40-50/filter.  Having filters on fridges, there is now a huge consumable revenue generated from a previous one time revenue from large appliance purchase.

So, for those who are still reading this post, whether you admit it or not we now know you are also a "Water Geek" like I am now feeling.  Those reading this thinking "what a geek" I must be who cared enough to test, and the other "English and Grammar Geeks" critiquing my grammar and punctuation have already long given up on reading this far into a long post.  So, what am I missing, fellow geeks?

The instructions and box state the filter does the following:
"Reduces: Mercury, Toxaphene, P-Dichlorobenzene, Carofuran, Endrin, Benzene, Lead, Cysts, Asbestos, Atrazine, Lindane, Chlorine Taste & Odor, Sediment, Tetrachloroethylene"

"Filter Performance:
Chlorine Taste & Odor Reduction 97.5%
Particulate Reduction 99.5%
Cyst Reduction 99.99%
Asbestos Reduction >99%
Atrazine Reduction 94.5%
Benzene Reduction 96.7%
Carbofuran Reduction 98.7%
Endrin Reduction 95.6%
Lead Reduction 99.3%
Lindane Reduction 99%
Mercury Reduction 93.2%
P-Dichlorobenzene Reduction 99.7%
Tetrachloroethylene Reduction 96.6%
Toxaphene Reduction 93.2%
2, 4-D Reduction 99.5%"

I would be thrilled if the filter actually removes even most of this crap above, half of which I have no clue what it is but sounds very scary and dangerous to consume.  I haven't measured Nitrates yet, but you betcha I am now going to.  So, chime in peeps!!!  (Had to add the last two sentences, just for those reading all of this who are both "Water Geeks" and "English and Grammar Geeks".  Logically I would think the TDS number would decrease just from the Sediment it states it removes if the others cannot be detected in ppm from a digital TDS meter.  Other question I wonder is how est 350ppm compare to other cities water in Utah?








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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote ReefdUp Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: December 05 2013 at 5:39am
Try testing bottled water. Usually it is around 150-300 as well.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Fatman Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: December 05 2013 at 7:37am
Dude, 2:30 in the morning? You need to get some rest and quit sniffing glue after dinner.

My place runs at about 280 PPM out of the tap. Same water system too. Weird. Some reading online indicates that running the RO/DI systems we use for our tanks off the water softened line tends to be easier on the filters (for increased longivity) unfortunately my plumber put it on a hard water line when we moved it.

Interesting about the fridge filter. You would think they would take half out and get you to about 150 ppm. Our friends at the vendor will tell you that it gets out the chemicals listed and that the meter you use is not lab grade. I'd test my fridge filter and see what we are getting but someone borrowed my TDS meter and I can't remember who.

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Jake Pehrson Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: December 05 2013 at 8:03am
My guess is this is just a carbon filter.  After water runs through a carbon filter it will pick up some carbon and possibly increase the TDS (especially on a newer filter).  The filter is in place basically for water taste.

If you have an RO unit I would run that to your fridge and use a bypass for the fridge filter.


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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Mark Peterson Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: December 05 2013 at 8:54am
Aloha Brandyn,

LOL what ReefdUp said is amazingly true. Funny thing, I'm so accustomed to drinking RO water that I dislike the taste of bottled water.

There are a lot of water Geek's here. You are in great company.
Your question creates two initial questions in my mind:
What is the size of this GE fridge inline water filter?
What is inside, have you cracked open the old one?

I went online and found that it's ~5" x ~4" and inside is a carbon block.

AC(activated carbon) does remove the chemicals on that list, when they are present. Wink That's the thing, many of the impurities listed do not typically get to us in our tap water here in Utah and others do not come through the pipes in any significant amount. If they did, the city water department would be in trouble for not filtering them out.

I believe this filter removes the small amount of large sediment that might pass through. The occasional large particles could easily equal the listed "99.5%" of all the sediment that is coming through the city water line, so this figure is completely accurate.
I believe that not only is the filter designed to allow smaller particles through, it has a bypass feature, otherwise it would clog and no water would come through, causing consumers to get really upset.
I saw that there is a recently released "improved" filter. Thumbs Up LOL
I believe that most of the $30-$50 filter cost is for profit. Engineering design and marketing is the other part. Materials are possibly <10% of total cost.

Regarding TDS, many of the items listed are not dissolved solids. By far the largest portion of solids that makes up the 350ppm TDS of your tap water are minerals/compounds/molecules containing Calcium and Chlorine. Notice that the filter does not claim to remove either of these. Confused Essentially, the company claims are valid. This claim, if it were listed, would also be valid: "Aardvark Hair Reduction - 100%"  LOL

Yes, the TDS was higher from the new filter because at the time you tested, the new filter media was still rinsing out. The first rinse is the dirtiest. This is why the instructions say to run some water through the new filter and probably says to discard the first ice.

It's crazy, but this Geek would never spend $30-50 on that filter. I would plumb my RO water into my fridge, or at the very least, I would bypass the in-fridge filter and use an easier to replace inline sediment/AC filter outside the fridge. (On my RO unit, I would also check to make sure the Automatic Shut-off Valve is operating correctly.)

From one Geek to another Geek,
Aloha
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote ReefdUp Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: December 05 2013 at 9:10am
Most drinking water filters are designed to leave the minerals behind because they give water a "taste". Ever tried drinking DI water? Ewww... That's also partially why bottled water companies add in minerals (including magnesium sulfate...a laxative....)
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Mark Peterson Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: December 05 2013 at 9:26am
Water out of my kitchen faucet here in Murray, tested just now, reads TDS of 232 ppm.
As I recall, the water at our apartment in Hawaii was around 400 ppm and in Bountiful it was 180 ppm while in the adjacent city of Woods Cross it was what one of our former WMAS Members called "liquid rock" at around 550 ppm. When I lived in St. George, the tap water also tested at over 500 ppm. Within the small city of Centerville, when I lived there, there were 5 water wells. Each had a slightly different TDS reading, so I'm not surprised with the difference between your water and Fatman's water.

Hope this helps.

Aloha,
Mark Hug
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P.S. Though it would be nice to think that public outcry would keep companies honorable, that is, unfortunately not reality. Have you ever read about or seen documentaries about the Monsanto Company? Greed and the conspiracy to make money do in fact reign over this present world, and perhaps more than we realize. The recent recession was clear evidence of this. Keeping secrets to get gain was allowed from the very beginning. Unhappy
As I stand down from my soapbox I am comforted knowing that there is a Plan of Happiness. Big smile
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote ReefdUp Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: December 05 2013 at 9:37am
Endorphin, Fatman, and I are all on the same water, and Fatman and I are direct neighbors. My TDS out of the faucet is nearly 400...each house may have more or less sediment than others (I'm down a little hill from Fatman, so that may cause some extra sediment...who knows.)
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote BobC63 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: December 05 2013 at 10:06am
Refrigerator inline filters are simply carbon filters, they do not have a notable impact on TDS and are really only designed to remove unpleasant tastes / odors fom the water.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Jimbo Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: December 05 2013 at 10:16am
There's been a red light on my Fridge telling me the filter needs replacement for like a year now.......after reading this I feel less guilty about ignoring it lol
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote nsfw dave Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: December 05 2013 at 5:27pm
^ agreed, my inline filter has been there since new (probably about 4 years now) I rarely drink from it though, i normally use the fridge water to fill my brita container.
why do i pick the expensive hobbies.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote bmac2 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: December 05 2013 at 8:03pm
the filters IN your fridge are there for taste.  NOT to make it RO water!!!!   The correct assumption is that your drinking water is drinkable going INTO the fridge.  NOT that some cheapo crap carbon filter will make it that way.  It is for taste, PERIOD!!!

if you have a fridge that the filter makes 0 ppm solids and competes with an RO system, then I want to see it!!!  That is a freaking miracle!!!!  and a marvel of engineering!!!!!
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote endorphin8 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: December 05 2013 at 10:37pm
Thanks for your replies.  Either way, not knowing how old the filter is I will probably keep the new one installed but definitely will change it less often than recommended and next filter I will probably save by purchasing the generic filters.

Bmac, I was not expecting it to be anywhere near 0ppm or to compare to any RO/DI unit, but still would have anticipated it would reduce some of the particles maybe 1/2 of what might be going in, not increase.  Being just a carbon filter makes sense.  I have heard different things about if drinking RO/DI water is a good thing.  I really haven't tasted my RO/DI water yet.  I do know many cities water can change from winter to summer. If I remember right when I lived in Syracuse, I believe the city council or annual water report showed two results due to water during the winter being from wells and from mountain reservoirs during the spring, summer, and fall.

I lived in New York for two years and one thing I just remembers that was ironic and the hardest thing about coming home was getting use to the taste of our water here.  Water in New York was often visually dirty, cloudy or small particles, while Utah water looks clear but tasted like dirt to me for several weeks because all of the minerals we have in our mountain water here.  I do not notice it any more, but can usually tell without looking at label on bottled water if spring or purified water and if minerals added.  Thanks for your comments, was kinda of interesting to see the results and know how it all compares.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Mark Peterson Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: December 06 2013 at 7:52am
Aloha Brandyn,

You said the tap water in NY was not clear, but I am wondering how the taste compared to tap water here in the Rockies?

Remember, we explained why the TDS was initially higher with the new AC filter. It will eventually level out.

Drinking RO purified water cannot hurt you in the slightest. You ought to try it. It doesn't take much getting used to. It's delicious. (it's been ~10 years for me)

Your assumption is logical but looking at how water filtration is accomplished, a filter that could reduce the TDS by 50% would cost pretty much the same as a filter that removes 98%. You already have a purification system that does better than that, so why not run a line of RO-DI water to the refrigerator and pocket the entire cost of refrigerator water filters? There is a noticeable difference between RO-DI filtered water as ice and AC filtered water as ice.

Here is a question for you. Is the additional cost of DI filtration worth it for a reef aquarium or for drinking Question
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote MikeThePsych Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: January 20 2016 at 5:17pm
I have an RO that I plumbed to my fridgidare fridge, with now (3) 40$ filters, and I test the input -3TDS with an HM digital, and I get 500+ with each new one, trying to flush it, but my old one from a year ago, I get 50 TDS.  But it's supplied with 3 TDS water, so the filter is leaching into my water, not helping
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote ttabbal Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: January 22 2016 at 10:10am
Originally posted by MikeThePsych MikeThePsych wrote:

I have an RO that I plumbed to my fridgidare fridge, with now (3) 40$ filters, and I test the input -3TDS with an HM digital, and I get 500+ with each new one, trying to flush it, but my old one from a year ago, I get 50 TDS.  But it's supplied with 3 TDS water, so the filter is leaching into my water, not helping


How is it connected? RO membranes get "TDS creep" sitting for a while, so the first water out of it will always be high TDS. Once I run about a gallon through, I get down to single digits, after a little while longer I get zero from the RO most days. My DI would last a really long time if I installed a DI bypass for the first couple gallons. I'll probably order a valve with my next BRS order. 

For drinking setups, I've read that is why they recommend holding tanks. So that the initial TDS creep is at least diluted a bit. 

If I had 3 TDS water from the tap, I wouldn't bother with RO for drinking. 

I thought about installing a line for the RO to the fridge, but the wife looked at me like she was preparing for violence/divorce. She likes the high mineral content. Ah well, less work for me and "She who must be obeyed" is kept happy. 

For the fridge filters, I came to the same conclusion. Carbon blocks for taste. I've been considering installing a bypass cap and forgetting it's there. 
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