Water dispenser in the fridge door: how's that working out for you?
August 18, 2016 10:56 AM   Subscribe

Your fridge dispenses water from its door, and you've had it for at least a few years. Are you happy to have a water-dispensing fridge? Anything you wish you'd known about it earlier? Do you do anything special to clean or maintain the waterworks?
posted by kalapierson to Home & Garden (41 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Taken mine apart many times when it froze up over the years. 9 years in that didn't help any more. Three years of bottled water later I'll never buy an in door dispenser again. GE builders low end fridge.
posted by tilde at 11:00 AM on August 18, 2016 [2 favorites]

We had one for six and a half years and loved it. We just moved to a new house that has a fridge without in-door water and ice and we miss it dearly. When we had the fridge with the water dispenser, we drank so much more water because it was so convenient, was cold, and tasted great. It required no maintenance other than replacing the filter every 6 months or so. In our experience, the expensive name brand water filters resulted in better tasting water and ice, so we went ahead and sprung for those.
posted by zsazsa at 11:01 AM on August 18, 2016

My refrigerator water dispenser is my best friend, and my emergency contact.

It came with the house so we didn't shop around, but something I didn't anticipate is that the water comes out just tap temperature. I guess it's just a water line running through a filter, but if you like cold filtered water, get a model that dispenses/crushes ice too so you can add it to a glass. Mine also has an indicator of when the filter needs replacing, which is nice.
posted by Drosera at 11:02 AM on August 18, 2016 [1 favorite]

I never had the in-door water dispenser until we bought our house 13 years ago. I could NOT live without it now!!! I love it, I drink a lot of water and its the perfect temperature, lightly filtered.

we've never done anything to our maintenance-wise...maybe we should? idk
posted by supermedusa at 11:06 AM on August 18, 2016

We added a waterline and bought a new fridge to just have water. We use it multiple times a day, every day. It is amazing. We don't change the filter very often - we have good tap water, it's mostly for automatically cold water without having to deal with it (I don't like the temperature of tap water, and Ice is a pain in the ass). (In contrast to Drosera, our does come out colder than tap water, at least for a couple glasses at once, so it must have a refrigerated reserve).

I love it, I would not buy a house/fridge without one again.
posted by brainmouse at 11:06 AM on August 18, 2016

I thought it was a big deal. And I sort of figured well, we're going to have the ice maker anyway...

I honestly think my next fridge will not have a door dispenser. I hate my fridge for many reasons, but one of them is the sheer fucking real estate eaten up by a) the giant filter up in the top corner of the fridge b) the dispenser chute and mechanisms in the freezer door. I can open the freezer to get ice, and in a previous house I had a Pur dispenser on the sink faucet and was perfectly happy getting my filter water from there. (To be fair, we live in an area where the city water is pretty decent to start with, and in fact I generally just drink sink water myself.)

My husband always gets his water out of the door, which drives me nuts because it means he's standing there forrrrrrrrever in my way. It's slow, he does not realize how rarely I change the filter because they are $50 from Discount Filters, and the water is only briefly passing through the refrigerator, it's not that much colder than the sink water.

If the next fridge did not lose so much space to that stuff, I'd probably reconsider. I hate the current 2-year-old fridge so much that I can surely expect to get decades of use out of it, which means ice and water will be delivered via some sort of UFO device or transdimensional portal by then anyway.
posted by Lyn Never at 11:10 AM on August 18, 2016 [3 favorites]

Love it, love it. I don't think we'd do without now. One nice feature on ours is that we can have regular ice cubes come out, or it can chop up the ice, which is nice for some drinks. It's also pretty helpful for little persons of a young age who need to get their own drink of water, as it's lower access.
posted by SpacemanStix at 11:11 AM on August 18, 2016 [1 favorite]

My husband and I still talk about how much we miss having a fridge with a water dispenser. That was... seven and a half years ago.
posted by Metroid Baby at 11:11 AM on August 18, 2016 [1 favorite]

we've never done anything to our maintenance-wise...maybe we should? idk

You should change the filter occasionally. With ours, at least, old filters lead to really slow water flow, which gets annoying. With a good filter in place, a glass of water fills up quickly.
posted by mr_roboto at 11:15 AM on August 18, 2016 [1 favorite]

A few years ago I noticed that the water dispenser tubing in our refrigerator (visible only when the drawers are removed) has become contaminated with some sort of red microorganism, maybe Serratia marcescens. It's the sort of thing that bleach alone may not be sufficient to remove; you need to scrub out the biofilm. Of course, that's impossible inside the tubing. I won't drink water from that dispenser any more. I don't like to drink water from other people's refrigerator dispensers now, either, unless their refrigerators are pretty new.

More recently, my kid (without my knowledge at the time) refilled my Brita water filter pitcher from the fridge water dispenser so it started growing the same red stuff, while stored at refrigerator temperatures. Before discovering this, I found that the water in my bedside water glass would develop a stale flavor after sitting for a few hours, evidently thanks to the contamination. I had to remove the filter from the Brita pitcher and replace it, and bleach and scrub the pitcher itself.
posted by artistic verisimilitude at 11:18 AM on August 18, 2016 [1 favorite]

When I lived in a house without one, I felt like I was living in the dark ages.

We have one now. I change the filter regularly, about every 6 months. I buy the filters bulk online. It's also great for kids, because they can fetch their own drinks.
posted by gnutron at 11:19 AM on August 18, 2016 [1 favorite]

We have one, but because Reasons we have one where you have to open the door to get cold water, and the ice is still in the freezer. (Similar to this, but not exact.) LOVE IT. The water is cold, so we generally don't want the ice, so that's no big deal. And you don't get that whole "the door dispenser takes up too much space" thing happening.
posted by BlahLaLa at 11:23 AM on August 18, 2016 [1 favorite]

So we have one that's actually inside the fridge as opposed to outside the fridge, and we're pretty happy with it. It takes up zero room so we lose no space on the fridge door. We never end up with spilled water on the floor or anything like that.

The only issue is that it's in an awkward spot within the fridge. We have french doors on our fridge, and it's on the side of the fridge on the left side. You would think you need to only open the one door to get to it, but you need to open both in order to actually reach and angle yourself to fill your glass.

We live in Seattle, so outside of this week, we rarely have a need for on-demand ice into the glass - having auto-filled tray in the bottom of the freezer is perfectly fine for our use case.

On preview - I feel 100% in agreement with BlahLaLa.
posted by chillin411 at 11:25 AM on August 18, 2016 [2 favorites]

A friend recently mentioned a repair person told them the only time you should get an extended warranty on a fridge is when you get one with the dispenser.
posted by griphus at 11:25 AM on August 18, 2016

Mine is at least a decade old and it's a little weird (it's a TLG something something). It does cold water, crushed ice and ice cubes. There's a touch panel above it and then you have to press a glass against the back of the dispensing area to get water. It's non-intuitive. You have to replace an expensive filter inside the fridge every six months or so. Replacing the filter is challenging but after the first few times I got used to it. It does take up a lot of space in the fridge & freezer. I also live somewhere humid and there are occasionally little drips that can turn into 1. a puddle that sloshes when you open the door, or 2. little fuzzy mildew if you don't clean it enough. Our local water is OK though so sometimes I don't even bother and just drink it from the tap.
posted by jessamyn at 11:34 AM on August 18, 2016

Got one with brand new Whirlpool fridge in house we bought. I don't see how it's such a big improvement. The crushed ice goes all over the floor and the water's not very cold. And it does take up a lot of room in the freezer. I'd just as soon have ice cube trays and a filter on the sink.
posted by scratch at 11:35 AM on August 18, 2016

we had 2-3 such fridges over the years at my last job and no matter how often the filters were changed, the water eventually always tasted terrible, presumably from the tubes getting crapped up with sediments or rust or whatever. as mentioned above, this is next to impossible to clean out.
posted by poffin boffin at 11:35 AM on August 18, 2016 [1 favorite]

My parents had a water dispenser on the last fridge they had, which they had to replace about a year ago. Out of curiosity, before the guys came to haul the old one away, my dad took apart the water mechanism thing. He found what he figured was mold growing alllll in the tubing throughout the fridge. And my parents are both neat freaks and replaced the filter probably more than was recommended.

Anyway, they immediately canceled the purchase of the replacement fridge that had water on the door and bought one without it. My dad bought a Brita filter and all is right with their world once again.
posted by cooker girl at 11:38 AM on August 18, 2016 [2 favorites]

I like it but wouldn't miss it. The challenges/costs of changing the filters, the mental concern of what's growing in the tubes, the space it takes up in the freezer, the spill over of ice cubes onto the floor, the water is not that much colder than tap and now the ice dispensing portion is not working anyway....ours is about 10 yrs old.
posted by beaning at 11:39 AM on August 18, 2016

We just moved from a house with a water/ice dispenser in the door of the (fancy Samsung) fridge to an apartment that just has an ice maker in the freezer. I liked having cold water on demand where I didn't have to have ice, and my husband liked having a lot of ice available anytime. The ice chute malfunctioned on a regular basis, and the fridge was fewer than two years old. I miss my cold water, but not enough to want to go back.
posted by Night_owl at 11:57 AM on August 18, 2016

I hate it. It's #5 on the infinite of things I want to change about our house right now. There is no room in the freezer because of it and I already have running water in my kitchen. Plus, nearly all our glasses are too shallow so it splashes everywhere.
posted by crush-onastick at 12:19 PM on August 18, 2016

Same experience as tilde: it froze over, when I was out of town and didn't use it for a while. This was a decade ago, so maybe there are advances in water dispenser technology.

The water where I live tastes like bleach, so I installed an under-the-sink filter that filters all the cold water in my kitchen. I prefer that method.
posted by The corpse in the library at 12:47 PM on August 18, 2016

The water dispensor is fine, albeit not really cold; just a filter. The ice maker is a problem. We live in a very hard water area, and my wife watches her sodium intake. A water softener for 28 grains will add about 200 mg of sodium per liter of water. Adds a burger's worth of sodium for the whole day of water, so we just used the hard water. No problem in 4 hours with the despensor, but after 2, the ice maker would no longer work because ice would refuse to come out of the tray. It's ... difficult to clean (well, attempt to clean), and sadly the only parts option is to replace the entire unit at $200. For 2 years of use, that's sadly an economic win for this $4/week average ice consumning family.

Our ice/water dispensor is on the left door of a two door fridge (freezer's on the bottom). The shelves on that door are less deep, but they're still useful for condiments, even if less useful than the right hand shelves. I.E. the space lost is not too bad.
posted by nobeagle at 12:47 PM on August 18, 2016

I wouldn't buy a fridge without it.
posted by trbrts at 12:49 PM on August 18, 2016

I prefer the filter that's an add-on to your sink plumbing with a dedicated spigot (not one of the contraptions that you put on your regular faucet). The filters go under the sink and don't take up precious freezer or fridge real estate. Plus, I can use that filtered water for cooking and boiling far more easily as I can easily fit a pan or kettle under the spigot.

I won't ever get an in-door water dispenser or even ice maker because I know 2 people who had the plumbing portion fail while they were on vacation. The result was massive flooding, horrible damage to the house, massive insurance red tape, mold treatment, and significant remodeling. I know it's a freak thing, but knowing two people who went through that kind of nightmare has made me realize that in-fridge water and ice isn't that important to me. I can use my sink spigot and make ice or buy ice.
posted by quince at 12:52 PM on August 18, 2016

Great for kids, great for really cold water, great for ready-cooled soda stream drinks. A fridge without a decent water/ice maker is just a basic survival tool, I would never be without one. We're in a part of NZ where the water is good so never changed the filter in ten years in our previous LG, now bought a Samsung for the new place and doubt the filter will need changing here either.
posted by tillsbury at 12:53 PM on August 18, 2016

The refrigerator repairman told me that 90% of his calls these days are for the water filters and ice machines, and he advises to just buy a regular fridge if you want something that lasts. I also knew a family that had massive flooding in their house from a fridge water dispenser that malfunctioned. And I like my water room temperature because I'm strange, ha. But everyone else I know that has them will never ever ever do without again.
posted by umwhat at 1:00 PM on August 18, 2016 [1 favorite]

I hated ours. When filling a glass of water from the faucet, I would generally run it for a few seconds to clear the stale water from the line, but the refrigerator doesn't do that. The water is pulled from the water pipes as needed and will then continue to sit in the cheap plastic pipe that leads to the fridge. It tasted bad in the afternoon, but worse in the morning when the water hadn't been running for a while.

We moved, and I installed a reverse osmosis filter under the sink. I switched out our kitchen faucet for one where the spray head is built into the main faucet and used the hole in the countertop left from the old spray head to mount the new filtered water spigot. AMAZING difference!
posted by defreckled at 1:31 PM on August 18, 2016

We have one in our house, but had to disconnect it after our dog figured it out. We came home to water all over the floor too many times. We never used the ice dispenser because I hate ice in drinks. My husband just uses whiskey stones instead.
posted by Elly Vortex at 2:14 PM on August 18, 2016 [3 favorites]

If you don't have kids, grandkids or visitors, a water dispenser would probably be ok. I've had several of them but dislike them because they drip, get limed up, and can start to taste funny if you don't keep up on the filter replacement. I finally bought a refrigerator with no water or ice in the door but a very large bin for ice in the pull-out bottom freezer. I love it - for me it's the perfect solution.
posted by summerstorm at 3:32 PM on August 18, 2016

I like mine. I put in the filter bypass and put a cheap commercial filter between the waterline and the back of the fridge. It's a lot cheaper than the proprietary filter that goes inside the fridge. I do find the water reservoir (the part of the tubing that is in the fridge making the water cold) can't quite meet the demand if more than 1 person is getting a glass or 2 of water at a time, so the person who goes second is likely to get water that isn't quite as cold.
posted by willnot at 3:38 PM on August 18, 2016

Our well puts out the best water in the world at 60 degrees year round. I infinitely prefer water running out of the tap either straight up or over ice from the ice dispenser, as opposed to using the water dispenser. Most people comment that the door water is very good, but husband and I think it tastes stale unless you run a quart or so out. I would NEVER live without an ice maker in the door. Our Amanda lasted 16 years until the compressor went out. We replaced the ice maker guts once. Will see how long the new one lasts.

OH, and for the love of all that's wet, get copper tubing. Plastic gets gunked up and tastes disgusting after no time. Copper apparently has antimicrobial properties. I even made husband split some in half so I could look at it.
posted by BlueHorse at 4:20 PM on August 18, 2016

We have one of the inside-the-fridge ones, too, and I (like BlahLaLa and y chillin411) lurve it so, so much. It doesn't take up extra space, it provides cold, filtered water all the time, and it's much, much better than tap water. Our fridge also has an ice maker, but we almost never use the ice because we have cold water from the fridge and we mostly drink beer and wine and not mixed drinks.

I have also always been pretty skeptical of the benefit of the front-of-door water dispensers -- they always seem to get so grody and crusty over time, and seem so hard to clean -- so the inside-the-door kind was a revelation to me.

A+++ would buy again.
posted by devinemissk at 7:06 PM on August 18, 2016

We have one and love it. Ours also has a built-in Sodastream so it does fizzy water as well as regular water plus ice. We have to change the filter every 6 months or so and the soda cartridge about once a month (costs $15) but we'd spend way more on bottled carbonated water for my husband than it costs to run.
posted by marylynn at 7:57 PM on August 18, 2016

We had one, and it was awesome. We replaced the filter once a year. It got temperamental for a while and would get stuck while dispensing water, resulting in panic mode "oh god, our house is flooding" antics. Then it finally died last month, and we were sad. It would grow mold somehow around the black ice dispenser rubber chute, though, and I definitely did not clean that enough to remedy the situation. We're not going to fix the dead dispenser because the fridge is over 10 years old at this point.

Last week we bought a Brita pitcher and are reliving our apartment days and using up the old stockpile of filters that I couldn't figure out how to donate. It's ok, but I miss having cold water come out the door.

Will our next fridge have one in the door? I don't know.
posted by Maarika at 9:24 PM on August 18, 2016

I had one when I first moved into this house, which developed a totally disgusting mold/contamination issue similar to those described by artistic versimilitude and cooker girl. I hated that fridge anyway (the ice dispenser took up half the space in the freezer, I swear to god) so I got a new one w/o water/ice dispenser and bought a water cooler instead. LOVE it. Dispenses both cold and hot filtered water on demand, very easy to clean. The only downside is that it does entail lugging big bottles of water around, but then that's a fantastic full-body exercise, so I just count it against my gym time.
posted by Kat Allison at 8:02 AM on August 19, 2016

We have a side-by-side fridge and freezer combo with water and ice dispensing out of the front/outside of the fridge. I hate it.

Neither the fridge, nor the freezer are wide enough and the filters are stupidly expensive.

The ice maker and ice cube hopper are on the door. The ice dispenser always gets jammed up with the ice partially frozen into a monolithic block. Google tells me it's a very common problem.

I've seen water dispensers IN the fridge (from the interior wall), and internal ice makers that dispense into a bin rather than out of the door. I would buy one of those next.
posted by KevCed at 11:29 AM on August 19, 2016

We have one of the few French door fridges that would fit in our small space and have a water dispenser in the door. All the reviews online said it was a stellar fridge except for how slow the water comes out. I poo-pooed that and thought people were just being picky. "How slow can water be?" I thought...

Well, it turns out that I could probably walk to the Mississippi River, get a glass, sanitize the water, and walk home before the water dispenser in our fridge filled up a glass. Granted I live in St. Louis but the river's a solid hour or so walk away.

I loved in-door water with other fridges when it was faster than molasses. Now, I don't use it so much. So read the reviews and listen to them.
posted by teleri025 at 12:19 PM on August 19, 2016 [1 favorite]

If you don't need the water to be filtered, or if you don't want to replace the filter regularly, you can sometimes get a bypass kit so the water is cold but not filtered. Bacteria and stuff can grow in the filter medium if you don't change it regularly.
posted by needs more cowbell at 8:58 PM on August 20, 2016

Love having one for all the reasons already stated.

Maintenance wise - if the water line is plastic and if you can, replace it with something more durable. And if you can't, and it springs a leak - replace the entire line, don't just splice in a new segment.

Old house - plastic line running ~10feet up from copper piping in basement. Sprung a leak one day. Over the next several months had 3 or 4 more leaks. Had to redo drywall in basement bathroom as a result (glad I was lazy and didn't do the replacement immediately, cause of the subsequent leaks).

New house - PVC running up to a junction right behind the fridge with a cutoff valve there, flexible metal tubing from there to the fridge. I feel much safer with this one than with the others.

So yeah. The common tiny plastic tubing = catastrophic failure just waiting to happen in my opinion.
posted by ish__ at 10:32 AM on August 21, 2016

Annnnnnnd the children just reported that its healed itself and works just fine.
posted by tilde at 5:46 AM on August 26, 2016

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