Kenmore Refrigerator Water Filter Light Forever Green

From a track record on Google groups, this looks like a good place to start posting this question.
We have a Kenmore Side by Side Refrigerator with ice and water dispensor that we purchased 2 years ago. We have never changed the water filter. The water isn't slow coming out nor has the ice dispensor depleated in production. The water tastes great... no chlorine flavor. We use it very regularly - probably about 1/2 a gallon+ a day. The filter light is still GREEN.
The manual states that you should change the filter when the light turns red, then mentions that should happen between 6 and 9 months. My wife is insisting that the light is not working since it has never turned yellow or red (in 2 years). But then I point out that the water tastes good and isn't slow coming out.
There is one more thing. A month after we bought it, the fridge was leaking water on the floor underneath it anytime we tried to use the water dispensor. One of Sears' technicians came in and fixed that issue. I doubt he bypassed the filter since I just pulled it out to show my wife and water came out of it. The water had a slight grey tone to it, but I don't see any grey color to the water we drink or to the ice.
My wife called Sears and told them what was going on. They wanted to charge $40 just to send out a technician since it's out of warranty. My wife explained that they were losing money on water filters since I refuse to buy one until either the water tastes chlorinated or the light turns red. The Sears lady just said nothing for a while then asked "well what do you want ME to do about it?"
Please advise.
Thanks. Bri
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You may not be able to tell contamination by taste and the water may not slow even when the filter should be changed.

1. There's no guaranty you'd buy a replacement filter from Sears, they're sold lots of other places. Kind of hard to justify giving something away for free when you *might* reap some benefit from it in the future.
BTW. The service would likely be at least 3-4 times the price of a replacement filter. That means they wouldn't even have a chance to recover their costs for 2-3 years.
2. I don't know why people expect a *1* year warranty to cover failures 2 or more years down the line. 1 year is ONE year? (sorry for the reality check)
3. You never posted what exact model you have to there's no way to tell how your model is designed to work. Many of Sears Kenmore fridges are built by Whirlpool and *some* Whirlpool models are suppose to monitor both duration (time) and usage. *IF* your model is so equipped, I would think it is not working correctly.
4. Replace the filter so you can be sure you're not contaminating your family. Monitor the situation and after a set period of time or usage if the indicator does not change, have it serviced and/or replace the filter.
Do NOT rely on taste for flow rate alone to be the judge of when to replace your water filter.
JMO
Dan O. - Appliance411.com http://ng.Appliance411.com/?ref411=Kenmore+fridge
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On Wed, 21 Apr 2004 14:15:24 -0400, "Dan O."

According to what I've read, bacterial contamination only happens in charcoal filters when there are air pockets... something you'd expect in a pitcher filter, but not for fridges. Other contaminates like the metals would eventually "break through", but really, they're filtered out at the municipal water supply.
Besides, there's nothing on the filter that directly indicates it being charcoal. It just says "Mechanical and Chemical Reduction Filter". I suppose that's what it is considering the price range ~$30. http://www.fridgefilters.com/whirlpool-4396510.html

I understand that in this regard, Sears loses out on no money since I could get my filters anywhere. I just want to know if anyone out there knows why the light isn't turning red. According to the manual, that means the filter is still good. And the water tastes great... And the water flow/ice production is still as good as the day we got it (actually better since it was fixed soon after we got it). That's three for four. The only thing outstanding is that the manual states the light should turn red between 6 and 9 months of being reset when a filter is replaced and that didn't happen.
"When should the Whirlpool 4396510 refrigerator filter be replaced?
This Whirlpool filter should be replaced:
Every 6 months or When the filter change indicator light comes on or If the refrigerator has not been used for more than two weeks (for instance, during a move) or If you notice a decrease in the flow of water or objectionable tastes in the water or ice. "

I personally don't expect anyone to grant "free" service after a warranty period has expired. However, I have had people offer repair service on items that were defective and RECALLED years after the warranty expired. Neither my wife nor I knew if that were the case and it never hurts to ask. Besides, we were just fishing for some advice like "oh, yeah. That light is not reliable." or "Press the filter reset light for 5 minutes while waving a rubber chicken over your head and chanting 'softer side of Sears... softer side softer side...'"
Geeesh! You and that Sears woman need to calm down and stop jabbing people. It's not like you're talking to a third grader.

Good point. It's Model 106.51262102 and requests filter WF-NLC250 or WF-LC400. The current filter doesn't specify which kind it is, only that it's part number 46-9902, which can be found from the link http://www.fridgefilters.com/whirlpool-4396510.html

Contaminating them with what? It sounds like unfiltered water is much safer by how you keep going on about contamination.

I don't rely solely on taste .... I rely on multiple factors. Taste being one of them, but also the indicator light and the water flow/ice production. Had the light been green and the water taste good, but the flow and production gone down, I would have replaced the filter by now. If the water flow was good but tasted bad, I also would have replaced it. Actually... had the light turned red at all, I would have replaced it right away. The only thing that indicates we should change the filter is a manual that says "6 to 9 months", and as you stated before, Sears (the company that produced the manual) is only out for money so why should I trust them?
Has anyone had problems with their light not changing colors? The only issue I've found is that people complain of it turning too soon (like within 3 months after a filter is replaced and the light is reset).
What mechanism is used on this model 106.51262102 to determine what color the light should be? Is it through some arbitrary timer? Through some simple water analysis (electrical current comes to mind since pure H2O carries none, only the metals and minerals dissolved within water cause it to carry current, and it wouldn't require a replaceable pH indicator). I have no idea what these water filter systems out there are using to determine when they should be replaced.
I'm sure I could do some water tests on it for pH, chlorine, metals and bacteria. Are there any other tests I should perform to make sure this water is safe from "contamination"... and please explain what type of contamination you are talking about. If it's so serious, I need to know. There are no health warnings on the filter and no EPA or FDA statements to indicate it being dangerous to "over use" a filter.
Thanks, Bri

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This is from the Amana web site about their refrigerators:
Some Amana refrigerator models have an internal water filter system. The filter cartridge requires some care and maintenance with usage. We recommend replacing the cartridge when the water filter indicator light on the door dispenser turns red or every 6 months, whichever comes first.
Note the last statement. I imagine the same advice applies to the other fridge manufacturers too.

A "recall" is something entirely different. If not corrected the manufacturer could be liable even after a warranty has expired.

None that I know of are not an absolute guaranty of the filter needing to be changed. That is likely why the manual tells you the conditions when the filter should be replaced, "Every 6 months OR when the filter change indicator light comes on OR if the refrigerator has not been used for more than two weeks OR you notice a decrease in the flow of water OR objectionable tastes in the water or ice."
I take that to mean when ANY of the conditions are present, not all or even more than one is.

I can't even locate what controls the water filter indicator on that model, it may be part of the 'adaptive defrost control' # 2213476 (current # 2252148). The most diligent mechanisms I'm aware of are said to monitor just the installed time and amount of water dispensed. I don't know what formula they base the indicator light change on.
You'll either have to contact Sears or Whirlpool (whom made that particular model for Sears). If you can find out which part is responsible you may be able to look up its patent to see exactly how it determines when to change the colour of the water filter indicator lights.
You can read a couple of Whirlpool's water filter indicator patent's abstracts at the following link:
http://tinyurl.com/2c2mj
Dan O. - Appliance411.com http://ng.Appliance411.com/?ref411=Kenmore+fridge
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Thanks again, Dan O. for your help on this.
On Thu, 22 Apr 2004 15:18:41 -0400, "Dan O."

apply, considering that other refrigerators mention the "whichever comes first". Why wouldn't Sears put that in their manual?

That was the point I was trying to make. If an over-used filter really is a health risk, and their manual only indicates that the filter should be changed when the light turns red, then this defect on their part is impacting health.
That also brings me to the other question from earlier. What type of contamination are we talking about here? Are they high doses of mercury or lead? Both of those metals are cumulative and the filter only releases what it was once given ... if those elements ever break through from the charcoal being over-saturated.

I understand you're saying it's not a pick and choose situation. I'm saying that other than the "6 to 9" months that the manual states the light should turn red within during normal use, every indicator shows that the filter is good. Water is fresh tasting. Flow is good. Ice is good. Light is on. Haven't left it alone for 2 weeks. It just seems odd to "fix" something that doesn't seem broken. Yet, it seems fishy that the light hasn't even turned yellow by now. Especially if it were on a timer or registering water flow, or both.

Great idea. I'll look through the patents to see what may be helpful. And thanks again for your input.
-Bri
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Reading the patent came up with some very interesting information regarding the functionality of the water filter regulator. It appears that it is both time and water volume based. That water volume is calculated by a product of time that a valve is open and the expected volume of water per time unit. The patent mentions that the expected volume per time unit is a precalculated number, though it doesn't mention how or when it is calculated. I figured that this may be where things went wrong, but reading further gave very specific information about how the processor responds to the button. Below are the two paragraphs talking about it:
-- BEGIN BLOCKQUOTE -- If the fresh food door 20 is detected as closed, then diagnostic subroutine 320 is run. At step 312, the green LED die is illuminated if the water dispenser valve 54 is open. At step 324, the red LED die is illuminated if the water valve 52 to the ice making apparatus 48 is open. If both valves 52 and 54 are open, both LED die are illuminated and the status indicator 66 appears amber. The diagnostic subroutine 320 permits detection of malfunctions of the water valves 52 and 54 or the water filter status monitoring and indicating system 70 by a service technician manually by depressing the light switch 26 and selectively operating the valves 52 or 54, the service technician can isolate faults in the system.
Referring to FIG. 8, the reset subroutine 350 determines at step 352 if the light switch 26 has been depressed 5 times in less than ten seconds, indicating the user is sending a reset instruction to the microprocessor device 140. The user should do this when the filter is replaced. If a reset instruction has been detected at step 352, then the time and water usage counters are reset to zero at step 356 and stored to non-volatile memory at step 358. However, if the system has already been reset, within the last 10 seconds, that is, a reset instruction has been sent twice, then, at step 354, the microprocessor device reads the input as an instruction that a different type of filter is being used and changes the model setting from a model A to a model B. Finally, at step 360, the indicator is illuminated red or green to indicate the model setting. -- END BLOCKQUOTE --
Trying the diagnostic subroutines came back with a false green light. Reseting the device twice to change its filter type also consistantly returned a green light. And even more obvious, the green light never went off even while the button was pressed.
Can anyone verify that the green light should go off while the button is pressed? If so, then it's an obvious defect in the sensory system and I will likely need to bring in a technician. If not, then I might be misinterpreting the patent.
Thank you all very much for your help, -Bri
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On Thu, 22 Apr 2004 20:53:50 GMT, Bri Gipson < snipped-for-privacy@aol.com> wrote:

>Thanks again, Dan O. for your help on this.
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You do not know for sure that that patent applies to the system in use *on your refrigerator model* which is why I suggested you try to find out what component is actually responsible for the water filter indicator lights on it and try to find the patent for *it*.
Whirlpool has thousands of patents, many of which are for similar products/components but which are different enough to warrant a patent of their own.
JMO
Dan O. - Appliance411.com http://ng.Appliance411.com/?ref411=Whirlpool+fridge
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Bri, I have a model 106.58587890 with a similar set up. When I press the button both the refrigerator light and the green light go off. My light turns red about every 6 months. I suspect yours is defective.
The Wobulator
*Please REMOVE the obvious for my correct email address*
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Bri Gipson wrote

But that's *not* what you said the manual says (I don't know I don't have the manual),
"Every 6 months OR when the filter change indicator light comes on OR if the refrigerator has not been used for more than two weeks OR you notice a decrease in the flow of water OR objectionable tastes in the water or ice."

I assume whatever the filter was filtering out in the first place plus any aditional bacterial growth (if any). This is from another web site http://www.cmhc-schl.gc.ca/en/burema/gesein/abhose/abhose_041c.cfm
One of the drawbacks of filters is that if not used according to the manufacturers specifications, they will allow previously filtered contaminants to be released into the water. Moreover, the build up of organic matter on the filter can promote bacterial growth in very short periods of time, such as overnight. Studies have shown that levels of bacteria present in water that has passed through an improperly maintained home filtration device may be up to 2,000 times higher than levels in unfiltered water.

If that's what your filter is filtering, than it may be a possibility. I suppose the only way to know for sure would be to get an actual sample tested.
Dan O.
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I have a kenmore refidgerator with filter. Everytime I change the filter I date it. So I know that my light turns red every 9 months. Seems to be fairly consistant.

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Turning red every 9 months is consistent with the manual. Dating the filter is a good idea. Of course, in this case, I know that the filter was installed the day the refrigerator was, which was about 2 years ago, and the light is still green. I did some diagnostics that were indicated in the filtration monitor patent which appear to be conclusive that it's malfunctioning.
A question for you: When you open the door to the fresh food section and hold down the light button, does the filter indicator light also turn off, or just the light to the fridge compartment? The patent implies that the light would turn off while the button is depressed.
Thanks, Bri
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On Thu, 22 Apr 2004 16:13:39 -0500, "JMagerl" < snipped-for-privacy@hotmail.com>
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when I open the door and push the button, everything goes off. Light bulb, filter light, and the blue temperature setting LED's.

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Naugahyde wrote:

and when it turns yellow and then red you change the filter and reset the light by quickly pushing the plug in about four or five times... this resets the light.... do you have any kids that play with the light plug(all they have to do is push it in a few times every now and then and it will never turn red or yellow)....
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Sounds exactly like what I have. The kids are all little (4 years old and under) and can't reach the plug/button and none of us open and close the refrigerator door 5 times within a minute... the kids aren't even allowed to open the fridge doors.
How long did it take for your light to turn from green to yellow and from yellow to red?
Perhaps that button is stuck or something. I'll check it later today.
Thanks, Bri
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