Shower Diverter Information

If you are looking for information about a shower diverter, the most likely reason is because your shower started leaking water, or the shower handheld head is not producing water at the desired pressure. This is often caused by a leaking or non-functional shower diverter, a humble valve that is responsible for water actually reaching your showerhead, and allowing you to have a shower.

What is A Shower Diverter?

Shower Contraption

Shower Diverter Contraption (credit: Afroswede)

Many homeowners choose a dual bathtub/shower combination for their bathroom, as it’s a great way to save space and still be able to enjoy a relaxing bath in the evening. A shower diverter is a plumbing valve used to divert water from one shower head or water output to another. You would, for example, use a hand shower diverter to direct the flow of water from a static overhead shower to a handheld shower head whose flow you can direct. It can also be used to divert water from a bath faucet to an overhead shower to allow for a handheld head to be used on your bathtub, removing the need for a separate shower installation.

How Does A Shower Diverter Valve Work?

English: American water tap. Lower lever contr...

shower diverter valve (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

A valve is placed on the connection between the tube faucet and the shower arm, and its function is to allow water to pass either towards the faucet or towards the shower hear. A knob or lever is used to open and close the faucet opening. If the faucet line is open, water won’t have enough pressure to go up the shower arm and to the overhead shower and you will get water through the faucet and into the bathtub. If the valve is close, however, the water will have nowhere else to go and the water pressure will force it up to the shower. If your tub faucet leaks and water from the hand held shower head doesn’t have enough pressure,  the most likely reason is a worn shower diverter that can’t withstand water pressure and opens enough to let some water run through the faucet.

Types of Shower Diverter Valves

The most commonly found diverter for shower is a two-outlet diverter, which basically toggles water between the water supply line and the shower head or hand-held shower. However, there are diverters with many more outlets, suitable for luxury bathrooms with multiple overhead shower heads.

A shower diverter valve can come in two different styles: tub spout or manifold. A tub spout valve actually redirects the water flow from the main one to the shower head, whereas a manifold shower diverter is actually part of the faucet and sends water from it to the shower head.

Shower | No. 2

Shower | No. 2 (Photo credit: PhotoAtelier)

You can easily identify a tub spout diverter because it looks like a button, knob or lever on the main water supply to the bathtub faucet. A manifold hand shower diverter is part of the main faucet and it’s usually in the middle of the cold and hot water handles.

Shower diverter valves are generally pretty inexpensive and easy to replace if they stop functioning normally.

Troubleshooting a Hand Shower Diverter

The first sign of something not being right with your shower diverter valve is usually leaking water. This can happen to most valves over time due to use, and it’s generally easy to fix by tightening the screws on the valve. In most installations, the valve will either be part of the faucet or will be hidden inside the bathroom wall, with only the controls being accessible outside the wall. The most common problem with this kind of valve is either excessive wear and tear or accumulation of sediment and dirt that can be removed by washing with a small wire brush and vinegar.

A drop detatching from a dripping faucet. Imag...

A drop detatching from a dripping faucet. (Photo credit: Dschwen, Wikipedia)

To stop a leak you will need to start accessing the tub spout diverter by removing the controls and the face plate covering it. The valve itself will be right behind the lever that toggles the outlets. There should be two brass nuts on a stem, though sometimes there may be more depending on the complexity of the water circuit. You want to start with cleaning the valve and reassembling it, ensuring that the diverter valve closes all the way. If it doesn’t, it may be cheaper to just buy and install a replacement.

When installing a diverter it’s important to make sure the nuts are properly screwed, and the rubber coverings that are often used to achieve a better seal need to be in good condition. This is the only way of ensuring that the pressurised water goes all the way up the tube to the shower head instead of leaking through to the faucet. Even a minor aperture will cause issues there, and the problem will get worse as more pressurised water gets through the aperture.