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Drip, Drip, Drip – Fix Your Broken Shower Diverter

plumber fixes old shower faucet on tiled wall at home

The shower diverter is responsible for controlling the water flow between the showerhead and the bathtub spout, so when your shower diverter breaks, it can cause a lot of problems.

To fix the shower diverter, you’ll need to take it apart, clean out any clogs, and replace any broken parts. In this post, I’ll provide an in-depth, step-by-step guide on how to fix a shower diverter.

Also, the video below by Micheal Borders gives a helpful guide.

How to repair replace 3 way Shower Faucet Diverter - FAST & EASY!

1. Identify the Issue

Shower diverters can malfunction for a variety of reasons, including clogs, mineral buildup, and broken or worn-out parts. 

To properly diagnose and fix any issues with your shower diverter, you’ll first need to identify the specific problem you’re dealing with. Here are some common issues that may cause your diverter troubles:

  • Low water pressure: If you’re experiencing low water pressure when using your shower head or tub spout, your shower diverter could be malfunctioning and preventing the water from passing through with enough force.
  • No water flow: If you’ve turned on the shower, but no water is coming out at all or the water is only coming through the tub spout, then your shower diverter might not be switching the water to the right outlet or could be stuck closed.
  • Leaking: If your shower diverter causes water leaks, it could be caused by a worn-out O-ring, damaged pipe, or some other issue. 

Once you’ve identified which issue is causing the malfunction, you’re ready to repair a shower diverter. 

2. Gather Your Tools

Adjustable wrench screwdriver pliers on white background top view, Technician tools on white background copy space

Before beginning any repair work, you must understand what tools you need to complete the job. To fix a shower diverter, you’ll need: 

  • A Phillips head screwdriver
  • An adjustable pliers
  • Pipe cleaners

Depending on the shower diverter you have, you may also need a flathead screwdriver and some lubricant. Make sure you have these items available before beginning your repair job. 

If you don’t have the right tools, it’s best to consult a professional. Most of the time, trying to fix the shower diverter without the right tools or know-how can cause more damage than good.

If you’re comfortable doing the repair job yourself, remember to take safety precautions and wear protective gear such as gloves and eyewear to avoid injuries.

3. Shut Off the Water Supply

Home water supply, hand turn off safety shutoff valve.
Home water supply

Once you have the right tools and safety equipment, it’s time to shut off the water. To do this, turn off the main water valve which is usually located in your basement or crawlspace. 

This will stop water from entering your shower diverter while you make repairs. After shutting off the water, open your shower to ensure no residual water is left in the pipes.

Also, I recommend plugging the drain using a rubber stopper or sealing it off using duct tape if needed. This ensures no small parts get lost in the drain.

4. Remove Shower Knob and Unscrew Shower Diverter Screw

plumber works on diverter on shower faucet valve in shower - Shower Diverter is labeled

Once you have the water shut off and all the necessary tools at your disposal, it’s time to start taking apart the plumbing. Follow this procedure: 

First, take off the knob or handle on the shower diverter. You can do this manually by turning it counterclockwise. This will give you access to the screw that holds the diverter in place.

Next, using a flathead screwdriver, carefully unscrew the shower diverter screw. You may need to apply pressure to the handle or knob while turning it counterclockwise to loosen the screw. 

Then, pull out the handle and shower diverter. Ensure that the washers, o-rings, and other components of the shower diverter remain intact and don’t get lost in the process. If any of them is damaged, they must be replaced before continuing with the repair. When setting things aside, try to keep them loosely assembled. 

5. Inspect Components and Clean Out Any Clogs or Blockages

wrench, disassembled shower faucet valve, diverter, gaskets on concrete board
Wrench, disassembled shower faucet valve, diverter, and gaskets.

Most shower diverters are made of two main parts: the interior valve, and an exterior knob or level. After removing the external apparatus, you’ll need to inspect the valve inside.

First, carefully inspect all the parts of the valve (the clips, cartridge, etc) for any signs of damage, such as rust, cracks, or corrosion. If the valve is damaged or corroded, it’s best to replace it. If not, skip to the 5th step in this list.

Consider that you may need to cut a hole in the wall to access the valve if it needs replacing. A 12-inch square (30cm2) hole should be enough. 

Next, use pliers to pull out the valve clip and set it aside. Some older models use a nut instead of a clip, so you’d need a wrench to remove it. 

Then, pull the valve cartridge out of the wall using pliers, and replace it with a new valve.

Finally, clean out any clogs or blockages. This is best done using a pipe cleaner or a small brush to remove any debris inside the diverter valve. I recommend applying a limescale removing solution to clean up any mineral buildup.

6. Reassemble All the Components in Reverse Order

plumber fixes shower pipe to faucet valve in shower room at home

Before putting your shower diverter back together, it’s important to ensure that all the new parts or seals are properly installed. Make sure there are no cracks or blockages that could prevent the proper flow of water to your bathtub faucet.

Reassembling all the components in reverse order will help ensure they’re properly lined up and secured. 

When screwing in the diverter screw, tighten it securely, but don’t over-tighten it, as this could damage the valve stem. 

When reinstalling the shower knob, ensure it is fully tightened and check for any leaks around the edges. If possible, test the shower diverter valve before putting everything back together to ensure it works properly.

7. Turn on Water Supply To Test New Repair Job

WaterSense Toilets, Shower Heads and Faucets

Now it’s time to turn on the water. Turn on the main valve slowly and monitor for any leaks or drips from the shower head, shower diverter, or tub faucet.

Make sure to dry everything before testing for leaks, and use a paper towel to ensure there is absolutely no water dripping out and that your shower diverter is working properly.

How to Fix a Broken Shower Diverter

If you have any further problems, you may need a shower diverter replacement. But if that doesn’t work, it’s probably time to call a professional plumber.

Tags: plumbing, shower diverter

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