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What is a Shower Diverter?

In many older houses or in remodeled bathrooms, it is common for the bathtub to double as a standup shower. When installing the shower, however, it wouldn't be efficient to create an entirely new water supply pipe to feed the shower head. That's where a diverter valve comes in. A shower diverter, also known as a diverter valve, is a valve that diverts the flow of water from the bathtub faucet to the shower head. Thus, a diverter valve allows you to have a shower and a bathtub in the same space.

How Does a Shower Diverter Work?

A shower diverter valve can come in a few different forms, but they all share the same purpose. The diverter may appear as a pin pulled upward from the bathtub faucet spout, it could come in the form of a third (middle) faucet handle, or it might be a button that has to be pushed or pulled that is located right around the faucet itself. The operation of the device is simple - pulling the pin or handle engages a rubber stopper, which causes the water to flow in a different direction. The pressure created by the action forces the water up toward the shower head, allowing you to enjoy a nice shower from inside a typical bathtub.

Types of Shower Diverter Valves

There are three types of shower diverter valves commonly used today. These include:

  • Three-Valve Shower Diverter: These diverter valves are found in tubs that have separate hot and cold faucet handles with the diverter valve being placed in the middle of them. Turning the diverter valve 180 degrees in a clockwise direction will send hot and cold water to the showerhead while turning it counter-clockwise will send water through the tub.
  • Two-Valve Shower Diverter: This diverter valve is found in tubs that have a single faucet handle or in the middle of two handles. It works in a similar manner to a three-valve diverter as you simply turn it to direct water to the shower or the tub.
  • Single-Valve Shower Diverter: This diverter valve, also known as a tee diverter, is located on the end of the tub spot. Activating it is simple as a person simply pulls up on the diverter which then sends water to the showerhead. Pushing the diverter back to the downwards position will restore water flow to the tub again.

When to Fix a Shower Diverter Valve

Being such a simple part, it's not often that a shower diverters not working or breaks. However, like any moving part, it can and will wear out over time. it is usually easy to tell when this has happened. The most common and obvious sign that the diverter valve has failed is when water continues to flow out of the lower bathtub spout, even though the valve should have engaged the shower head only. This is usually caused by an incomplete seal around the inner stopper, which isn't fully blocking the flow of water out of the faucet. These rubber stoppers can become worn with age, whether due to calcium deposits from hard water, or simple wear and tear.

Call a Professional Plumber for Shower Diverter Issues

A professional plumber can fix shower diverter issues in a snap. It will involve simply disassembling the diverter apparatus and cleaning or replacing the rubber stopper. A plumbing professional might also take this opportunity to inspect other O-rings and gaskets around the faucet, including those in the faucet handles or around where these components attach to the water supply pipes behind the wall.

If your shower diverters not working, call up your local Roto-Rooter plumbing professional today and schedule a repair.