If you have a bathtub in your home, the chances are that you got a shower diverter installed. The shower diverter valve directs water from the showerhead to the bathtub faucet. It does its job by raising or lowering the gate t either block water from coming in or allow water to come in.
The diverter gate gets worn out with time. It can also get corroded, blocked, or stuck. While sometimes the diverter gate can get so worn out or compromised by hard water, other times the problems are just minor and require simple fixes.
Don't worry if you shower diverter jams or starts producing some creaky or grinding noises as you can easily fix it. This article provides you with a step-by-step guide on how to fix a shower diverter gate.
The Parts of the Shower Diverter
Before you start dismantling and fixing your shower diverter, you have to understand the parts and the purpose of each. The shower diverter has two main components;
- The bathtub spout where water comes out of to fill the tub
- The diverter valve which directs water
The Types of Shower Diverter Valve
There are also different types of shower diverters, and you need to know which one you have in with you before proceeding. The three valves include the Tee-valve, two-valve, and three-valve.
Tee Valve Diverters or Single Valve
If you try to get tutorials on YouTube or other guides on fixing your shower diverters, you'll mostly come across videos using this type. This is because they're the most common in many households.
These shower valves come with a handle that you can pull up to allow water to run from the tub to the shower. If you pull it down, the water will flow to the tub.
These are common with a single handle faucet. They come in a larger and smaller handle. The larger one controls the temperature which the smaller handle controls water flow.
Three Valve Diverter
These diverters are available where there are knobs for hot and cold water. It has two handles used to switch water from hot to cold. It also has the third handle used to switch the flow of water from the showerhead to the bathtub. If you turn the handle in a clockwise direction, you get water for the shower and counterclockwise to get water for the tub.
How to Fix a Shower Diverter Gate
There are many reasons why your bathtub faucet is dripping and needs fixing. While these diverter valves differ in the mentioned aspects, fixing them is very easy. The procedure of repairing each type is almost the same. Let's jump straight to the step-by-step guide of fixing your shower diverter gate.
Step 1: Seal the Drain Hole
The first step is to ensure nothing gets lost or misplaced during the repair work. You'll be working with very small pieces, and losing an important part is common. Put a piece of cloth or a towel in the hole to prevent things from going down the drain.
If you accidentally drop something on the bathtub while working, it won't go down the drain, and you can still find it. You can collect everything in a plastic bag, so you don't misplace anything while working.
Step 2: Turn off the Main Water Supply Line
You're going to move parts from your faucet, and it's common knowledge that water will start flowing uncontrollably. You'll not only lose a lot of water in the process, but you'll have a hard time working with water burst.
You should ensure there are no drops of water because that will mess up the workspace and make it harder for you to find the source of the problem. Find your shut-off valve and turn off the flow of water in your bathroom before you start working.
Step 3: Remove the Diverter's Knob
To do this, you'll have to turn to unfasten the screw to expose the diverter and the stem. Once these are exposed, you can now inspect the stem and the diverter to check the problem. Check all the parts you've removed to see if they have any problems.
Remove any noticeable debris and buildups. Another common problem that you might come across is loose screws. Check the screws behind the faceplate and tighten them. make sure you don't use the wrong equipment and end up with further damages.
Step 4: Remove the Diverter from the Faucet
Use a wrench to clamp the diverter and turn it severally until it's loose enough to get off the water supply easily. If you're worried that the wrench may scratch your diverter, wrap it with a cloth before you start removing it.
Another easy way to loosen the diverter and remove it easily is through using cooking spray. The cooking spray makes a perfect lubricant and will do a wonderful job of loosening the diverter knob.
Step 5: Remover the Rubber Washer
At this point, you can decide to repair or replace the shower diverter with a new spout and forget about the problems for a long time. You need to remove the rubber washer and replace it with a new washer. Check the circular seat where the rubber washer closes if it's smooth and consider a replacement seat if it's fitted.
If replacement with a new diverter is not on your budget at the moment, then you'll have to proceed with the process of how to fix the shower diverter gate.
You must also know that not all problems need a replacement. The chances are that your diverter is still in good condition and can still serve you well if you fix the minor issue.
Step 6: Carry Out a Thorough Inspection
If you're proceeding with the repair work instead of replacement with a new valve, the next step is a thorough inspection of the inside of your shower diverter. If the inside of the hollow tube is too dark, which is probably the case, get a flashlight and use it to get a better view. Point it straight inside and identify if the spout has some debris.
Step 6: Clean the Spout
If you notice dirt buildup or debris, you can't leave everything like that because this means you'll be dealing with blockage very soon on your copper pipe. The best way to do the cleaning is to use hot water and rinse several times to wash off the loose dirt.
For stubborn dirt and debris, there are better and more efficient cleaning alternatives to use that are friendly to the copper pipes. You can use lemon juice, baking soda, or vinegar mixture.
Step 7: Submerge for a Few Days
Sometimes your spout might be too clogged with accumulated dirt that you won't manage to clean off the dirt and the debris on a single day. If this is the case, then you should consider soaking it for some days to loosen the grime.
Submerge the spout in vinegar for up to three days to clear off the dirt. Once you're convinced that your tub spout is clean enough, check if the diverter works.
Cleaning with vinegar also encourages environmental sustainability because the white vinegar from your kitchen is organic. You don't have to worry about wearing safety gloves or covering your nose because vinegar is also gentle on you.
Step 8: Re-Install the Diverter Stem
If you follow all the above tips up to this point, you'll have managed to fix the problem with your bathtub spout shower diverter. Now it's time to restore things to the way they were. Start by screwing back your shower diverter into the tub faucet.
Use an adjustable wrench to tighten it up properly. Screw the little knob of your shower divider back to the spot where it was before you began working. Once everything is back to its position, run the shower to test if it's working as it should.
If you notice that water is dripping around the handle, it means it's loose. Fasten the unit further using a socket wrench. Make sure everything is working before you clear your work area.
Once the diverter has been fixes, you can also use bath fitter to ensure a safe and secure clean and leak-free bathtubs.
Replace the Bathtub Spout Shower Diverter
No matter how hard you try to fix a shower diverter, things won't work out if it has reached its lifespan. If the repair work doesn't work out, then it's a sign that you should replace it instead.
Shower diverters wear over time, reducing the water pressure as not enough will be diverting from your tub spout. Here is how to replace your spout if the repair work didn't fix the problem.
- Turn off the water supply via the main bathroom spigot
- Use duct tape to cover the drain. You need to prevent small pieces from your faucet and screws from going down the drainage and getting lost.
- You can put a towel on the bottom of your bathtub under the spout, so it catches all the screws that drop. This will also protect the enamel of the table from the dropping tools and parts.
- Remove the bathtub spout from the supply pipe by removing a setscrew under a hex key. If it doesn't have the setscrew, open the spout with a heavy duty screwdriver and get it off the supply pipe. If it's too tight, find the right lubricant to help loosen it.
- Take the spout to your nearest hardware store and ask them to get you a replacement of a universal spout of the same model as yours. Make sure whatever you get matched your bathroom decor to avoid a mismatch.
- Read the instructions of replacement carefully and follow all the steps to the letter
- Before installing the new spout, wipe off the threads on the supply pipe using a rag. Wrap the supply pipe with fresh thread seal tape up to about three layers. You can also use a rubber band for added reinforcement.
- Apply silicone caulk to seal the supply pipe further
- Fix your new shower diverter on the supply pipe and use a setscrew to secure it in tightly
- Wrap the teeth on the tongue-and-groove plier using masking tape to offer additional protection. Tighten it a few more times to the pipe using pliers to ensure it doesn't run loose or come out easily.
- Don't tighten the spot too much as this will end up damaging the pipe and the wall
- Finish up by checking if the screws are tight enough and the fixtures are attached properly. You don't want to deal with water leaks in the future.
Learning how to fix a shower diverter gate is a simple and straightforward process. You can choose to do it yourself and save the money you'd spend on a plumber. But it's always a good idea to walk with a professional. The most important thing is to ensure your bathtub spout shower diverter diverts the flow of water from the showerhead to the bathtub.