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About the Shower Diverter Valve and the Problems It Can Have

The shower and tub combination is a very common setup in many home bathrooms. In such a setup, a lever is pulled or a knob is turned so the flow of water switches from shower to tub and vice versa. The flow of water can go either up or down due to a fixture known as the shower diverter valve. Like other plumbing fixtures, this can malfunction, and when it happens, bath time can end up hard for you.

How does a diverter work?
The pipe connected to the tub tap is also connected to the shower head located above. When you switch the tub tap on, water directly runs down the tub. A good amount of pressure is required to get the water running upward; gravity will, otherwise, keep it down. When the valve is open, no pressure forces water up the shower head, and so if you wish to take a shower, you need to switch the water on in the same way as that of using the tub. However, you also need to turn the lever or knob to close the valve. Any water that runs through the pipe creates the pressure that is required so water goes up the shower head as it does not have anywhere else to go.

What problems can diverter valves have?
A diverter valve can become worn in time. Sediment also accumulates, causing the malfunctioning of the diverter valve. If it can no longer turn all the way, the pressure needed to push water up will be less, and as a result, water comes out of the tap and the shower head.

What should one do to fix the problem?
One can take the valve assembly apart and clean it. Pry off the cap on top of the tap handle before getting the screw loose. Once you have removed the handle, you can find the diverter valve. If you wish to remove it, find the stem, and then unscrew the valve from the nut that can be found on the stem. Next, remove the washer and stem screw, and examine all parts for wear and tear.

Any part that has become too worn down should be replaced right away, while other parts that have foreign matter on them should be cleaned using vinegar and a tiny wire brush. Let the parts dry before reassembling the valve and putting it back to the shower assembly.

If there is something wrong with your shower plumbing, particularly one that you cannot handle, then call a reliable and reputed plumber for help right away. Contacting a plumber upon finding a problem prevents that problem from worsening.