If you’ve turned a knob on a shower faucet to send water up to the showerhead, you have probably used a shower diverter valve. If you have an older bathroom with a shower-tub combination, the shower diverter valve is what allows you to divert the water back and forth between the tub faucet and the showerhead. The major benefit of this arrangement is that it alleviates you from having to install a separate shower stall since the bathtub can now function as a stand-up shower. Despite the major job of this valve, most people are still oblivious to what a shower diverter valve is, what purpose it serves, and how to diagnose and fix issues that arise.
How Do Shower Diverters Work?
In older bathrooms, the same pipe that connects to your tub faucet also connectsto your showerhead, alleviating the need to install new water-supply pipes to feed the shower head. When you turn the diverter valve, water flows through the faucet and into the tub. When you want to reroute the water back to the shower, yousimply lift the knob or lever to close the diverter valve and create pressure, causing the water to flow upward and out of the showerhead. Installing a shower diverter valve means that you don’t need to have an entirely separate shower enclosure or stall. This especially comes in handy in smaller bathrooms that are pressed for space. Not to mention, you no longer have to install all those extra faucets, pipes, and tiles.
Types of Shower Diverter Valves
3-way shower diverter valve
A three-valve shower diverter is found in between the taps of two-tap faucets with separate hot and cold faucet handles and allows you to allows you to divert the flow of water between three different outputs, such as a showerhead, hand held showerhead and either a tub filler or body jets. Since most people only need two, call in your plumber to easily cap the third pipe to cancel it out. You can adjust the hot and cold water taps to reach the right water temperature. Turning the diverter clockwise 180 degrees makes the water flow out of the showerhead, while turning it the other way diverts the water flow back to the tub/handheld shower.
Two-way Shower Diverter
This type of a diverter valve is located in the middle of a single-handle faucet that can be turned left or right to switch between cold and hot water. It comes in handy in tubs that have a single faucet handle that you turn to push water vertically (upwards) to the showerhead and back to the tub faucet after the temperature has been set.
Single-Valve Shower Diverter
This single valve diverter is located in the tub faucet and is the most basic form of a shower diverter valve. The metal pull on the front of the faucetcan be pulled up to divert the water away from the tub faucet and force it up to the showerhead. Release the diverter to restore the water flow back to the tub.
Red Flags That Indicate a Malfunctioning Valve
The most sign of a malfunctioning valve is when water starts to leak out of both the tub faucet and showerhead simultaneously. Usually with time, wear and tear, sediment build-up and clogs can prevent a shower diverter valve from closing fully and properly, allowing water to flow out of both ways even when the diverter is not engaged. In other cases, water may continue to come out of the bath faucet while the shower diverter valve is engaged. A malfunctioning shower diverter also causes leakage of the handles, since diverter valves are often located directly behind the handles. Before calling in a plumber, be sure to check if any residue is clogging the shower diverter lever from fully lifting or lowering. If everything looks clean and clear, the problem could be worn-out parts in the shower diverter valve.
In such a case, you need to turn off the water supply to your shower, dissemble the shower diverter, purchase the correct replacement from your hardware store, and replace the shower diverter valve. When you are installing the new diverter, double check to ensure that the parts do not cross-thread each other and the diverter is tightly screwed in place.