A diverter valve is typically found in bathtubs or showers. They send, or divert, water from the lower faucet that fills up the tub to the higher shower head. It is put in to cut down on plumbing costs. Without a diverter valve, there would need to be two pipes bringing water to the bath area, and the shower would have its own "on" and "off" handles.
The pipe in a bathtub typically goes to the bottom faucet first and then runs up from there to the shower head. A diverter valve is placed in the pipe at the entrance to the lower faucet. When the valve is open, the water moves through the first available opening. When the lever on the end of the faucet is pulled up, or if the knob is turned, the valve closes, forcing the water up toward the shower head. This happens due to a build up of pressure that makes the water go against the laws of gravity.
The lever on the faucet pulls on another rod inside the faucet. The rod inside the faucet in turn pulls a flap or disc so that it closes off the faucet. When the lever is pushed back down, the disc moves to open the faucet and water can runs back into the tub area. The valve can wear down over time and use, which can cause it to not seal off the faucet properly. When this happens, the valve will need to be replaced.
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