Problems with a diverter valve on a shower/tub faucet

Written by tyler lacoma
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Problems with a diverter valve on a shower/tub faucet
Diverter valves can leak and cause problems with shower pressure. (shower image by Dragan Trifunovic from Fotolia.com)

Diverter valves are special piping systems installed on most tubs that also have a shower extension. In shower stalls, plumbers can just pipe water right to the shower head. In bathtubs, installers set the water line to lead to the spout. They also install a diverter valve that allows the user to redirect the water up to the shower head. These diverters can be subject to leaks and other problems.

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In-Tub Leaking

In-tub leaking occurs when the diverter fails to fully cut off the water supply from the faucet. When this occurs, some water goes to the shower and some water continues to dribble out of the spout. This is not a real leak--the pipes are still working--but it does mean that the valve is not fully closing or may have developed sealing problems. In this case, the diverter usually needs to be replaced entirely.

In-Wall Leaking

In-wall leaking occurs when a pipe in the diverter has sprang a leak. This is a very serious problem, since the water can quickly ruin surrounding drywall and even structural supports. It can also be more difficult to notice. When this occurs, it usually means one of the pipes was not sealed into the diverter properly, or that changing conditions have caused a pipe to crack.

Low Pressure

Both types of leaks can cause another, often more noticeable, symptom: low water pressure when using the shower. This means that water is not reaching the shower head easily enough, and the diverter is not doing its job. When the valve is not working, users can typically see the excess water dripping from the spout. Low pressure may also be a sign something more serious is going on in the diverter.

Misalignment

Misalignment occurs when the diverter is placed incorrectly, and pipes cannot lead up straight to the shower head. This typically occurs when the bathtub is being installed. A shower with this problem cannot be used, so it must be dealt with before the rest of the tub and fixtures are installed. Shower diverters must always be precisely aligned to avoid this problem.

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