By: Jan Hajek | Date Posted: March 5, 2017

You are taking a shower and then you notice that water is barely coming out from the shower head. If ever you experience something like this, I am telling you, there is something wrong with your shower diverter. You may ask, “What should I do? I barely know anything about plumbing!” Well, here is good news. When you notice that something isn’t normal in your shower, checking it immediately will be a wise move to do and as a matter of fact, you can fix it yourself!

Setting the problem aside may just aggravate the condition of the diverter. The problem that should have been simple may complicate and even get you to spend so much. Chances are, your shower diverter stuck.

If you are not a do-it-yourselfer and repairing a shower diverter seems too tricky, you can ask the person who performs your drain repair to do it. It would be a minor issue that they can resolve quickly.

Why stress when you can have a working shower diverter?

Shower diverter is a valve that controls water flow to a particular outlet. For example, when your bathtub faucet is combined with your shower, a shower converter is attached. When you intend to use the shower, you can have water coming out because it blocks the tub faucet.

A shower diverter

Ensuring your shower diverter is working correctly, you can avoid getting stressed and have a more convenient and comfortable shower experience. If you’re experiencing problems with your shower diverter, it’s usually best to call a professional plumber for assistance. They will have the tools and expertise to diagnose and provide solutions regarding issues with your diverter.

Why do we have to deal with stuck problem?

There are several reasons why shower diverter stuck occurs. Obviously, when you are not getting enough water flowing from your shower head, there could really be a problem. It doesn’t take a genius to realize this. A simple test would be, opening the bathtub faucet to check if there is a normal flow of water.

It would be best to always act before the situation gets out of hand. You should take care of any problem you find in your shower as soon as possible because it can negatively impact your showering routine and add unnecessary stress to your life.

The replacement may come into your mind right away. However, it would be preferable to conduct an inspection to determine if it really needs replacement. Although buying a shower diverter isn’t that expensive and replacement will only take you half an hour the most.

There are two main reasons why shower diverter gets stuck.


#1 Buildup

As discussed earlier, the function of the shower diverter is to block water from flowing to the main faucet when you wish to use your shower. So basically what it does is to change its position whenever you use the shower. Any build up in its vicinity will hinder its movement. That is why you will also notice that there will be some water coming out from the main faucet.

Keep in mind that hard water with minerals, such as calcium and magnesium can build up on the diverter and cause it to become stuck or difficult to operate. Additionally, debris such as hair or soap scum can build up in the diverter and cause it to malfunction.

What to do:

  • Your diverter could be the switch type or the pull up-push in type. Regardless of the type, what you can do is to gently tap the converter handle. Giving that “just about enough” jostle could loosen the buildup.
  • Remember that your tap should be gentle because if you overdo it, you might aggravate the problem you are facing. If nothing happens even with a few gentle tap, then the problem may be more than just a simple buildup.


#2 Corrosion

The metal reacts with water and over time the reaction will manifest. This reaction is called corrosion. This usually happens in the bathtub spout. When it does, it affects the functioning of the shower diverter. Another area where corrosion happens is in the screw threads where it connects the pipe into the spout. The corrosion causes buildup. Ignoring it will result for water to seep into the wall.

What to do:

  • For “pull-up faucet,” what you can do is to twist the faucet upside down. Clean the faucet before getting the faucet back to its position. You will need pliers and gentleness to do this!​
  • For “push-in faucet,” locate the screw which can be found under the spout. Unscrew so that you can twist the faucet up. Use pliers to loosen the rubber washer. Once it is loose, you can easily check for any buildup. Be sure to clean thoroughly before putting the faucet back to its original position.​

It’s worth noting that keeping your shower’s diverter free of corrosion will help it last longer and function better. Furthermore, it’s essential to clean and maintain the diverter and the surrounding area regularly and to use a water softener if you have hard water.

Practical and guaranteed solutions on how to fix your shower diverter dilemma

If you are the kind of person who doesn’t mind getting your hands dirty, then you can replace your shower faucet diverter with these easy-to-follow steps.

1. Gather the tools that you need

  • Faucet repair sockets
  • Flat-head screwdriver
  • Large adjustable wrench
  • Phillips screwdriver
  • Plumber’s faucet lube
  • Replacement washers
  • Seat wrench

Set of plumbing and tools on the table. Fitting, grey suede gloves and two adjustable wrenches for plumbing

2. Find the screw in the diverter handle

  • You can find a screw at the center of the diverter handle. Open this using the flat-head screwdriver. All you need to do is to turn the screw counterclockwise. Once the screw is fully detached, take the diverter handle off.
  • In case, you have difficulty in taking it off because it seems to be stuck, get hold of the entire thing and pull it with controlled force. Twist the handle gradually until it is completely pulled off. If and when it still doesn’t work, you can secure a faucet handle puller. This is not difficult to find in any hardware store.

3. Check for the hollow tube and escutcheon

Inspect the handle that you have just taken out. In the handle you will find two things at the back:

  • Hollow tube
  • Escutcheon

You will need to remove these two items by simply spinning them. If the escutcheon is screwed, you will need to take it off.

4. Take out the diverter system

​You will need to make use of the faucet sockets to reach the shoulders a little inside the wall so you could position your wrench. Detach the diverter stem from the shower valve. This should be easy by maneuvering the faucet socket in a counterclockwise direction.

There are two assemblies you will encounter here and these are the diverter assembly and the packing nut. Find the larger assembly because that would be the diverter assembly.

Here is a video which shows how to replace a shower diverter.

Note: Now that the diverter system is taken out, you can replace the old with a new one. For shower diverter repair, continue with steps 5-6 below.

5. Replace the washer and screw

If you choose to repair the old one, what you need to do is to replace the washer and screw. Be sure to lube the threads.

Plumber holding a bath faucet and installs it.

6. Inspect the hole left by the diverter stem that was taken out

With the help of a flashlight, you can see a circular seat. The hole is where the washer closes against. Make sure it is smooth. In case it is pitted, take it out with a seat wrench. Get the wrench into the whole so you can unscrew it properly and with ease. Replace it with a washer seat.

7. Put the diverter system back


More Tips

In addition to the above guidelines, you must take note of some important reminders so that any further damage can be avoided.

  • You must turn the main water supply off while you are in the process of fixing your shower diverter. You will avoid potential flooding as well as it allows you to identify which part of the valve is actually leaking.
  • Another reminder would be to seal the drain. You will be dealing with screws and other tiny components, plugging the drain up ensures that all components are intact.

Whenever you notice that taking a shower becomes annoying because you are not getting enough water from the shower head, do not ignore the problem. Take time to troubleshoot or have it inspected by a plumber in your area. But with the helpful guide presented to you, doing the troubleshooting by yourself is made easy and practical.

Now you certainly have a complete walk through on how to go about a shower diverter stuck. It’s time to get your shower diverter fixed right away while the problem is still manageable.

While you are already tinkering with your shower, consider adding the best shower filter available. To learn more about it, check out Healthy Water Guide.


Why does shower diverter stuck?

There are two main reasons why the shower diverter gets stuck: buildup and corrosion.

How do I know if my shower diverter is faulty?

A simple test would be opening the bathtub faucet to check if there is a normal water flow.

How much does it cost to fix a shower diverter?

Repairing a broken shower diverter by a plumber will cost you around $125 on average.

Thank you for reading!

Jan Hajek

I am an experienced writer. I write about home improvement topics such as construction, electrical work, plumbing, security and safety, interior design, exterior design, tools and woodworking, gardening, and garage organization. I love helping people improve their homes and make them more enjoyable places to live.

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