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Fixing a Tub/Shower Diverter

When you're trying to take a shower, does more water run out of the spout than the showerhead? Here's some advice on this diverting problem.

The part in a faucet that re-directs water from the spout to the showerhead is called a diverter. It's operated by the center handle of a three handled tub faucet, or by the little knob on top of the spout. The knob-on-top-of-spout type is not fixable, the entire spout has to be replaced.

But don't panic -- it's not as hard as it might seem. You use a pipe wrench to unscrew the spout counterclockwise, however, you don't want to use the pipe wrench for re-installing a new spout. The teeth of the wrench will scar the chrome finish on the spout. Take the old spout with you to get a replacement that has the same type and length of pipe connection.

Before you install the new spout, wrap the threads with teflon sealing tape to waterproof the connection. Then after you've hand-tighten the new spout in the wall connection, wedge a heavy stick or handle of a screwdriver in the spout opening and make the final turn, so that the spout faces down.

Now, if your shower diverter is the center handle on the tub faucet, turn off the water supply, remove the handle, bonnet nut and the stem assembly. Some diverters have a nasty way of coming apart inside the faucet as you remove the stem. You'll have to use a stiff wire with a hook on the end to retrieve the parts that get left behind. Take all the parts, including the handle, to your local plumbing supplier for the replacement parts.

Sometimes you only have to replace a few parts, but often the entire assembly has to be replaced.

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