How Do I Change a Shower Diverter?

Your shower head or tub spout starts dripping and no matter how tight you try to turn the handles, the dripping will not stop.

Water Main

More than likely, your shower diverter has worn out. Most often, the washers on the diverter are worn. You can replace the washers, but for added assurance you can replace the whole diverter.

Before you start tearing into your shower, turn your water off first. If you try to remove your diverter before shutting off your water main, you will be unpleasantly surprised when the diverter shoots across your bathtub, followed by gushing water. Your water main is most often located in your front yard close to the street. The shutoff valve is in the ground underneath a metal or plastic cover. Remove the cover with a water key and turn the rectangle-shaped knob as far as it will go to the right. Purchase a water key at your local home remodeling center. A water key is inexpensive and easier to use than a wrench.

Diverter Handle

Remove your diverter handle before you can actually remove the shower diverter. Use a flat-tip screwdriver to remove the plastic screw cover located in the center of the handle. The cover is only held by retaining clips and will easily pry off. Pull out on your diverter handle to remove it. There may be an escutcheon ring behind the diverter handle or just a metal flange. The escutcheon ring covers the diverter stem on some showers. Twist the escutcheon ring to the left to remove it. A metal flange will just slide off.

Replacement Diverter

Your diverter stem should now be exposed. If your diverter is threaded, use a deep well socket and wrench to remove it. The socket must fit onto the nut closest to the shower wall. Turn the diverter to the left to loosen and remove it from the water line. Take your diverter with you when you purchase the replacement. Diverters look alike, but one diverter does not fit all.

Install New Diverter

Install your new diverter and tighten it with your socket and wrench. Make sure that the diverter is tight, but be careful not to overtighten. You can actually bust the water line. Replace your handle and turn your water back on. This should take care of any dripping water.

Tip

Turn your water handles to the on position in your shower to release pressure in the water line after you have shut off the water at the water main. Turn the handles to the off position before you turn the water back on.

About the Author

Based in Oklahoma City, Debbie Tolle has been working in the home-improvement industry since 2001 and writing since 1998. Tolle holds a Master of Science in psychology from Eastern Illinois University and is also a Cisco-certified network associate (CCNA) and a Microsoft-certified systems engineer (MCSE).