Shower Diverter Is Leaking Behind The Wall?

Upgraded Home Team
by Upgraded Home Team
Leaking is not a strange phenomenon in any home. Faucets, pipes, and water tanks are among the household fixtures that are prone to leaking. It should also come as no

Leaking is not a strange phenomenon in any home. Faucets, pipes, and water tanks are among the household fixtures that are prone to leaking.

It should also come as no surprise if leaking occurs inside the bathroom. The shower in particular is a prime candidate to experience that kind of problem due to its components. Among those components known to cause problems are the shower diverters.

Shower diverters can leak behind the wall if there is sediment stuck in it due to high mineral content in the water. The tub spout can also cause your shower diverter to leak behind the wall if it is stuck. Diverter valves typically last for at least 5 years, but they can go bad and cause leaks before that due to wear and tear or erosion.

The shower diverter is not an item many homeowners are familiar with, but it’s an important component nonetheless. If you want to enjoy comfortable showers and avoid wasting money, learning how to fix your shower diverter will be crucial. Find out more about that topic in this article.

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What Is a Shower Diverter?

Shower diverters are found in bathrooms where the fixtures for the bathtub faucet and the shower are connected. The role of the diverter is to ensure that the water goes to the right place.

There are two types of shower diverters often used in bathrooms.

Diverter Valves

First off, you have what are known as diverter valves. These pieces make use of valves to guide the water in the right direction. You can find them installed either together with the three-handle shower assembly or separately above other valves that control water flow.

The diverter valve works by utilizing water pressure. If you turn on the shower, the diverter valve will close and block the water from escaping through the faucet. The pressure within the pipe will force the water up so it can fall through the showerhead.

When the bathtub faucet is turned on, the diverter valve will open up. That allows the water to fall through the faucet with no issue.

Plate Diverters

The other type of shower diverter is a plate diverter. Plate diverters are tasked with the same job as diverter valves, but they go about things differently.

Instead of relying on valves, this kind of diverter uses a plate to guide the direction of the water. When you turn on the shower, the plate prevents the water from exiting via the tub spout. With the plate blocking the way, the pressure building up forces the water up into the showerhead.

Plate diverters are often located either on the shower valve or on the tub spout. They also rely on either springs or water pressure to work properly.

Why Is the Shower Diverter Leaking?

Regardless of which shower diverter you have installed, it remains susceptible to leaking. Detailed below are the possible causes you need to watch out for.

Wear and Tear

Shower diverters are among the hardest working items inside your home. They have to work multiple times a day, seven days a week non-stop. It’s only a matter of time before they start succumbing to age. Add the constant exposure to water into the mix and you have a recipe for lasting deterioration.

Sadly, this is an inevitable problem, although it shouldn’t pop up until many years after the initial installation of the shower.

Sediment Buildup due to Water Quality

What kind of water do you have at home? If you have hard water flowing through your pipes, it’s possible small sediments and minerals will get caught in the diverter.

Hard water passing through the shower diverter should not be an issue early on. Over time though, the sediment buildup can reach the point where it starts clogging up the shower diverter.

The water may no longer have a clear pathway up to the showerhead. Upon turning on the shower, you may only get a weak stream of water while the faucet leaks simultaneously.

The Tub Spout Is Stuck

Sometimes, the problem plaguing your shower diverter may have nothing to do with the component itself. The problematic piece could wind up being the tub spout.

The tub spout has a tendency to get stuck near the water pipe. Once it ends up there, the diverter won’t be able to do its job and will leak all over the place.

How to Tell if Your Shower Diverter Is Leaking?

There’s not a lot of guesswork involved in detecting a leaky shower diverter. You just have to turn your shower. If you see that water is still dripping through the bathtub faucet even though it’s closed, you have a leaky diverter. That’s the clearest sign that there’s an issue with the shower diverter.

Other symptoms you have to be mindful of include poor or irregular water flow from the shower. The irregular flow of hot water could also be a sign of trouble.

How to Fix a Leaking Shower Diverter

We want to first note here that some of the issues that plague shower diverters cannot be remedied easily. If the problem is related to a stuck tub spout, you will have to open the shower wall and realign it. Hiring a plumber is recommended in that scenario.

Old shower diverters will likely have to be replaced too. To ensure proper installation, you’ll also want to hire a plumber. The cost of hiring a plumber to work on your shower is not cheap, but it is worth it.

Assuming the problem affecting your shower is neither of those two, try out the steps below and see if they work.

Step 1: Get Your Hands on Some Cleaning Equipment

In order to clean your shower diverter, you will need a screwdriver, a wire brush, and some kind of metal cleaner. Homeowners who don’t have metal cleaners on hand can use a substitute such as white vinegar.

Step 2: Remove the Bathtub Faucet

Get things started by removing the handle of the bathtub faucet. You should be able to do so by loosening a screw and prying the faucet from the wall with your hand.

Step 3: Take Out the Shower Diverter

With the bathtub faucet out of the way, you can look at where it was originally. You should find the shower diverter there. Remove the shower diverter by loosening the screw close to it. While you’re at it, remove the washer from the wall too.

Step 4: Inspect the Shower Diverter

Now that you can take a closer look at the shower diverter, you can more accurately determine the problem. You may find all kinds of debris lodged into the diverter or simply see that it looks worn down.

If you see a worn-down diverter, you’ll likely have to call on the professionals to get a replacement installed. If the shower diverter looks fine but clogged, move to the next step.

Step 5: Clean the Shower Diverter

The next thing you have to do is to clean the shower diverter. Get your wire brush and run it through the diverter. That should help clear it up. You can clean it up further by running a metal cleaner and some water through it.

Step 6: Put the Shower Diverter Back in Place

After cleaning the diverter, allow it to dry before returning it to its original spot. Put the bathtub faucet back in place too and then run the shower.

Hopefully, the water flow will be back to normal after cleaning. There’s a chance that the shower diverter will still leak after cleaning. In that case, you will have to replace it.

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Related Questions

How Long Can You Expect Shower Diverters to Last?

Part of the reason why we barely notice shower diverters is because they simply don’t present problems often. They can keep running as designed for years and even decades. If problems do pop up, they can still be addressed by cleaning.The point here is that you shouldn’t spend too much time worrying about your shower diverter. It will likely be a while before you have to do something about the one you have at home.

Is It Worth Fixing Your Shower Diverter?

Like we said earlier, hiring a plumber to work on your shower diverter is not exactly cheap. Even so, you have a lot to gain from getting that small part of your home fixed. Taitem conducted an extensive survey examining homes that used combination bathtubs and showers. What they found was that fixing a leaking shower diverter could lead to plenty of savings. They specifically noted that fixing a leaking diverter could lead to greater savings than installing a low-flow showerhead.Combine the savings from your fixed diverter, low-flow showerheads, and water-efficient fixtures to see a big drop in your monthly expenses.

What Are Other Benefits You Get from Fixing Your Shower Diverter?

In areas where the water supply can be unreliable, a fixed diverter can make a real difference. Water is not going to waste and there’s more to go around for everyone.On top of that, the experience of showering can also be vastly improved by a fixed diverter. You’ll be able to enjoy hot and/or cold showers better because you’re getting the right amount of water.

Upgraded Home Team
Upgraded Home Team

We are a team of passionate homeowners, home improvement pros, and DIY enthusiasts who enjoy sharing home improvement, housekeeping, decorating, and more with other homeowners! Whether you're looking for a step-by-step guide on fixing an appliance or the cost of installing a fence, we've here to help.

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