Fix a Leaking Shower Diverter Valve: Mistakes to Avoid

The shower faucet and diverter face plate in a bathroom with green tile.

The shower diverter valve takes water from the main supply in your home and redirects it to your bathtub faucet, shower head, and potentially more sites as well. If you have a leaky faucet in the tub, it is likely that you'll need to fix a leaking shower diverter in order to remedy the problem. Typically, this is an easy task.

However, there are a few mistakes that are relatively common and that can actually lead to further damage or problems with leaky showers. Learn to avoid some of those errors by reading on.

Not Turning Off the Water

Failing to turn off the water supply to the leaky shower diverter can cause problems for you while you're making adjustments to the valve. Water can seep out in greater quantities and cause flooding or otherwise make a mess. Additionally, failing to turn off the water supply to the faulty valve can make the process of adjusting the leak difficult to complete, as it is hard to determine which portion of the valve is leaking when water is coming out of all different parts of the valve face.

Not Sealing the Drain

The shower diverter valve is directly above the drain in most standard bathtubs. Because you'll be dealing with small screws and nuts, it is crucial that you plug up the drain before removing the face plate on the shower diverter valve.

This will help to ensure that none of the small component pieces fall down into the drain and become lost. If this should occur, you'll have to visit a local hardware store to purchase replacement pieces before you can seal up the diverter valve again and continue using your faucets.

Stripping the Spout from the Pipe

Many shower diverters are located behind the spout and pipe system of the faucet. Accessing them and the location of the leak requires that you remove the spout from the front of the pipe with a wrench. Take care to do this gently, as forcing the spout or twisting it the wrong direction can strip the base of the spout and render it impossible to reattach to the pipe surface. When in doubt, work slowly and cautiously.

Replacing the Valve with the Incorrect Model

In some cases, you can fix a leaking shower diverter valve by tightening up the screws behind the face plate of the valve itself. In other cases, however, you'll have to replace the diverter valve entirely. While this is still not an exceedingly difficult task, you run the risk of additional mistakes. Be careful to purchase the exact same make and model of diverter valve as a replacement. Different types of valves may have minute variations in size and function which can make them incompatible. Speak with a sales person at your local hardware or plumbing store for additional assistance if you are having a difficult time determining which replacement valve to purchase.