How to Make a Shower Diverter Seal Better


A shower diverter diverts water from a bath spout to a showerhead. A damaged diverter seal causes water to leak out of the bath spout while the shower is in use. Two basic types of shower diverters exist: independent diverters and those embedded in bath spouts. Simply cleaning a leaking independent diverter seal repairs it. An embedded diverter requires replacing the bath spout, the spout cannot be opened to repair the seal.

Things You'll Need

  • Wrench
  • Allen wrench
  • Cloth
  • Spout
  • Pliers
  • Screwdriver
  • Bib screw
  • Washer
  • Silicone grease
  • Wire brush
  • Vinegar
  • Sealant
  • Joint compound
  • Plumbing nipple
  • Cover the drain with a rag or other cloth. This prevents screws, nuts and other small parts from falling into the drain.

  • Remove the screw from the center of the escutcheon, or handle that covers the diverter valve, with a screwdriver. An independent diverter valve is the middle of three handles in a three-handle set up that sits between the hot- and cold-water handles.

  • Remove the escutcheon from the bonnet, or metal pipe covering the diverter valve stem.

  • Remove the nut from the bonnet with an Allen wrench. The nut usually sits underneath the unit.

  • Pull the bonnet from the wall using your pliers. Remove the valve stem, which sits within the bonnet, from the wall with pliers by unscrewing it.

  • Clean the diverter valve stem with a wire brush and vinegar. Remove all mineral and lime deposits.

  • Remove the old washer from the valve assembly’s center. The washer is a black rubber ring in the valve stem’s middle. Work it loose with a screwdriver and pull it over the stem’s end.

  • Put a new washer in place. Silicone grease helps it settle in place.

  • Remove the bib screw from the diverter stem’s end with a screwdriver. Replace it with a new bib screw.

  • Replace the diverter stem, bonnet, bonnet nut and escutcheon by reversing the procedures used to remove them. Place a sealant such as plumber's putty around the escutcheon’s base.

Replacing a Spout

  • Remove the screw at the bottom of the spout with an Allen wrench. This screw connects the spout to the plumbing supply pipe.

  • Unscrew the spout if no screw exists underneath the spout. In such cases, the spout is threaded directly onto the supply pipe. Use a wrench or pliers to grip the spout.

  • Remove the existing spout.

  • Unscrew the existing pipe nipple using a wrench if required. Spouts that thread directly onto the pipe require no nipple.

  • Apply joint compound to the supply pipe’s threaded portion. If necessary, install a new nipple at the supply pipe’s end.

  • Place the new spout over the supply pipe. Screw the spout on if necessary.

  • Install the screw on the underside of the new diverter spout if required. Use an Allen wrench.

  • Apply a sealant such as plumber's putty around the new spout’s base, where it meets the3 wall.

Tips & Warnings

  • Look through books on plumbing and valve work at your local library, or peruse magazines, such as Family Handyman and This Old House. Familiarizing yourself with basic plumbing terminology and diverter valve assembly parts improves your ability to perform this task.
  • Cleaning a diverter valve will only repair a leak if the valve or seal is not broken. If you encounter a broken valve or seal during the cleaning process, replace it with a new one.

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