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Diverter Stem Not Working? Here’s How To Fix It!

You walk into the shower expecting to wash away the day’s wear with a relaxing shower. But, to your dismay, the showerhead isn’t getting any water while the tub spout is leaking. 

Why is that? Well, you have a diverter stem in need of fixing. 

What to do when the diverter stem not working?

First, take apart the shower diverter. Next, check if the gaskets are in good condition. If they’re not then change the gaskets. If yes, then put silicone grease around them. If none of it works replace the diverter 

That’s the basic idea of what you need to do. Keep reading though. We’ll be describing everything in greater detail. 

Let’s jump right in!

How to Tell if a Diverter Stem Is Not Working?

Let’s not jump right to changing the diverter valve. It’s best to first make sure if that really is the problem. 

A telltale sign of a bad diverter stem is a leaking faucet. A leaky faucet can damage the grout between tiles. This might force you to possibly caulk the grout in the shower.

If the tub faucet keeps leaking with the diverter on, then the diverter needs repair. Or in an extreme case it might need replacement. 

A lack of water in the showerhead and no leaking faucet could mean there’s a clog. Checking for clogs in the showerhead is easy. Remove the showerhead and let the water run full throttle through the shower. 

If you get a perfect stream and there’s no leak, then you’ve got a clogged showerhead. You can easily degunk your showerhead and get back to your relaxing shower. 

How to Take Apart the Diverter Stem?

You’ve ascertained that your diverter valve is the problem. Now, before you try any fix you’ll need to take the diverter apart.

First, identify what type of diverter you have. The teardown process will vary based on the type.

Three-Valve Shower Diverter Teardown

If there are three valves in your shower, you have a three valve shower diverter. It’s best to call a professional if you have this type of diverter. 

A botched attempt could mean damage to the tiling, since it sits right on the wall. Trust us, the money spent will be worth the time spent retiling the bathroom later. But if you’re fixed on doing it yourself, we have you covered.

The list of things you’ll need:

  • Head screwdriver
  • Flathead screwdriver
  • Cowbell 

Here’s how you go about the teardown:

  • Take off the cap on the middle handle with the flathead screwdriver.
  • Unscrew the handle all the way with the head screwdriver. 
  • Fit the cowbell into the wall socket and twist to loosen up the diverter. 
  • Then spin the diverter till it comes out

Tub Spigot Valve Teardown

If you divert water by hitting a button then you have a tub spigot valve.

In the case of a tub spigot valve, the spigot can erode over time. If it’s eroded, you should call a professional. Like tiling around a floor drain, removing an eroded spigot requires a good deal of skill.

If it isn’t eroded you can remove the spout and get to the teardown.

Tools you’ll need:

  • Allen key
  • Rubber strap wrench

Here’s how you take it apart:

  • Locate the set screw under the faucet.
  • Use the allen key to take it out.
  • Next, use the rubber strap wrench to spin the faucet till it comes loose.
  • Once the faucet is loose pull it off.

Now that you’re done taking the diverter apart you can move to the next part.

Fixing the Diverter 

There are a number of fixes you can try. Depending on the condition, you’ll have to pick which fix to apply.

Method 1: Using Waterproof Silicone Grease

The diverter valve works by sealing the path and blocking the flow of water. It does this with the help of rubber gaskets. If you can’t see any wear on the gasket the fit might be the problem. 

This problem can easily be solved by putting some silicone grease around the gasket. In case you’re not sure about which waterproof grease to use, here are a few suggestions.

Product 1
Product 2

Method 2: Replacing the Gaskets

If your gaskets are broken you’ll need to change them. First, take out the broken gaskets. Then, make sure that the parts of the gaskets aren’t logged anywhere. After that, put in new gaskets of the same size.

Method 3: Replacing the Diverter

If neither method of fixing the issue works, you’ll need to replace the diverter. Take your broken diverter with you and purchase a similar model. Reassemble everything with the new part in place and you’re done.

That covers about everything you can do to fix your diverter stem.


Question: How to prevent wear and tear on the diverter valve?

Answer: Do not disengage the diverter valve while the water is running. This will reduce the wear on the rubber gaskets. You should also wait a few seconds before engaging the diverter after turning on the water. 

Question: Can working on the diverter damage the tiles?

Answer: If you do it improperly, you can damage the tiles. Especially in the case of Three-Valve Shower Diverters as they sit directly in the wall. 

Question: Why does my diverter keep breaking?

Answer: If you engage the diverter instantly, that can damage the gaskets. It can also make the diverter come loose. Besides, the diverter will eventually get worn out, regardless of the use. 

Final Verdict

Well, that’s all from us on diverter stem not working. Follow the tips to make your diverter stem last longer. 

In most cases one of the fixes will do the job. That will enable you to squeeze just a little bit more life out of your diverter.

Good luck!