Stuck Shower Diverter? Let’s Get You Unstuck

Last Updated On May 24, 2024

Updated on April 17, 2023



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Stuck Shower Diverter

Having a stuck shower diverter can be incredibly annoying, especially when you make this discovery while stepping into the shower. 

Understanding what causes this problem and how to troubleshoot it is key to fixing a stuck shower diverter valve. With a little DIY, you’ll be ready for that nice warm shower. 

This article provides a brief overview of a shower diverter, the causes of it getting stuck, how to troubleshoot it, and most important, how to fix it. 

Let’s get started, so you can get back to that shower.

In this PlumbingNav guide, we will cover: 

  •   What causes a stuck shower diverter?
  •   DIY methods for fixing a stuck shower diverter.
  •   Keeping your shower diverter problem free.

What's In This Guide?

      What is a Shower Diverter?

      Briefly, a shower diverter is a mechanical device within your plumbing system that allows you to direct the water flow of water either to the tub spout or to the showerhead.

      By turning or pulling the arm or lever that is attached to the internal valve, you send the water either to the bathtub faucet or the shower head. 

      It seems simple enough, but there’s more going on inside your bathtub spout. Want to find out more? Read this to learn about what a shower diverter is and how it works. Now, let’s get to the causes of why they get stuck and how to fix them.

      What Causes a Stuck Shower Diverter

      A shower diverter can malfunction for a variety of reasons, ranging from mineral deposits to worn-out washers, o-rings, and gaskets. 

      The most common cause is usually a malfunctioning diverter valve. Just as hard water deposits such as calcium and magnesium can build up inside pipes over time, they also build up on the moving parts of the diverter. 

      As the valve becomes corroded with mineral or grime buildup, it becomes difficult to move the valve. At some point it will become stuck in one position, giving you a stuck shower diverter.  

      Trying to force the diverter knob with pliers or some other tool only risks further damage. 

      In some cases, the issue may be due to normal wear-and-tear that occurs over time with any mechanical device.

      Now that you have a basic understanding of what causes a shower diverter to stick, we can look at some DIY methods for fixing it.

      Key Takeaway: A stuck shower diverter can be caused by a variety of factors, such as mineral or grime buildup, worn-out washers, gaskets, or corrosion. Like any mechanical device with moving parts, nothing lasts forever.

      DIY Methods for Fixing a Stuck Shower Diverter

      When it comes to fixing a stuck shower diverter, there are several DIY methods that homeowners can try. Here are a few “quick” fixes.

      1. Gentle Tapping

      Start with a gentle tap on the lever you use to adjust the direction of the water flow. Try to tap it from a few different directions. Or even grab it and jostle it from side to side.

      This might be enough to loosen it, but it is only a temporary fix. At least now you can take that quick morning shower. But you will need to fix the underlying problem or you will end up with a broken shower diverter.

      2. Try Some Lubrication

      Get out a can of WD-40 or some other light lubricating oil such as Liquid Wrench. Even cooking oil from the kitchen will work.

      Simply spray the oil into the tub spout opening, making sure to get the oil up into the diverter area. Then spray it on the arm or lever you use to adjust the valve. As the oil runs down into the valve, it should start to loosen it up. 

      Gently try to move the arm. You might have to wait for the oil to seep in and loosen up the valve. Give it some time then try moving it again.

      This might be a “rinse and repeat” procedure. But well worth a try.

      3. Give it a Thorough Cleaning

      Still stuck? Time for some thorough cleaning of the diverter assembly check out this video.

      This will require a bit more plumbing know-how. For this you need a bottle of vinegar and a small bucket. Vinegar makes a great cleaning agent as it is safe, easy to find, and effective.

      Sometimes, cleaning the diverter solves the problem. But the rubber stopper inside the diverter is prone to wear and tear. Check and replace the diverter rubber if needed. If you’re not sure, better to replace it. You can get a Plumbing Rubber Washers Assorted Kit here

      Here are the steps for removing and cleaning the diverter assembly:    

      • Turn off the water supply to the shower.
      • Remove the diverter handle and escutcheon plate.
      • Use pliers or an adjustable wrench to remove the nut that secures the valve.
      • Unscrew and remove the diverter valve assembly.
      • Clean the valve assembly thoroughly by placing it in the bucket filled with a solution of vinegar. Let it sit overnight. 
      • Reassemble the valve assembly, handle, and plate.
      • Turn the water supply back on and run hot water at full speed to flush out the loosened debris.  

      4. Best Fix

      Replace the spout and diverter assembly with a new one. There are lots of choices here. You might want to take a look at your options.

      Yes, it’s not a quick fix, but it will solve the problem and provide you with peace of mind for years to come.

      Key Takeaway: DIY methods for fixing a stuck shower diverter can be an effective way to save money and time. 

      But If all your attempts still leave you without the ability to adjust the water flow, or if there is extensive damage caused by corrosion or wear and tear, then it may be time for a shower diverter replacement. 

      It’s probably best to call a professional plumber for this.

      Keeping Your Shower Diverter Problem Free

      Maintaining your diverter valve by coating it with oil every few months can help prevent future issues from occurring.

      Occasional cleaning with vinegar, particularly if you have hard water, will also help maintain your shower faucet assembly.

      Stuck Shower Diverter FAQs 

      Can You fix a stuck shower diverter?

      It might be possible to fix a stuck diverter valve. It depends on the underlying problem.

      What are common shower diverter problems?

      One common shower diverter problem is wear and tear after years of use. Then the water flow will come out of the tub spout and the showerhead at the same time. This wastes water.

      Can you clean a shower diverter?

      You can clean a shower diverter. You will need to use some tools like a pipe wrench and pliers to remove the part from the faucet. 

      Stuck Shower Diverters: Final Thoughts

      If you are having trouble with a stuck shower diverter, there are some DIYs you can try yourself.  

      By utilizing these troubleshooting techniques and repair methods, you should have your shower running again. 

      Don’t forget to check for any underlying issues such as mineral deposits or clogged pipes which may have caused the stuck shower diverter in the first place so that they don’t become an issue again down the line.

      Of course, the best fix is to replace the shower diverter valve. If you have the right tools and some experience with plumbing, you might be able to do this yourself. 

      And your best option might be to call in a professional plumber. 

      If you’re still stuck with a shower diverter problem, our website can provide you with the answers and solutions to help get your plumbing back in order.

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      About Plumbing Navigator

      We write about "all things plumbing," helping you navigate common questions, repairs, and the best plumbing products on the market.

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      We write about “all things plumbing,” helping you navigate common questions, repairs, and the best plumbing products on the market.

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