Updated Nov 2, 2022
If you’ve turned a knob on a shower faucet to send water up to the showerhead, you’ve used a diverter valve. It does precisely as its name implies: diverts the direction of water. This simple piece of plumping hardware makes it possible for showerheads to get water.
Though a tub diverter valve is most common, there are a few other valves you should be aware of:
The main difference between a diverter and a transfer valve is how they direct the water supply.
A shower cartridge isn’t a type of shower diverter; it’s a type of faucet-stem valve assembly commonly used in plumbing. Many DIYers use the terms “diverter” and “cartridge” interchangeably because they perform the same function and control the flow of water.
A shower cartridge has holes that regulate water pressure and temperature when you turn the handle. It has several plastic components and pieces, whereas a diverter is primarily metal with rubber washers.
Diverter valves switch the flow of water between the tub faucet and the showerhead. Water flows directly through the faucet and into the bathtub when the valve is open. When the valve is closed, water pressure forces the water to run upward to the showerhead.
Occasionally, valves will wear out due to use, age, and sediment buildup. If you notice water coming out of both the faucet and the showerhead, it’s time to adjust or install a new diverter valve.
Installing a tub diverter is an easy task for most DIYers and can be completed in a single afternoon. In most cases, tub diverters are easy to access and remove. However, if a diverter valve is located behind walls, you may want to call a professional to install the diverter valve for you.
If your diverter valve is located on your tub’s spigot, the steps to replace it are similar to if it were located in a handle.
To determine if a repair or replacement is needed, the first step is to troubleshoot the problem.
You can replace a tub or shower diverter valve for under $50. If you hire a professional plumber, expect to spend at least $75 an hour for labor, plus the cost of supplies.
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