Weak shower pressure? Your faucet's diverter may be at fault. Learn how to fix the problem in just two steps.

Most single-handle shower faucets simply turn water on and off, and a pull-up diverter valve on the spout determines whether water goes up or down. Some models, however, have a diverter built into the handle. When a diverter is pushed in, a washer at the end seals the opening so water cannot rise up to the showerhead. A spring inside the diverter counteracts the effect of water pressure so the diverter can be easily pushed and pulled. When this diverter isn't working properly, you may experience weak shower pressure or an inconsistent flow. 

We'll show you how to fix the problem, but before you begin, you'll need to acquire the right parts. You may be able to find repair parts in a kit for a specific faucet. If not, standard O-rings and washers may fit. In some cases the seal is made with brass parts and no washers; simple cleaning and light sanding may solve the problem. A corroded diverter stem or one with a weak spring should be replaced. A plumbing-supplies store should be able to order it. Until you have the part, wrap duct tape around the handle of the diverter to keep it from pushing in too far. This will allow you to use the shower while waiting for the replacement part.

Most diverter repairs will take less than an hour. Before you begin, shut off the water, close the tub stopper, and place a rag in the tub to catch any loose parts.

What You Need

  • Screwdrivers
  • Adjustable wrench
  • Groove-joint pliers
  • Repair kit for your faucet model, or O-rings and washers to match

Step 1: Remove the Diverter

Shut off the water and turn the faucet on until the water stops flowing. Remove the handle and the escutcheon. Use groove-joint pliers or an adjustable wrench to remove the diverter unit.

Step 2: Remove and Replace Parts

Remove and replace any worn rubber parts. If the diverter itself is worn, you may be able to buy a replacement.

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