What is a Shower Diverter Valve?

Most homes have a shower diverter valve, but do you know what your diverter valve does? The answer depends on where it's located.

Shower project new diverter valve
By Tomwsulcer (Own work) [CC0], via Wikimedia Commons

There are two types of shower diverter valves. One enables your tub to double as a shower, eliminating the need for a separate shower stall. The second type of shower diverter valve is found near the shower head. It enables you to use the standard overhead shower, as well as a hand-held shower head for soaping and washing different parts of the body.

Type 1: Tub Diverter Valve

This type of shower diverter valve converts your tub into a shower. Its function is to redirect water from the tub spout to the shower head. There are actually at least three variations of this type of shower diverter valve:

Three-valve diverter.

You will find this shower diverter valve between the taps of a two-tap faucet. After using the hot and cold faucets to get the desired shower temperature, the diverter handle is turned clockwise to redirect the water flow to the shower head. Turning the handle counter-clockwise returns the flow to the tub.

Two-valve diverter.

This type of diverter has two L-shaped valves and can be located in the center of a faucet that adjusts water temperature with a single dial or between the taps of a two-tap faucet. Turning the handle redirects water from the tub spout to the shower head after the desired shower temperature is set.


This diverter is the part of the tub spout. The diverter handle simply pulls straight up, sending all water from the tub spout to the shower head.

To reduce stress and wear on each type of valve, release the diverter and let water flow back into the tub once showering is complete, before shutting off the water.

If you are away from home and run into a shower diverter you’re not familiar with, always set your water temperature while standing outside the tub to avoid being scalded.

If your home shower has water flowing from both the tub spout and shower head, it’s probably time to call in a professional to clean or replace the shower diverter valve.

Type 2: Showerhead Diverter Valve

If you have multiple shower heads in your bathroom or plan on installing some, you will need this type of shower diverter valve. Fortunately, it's pretty easy for even a beginner to install, and it comes in a variety of shapes to fit your design needs. Many shower diverter valves are also inexpensive and can be purchased at any local hardware or home supply store.

Follow these steps to install a shower head diverter valve:

  1. Remove your regular shower head. You may need a wrench, but it should unscrew fairly easily.
  2. Screw the diverter valve onto your water pipe. Make sure you have a tight fit to avoid drips or loss of water pressure.
  3. Place the original shower head on the diverter valve, again making sure you have a snug fit.
  4. Install the hand-held shower head onto the diverter valve. Once more, make sure the fit is snug to avoid leakage.
  5. Test the shower diverter valve by running water through the regular shower head. If it’s working properly, use the lever or button on the diverter valve to switch the flow to the hand-held shower head. As you test, make sure that neither shower head is leaking.
  6. Test the diverter again the day after installation to confirm there are no leaks.

The process is just that simple. With only a small investment of money, time and effort, your next hot, steamy shower will be all the more enjoyable. If you're concerned about having trouble with your shower diverter valve, American Home Shield offers home warranties that cover diverters and will help you get your shower diverter fixed if you need repairs.


AHS assumes no responsibility, and specifically disclaims all liability, for your use of any and all information contained herein.

See more in:
Consumer Affairs Icon
Best Company Awards Icon
Women’s Choice Award Icon
Need help?
Talk to our Shield Agents 24/7.