Replace Shower Diverter in Leaky Tub Spout

So, you’re taking a shower, but you notice the spray is weak, and when you look down you see that a lot of water is lost, leaking out of your bathtub spout. Even if your tub spout just drips or dribbles a little, you probably don’t want to waste the water. How do you fix this? For this article, we’ll assume your bath and shower has a tub spout and a shower head, and that you pull up or push down on a little knob on your bath’s tap to route water either to just the tub or up the shower head. This little knob is what’s attached to the shower diverter and no matter how hard you pull up, you just can’t stop the tub spout leaking!

What is a shower diverter for your bathtub anyway?

Replacement shower diverter for leaky tub

Well, we know what a shower diverter does in keeping water from going into your tub when you’re taking a shower. This setup is when your bath has a combination shower/tub faucet. The shower diverter does it’s job simply by raising and lowering a small gate (called a diverter gate) to either block or allow water from coming through. It stops doing a good job at this when it gets worn, corroded, stuck or blocked. Your only hope is to get a replacement spout such as one like these, which of course comes with a whole new diverter and lever.

How to fix a leaky shower diverter in your tub spout?
With a faulty or broken shower diverter valve, your only choice really is to replace it instead of actually fix something in the mechanism. What’s more, is that you can’t just replace the diverter valve itself; you’ll need to buy and replace the bathtub spout altogether. The good news is that you can simply remove your old one so you’ll know which kind to replace it with. Before going forward, you can always take a quick look inside the end your spout at the diverter valve mechnism with a flashlight and see if there are any obstructions in there that can easily be removed. If so, do it and test it out. Chances are though that it’s ready to be replaced, especially if it’s stuck in position.

  • First,  remove the spout from the wall: Look under your spout and see if there is a little hole or opening near where the back of the spout meets the wall. If there is, then you would use an allen wrench (hex key) to unscrew the little screw inside there. This will allow you to pull the spout from the wall. Be sure to cover the drain so you don’t lose the screw! If you don’t have a hole and screw at the “‘under belly” of the spout, then you will need to twist off the spout with your hands. Do this by grabbing hold and twisting counter-clockwise. If the spout doesn’t budge, then insert a stick of solid wood or the end of a hammer and turn the spout that way. Don’t worry about bending it as you’ll soon be replacing it. If your shower and bath diverter spout was caulked, you can cut through this with a razor blade to make your removal easier.
  • When the spout is off, just make sure to match the same type when getting the new one. For example, if you had to twist yours off, then check that the threaded inlet hole on the new shower diverter spout is in the same position and is the same size diameter as your old one.
  • When you twist your new tub and shower diverter spout on, do so gently. These can be damaged if over-tightened. Don’t forget to recaulk your new shower diverter spout when you install it.


  1. Faith says;
    07 Nov 2009 - 8:15

    Hi Wayne,

    Here are some simple directions to fix the shower diverter in the spare bathroom.

    Love ya!!

  2. If its leaking when the diverter is up, why would you have to replace the entire spout, can’t you just get a new washer? The one that sits in the plastic piece that is attached to the rod and knob that you pull up on? That’s my problem, my spout is fine, that washer is completely shot, how can I get JUST a washer?

  3. Generally, diverter parts such as the washer just aren’t sold separately. This is one of those components where manufacturers find it easier just to sell the entire assembly (spout, diverter mechanism and lever) than individual pieces. Unfortunately, this is how it’s always been with tub spouts. The good news is these are pretty inexpensive ($5 or less) from universal types to brand-specific (unless you have some designer type or special kit setup). The bad news is the minor inconvenience described above to remove and replace the spout. It’s not so bad though.

  4. If you have a hard to replace tub spout, do the following:
    1. Buy a cheap diverter spout ($8)
    2. Remove the plasic diverter and rubber cup washer from both old and new spouts. (They all look the same to me)
    3. Swap
    4. Dispose of excess parts.
    5. Enjoy your shower. (it worked)
    6. It is revolting to spend $8 to get a 5 cent washer but you do what you have to. Someone makes these things.

  5. In my situation I am starting to think that I will have to repair the spout. Mine is a Waltec with an external shower. I am having a terrible time finding any brand that has that feature but is not a screw on connection to the plumbing in the wall. If anyone has instructions on opening up one of these spouts so I can get a look at the o-rings or washers inside please let me know. A manufacturer of a total replacement spout would be great too.

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