The diverter valve is the part of the plumbing in the bathtub and shower combination that switches the water from the bathtub faucet to the showerhead and vice versa. The diverter is either part of the faucet or is between the faucet and the showerhead. Indications that it is not working properly are that the water will not go through the showerhead or the water will not fully divert to it and leave some water dripping through the tub faucet. There are also cases where the diverter can be stuck into position. Not only are these problems annoying but they also an unnecessary waste of water, increasing your water bill. Home inspectors will check to see if the diverter valve works properly. Note that the diverters cannot be 100% perfect and some water may escape from the spout, however, if it is more than just a drip or two every few seconds then it is a problem.
The problems that a defective diverter creates are twofold. The more obvious reason is that you will not be able to take a shower. Another thing that a defective diverter creates is weak water pressure in the pipes, resulting in poor flow through the showerhead. For this reason, the home inspector will make sure that the diverter stays in place when it is pushed or pulled. Another problem he would look for in the event that the waterspout leaks are signs of mold around the faucet due to constant leaks.
It is not too difficult to replace the spout, which houses some diverters. It will be necessary to remove the screw that attaches the spout to the wall, this screw is usually below the spout. A cloth can be used to catch the screw to prevent it from falling down the drain. If you take the spout to the hardware store, they will find a replacement for you. Make sure that it has the threads in the same location as the older one so that you can properly attach the new spout to the wall as some diverters have the threads higher up the valve than others do.
If the diverter is separate from the spout then you can remove the faceplate around the diverter and see if there is anything clogging it. If it is clear of debris then you should consider replacing it. If you are not certain as to how to proceed, it is recommended that you contact a plumber for assistance. Do NOT touch the valve if it extends behind the tile, unless you know what you are doing as breaking it will more difficult and costly repairs.
It is important to get a good quality spout or independent diverter rather than a less expensive one as these spouts are frequently used and quite often several times a day. In order to ensure that they work at peak efficiency for years, you must invest in the quality of the spout – not the price. When you are at the hardware store, speak to a qualified salesperson to assist you in getting the right faucet for your bathtub/shower.