Shower Diverter Stuck – Causes + Fix!

Whether you want to take a shower or a bath, turning on the water supply and choosing where it goes should be a simple matter. All you usually have to do is switch the diverter to the correct setting so that water pours out of your bathtub faucet or the shower head. 

But what if the shower diverter is stuck and you cannot switch it? Since switching between the bathtub faucet and the shower head is very important when you have a tub/shower combo, a faulty shower diverter can affect your daily quality of life. 

Some of the things you can do to fix a stuck shower diverter include lubricating the outside of the diverter or taking it apart to fix it.

We have gathered important information about this issue to help you understand why your shower diverter might be stuck and how to get it unstuck.

What is a Shower Diverter?

A shower diverter is a valve that lets people with a tub/shower combo turn the flow of water from going to the bathtub faucet, diverting it to the showerhead above instead. 

You can find your shower diverter right on your tub spout if your tub/shower combo is relatively modern. In older setups, the shower diverter is on the shower valve.

While a faulty shower diverter might seem like a minor annoyance, it can actually be dangerous. Imagine expecting hot water to fall onto you from the showerhead, and instead it suddenly pours around your sensitive feet. This can cause some people to slip.

Accidents in showers and bathtubs are scarily common and result in more than 70 deaths each year, according to the Consumer Product Safety Commission.

bathtub with shower diverter

Shower Diverter Knob Stuck

Knowing whether your shower diverter is stuck or not is not always as straightforward as it should be. 

You might move the diverter knob slightly but see no change in the flow of water. This indicates that the knob has come loose from the diverter itself, perhaps as a result of the pressure of being turned while the shower diverter became more and more stuck.

On the other hand, it could be that just the knob itself is stuck. If this is the case, getting the knob unstuck will be all you will have to do.

Whether the knob moves or not, your shower diverter might still be stuck if water doesn’t divert from your bathtub faucet to your shower head. Even if some water does trickle out of the shower head, you are most likely dealing with a stuck shower diverter and not just a stuck knob.

Before you call a plumber for expensive professional assistance, there are some simple solutions you can try to get your shower diverter unstuck.

Why is My Shower Diverter Stuck?

Taking a shower is often preferable to a bath since it is quick and gets you right on your way to other daily tasks. So when your shower diverter is stuck, it can take away precious time, especially when you are running late for work.

Some possible causes include debris, corrosion, and mineral deposit build-up. But unfortunately, inspecting your bathtub/shower combo without taking it apart will not point to the cause. You’ll probably need to disassemble it first.

To get to the bottom of things and get your shower diverter back to proper working order, consult the following guide with simple steps:

Guide to Getting a Shower Diverter Unstuck

Before you get on with this fix, you might want to try applying some WD-40 on the outside of your shower diverter to see if that solves the issue. If not, keep going.

Put your mind into safety mode and:

  • Make sure that there are no water spills in or around the tub.
  • Put on non-slippery footwear to avoid a slip or fall.
  • Turn off the water supply and electricity. Further, ensure that no nearby electrical wires can touch the water.

Also, as OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration) suggests, while performing plumbing tasks, you should employ proper lifting techniques and keep your back straight to avoid musculoskeletal disorders or back problems.

In order to fix your shower diverter, you are going to need:

  • Faucet sockets
  • A flat-head screwdriver
  • An adjustable wrench
  • A Phillips screwdriver
  • Faucet lube
  • Washers
  • Towels. 

Once you have these materials, follow these steps: 

bathtub with shower head

1. Detach the screw.

Use a flat-head screwdriver to take off the small cover in the center of the diverter valve. This gives you access to the screw. Get the screw off and then the diverter handle. If the screw is stubborn, you might have to use WD-40 to loosen it.

2. Take off the diverter system.

With the diverter handle off, you can remove the metal plate (escutcheon) and use your faucet socket to remove the diverter stem. You can then take off the diverter system by loosening the packing nut on it.

3. Inspect and repair the diverter system.

Inspect the entire diverter assembly for signs of wear and tear as well as corrosion while cleaning it with a mix of vinegar and water. Replace the washer and screw after lubricating the threads thoroughly. This should ensure that your shower diverter no longer sticks.

4. Inspect the circular seat.

Use an adjustable wrench to remove the circular seat where the diverter system was before you took it off. Inspect it thoroughly for tear and wear. If it looks like it is on its last legs, it is best to replace it.

5. Replace the diverter system.

Now all you have to do is put everything back in place and test your shower diverter to see if you have resolved the issue.


This guide to fixing a stuck shower diverter can help you get it done in under a few hours and at a minimal cost. However, if you find it difficult or are worried about damaging other components while performing this fix, a local plumber will be more than happy to help.