remove kitchen faucet diverter valve

What Is A Faucet Diverter Valve (And How Do You Clean It)?

The faucet diverter valve is the most delicate component of your entire tub and shower faucet or kitchen faucet. Unfortunately, it can clog up, and even a clean valve won’t work if its covering fills with grit or dirt.

If you have cleaned your faucet’s aerator and still have problems — low or uneven water pressure, or a failure to switch smoothly from spout to spray and back again — it’s time to clean your faucet diverter valve.

What is a Faucet Diverter Valve?

A faucet diverter valve is a plumbing mechanism that lets you “divert” (or redirect) water from your bathtub faucet to your showerhead and back. You can also use it to switch back and forth between the kitchen faucet and the faucet sprayer. In either case, it allows water to be diverted from one spout to another.

faucet diverter valve - two types diagram
This illustration details the parts — and points out the location of diverter valves — for two different types of faucets.

How to Clean the Faucet Diverter Valve

Unfortunately, faucet diverters can stop working from wear or damage. You will need to replace it when this happens. But sometimes all they need are a good cleaning. That’s what we’re going to look at today. Let’s walk through the instructions for cleaning a sink faucet diverter as our example.

1. Getting Into the Spout

The spout often is secured to the faucet body by a grooved ring In older faucets. In others, it’s secured by a nut or screw atop the spout. These often chrome-plated fasteners are easily scratched or damaged. Remove them carefully.

  • Use a tape-wrapped wrench or pliers to carefully remove the fastener.
  • Inside the faucet body, you should be able to see the tip of the diverter valve, usually capped by a brass screw. The screw is an integral part of the valve.
  • Turn the screw just enough to free the valve from the valve seat inside the faucet body.
  • Pull out the screw and valve together.
  • You can pull a valve without a screw top straight with pliers.
remove faucet diverter valve straight up
In this case, the faucet diverter valve is able to be pulled straight out with a pair of pliers. Be firm but gentle. If you scratch or damage the diverter valve in any way, you will need to replace it.

2. Cleaning the Valve

The faucet diverter valve will have a distinctive pattern of small outlets and channels. It might come as a removable inner body sliding in a sleeve.

  • Don’t work over the sink. But if you do, close the stopper so no parts fall down the drain.
  • If possible, take it apart and clean all of its openings and surfaces with a sharp, soft object like a toothpick. You can easily scratch or nick the valve. Do not use a metal tool for this job. If you nick it, you’ll need to buy a replacement.
  • As you work, flush the valve frequently with water at full force from a working faucet.
  • Reassemble the valve and spout.
  • If you’ve also checked and cleaned the aerator, but you’re still having trouble with switching, you’ll need to replace thee diverter valve.
  • Take the vale to your hardware store or plumbing supply center and make sure you get a perfect match (same brand, make and model).
faucet diverter valve - clean with wd-40
Here’s a quick, easy way to possibly loosen a stuck diverter valve in your tub spout. Just use the “straw” found on a can of lubricant to spray directly into the spout near the diverter. Try this several times, testing after each time, before moving on to our written instructions above.

Final Thoughts

A faucet diverter valve can often be “unclogged” or “unstuck” with a simple cleaning. But if that doesn’t work, you can simply replace the diverter with a new one. Just make sure you switch it out with an exact duplicate so you don’t have problems. Just follow the steps above and you’ll be just fine.

Call 1-Tom-Plumber

Don’t hesitate to contact us here or call us at 1-Tom-Plumber (1-866-758-6237) if you need help repairing or replacing a faucet diverter valve.

1-Tom-Plumber’s certified team of plumbers and drain technicians respond immediately to any emergency plumbing, drain cleaning, or water damage problem. We also handle the excavation of underground water lines and sewer main lines. Our immediate-response team is available every day and night of the year, even on holidays.

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