How to fix a leaking bathtub diverter?
February 6, 2017 11:01 AM   Subscribe

I've got a Delta three-handle faucet in our bathtub, and recently the diverter assembly broke. When I took the diverter apart, this part was broken in half.

I purchased a new diverter, installed it with silicon grease, and taped the escutcheon with teflon tape for good measure before re-installing the diverter.

The diverter now works — I can get water to the shower or tub faucet — but when I run any water, there's now a leak behind the wall. (It drips down through our dining ceiling room below the upstairs bath.)

Are there any likely causes for this kind of leak? I'd be delighted to hear that I might've mis-installed the new diverter cartridge, for example.

I'm less thrilled to get behind the tile, since there's no access panel, and I don't have a lot of money for a plumber's visit at the moment.
posted by jacob to Home & Garden (5 answers total)
I don't know how your particular faucet goes together, but wanted to comment that you shouldn't use teflon tape just 'for good measure.' It has a specific, limited purpose, but a lot of bad amateur advice suggests sprinkling it around like plumbers' magic pixie dust. Used incorrectly, it can cause problems instead of preventing them.
posted by jon1270 at 11:29 AM on February 6, 2017

Teflon tape is a lubricant that allows you to screw the pieces together tightly, i.e., it doesn't (in an of itself) provide a seal (which, I believe is a common misconception) and is only used on metal pipes.

Some pictures of existing plumbing would be helpful.
posted by she's not there at 1:05 PM on February 6, 2017

Related: did you apply sealant to that joint?
posted by she's not there at 1:11 PM on February 6, 2017

Teflon tape is a lubricant that allows you to screw the pieces together tightly, i.e., it doesn't (in an of itself) provide a seal

This is incorrect. In the types of joints where teflon tape is appropriate (i.e. tapered pipe threads), it absolutely becomes part of the seal, filling in gaps and other imperfections in the machined threads.
posted by jon1270 at 5:42 AM on February 7, 2017

Does this diagram and description look familiar?

If so, you might have messed up when you installed the new diverter core, and not gotten the new plastic part keyed in properly. You might have damaged the new plastic part when you torqued the extender sleeve on it, and you might need a new one. Take it apart and check it. Peer closely at things, with a flashlight. You are looking for clues.

Even if it's not exactly your part, that's still the place to look. It didn't leak before, and it leaks now, so it's something you did, or something that happened while you were doing it.

You might also have strained an incompetent or defective connection between the faucets and the diverter body (where you see the dark stuff on the pipes in that page: that's no-clean flux where they soldered that diverter body in) especially if you were overly-torquey about things.

Jon1270's advice on teflon tape is important. If you can't look at a plumbing situation and know where to use it and where to eschew it, then you should be following instructions. If you don't have instructions and you are doing repairs, then you should apply it in the same places you found it, and don't apply it in places you didn't find it.
posted by the Real Dan at 12:11 PM on February 7, 2017

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