Steven L. Smith, Bellingham, WA Home Inspector (King of the House)


Equality: Not Alway Good

This is not a political statement, it refers to plumbing.

When it comes to plumbing, I repeat, equality is not always good. Case in point --  I see this minor plumbing concern at bathtub/showers and at kitchen sinks. The problem is subtle and few people, other than inspectors or plumbers, seem to notice it. Here is the deal, inside a faucet assembly there is a diverter valve. 

This valve moves up and down and has a simple and specific purpose. When the water is coming out the spout or the tap, then no water should be coming from the shower head or the hose sprayer at the sink. Let's reverse that. When the shower head is on, or the hose sprayer is being used, then the diverter should block any water that would come out of the tap or the tub spout.

The photo below, quite clearly, shows that the diverter is not functioning at this sink. In this case, equal is not good. Mr Valve, please choose one side or the other, not both. These diverter valves are normally easy to replace but having the tools to access the diverter can be a problem for some homeowners. A plumber can fix it no problem at all. Does this little and common problem have to be fixed? Well, no it does not! You will live for years even if it is ignored.

However, especially with the shower scenario, an awful lot of hot water and energy is wasted and runs down the drain, when both the shower head and the spout are running.   



Steven L. Smith

Bellingham WA Home Inspections

Steven L. Smith

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Comment balloon 12 commentsSteven L. Smith • August 27 2008 02:10PM


Funny, we have a newer house, 2 years old, and have this problem already.  Where is the diverter valve located?  I'm handy!

Posted by Randall Schrader (Competitive Insurance of Dundee) over 11 years ago

Haven't had this problem yet. Thanks for writing. Veronica

Posted by Veronica DeCarolis (Weidel Realtors) over 11 years ago


Check out the link. The info on the diverter is near the bottom of the page. This is all you need to know and way more.


Veronica, glad it was interesting. Eventually, they all seem to develop problems.


Posted by Steven L. Smith, Bellingham WA Home Inspector (King of the House Home Inspection, Inc.) over 11 years ago

This is a great blog for every home owner to know about. We had that issue when we first bought our home 6 yrs ago and of course fixed it right away thanks to a plumber friend who told us that its not suppose to work like that (I thought great I can use one side and my hubby can use the other side and we both would get water) ha ha ha. I was wrong. But wonderful post Steven.

Posted by Dione Sage (Nova Home Loans) over 11 years ago


Amazing how many people think it is normal. The other fallacy is that the air-gap from the dishwasher should gush water, long as it ends up in the basin. Not!

Posted by Steven L. Smith, Bellingham WA Home Inspector (King of the House Home Inspection, Inc.) over 11 years ago

And the problem there is if you tape the shower heads lever down to get the unsuspecting victim on April Fools day, you wont have enough pressure to totally douse them!

Posted by Robert Rauf (HomeBridge Financial Services (NJ)) over 11 years ago

Steve, that link is enough to keep anyone from trying it on their own----kind of reminds me of my Excel tutorial:)  And you are right-----sooner or later they all seem to fail

Posted by Charles Buell, Seattle Home Inspector (Charles Buell Inspections Inc.) over 11 years ago


Not wanting to write a treatise, that was as good as I could do.

Posted by Steven L. Smith, Bellingham WA Home Inspector (King of the House Home Inspection, Inc.) over 11 years ago

Yep, very common, even in new construction.  I used to perform quality control inspections for many builders in WA and I'd say at least 50-60% of shower diverters had this problem.

Posted by Kevin Pierce, New Construction Warranty Management (Cascade Builder Services) over 11 years ago


Yes, we see that one an awful lot around here.

Posted by Steven L. Smith, Bellingham WA Home Inspector (King of the House Home Inspection, Inc.) over 11 years ago

You seem to know just where to go to find a problem!  I think I used to have this problem and wondered why the heck anyone wanted that stupid spray head in the sink.

Posted by Barbara S. Duncan, GRI, e-PRO, Executive Broker, Searcy AR (RE/MAX Advantage) over 11 years ago

Yep, I use to have tjose problems with the showers in the bathrooms of my apartments. Some I was able to fix other I wasn't.

Sean Allen

Posted by Sean Allen, International Financing Solutions (International Financing Solutions ) over 11 years ago