If your kitchen faucet has a spray hose, the kitchen faucet diverter is what redirects the water from the spout to the hose. Over time, sediment and mineral buildup can form on the sink sprayer diverter, causing reduced water or no water at all to the sprayer. It can even result in a sprayer that sputters or pulsates. If you suspect your sink faucet diverter valve is clogged, the faucet will need to be taken apart to remove the diverter and clean it.
Other Faucets With Diverters
Besides kitchen faucets, other faucets also have diverters. A tub and shower faucet, for example, has a diverter to redirect water from the showerhead to the tub spout. The diverter is usually located on the tub spout or as a lever or button on the faucet. A shower faucet with a hand-held showerhead will also have a diverter. If your diverter valve needs to be replaced, it's important to know what type you have.
Two-handle kitchen faucets with a spray will also have a sink sprayer diverter. They work exactly the same as the diverter on a single-handle kitchen faucet but are located right under the faucet cap, and removing one does not require removing the handles or the spout. They can also be cleaned in the same way as a single-handle kitchen faucet diverter. If a diverter will not come clean or is damaged, it will need to be replaced.
Unclogging a Diverter Valve
Step 1: Turn Off the Water
Turn off the water using the hot and cold shutoff valves located under the sink. If there are no shutoff valves under the sink, you can turn off the main shutoff valve, which will turn off the water to all of your fixtures. Turn the faucet on to drain out any water remaining in the lines.
Step 2: Remove the Handle
Find the set screw, usually located on the bottom of the handle of a single-handle faucet. It may be covered with a decorative cap that can be pulled off. Loosen the set screw and pull the handle off. The set screw can usually be removed with a hex or Allen wrench.
Step 3: Locate the Diverter
Loosen the faucet bonnet, or dome-shaped covering, by turning counterclockwise. This should turn off by hand, but if not place a cloth over the bonnet to avoid scratches and remove it with a pair of pliers. Remove the spout by gently moving it back and forth as you pull up. The kitchen faucet diverter is usually located at the front of the faucet body, but on some faucets it faces the back.
Step 4: Clean the Diverter
Remove the sink faucet diverter valve from the hole in the faucet body with needle-nose pliers. Soak the diverter for an hour or two in vinegar to break down the mineral deposits. Using a small brush, carefully clean the area on the faucet body where the diverter sits to remove any deposits or blockages from the area.
Step 5: Re-install the Diverter
Re-install the clean diverter in the faucet body, pushing it in with your finger. Lubricate the rubber O-rings on the faucet body with silicone faucet grease and then push the spout onto the faucet. Tighten the bonnet and re-install the handle, remembering to tighten the set screw and push the decorative cap over it.
Step 6: Turn the Water Back On
Turn on the water supply shutoff valves. Turn on the faucet and test the sink sprayer.
Gary Sprague is a retired master plumber who now works as a writer. He lives with his family in Maine.