I'm a new homeowner trying to replace a shower diverter. Not a plumber, so forgive any incorrect terms.

I have a female 1/2 inch connector inside the wall about 2 1/4 deep from the tub wall. The builders used a non-standard(?) 6.5inch PVC pipe going from that connector to a screw on type diverter. The old diverter is hopelessly clogged with deposits.

I'd like to replace this setup with an all metal option. Basically afraid of the PVC pipe breaking at the metal connection point, and flooding the inside of our walls. There's also an optional decorative spout ring, but preferred since there's some minor wall damage.

Option 1

  • Find a 6.75 inch brass nipple. (6.75 since the decorative ring adds .25in to the length of the diverter.)

Option 2

  • 4-ish inches of brass nipple to get out of the wall, then a PVC slip connector and glue the rest of the way to the end of the diverter.
  • Nice since I can control the size of the PVC with a slip connector and PVC glue
  • But here's the pipe length confusion part - how do I know how much PVC to add? How many turns of the spout are good?

Option 3

  • Use existing PVC pipe, since oddly 6.5in PVC can't be bought new at my local stores. Also no decorative ring. The current setup lasted this long...

Option 4 - anything you can suggest. Copper tube is not an option, since the hole to access inside the wall in barely 1.25 in wide.

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  • Not sure I understand. Pvc (and copper) are both very easy to cut to size. You don't buy a 6.5" section of pvc from the store - you buy a 5' section, cut off 6.5", and save the rest. You could even cut it long and trim it to length after it's connected inside the wall. That way you're sure to have the right length.
    – mmathis
    May 3, 2017 at 2:29
  • The standard is 1/2" hard copper tubing with a male NPT fitting sweated on (outside the wall). Apply pipe dope and screw it into the fitting inside the wall. The copper tubing would have been cut long. Now measure and figure how much to cut off the other end allowing for sweating on another 1/2" male NPT that the spout screws onto. May 3, 2017 at 11:58
  • Thanks for the help. Cutting a PVC pipe should be no issue, you're right. Is it risky having PVC the whole length from the inside wall connector to the diverter?
    – Mechow
    May 3, 2017 at 17:32

2 Answers 2


How do you know the diverter is "hopelessly" scaled up? Unscrew or otherwise detach the spout from the supply line and soak the diverter end of the spout in vinegar or in CLR to descale it. Then reattach it to the pipe.

From my understanding of your situation you do not have to change this pipe. Hard copper tubing with sweated on end fittings is better performing, but unless your pipe is leaking you don't absolutely have to change it. This pipe does not contain water when the valves are shut. So you cannot have a catastrophic failure of the plastic pipe when you are not using it.

  • Good points, I've descaled already and the valve is also quite damaged. Even pretty clean it sprays water out. Is there a way to detect slow leaks, or should I quit losing sleep over it?
    – Mechow
    May 3, 2017 at 17:22
  • The cost of doing it with copper is mostly not the copper tubing and the two fittings. You need emery cloth of right grit or cleaning tool, flux (lead free) , solder (lead free), torch, tubing cutter. Then you need to know how to sweat fittings onto copper. I always worry about leaking inside a wall, and I have had sweat joints leak and threaded joints leak. If you don't have evidence of a leak, it may be best to leave it as is and assume there isn't one. There is a learning curve on something as seemingly simple as sweating copper tubing. May 3, 2017 at 23:09
  • I have read about (but not seen) spouts that do not screw onto a male NPT fitting but slide on with O-ring or other seal and are held on with a set screw on the underside of the spout. You have to know what kind you have. This kind may be used only with diverter valves that are in the wall rather than in the spout. May 3, 2017 at 23:45

Dry fit your parts first. Generally speaking, if you can get the male threaded portion 1/2 way into the female fitting, you should be good.

However, be sure to use both teflon tape (one wrap only!!) AND pipe dope. You may regret only one or the other, but you'll never regret using both together.

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