shower diverter problem
I recently started using my 2nd bathroom since I'm having to do wall and tile repairs in the master bathroom (termites, another story). Since I hadn't used it regularly, the shower diverter in the guest bathroom won't turn the shower on anymore. There is real hard, alkaline water here.
I unscrewed and removed the diverter handle with the idea of replacing the cartridge. I can't get the sleeve off to get to anything else, although I can get the sleeve to rotate. I sprayed it with penetrating oil, and later sprayed it with lime away (several times), wrapped it with duct tape and tried to pulled it off with pliers. It still won't come off, nor will it unscrew.
The plumber came out to check it yesterday (and to replace some shut-off valves and faucets for me that were corroding). He sprayed lubricant on the diverter part sticking out of the sleeve (I hadn't tried the Lime Away yet) and attached the handle and tried to turn it. It didn't budge.
He said it is not repairable, and that he will have to break the tiles up with a hammer for several rows and replace the whole faucet set, and that he could recommend a guy to fix the walls and re-tile with non-matching tiles after that. He wants $250 for his part, including the faucet, hot and cold knobs and shower diverter. He only uses the parts he supplies, BTW, and does not give you a choice of styles. He wants to do it that way so he knows what he's dealing with. My pipes are copper and the house was built in 1965. I think he might be worried about the pipe breaking if he twisted the cartridge out, because one broke when he replaced a toilet valve, and he had to cut into the bedroom wall to resolder it.
He also recommended that I replace my gas water heater, which is exactly 9 years old now. It's not leaking (yet) or making noise, but he said they usually last 8 years here. It will total almost $700 for a 40 gallon. He only carries Bradford White and does not have a choice of styles or warranties (ie 9 year or 12 year). He said there is going to be a big problem putting it in because there is not much room in the closet (it has to get past the air heater). The current one is also 40 gallon. I had seen regular and tall, skinnier ones at stores, so I asked about getting a tall, skinny one. He said that those only come in electric.
The plumber works by himself and did seem to do good work on things he accomplished. However, is it really going to be necessary to destroy the wall in order to have a shower again? The shower worked fine before the diverter froze, and there are no leaks there. I'm going to be putting out a lot of money soon due to the termites, and eventually for the water heater, and I really can't afford $250 for a new faucet, plus whatever the it would cost to replace the wall and tile. Plus, Mom is coming to visit in March, and this is the bathroom she will use!
Also, what do you think about the water heater and that brand? I don't want to have to worry about it leaking, but it's a big expense right now on top of other big expenses. I had originally asked for a Rheem or Ruud, but he said he can't get those here.
I would appreciate any input anyone could give me.
Thanks in advance,