Replacing a Kohler toilet’s fill valve and etc

My Kohler toilet is installed under a “banjo” counter top such that when the fill valve needs to be replaced, the toilet has to be removed. Sigh. I like the extra counter space, but this is the price.

Some notes for the next time I have to do this:

  • Flushmaster valves suck. The last one lasted less than two years before starting to leak – and forcing me to remove the toilet…again. I’m hoping to have better luck with HydroClean, but I don’t like the looks of any of the fill valves at Home Depot. Next time, maybe I’ll see what they have at the plumbing supply place.
  • HD has a “korky” brand float flapper for my Kohler. (Why did Kohler have to re-invent the flushing mechanics inside the tank? They don’t work any better than the old ones.)
  • HD does not have the big squishy gasket that holds the outlettube. Check out the plumbing supply place.
  • A number one wax gasket works OK, but a thicker one might work better. Get the bolts, you’ll need them.
  • Get a cloth dropcloth, sponge, small bucket, something to bail water with, paper towels and rags. You’ll need a needle-nose pliers, regular pliers, flathead screwdriver, and the socket wrench set may come in handy.
  • First, shut off the inlet water valve. If it doesn’t stop the water from running, HD has a repair kit for those Brasscraft cut-offs – probably the gaskets have gone bad.
  • Flush the toilet.
  • Push down on the exit “tube” – rectangular on my Kohler – turn it slightly either way and pull it out. This will drain a lot of water out of the tank into the bowl.
  • Bail and sponge out the remaining water. Anything left in the tank will end up on the floor during the next step.
  • Under the tank, remove the braided water hose from the tank. You remembered to put a rag under the thing right? OK, mop it up
  • Unscrew the old, piece of junk that was the fill valve. The manufacturer should rot in Hell for eternity, for making a piece of junk that only lasted X years. Yes. Yes, they should.
  • Remove the fill valve from the tank. Yes. Now. Can you do it? You might have to bust it – go ahead. If you can get it out and get the new one in without removing the toilet, you are Golden. Take the gasket out of the bottom of the inlet valve! You need that! Put in back into the end of the braided water feed pipe.
  • Not golden. Pry off nut covers on the base of the tank (careful!) and expose the nuts. Remove them with no mercy. They will spin. You will curse. Cut them off if need be. You might be able to stick a screwdriver down under the nut or grab the bolt with a needle-nose pliers and turn the nut. Don’t be gentle, you will be replacing the bolts. You will be double-fastening the bolts next time. First you will use a washer and nut to fasten the bolt to the flange and THEN you will put the toilet over the bolts and fastening the toilet with another nut. Doh.
  • Pick the toilet straight up a few inches and place it on the cloth dropcloth. What? That’s virtually impossible? Yes, it is. It is very heavy, there’s the counter in the way, no room for your feet. You destroyed the wax gasket didn’t you? A #1 wax gasket from HD works. Scrape off most of the old wax gasket with some paper towels. Now that stuff will be coating everything if you are not careful.
  • Maybe you are Golden. Attempt to put the new fill valve into the tank without ever moving the toilet. Careful. Careful. Did it? Do a dance and sing a little song of joy.
  • Put the new fill valve in and adjust it using the bleeping instructions some dumb bleeping bleeper wrote.
  • If not golden, do the bolts right. Measure, then cut them off to the right length. Bolt them to the flange in exactly the right spots. Put the wax gasket down. Lift the toilet over the exact right spot without messing up the gasket, the bolts, or anything else. Using your super-powers, place the toilet in exactly the right spot. Put the washer, nut, and bolt covers back on.
  • Water on. Flush. Check for leaks. Clean up a bit. Check for leaks again. Clean up more, and check for leaks one last time.
  • Have a tall strong glass of clear liquid of some kind, your choice.
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