View Full Version : Hissing Kohler K4520

08-03-2012, 09:16 PM

This Kohler K4520 is now hissing because the ballcock seems to not be getting depressed all the way. If I lift the ball float it stops. I've already bent the float rod to make sure the fill line was being reached but it didn't help. I'm not sure what I need to replace to fix this, any ideas? Not sure if I might need #2 or #3 or both (or neither?) from the 4520 diagram here: http://www.*******************/kohlertoiletparts-wellworth-4500s.html


08-03-2012, 09:56 PM
Blecch. $25 in parts to fix a hissing ballcock? Sucks.

First, let's make sure that it's not hissing because your tank water is draining around, say, a leaky flapper and it's hissing because it's refilling the water that's leaking out of the tank and into the bowl. Easiest way: mark the water level in the tank with a pencil. Turn off the water to the toilet for a few hours. Check the tank and see if the level is exactly the same. If it isn't, your fill valve is hissing because you're losing water and it's refilling the tank. Most likely, this indicates a need for a new flapper. You can buy the Kohler flapper or you can buy the Korky replacement, which is probably higher-quality. The Korky part for your toilet is No. 58BP (the "Flush Ball Flapper"), assuming that your toilet is the K4520 version of the Wellworth, and assuming that someone hasn't changed the flush valve. Lowe's has it here: Lowe's 58PK Page (http://www.lowes.com/pd_113743-868-58PK_0__?productId=1004851&Ntt=korky). Don't worry about the letters after the number; it's a common thing with Lowe's to change the BP to PK on Korky product numbers. If this looks like what you have, it's the only flapper that looks like that. HD doesn't carry it. Grainger does, but only for mail order. Korky instructions for it here: Korky 58BP instructions (http://korky.com/PDF/58BP.pdf)

But if it is indeed some problem with the fill valve, then let me make a suggestion. It appears that the later models of this toilet use a Fluidmaster 400A fill valve. This means that your toilet will take basically any plain-vanilla aftermarket fill valve. Lots of the plumbers on here swear by the 400A, but they are more of a pain to install than the Korky 528. If it were I, and my girlfriend, say, asked me what to do, I would tell her to go to Lowe's (or HD or ACE) and plunk down $9 for the plain-vanilla Korky 528 with the white cap. (I have five toilets with Korky 528s in our house.) Then I would tell her to replace the ballcock with that valve. It's pretty darn easy. It's easy to adjust the water level, then you just lock it in place and forget it. There's a video here about how to do it: Korky 528 replacement video (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Th5299IulF4&feature=player_embedded) And here are the written instructions: Korky written instructions (http://korky.com/PDF/528.pdf). The thing is easy to install, has a five-year warranty, and the manufacturer has really nice people in Wisconsin who will help you do it over the phone if you need help at 1-800-LAVELLE. (Lavelle makes Korky products.) There's just no reason to mess with a ballcock if you can replace it with a valve like this. And if you ever have a problem with this valve, all you have to do to fix it is usually to open it, remove a little cap, rinse it off (or, years from now replace it with a $3 part you can get at Lowe's), reassemble and you're back in business. Charmingly-low-budget Korky 528 Marketing Video (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lsDNO80Nc2s) If you do go this route, note two these two tips: First, because of the anti-siphon action of this valve (to prevent tank water from siphoning back into your house water supply), the valve drips water from the top a little, as shown in the instructions; ignore it. I mention this because it ends up being a common question: why is my 528 "leaking"? It isn't. Second, be sure you put the refill tube on a clip on top of the overflow riser, as instructed. (Terry always says to "daylight" the refill hose above the overflow riser.) If you just shove the tube down the overflow riser, it will siphon tank water out of the tank and down the overflow riser into the bowl, leading you to ask why your tank water level is dropping.

If you really like more of a challenge, I know that many plumbers like that 400A (Made in Mexico while Korky is made in the USA), but it's significantly more steps, and significantly more complicated, to install. No big deal for plumbers, but then soldering copper pipe is no big deal for plumbers.

Anyway, in sum: I would make sure it's actually a fill valve (ballcock) issue first, and, if so, ditch the ballcock and install the Korky 528. [Expect some of my compatriots to disagree about which aftermarket fill valve to use, the 528 or the 400A, because each has its proponents, but that's my 2 cents and I'm confident they will agree with the rest.]

08-04-2012, 10:09 PM
Thanks so much for the advice, I'm going to give it a try and I'll report back. I didn't know if it was possible to replace those old fashioned ball floats with the floatless type, and I wasn't able to get a clear answer from searching, so I'm glad you suggested it. Wish me luck.

08-04-2012, 10:53 PM
Good luck! :cool:

I'm thinkin' there's a decent chance it's the flapper if you haven't replaced it in a while. But changing out the fill valve is a fun, rewarding project, particularly with the 528.

A few other tips if you do it. First, some people sponge up the water remaining in the tank after flushing and before removing the valve. Others suck it up with something like a turkey baster. (There's actually a $35 device that some pros use that's like a big piston that sucks it out.) Or if you have a shop vac, that's absolutely the easiest way to get it out. Others just put that bucket under the hole in the china where the valve is and let the water just splash in there and around a little on the floor (the amount remaining after flushing of course, not the whole tank full). I started out doing it the careful way; now I just use the bucket because it's a thousand times faster and usually not that messy. But if you have nice wallpaper or something around the toilet, suck up the water first so you don't mess it up. Second, you may need a wrench or channel locks to get the mounting nut on the old valve to turn. It's supposed to be hand-tightened, and thus hand-loosenable, but don't be afraid to use a tool to put some leverage to uninstall the nut if you need to. But do just hand tighten the new nut. Third, I don't know if you have a hose that runs from your water source on the wall or a solid metal pipe piece. Since you aren't taking the tank off, either will work because the new valve shank will go exactly where the old one went and you won't likely get a leak, but the hose is easiest to deal with and if for some reason you do get a leak when re-hooking up a piece of pipe, it's easiest to just unscrew the little pipe piece between wall valve and toilet valve, go to the hardware store and get the braided stainless toilet hose, and screw that on. If you bring the pipe piece, you can be sure to get the proper size connection for the wall-valve end; the toilet-side end is a standard dimension everywhere.

This is easier than I'm making it sound, I assure you.

Good luck again! And we'll enjoy hearing about your success!

08-05-2012, 07:05 AM
Okay I left the water to the toilet off overnight. The water in the tank went all the way down! I guess I'll be visiting Lowes asap to pick up that flapper you suggested. Thanks again and I'll let you know how it goes.

08-05-2012, 08:00 AM
The pleasure is all mine! Glad to know you'll be up and running again soon! (PS They're going to have a zillion "Fits Kohler" flappers, but you need the specific model we discussed, which is the only one that looks like a tank ball, assuming that that's what your current one looks like.)

08-08-2012, 07:49 AM
I replaced the flapper in the K4520 and it was a good thing because the old one was definitely deteriorating. I actually used the Kohler replacement because that's what they had in Home Depot. But unfortunately the tank still empties. I don't think it's emptying into the bowl. So I guess I should proceed to the Korky 528 valve, correct? Also, if you don't mind, I also have a K4590 with a Fluidmaster 400 fill valve that needs a new cap, maybe a gasket too, but the cap instructions said if it is over 5 years old to replace the whole valve instead. Can I switch to the Korky 528 for the K4590 too or should I stick with the Fluidmaster? Thanks again for this help, this is awesome to get expert help this way!

08-08-2012, 06:28 PM
There are about 4 ways the water in the tank of a toilet can leak out:
1. If it is a two piece, it could leak out under the screws holding the tank on - you'd see that on the floor.
2. The most common is from a bad or misaligned flapper valve.
3. On a two-piece, the flapper valve seat might be leaking (the big nut on the bottom might seal it) - normally, it just goes into the tank, not the floor.
4. If the refill hose is not installed properly (i.e., pushed down into the overflow tube), it can cause the tank to siphon.

A fill valve won't cause the tank to empty unless it is leaking around the seal that holds it in place (and you'd likely see that on the floor). Usually, a Fluidmaster and the Korky fill valves are interchangeable. But, sometimes you may need a special version - you want the tank and the bowl balance to be proper or you'll waste water (if too much goes into the bowl), or get a poor flush (if not enough water goes into the bowl). The fill valve only knows about filling the tank, not the bowl, so the balance is important to get both done at the same time.

08-08-2012, 09:11 PM
Okay, first things first. The Korky 528 will fit your K4590 Portrait toilet. If you need to replace the valve, the Korky will be easier to install.

Now to the Wellworth 4520. As Jim discussed, the most likely place that the water is exiting the tank is through the flush valve. The fill valve can't be the culprit because you had the water turned off at the wall, so even if for some reason there was a siphon through that valve, the valve at the wall was closed. So somehow it's going through the hole that has the flush valve in it. Either through (1) a crack in the flush valve, (2) a siphon down the overflow riser through the refill tube (which only happens if the refill tube isn't mounted above the top of the overflow riser on the little clip; if it's sticking down the overflow riser, that's a likely problem, if it's "daylighted" above the overflow riser, it isn't your problem, or (3) right through the mouth of the flush valve even though you just replaced the flapper.

So let's go through it:

(1) We're sure we have the right flapper for this flush valve, right? If the flush valve has never been changed, it takes that flapper that looks like a flush ball, or an avocado. Presumably what you put on looks just like what you took off, right? HD didn't sell you the wrong flapper, I hope.

(2) So...a question. When you turn off the water to the toilet and it ends up empty in the morning, does "empty" mean that there is absolutely no water in it? Or does empty mean that there's a little water in the bottom, maybe right to the bottom of the mouth of the flush valve that is covered by the flapper? If so, than the likely culprit is the seal between the flapper and the flush valve, one way or another. If the tank is totally, completely empty, then there is either a crack in the bottom of the flush valve or there is a leak around the gasket under the flush valve. But you can't lose a whole tank around that gasket and not have it end up on the floor, so I'm thinking crack. If "empty" means that it goes down to somewhere above the flapper, then it's either a siphon (see above), or there's a crack at or around that spot on the flush valve.

So...to solve: (A) if we're thinking that it's going out between the flapper and the flush valve, first, check the chain length. Do you have at least one ring of slack in the chain when the flush arm is at rest, slack that you can see. You don't need much, but sometimes if the chain is totally-taught, it can hold the flapper imperceptibly-open. Sometimes the flush handle rotates a little and that leaves the flush arm, when it is at rest, a little higher than you originally set it, so it's worth a double-check. Also make sure that for some reason when you put the lid back on it doesn't affect this, like pushing down on the handle. Also make sure you don't have too much slack in the chain so that it's getting caught under the flapper when it closes, or otherwise the flapper isn't getting hung up. (B) If not A, then run your finger around the mouth of the flush valve. Is it completely-smooth? Is there any gunk on it that might hold the flapper off in one spot? You can Brillo it a bit and see if that doesn't make a difference. Also, there are kits that you can get that put a new gasket around the mouth of the flush valve, but we can get to that later if we have to. (C) If not A or B, then maybe there is a crack. Run you hands all over the flush valve and make sure no cracks.

Is there no little disturbance of the water in the bowl at all after the toilet has sit for a few minutes? Any ripples on the surface? You might see just a little bit. To confirm that the water is going from the tank into the bowl, you can drop a little food coloring in the tank. Start by trying to get it just down at the bottom, and see if you can see it being sucked into or around the mouth of the flush valve. If there's no colored water in the bowl after a while, then you can agitate the water just a smidge so that now the tank is filled with dyed water. If the dyed water then starts leaking into the bowl, there's a crack in the overflow riser somewhere above the flapper, most likely.

I could tell you just to go get the Korky Complete toilet overhaul kit, which comes with a 528 fill valve and a new flush valve and flapper. It's probably an hour-long project, which involves removing the tank from the bowl. It's fun, and Korky's instructions are excellent, but unless you are super-enthusiastic pulling off the tank and then reseating it can seem like a lot of work. However, Korky has phone people who can walk you through it if you have any difficulties, or you can ask questions here. Before we get there, let's go through these simple steps first, as outline above.

Let us know what you find.

Good luck!!

PS If you want to post a low-res photo on here of what's in your tank, give us an establishing shot of the whole tank with the top off, maybe one with the water at the level that it drains to, and a closeup of the flush valve. Maybe we can see something.

08-25-2012, 11:17 AM
I got the Korky Complete overhaul kit, one quick question: The sponge gasket it comes with is a little smaller and a different style than the Kohler 51531 oem one, is that alright or do I need the specific Kohler one?

08-25-2012, 11:54 AM
Hey, Farlz! Congratulations! Be sure you have: (1) a set of channel locks or good wrench to unscrew the flush valve nut, which although it's just supposed to be hand-tightened can be sticky and (2) a decent socket/ratchet to get the tank bolts off and on, because they can be corroded and a pain without a deep socket; (3) a flexible hose (braided stainless) from the water supply to the toilet, which is just plain the easiest way to reattach the water supply. This will make things much easier.

I think you'll be fine with the Korky red gasket, because, remember, it's now going to fit over the flush-valve mounting nut of your NEW Korky flush valve! The only concern would be if the red sponge gasket didn't sit nicely in the hole in the base on which it is going to balance, compress and seal. Try just placing it on there alone, without all the other junk Kohler gives you (I was looking at the exploded parts list for the toilet and it seems like there is some extraneous junk on there), and if it isn't swallowed up by the hole, you're in business. (I have read a couple of reviews of folks who used the kit on a Wellworth, and nobody mentioned any issue with the sponge gasket, so I think you'll be fine.) I think the idea of a universal sponge gasket is that it is going to be bigger than some and maybe smaller than others, but if it fits in the hole and compresses, you're set. I have installed several of these kits and it is different every time, except that it works great in the end every time.

Oh, and put some towels or something soft down on the floor to place the china on so you don't scratch the china; get yourself a plastic garbage bag just to heave all the old parts in as they come out of the toilet. Also, keep all your new parts together in one place, maybe in a bowl or plastic container or little box, drawing them out as you need them. I learned all this the hard way. ("Now where IS that nut?")

I will keep an eye on the thread today; feel free to come back with any questions while you're working on it. Have FUN! And just read the instructions carefully and follow step-by-step, and you can't go wrong!

NOTE TO MODERATORS: I just LOVE my new profile picture! Wish I had that view from my apartment! Thanks!

NOTE TO FARLZ: Sorry for the earlier misspelling of your screen name; I didn't have my glasses on and I misread it. Thought it was a cute toilet reference. Oops. I corrected it.

08-26-2012, 04:28 PM
Farlz: I have been watching the thread to see how you are coming along. How's it going out there? :confused:

08-26-2012, 07:57 PM
Wjcandee - I am SOO sorry for being so bad about writing back in here, you have been awesome with your help. I was telling my wife last night how I feel bad, you write these long super helpful posts that help me a lot and I barely respond. I do apologize. My only excuse is lack of time, between my 6 yr old, 8 yr old, puppy we got 2 weeks ago and 4 hours commuting every day, time is at a premium. Anyways, you were right about the tank still "emptying" after the flapper was even replaced, it was actually emptying to the level of the flush valve opening. But instead of continuing on that path I went for the big bang you suggested and got the complete overhaul kit and I'm happy to report everything is now working perfectly (well I think I need a specific Kohler compatible handle, I guess oval shaped so it will lock in place unlike the Fluidmaster round nut one I put on). It took a couple of Home Depot trips, had to buy channel locks and the braided tubing, and it leaked a little at first until I gave the nuts and bolts connecting the tank to the bowl a few twists with a wrench which were only hand tightened before, but I think I'm all set now! I think I found a navy blue seat to order to match the color of the toilet (that wasn't easy), and I still need to put the other Korky fill valve I got on the other toilet, but thanks to you I feel like a toilet expert now. Thanks again for everything, and I know where to turn if I run into any problems.
Take care,

08-26-2012, 08:54 PM
No worries. It's my pleasure! I'm glad that you tackled the Big Job successfully! I'm delighted to help, because I know the satisfaction that comes from accomplishing something totally new! I know you will have a feeling of satisfaction every time you flush. It's okay -- stand over the thing and flush it, then watch it fill and flush it again. You did it!

Now changing the fill valve on the other unit will be a piece of cake.

Impressive job finding a navy blue seat, as well.


PS There are all kinds of trip levers (handles) out there, and most have that oval insert so it doesn't twist. I put this Strom Plumbing one Strom Trip Lever (http://www.vintagetub.com/asp/product_detail.asp?item_no=P0016S) in supercoated brass on one of our old toilets; given what the toilet manufacturers charge for Original Equipment trip levers it wasn't that much more and it really looks classy in our particular bathroom. It took me a few minutes to figure how to disassemble and reassemble the thing out of the box, but once I got it figured out, I was pleased with the really-high quality, and ordered a second one for another toilet. Not saying it's for you, but what is cool is to realize that the toilet is just a china vessel with some standard fittings that you can then customize with stuff like this (and like the stuff that you put in). In my case, just unscrew old handle and remove, figure out how the new thing goes in (which was different, even though it was designed for the same-size hole/slot), assemble, tighten, hook up chain, and DONE.)

I take it that in fixing the old handle, you realized that the toilet trip lever nut is the only thing in the bathroom that is reverse-threaded (i.e. instead of right-to-tighten, left-to-loosen, it's left-to-tighten, right-to-loosen). This is so it doesn't come unscrewed from constant use of the flush handle. It's funny, every time I do one (and I have done a few), it seems sort of unnatural.

Anyway, congratulations again! Now that you know your way around toilets, you'll be surprised how you look at them a little differently everywhere you go. (And your friends and family probably won't get it.) So come on back any time!

08-27-2012, 07:19 AM
I will not waste my time reading the voluminous replies above. I would also not waste my time trying to repair a "float" fill valve. It would take me IMMENSELY less time to remove the valve and install a Fluidmaster fill valve, along with a new flapper, and be done with the problem.

Licensed Grump

08-27-2012, 08:11 AM
Well, glad you didn't waste your time because that was what was done.

Actually, the new flapper didn't work because there was a defect in the flush valve, so that was replaced, too.

The "voluminous replies" apparently were found to be helpful by this first-time DIY-er.

08-27-2012, 11:44 AM
Hey, Terry. Thanks for making me smile. Even though -- I know better, I know better, I know better -- we love him and I appreciate him very much, I was ready to throw my computer out the window. Those two words made my day! Now I have perspective and am smiling again.