You can easily remove a Kohler tub spout to replace it with a different design, clean mineral buildup from inside the spout, troubleshoot a malfunctioning lift-gate diverter or clean and maintain the wall behind it. You may not need tools at all, but stubborn tub spouts may require a strap wrench (or tongue-and-groove pliers plus a thick towel). Some Kohler tub spouts may also require a 5/32-inch hex key to remove the set screw and a putty knife to remove any sealant along the wall.
Identifying Kohler Tub Spouts
Like most tub spout manufacturers, Kohler makes two different types of tub spouts to accommodate two different types of water pipes. One style of water pipe has a threaded end that the Kohler tub spout twists onto. The other water pipe has a completely smooth surface, so the tub spout slides over top of it and is secured with a hidden set screw on the bottom of the spout.
You don't want to start twisting off a slip-on tub spout or you may cause damage to the pipe. Therefore, it's important to identify what type of tub spout you have before you begin removing it. If there's a crevice on the bottom of the spout where it meets the wall, it has a set screw and is a slip-fit spout. If the bottom is completely smooth, it twists off.
You can either get on your hands and knees and peer underneath the tub spout to look for a crevice or use a handheld mirror. A smartphone with a front-facing camera works just as well.
Removing Kohler Slip-Fit Spouts
Kohler recommends applying plumber's putty to its spouts during installation. Therefore, you may need to use a putty knife to break the seal between the wall and the tub spout before you begin.
Kohler's set screws can be removed with a 5/32-inch hex key (also called an Allen wrench). With the hex key inserted into the set screw, twist it counterclockwise just enough to loosen the screw's grip on the pipe. You don't need to remove the set screw completely.
Once the screw is sufficiently loose, the tub spout can be pulled forward until it's completely off the water pipe.
Removing Threaded Kohler Tub Spouts
As with the slip-fit spout, you can use a putty knife to scrape off any plumber's putty or caulk between the wall and the tub spout. The act of twisting off a threaded bath spout will also break the sealant, but scraping it first will help preserve the material on the shower wall and require less force when removing the spout.
Some tub spouts can twist off by hand. However, older spouts may have an accumulation of mineral deposits that will require a little extra "oomph" to dislodge.
If you plan to reuse the tub spout after removing it, take care not to scratch, dent or mar its surface by using a special tool called a strap wrench. Or, you can place a thick towel over the spout before using channel locks to grip it. Twist the spout counterclockwise with the channel locks until it's loose enough to finish removing by hand.