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Thread: Need help with repair of 40 year old toilet

  1. #1

    Default Need help with repair of 40 year old toilet

    We have a toilet that was installed when our house was built - about 1968. It is a one-piece toilet. The label stamped on the inside of the tank reads Kohler 4104 13, with the date 3-31-75. The number on the metal flush mechanism inside is Kohler 51329. We are very attached to this toilet - it is quiet and works beautifully. However, it has developed a steady leak from the tank into the bowl which we can't stop by the usual methods of adjusting the arm or replacing the flapper. This slow leak has been going on for a couple of years now. It isn't enough to make trouble with our water bills yet, but it is having the effect of slowly wearing away our copper waste lines. See attached photos of the toilet - outside and inside mechanism.

    We have had a couple of plumbers here to try to fix this problem. In both cases, they opened up the flush mechanism and found a rubber washer which they thought was the source of the problem. Both times they flipped over the washer and reinstalled it. The first time that solved the problem for a few months, and then the leak started up again. The second time, about a year later, it solved the problem just for a few hours. Unfortunately I wasn't watching what they did, so I'm not sure how to get at this washer.

    I have been to the Kohler website and entered the K51329 number. The site indicates this product was discontinued, but there is a replacement part that will work, but it costs something like $350. We like the toilet, but not that much. Can anybody suggest what we might try to get this fixture back into good working order? Is there some source for obscure washers that might find us a replacement, or is there a way to modify a standard washer to make it work in this case, and can somebody tell me how to get at this pesky washer? People keep telling us to just get a new toilet, but that seems foolish if the only problem is a little piece of rubber.

  2. #2
    In the Trades Gary Swart's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2004
    Yakima WA


    You have a problem that has plagued many Kohler users. Some of their repair parts are one of a kind and must be purchased from Kohler at a price you can buy an excellent quality new toilet. My best advice is to go to Terry's site on low flow toilets and look at the choices Toto offers.

  3. #3
    Extreme DIY Homeowner Scuba_Dave's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2009
    South of Boston, MA


    40 years old? Is it a 5g flush?

    If so I'd buy a new one & save some water
    DIY Handyman (not 4 hire)
    I have enough to do to my own house


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