Title:
System for extracting odors
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A system for extracting odors is disclosed. The system comprises a toilet having a bowl with an upper rim. The bowl can be configured to contain water in the bottom of the bowl. A flush opening in the bottom of the bowl can be configured to enable water to be evacuated from the bowl through the flush opening. The system further comprises a ventilation conduit extending between the bowl and drain. The ventilation conduit comprises an upper wall and a lower wall. The lower wall of the ventilation conduit can extend above the upper rim of the bowl. The system also comprises a negative pressure unit. The negative pressure unit can be configured to draw air from the bowl through the ventilation conduit and into the drain.



Inventors:
Taylor, Brent (Sandy, UT, US)
Application Number:
11/076219
Publication Date:
09/14/2006
Filing Date:
03/09/2005
Primary Class:
International Classes:
E03D9/04
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
NGUYEN, TUAN N
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
THORPE NORTH & WESTERN, LLP. (8180 SOUTH 700 EAST, SUITE 200, SANDY, UT, 84070, US)
Claims:
1. A system for extracting odors from a toilet, comprising: a bowl with an upper rim, wherein the bowl is configured to contain water in a bottom of the bowl; a flush opening in the bottom of the bowl configured to enable water to be evacuated from the bowl through the flush opening and into a drain; a ventilation conduit extending between the bowl and the drain, wherein the ventilation conduit comprises an upper wall and a lower wall, the lower wall of the ventilation conduit extending above the upper rim of the bowl; and a negative pressure unit configured to draw air from the bowl through the ventilation conduit into the drain.

2. The system of claim 1, wherein the ventilation conduit comprises a tube extending from the drain to the bowl and having a portion of the tube located at a level above the upper rim of the bowl such that substantially any water flowing over the upper rim of the bowl will not enter the tube.

3. The system of claim 1, wherein the ventilation conduit comprises an air channel within the toilet, the air channel being located behind the bowl and connected with the drain at a point below the bowl, said air channel coupled to a tube having an upper wall and a lower wall, the lower wall rising above the upper rim of the bowl such that substantially any water flowing over the upper rim of the bowl will not enter the tube.

4. The system of claim 1, wherein the negative pressure unit is located within the drain.

5. The system of claim 1, wherein the negative pressure unit comprises a fan located within the ventilation conduit, the fan being configured to draw air from the bowl and direct the air to flow into the drain.

6. The system of claim 4, further comprising a backflow device positioned within the ventilation conduit and configured to restrict air flow from the drain from flowing into the bowl while allowing air from the bowl directed by the fan to flow toward the drain.

7. The system of claim 1, further comprising a sensor configured to enable the negative pressure unit to be activated.

8. The system of claim 7, wherein the sensor comprises an optical sensor mounted on an exterior portion of the toilet, said sensor configured to detect when a person is within a predetermined distance of the optical sensor and enable the negative pressure unit to be activated.

9. The system of claim 7, wherein the sensor comprises a push button configured to activate the negative pressure unit when a toilet lid is raised.

10. The system of claim 7, wherein the negative pressure unit is configured to operate for a predetermined amount of time after the sensor has been activated.

11. The system of claim 1, further comprising a ground fault interrupt enabled power source electrically connected to the negative pressure unit.

12. The system of claim 1, further comprising a battery power source electrically connected to the negative pressure unit.

13. The system of claim 11, further comprising an indicator mounted on an exterior portion of the toilet, the indicator configured to signal when power is connected through the ground fault interrupt enabled power source to the negative pressure unit.

14. The system of claim 13, wherein the indicator is a light emitting diode (LED).

15. The system of claim 14, wherein the LED comprises a dual color LED capable of displaying a first color when power is supplied to the negative pressure unit and displaying a second color when the negative pressure unit is activated.

16. The system of claim 1, wherein the negative pressure unit is a fan contained within a fan housing.

17. The system of claim 16, wherein a backflow device is contained within the fan housing.

18. The system of claim 16, wherein the fan and fan housing can be accessed by a user for repair or replacement.

19. A system for extracting odors, comprising: a toilet having a bowl with an upper rim, wherein the bowl is configured to contain water in a bottom of the bowl; a flush opening in the bottom of the bowl configured to enable the water to be evacuated from the bowl through the flush opening into a drain; a ventilation conduit extending between the bowl and the drain, wherein the ventilation conduit comprises an upper wall and a lower wall, the lower wall of the ventilation conduit extending above the upper rim of the bowl; a backflow device located within the ventilation conduit, the back flow device configured to allow air within the ventilation conduit to flow from the bowl into the drain while restricting airflow from the drain from flowing into the bowl; a fan configured for drawing air from the bowl through the ventilation conduit into the drain; and a sensor electrically coupled to the fan and configured to detect when a person is within a predetermined distance of the sensor, wherein the sensor is further configured to enable power to be supplied to the fan for a predetermined amount of time when the person is within a predetermined distance of the sensor.

20. A system for extracting odors, comprising: a toilet having a bowl with an upper rim, wherein the bowl is configured to contain water in a bottom of the bowl; a flush opening in the bottom of the bowl configured to enable the water to be evacuated from the bowl through the flush opening into a drain; a ventilation conduit extending between the bowl and the drain, wherein the ventilation conduit comprises an upper wall and a lower wall, the lower wall of the ventilation conduit extending above the upper rim of the bowl; a backflow device located within the ventilation conduit, the back flow device configured to allow air within the ventilation conduit to flow from the bowl into the drain while restricting airflow from the drain from flowing into the bowl; a negative pressure unit configured for drawing air from the bowl through the ventilation conduit into the drain; a ground fault interrupt enabled power supply electrically coupled to the negative pressure unit. a sensor electrically coupled to the negative pressure unit and configured to detect when a person is within a predetermined distance of the sensor, wherein the sensor is further configured to activate the negative pressure unit for a predetermined amount of time when the person is within a predetermined distance of the sensor; and an indicator electrically coupled to the negative pressure unit, the indicator configured to display when the negative pressure unit in operation.

Description:

FIELD OF THE INVENTION

The present invention relates generally to the control of odors in a restroom facility.

BACKGROUND

Bathrooms and public restrooms are well known for being a potential source of undesirable odors. Ventilation systems are often incorporated into restroom facilities to remove the odors before they can escape into other rooms. However, most ventilation systems are placed in the ceiling above the toilets. Vacuum pressure caused by the ventilation systems often causes odors to escape the toilet and fill the room before being evacuated. Such odors can be repugnant to other persons within the restroom facility.

In order to keep undesirable odors from escaping the toilet, various types of ventilation systems have been connected directly to the toilet. This can minimize the amount of odor producing gases which escape the toilet. However, the ventilation systems which have been used in the past have suffered from design and implementation problems which have kept them from becoming widely used.

Many of the past systems require external piping to be connected between the toilets and external ventilation systems. Such piping can be expensive and unsightly. Other ventilation systems have design flaws which can allow sewage to be introduced into the ventilation system when a toilet overflows. This can cause damage to the ventilation system and may enable bacteria to grow within the ventilation system, which can actually create more undesirable odors.

SUMMARY

A system for extracting odors is disclosed. The system comprises a toilet having a bowl with an upper rim. The bowl can be configured to contain water in the bottom of the bowl. A flush opening in the bottom of the bowl can be configured to enable water to be evacuated from the bowl through the flush opening. The system further comprises a ventilation conduit extending between the bowl and drain. The ventilation conduit comprises an upper wall and a lower wall. The lower wall of the ventilation conduit can extend above the upper rim of the bowl. The system also comprises a negative pressure unit. The negative pressure unit can be configured to draw air from the bowl through the ventilation conduit and into the drain.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

Additional features and advantages of the invention will be apparent from the detailed description which follows, taken in conjunction with the accompanying drawings, which together illustrate, by way of example, features of the invention; and, wherein:

FIG. 1 is a side view of a toilet having an integrated odor extraction system in accordance with an embodiment of the present invention; and

FIG. 2 is an alternative view of the system of FIG. 1 showing a removable fan compartment in accordance with an embodiment of the present invention.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF EXAMPLE EMBODIMENT(S)

Reference will now be made to the exemplary embodiments illustrated in the drawings, and specific language will be used herein to describe the same. It will nevertheless be understood that no limitation of the scope of the invention is thereby intended. Alterations and further modifications of the inventive features illustrated herein, and additional applications of the principles of the inventions as illustrated herein, which would occur to one skilled in the relevant art and having possession of this disclosure, are to be considered within the scope of the invention.

A toilet having an integrated odor removal system 100 is shown in FIG. 1, in accordance with an embodiment of the present invention. The system comprises a toilet 102 having a bowl 104 with an upper rim 106. The toilet can be configured to contain a liquid 108, usually water, in the bottom of the bowl. The bowl can have a flush opening in the bottom of the bowl configured to enable water to be evacuated from the bowl through the flush opening and into a drain 112. The water can be evacuated from the bowl through a siphon tube 114 and into the drain. The drain can be connected to a municipal sewer system or local septic tank.

A trap 116 can be used to substantially block air and gasses in the drain 112 from flowing back into the toilet and into a home or building. The water in the bottom of the bowl 104 is typically contained at a level near the top of the trap. The water level can act as a plug to block the air in the drain from entering the bowl through the siphon tube 114.

A tank 118 can be used to store a liquid such as water. The tank may be located adjacent to the bowl 104, as shown in FIG. 1. Alternatively, the tank may be located a predetermined distance above the bowl. The tank can store a volume of water which can be rapidly evacuated from the tank and into the bowl which can enable the toilet to flush the contents of the bowl into the drain 112. Water can be evacuated from the bowl, over the trap 116, through the siphon tube 114, and into the drain by filling the bowl with an adequate supply of water at a sufficient rate to cause the water to form a vacuum seal in the siphon tube. The vacuum seal enables the water in the bowl to be pulled by the force of gravity down the siphon tube and into the drain as long as a substantial amount of air does not enter the tube to break the vacuum. Air in the toilet bowl can enter the siphon tube when substantially all of the water has been pulled down the drain. The air will act to break the vacuum seal and end the flushing process.

A ventilation conduit 120 can extend between the bowl 104 and the drain 112. The ventilation conduit can comprise an upper wall and a lower wall. The lower wall of the ventilation conduit can extend above the upper rim 106 of the bowl. The ventilation conduit can be comprised of a tube, a conduit, or any other type of opening between the bowl and the drain which can enable air or gasses to be evacuated from the bowl to the drain. In one embodiment, a cavity can be built into a porcelain toilet, enabling an open area through which air from the bowl can flow into the drain. The open area may be adjacent to, but separated from the siphon tube 114.

An additional piece of tubing 122 can be connected between the open area and the bowl. The additional piece of tubing can extend above the upper rim 106 of the bowl 104, such that substantially any water 108 which may flow over the rim of the bowl will not enter the open area 120. The ventilation conduit 120 may also be formed from a single tube which can extend from the drain, above the upper rim of the bowl, and into the bowl. The ventilation conduit 120 and siphon tube can be sized such that both the conduit and the tube can be coupled to a standard size drain 112 connection.

A negative pressure unit 124 can be configured to draw air from the bowl 104 through the ventilation conduit 120 and into the drain 112. The negative pressure unit can be a fan, or any other type of device which can be used to draw air from the bowl into the drain. For example, an axial fan or centrifugal type fan may be used. The fan may be substantially smaller than typical fans placed in bathroom ceilings. Unlike a ceiling fan, which is used to move all of the air in the bathroom to the outdoors, the fan located in the ventilation conduit is typically used to generate a negative pressure within the toilet bowl. Since the toilet bowl has substantially less volume than most bathrooms, a much smaller and quieter fan can be used.

In one embodiment the negative pressure unit 124 can be a fan located within the drain 112. For example, the fan can be placed within the drainage system in a home or building. The fan may be placed at a central location to enable one fan to cause negative pressure to two or more toilets 102 located within the home or building. The fan may be activated when a user approaches a toilet within the building that is connected to the negative pressure unit.

The negative pressure unit 124 may be powered using a power supply (not shown) such as a 120 V connection to a home or building's electrical power supply. The electrical power supply can be a ground fault interrupt (GFI) enabled power supply. The GFI enabled power supply can significantly reduce the risk of electric shock to a user. The negative pressure unit may be connected to the power supply using a conventional plug or may be hardwired to a power supply. The power supply can also be a battery power source. The battery power source can be any chemical source which can be converted into electrical power.

A backflow device 126 can be positioned within the ventilation conduit 120. The backflow device can be configured to restrict air flow from the drain 112 from flowing into the bowl 104. The backflow device can allow air from the bowl to be directed by the negative pressure unit 124 to flow toward the drain. The backflow device may be a simple mechanical device that forms a substantially air tight seal within the ventilation conduit. The backflow device may be weighted such that it will form the air tight seal until a sufficient amount of air from the negative pressure unit causes the backflow device to open, allowing air to flow from the bowl to the drain. When the negative pressure unit is turned off the backflow device can swing shut, blocking airflow from the drain. The backflow device can be forced shut if the airflow direction is reversed and air is flowing from the drain toward the bowl.

The backflow device 126 can also have electrical components. For example, an electrical locking device can be attached to the backflow device, enabling it to stay in a closed position until the negative pressure unit 124 is activated. Once the unit is activated and substantial airflow is directed toward the drain, an electrical switch can move the electrical locking device to enable the airflow to flow toward the drain. Electrical sensors can also be used to measure the airflow. Electrical actuators can cause the backflow device to close and block the airflow path if the electrical sensors detect airflow above a predetermined threshold flowing from the drain toward the bowl. Alternatively, the electrical sensors can be coupled to an electric motor or an electromagnet which can be used to cause the backflow device to close.

A sensor 128 can be used to detect when a user approaches the toilet 102. The sensor can be an optical detector, such as an infrared detector. The sensor can be mounted on an exterior portion of the toilet. For example, the sensor can be mounted on the tank 118 and positioned to monitor the area where people approach the toilet. The sensor can be configured to detect when a person is within a predetermined distance from the sensor. The sensor can be coupled to a switch which can enable the negative pressure unit 124 to be activated when the person is within the predetermined distance. In one embodiment, the optical sensor may enable a power switch to be activated in the negative pressure unit, allowing the negative pressure unit to be activated. The negative pressure unit may be configured to remain on for a predetermined amount of time after it has been activated. For example, the negative pressure unit may remain on for one minute after the person is no longer detected by the optical detector.

The sensor 128 can also be coupled to the backflow device 126. In one embodiment, the backflow device can be opened using electrical or mechanical means, as previously described, when the sensor detects a user within the predetermined distance. When a user has not been detected for a predetermined amount of time, the backflow device 126 can be closed and the negative pressure unit can be deactivated.

In another embodiment, the sensor may be a pressure sensor or push button which can be activated by raising a toilet lid 132. For example, the pressure sensor can be placed on the water tank 118. Pressure from the lid can activate the sensor when the lid is lifted and placed against the water tank, which in turn can activate the negative pressure unit, as previously described. The negative pressure device may then be deactivated after the lid has been placed back on the upper rim 106 or after a certain amount of time.

An indicator 130 can also be mounted on an exterior portion of the toilet 102. The indicator may be a small lamp, a light emitting diode (LED), or any other means for indicating the condition of the integrated odor removal system 100. The indicator can be configured to display when power is connected to the negative pressure unit 124 through the power supply. The indicator may also display when the negative pressure unit is activated. For example, a dual color LED can be used to display a first color when power is connected to the negative pressure unit. If power is disconnected, or the GFI circuit has faulted, the LED may turn off. The LED can display a second color when the negative pressure unit is activated.

In another embodiment, as shown in FIG. 2, the negative pressure unit can be a fan 202 located within a fan housing 204. The fan and housing can be located within the ventilation conduit 120. The toilet 102 can be constructed to enable a user to access the fan and housing within the ventilation conduit. The fan and housing can be accessed for repair or replacement by the user. The fan and housing may be located above the backflow device 126. Alternatively, the fan and housing may be located below the backflow device.

In another embodiment, the fan housing 204 can be configured to include a backflow device. For example, the housing can be configured to substantially fill the ventilation conduit. The housing can block substantially all air flow through the conduit. A portion of the housing can act as a backflow device, opening when airflow from the fan is directed towards the drain. The backflow device included within the housing can operate similarly as the backflow device previously described.

The present invention provides a toilet having an integrated odor removal system. Previous attempts at odor removal systems have involved complex plumbing and/or external pipes. In contrast, the odor removal system in the present invention can be self contained within the toilet. A user can purchase a toilet having an integrated odor removal system and directly replace an existing toilet. The integrated odor removal system can revolutionize the bathroom by enabling odors to be eliminated at their source. People will no longer have to put up with objectionable odors when entering public restrooms or bathrooms within the home.

While the forgoing examples are illustrative of the principles of the present invention in one or more particular applications, it will be apparent to those of ordinary skill in the art that numerous modifications in form, usage and details of implementation can be made without the exercise of inventive faculty, and without departing from the principles and concepts of the invention. Accordingly, it is not intended that the invention be limited, except as by the claims set forth below.