Title:
MAGNETICALLY ACTUATED DRAIN STOPPER APPARATUS
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A drain stopper assembly for selectively opening and closing a drain located within a basin, tub or sink. A clamp assembly is affixed to the sink's drain body pivotally supporting a magnet. A magnet or ferromagnetic material is appended to a lifting pedestal which in turn supports a stopper sized to selectively block the sink's drain collar. The stopper can be caused to selectively seat upon and be removal from the drain collar through actuation of the magnetic assembly along the drain body



Inventors:
Duncan, Scott (Santa Rosa, CA, US)
Application Number:
12/410896
Publication Date:
10/15/2009
Filing Date:
03/25/2009
Primary Class:
International Classes:
A47K1/14
View Patent Images:
Related US Applications:
20040194197Toilet seat with therapeutic featuresOctober, 2004Eft
20080022445Collapsible pottyJanuary, 2008Sell
20020166187Permanently mountable back brushNovember, 2002Rowe
20010037521Seat and cover for use in a bathroomNovember, 2001Bryant
20080016606SELF ADJUSTING TOILET BOLT ASSEMBLY FOR CONNECTING A TOILET BOWL TO A CLOSET FLANGEJanuary, 2008Serret
20090139076Method for Undermounting a SinkJune, 2009Ramamurthy et al.
20090199331Lift apparatus for toilet seatAugust, 2009Tong
20080295238Dual Flush Toilet MechanismDecember, 2008Hawley et al.
20090106884TOILET SEAT HINGE AND METHOD OF MANUFACTUREApril, 2009Bemis et al.
20070214562Shower system for aircraftSeptember, 2007Becker et al.
20070101487Secure and hygienic shower/commode chair seat/cover and commode incorporating the sameMay, 2007Major



Primary Examiner:
CRANE, LAUREN ASHLEY
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
STAINBROOK & STAINBROOK, LLP (412 AVIATION BOULEVARD SUITE H, SANTA ROSA, CA, 95403, US)
Claims:
What is claimed is:

1. A drain stopper assembly for selectively opening and closing a drain located within a basin, tub or sink, said drain having an opening within said basin, tub or sink for facilitating the selective passage of water therethrough past a drain collar, drain body and drain tailpiece, a stopper being selectively sealable on said drain collar allowing selective passage of water therethrough, said stopper being supported by a lifting pedestal slidably located within said drain body having a ferromagnetically attractable member supportably positioned thereon, a clamp assembly affixed to said drain body pivotably supporting a magnet such that movement of an actuating assembly moves said magnet along said drain body, said magnet and ferromagnetic material being sufficiently attracting to cause said lifting pedestal to slide within said drain body to cause said stopper to selectively seat upon and be removed from said drain, collar upon pivotal movement of said clamp assembly.

2. The drain stopper of claim 1 further comprising a connecting rod bridging said drain stopper to said lifting pedestal.

3. The drain stopper of claim 1 wherein said ferromagnetically attractable member comprises a ferromagnetic ring.

4. The drain stopper of claim 1 wherein said actuating assembly comprises a rod or cable actuable by a user remotely from said clamp assembly.

5. The drain stopper of claim 1 wherein said magnet on said clamp assembly comprises a magnetic collar surrounding said drain body.

6. The drain stopper of claim 1 wherein said drain stopper and lifting pedestal are removable from said drain body by lifting said drain stopper from said drain collar.

7. The drain stopper assembly of claim 1 wherein said actuating assembly comprises a source of pressurized air.

8. The drain stopper of claim 6 wherein said drain body is characterized as having an unobstructed interior surface once said drain stopper and lifting pedestal have been removed therefrom.

9. A drain stopper assembly fox selectively opening and closing a drain located within a basin, tub or sink, said drain having an opening within said basin, tub or sink for facilitating the selective passage of water therethrough past a drain collar and drain body, said stopper being selectively sealable as said drain collar allowing selective passage of water therethrough, a connecting rod appended to said stopper which extends within said drain body when said stopper is positioned on said drain collar, a first magnet appended to said connecting rod, a second magnet selectively positionable proximate said first magnet, the same poles of said first and second magnetic facing each other when said first and second magnets are positionable proximate one another and being of sufficient strength to selectively cause said drain stopper to lift from said drain collar when said first and second magnets are so proximate to one another.

10. The drain stopper assembly of claim 9 further comprising a crossbar extending across said drain body for receipt and centering of said connecting rod.

11. The drain stopper assembly of claim 9 wherein said second magnet is selectively movable between first and second positions such that in said first position, said first and second magnets are of sufficient strength and proximity to cause said drain stopper to lift from said drain collar.

12. The drain stopper assembly of claim 11 further comprising a control assembly for selectively moving said second magnet between said first and second positions.

13. The drain stopper assembly of claim 12 wherein said second magnet is slidable on a plane substantially perpendicular to said connection rod.

Description:

RELATED APPLICATIONS

The present application is based upon and claims priority to U.S. Provisional Patent Application No. 61/044,036 filed on Apr. 10, 2008.

TECHNICAL FIELD

The present invention relates generally to drain stoppers for basins, tubs, and sinks, and more particularly to apparatus for actuating up and down movement of a drain stopper, and still more particularly to a magnetically actuated pop-up assembly for opening and closing a drain stopper and that allows for a complete removal of the drain stopper directly from the drain pipe without the use of any tools.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

Drain stoppers including lift rods and their linkage to drain assemblies have been employed for many years without any significant improvement. These assemblies generally include a ball rod assembly and linkage connecting the lift rod to the drain stopper including a pivot bar connected to the lower end of the lift rod which, in turn, is connected to a valve stem having a ball valve exposed inside a radially extending elbow within the drain body. As the lift rod is pulled upwardly, the drain stopper moves downwardly to close the drain opening and as the drain rod is pushed downwardly, the drain stopper rises from the drain collar allowing the basin to drain accordingly.

In that the lift rod and pivot bar are linked to one another, it is extremely difficult to remove the drain stopper from its collar to clean the drain body. This linkage provides for a natural ledge which catches hair and other debris causing significant sanitary issues. In addition, such linkage oftentimes loosens reducing the control that a user has upon the orientation of the stopper by actuation of the lift rod. The linkage can oftentimes fail after repeated use and its repair requires the intervention of a plumber.

It is thus an object of the present invention to provide a novel control device for selectively moving a stopper to block or open a drain collar without the need for complex linkages contained within the basin, tub or sink drain pipe.

It is yet a further object of the present invention to provide a novel installation whereby a stopper can be removed from its supporting drain collar by merely lifting the stopper from its supporting basin, tub or sink and without the need for disengaging complex linkages ordinarily found within such an installation.

It is yet a further object of the present invention to provide a novel system which, upon removal of its stopper, provides a user with an unobstructed passage along the interior of the system's drain pipe for ease of cleaning and maintenance.

These and further objects will be more readily apparent when considering the following disclosure and appended claims.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

A drain stopper assembly for selectively opening and closing a drain located within a basin, tub or sink, said drain having an opening within said basin, tub or sink for facilitating the selective passage of water therethrough past a drain collar, drain body and drain tailpiece, a stopper being selectively sealable on said drain collar allowing selective passage of water therethrough, said stopper being supported by a lifting pedestal slidably located within said drain body having a ferromagnetically attractable member supportably positioned thereon, a clamp assembly affixed to said drain body pivotably supporting a magnet such that movement of an actuating assembly moves said magnet along said drain body, said magnet and ferromagnetic material being sufficiently attracting to cause said lifting pedestal to slide within said drain body to cause said stopper to selectively seat upon and be removed from said drain collar upon pivotal movement of said clamp assembly.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE FIGURES

FIG. 1 is an upper perspective view of the magnetically actuated drain stopper of the present invention, showing the drain stopper in an open position.

FIG. 2 is a side view in elevation thereof.

FIG. 3A is a schematic cross-sectional side view in elevation showing detail of the mechanical and functional elements of the inventive apparatus, showing the drain stopper in an open position.

FIG. 3B is the same view showing the drain stopper in a closed position

FIG. 4A is a cross-sectional front view in elevation corresponding to FIG. 3A.

FIG. 4B is a cross-sectional front view in elevation corresponding to FIG. 3B.

FIG. 5 is a cross-sectional view showing the drain stopper member and the magnetic collar of the present invention.

FIG. 6A is a schematic cross-sectional side view showing a second preferred embodiment adapted for use in bath tubs, showing the drain stopper in an open position.

FIG. 6B is the same view showing the drain stopper in a closed position

FIG. 7A is a schematic cross-sectional side view in elevation showing the second preferred embodiment adapted for use with strainer drain stoppers, with the drain stopper in the open position.

FIG. 7B is the same view showing the drain stopper in a closed position.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION

Referring first to FIGS. 1 through 7B, wherein like reference numerals refer to like components in the various views, there is illustrated therein a new and improved magnetically actuated drain stopper apparatus. These views collectively show that the inventive apparatus 10 is adapted for installation on the main drain body 12 as commonly found under a sink, tub or basin.

In its most essential aspect, the inventive apparatus first includes clamp 14 adjustably tightened onto the drain body with snap fit plastic connectors or with screw 16 threadably inserted through holes in cuff 18. The clamp includes arm 20 extending radially from the drain body which provides a mounting platform for ferrule 22 terminating a twisted or braided steel strand cable 24 slidably covered in cable housing 26 (preferably a corrosion resistant Teflon coated or lined cable in a lubricated housing). Alternatively, the present system can be driven pneumatically, the cable arrangement being shown for illustrative purposes. The cable end includes expansion 28 pivotally connected to a first end of U-shaped lever 30 which is, in turn, pivotally mounted on pivot pins 31, 33, in medial position to legs 32, 34 depending downwardly from clamp 14. At the opposite end, the lever terminates in rings 36, 38 that connect to short cylindrical knobs 40, 42 on opposite sides of sliding magnetic collar 44. As is quite apparent, this configuration enables a user to retrofit an existing drain stopper assembly with the magnetic assembly of the present invention. Existing drain bodies 12 can be used as support for clamp 14 and related hardware. Such an after-market retrofit is considered an important aspect of the present invention.

The apparatus next includes drain stopper 46 having sealing gasket 48 for providing a fluid seal in drain collar 50. The drain stopper includes a downwardly depending connecting rod 52, which is threadably or otherwise connected to lifting pedestal 54 (FIG. 5) having a plurality of fins 56 for centering the pedestal in the drain body as it moves up and down. At the lower end of the pedestal is ferromagnetic member 58 or magnet. When the clamp is properly positioned and affixed in the drain body, and the drain stopper and pedestal inserted into the drain body, the ferromagnetic ring is engaged by the magnetic field created by magnetic collar 44. As the cable is either pulled or pushed via a lift rod or other control device, lever 30 moves the magnetic collar upwardly and downwardly. The magnetic collar pulls the ferromagnetic ring or magnet along with it, such that the lifting pedestal is caused to move up or down, thus providing selective control over the drain stopper.

A principal advantage of this apparatus is that the drain stopper and lifting pedestal can be removed from a drain body simply by pulling it out. This leaves the drain entirely open and unobstructed by mechanical apparatus, so that it can be thoroughly cleaned with considerable ease. By these means, environments conductive to the growth and propagation of disease carrying organisms can be eliminated with virtually no inconvenience.

Referring next to FIGS. 6A through 7B, a second preferred embodiment 70 is shown. The inventive apparatus includes drain stopper 72 (90 in FIGS. 7A and 7B) having connecting rod 74 slidably inserted through cross bar 76 that centers the connecting rod in drain body 78. Plunger 80 is connected to the connecting rod and terminates at a lower end in plunger magnet 82 which is oriented with the same pole facing the pole on the upper side of slidable magnet 84, selectively moved either immediately under plunger magnet 82 (FIGS. 6A and 7A) or away from the plunger magnet (FIGS. 6B and 7B) by a drain control knob, lever, rod, chain, button, pressurized air supply or other control, device. Accordingly, as the control magnet is placed underneath and in proximity with the plunger magnet, the drain is forced up by the repulsive force between the magnets. When the control magnet is withdrawn, the drain stopper drops down under either the force of gravity, or under an actuating force such as a spring (not shown) or by human intervention.

The above disclosure is sufficient to enable one of ordinary skill in the art to practice the invention, and provides the best mode of practicing the invention presently contemplated by the inventor. While there is provided herein a full and complete disclosure of the preferred embodiments of this invention, it is not desired to limit the invention to the exact construction, dimensional relationships and operation shown and described. Various modifications, alternative constructions, changes and equivalents will readily occur to those skilled in the art and may be employed, as suitable, without departing from the true spirit and scope of the invention. Such changes might involve alternative materials, components, structural arrangements, sizes, shapes, forms, functions, operational features or the like.

Therefore, the above description and illustrations should not be construed as limiting the scope of the invention, which is defined by the appended claims.