Title:
Water leak detector and shutoff
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
One or more microprocessor-operated flow control devices are connected to one or more waterlines to shut off flow of water if a leak detector measures any water leakage. The one or more flow control devices are operated to shut off water flow upon the water leak detector sensing leakage and sending an electrical or an RF signal to microprocessors in housings. An electric motor is actuated in each housing to drive a gear train to close a normally-open valve and shut off water flow through the one or more waterlines. The present invention is an easily-added-on, simplified device for use with any waterline to prevent damage and the wasting of water through leakage.



Inventors:
Quintana, Richard (Westminster, CA, US)
Application Number:
09/843580
Publication Date:
07/25/2002
Filing Date:
04/26/2001
Assignee:
QUINTANA RICHARD
Primary Class:
International Classes:
E03D1/00; (IPC1-7): A47K1/00; E03C1/00
View Patent Images:
Related US Applications:
20090199332Toilets with Improved TrapwaysAugust, 2009Mesun et al.
20020073483Integral sanitary seatJune, 2002Nofal
20060143816Foldable toilet supportJuly, 2006Su
20090255043Toilet Flush Valve With Reducing Cross Section Valve SeatOctober, 2009Halloran et al.
20090219785METHOD AND SYSTEM FOR DETERMINING THE LOCATION AND/OR SPEED OF AT LEAST ONE SWIMMERSeptember, 2009Van et al.
20080163416Bathtub Remote Control SystemJuly, 2008Go
20080078847Portable pneumatic washing deviceApril, 2008Lai
20080201839Expanding shower curtainAugust, 2008Dalton
20020129441Water closet bowl with suction apparatusSeptember, 2002Bassorelli
20050160526Removable bathtub rail for childrenJuly, 2005Korn
20100083430Touch Control Toilet Seat DeviceApril, 2010Chen



Primary Examiner:
FETSUGA, ROBERT M
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
Klein, O''Neill & Singh, LLP (IRVINE, CA, US)
Claims:

What is claimed is:



1. A combination water flow control and leak detecting device for a waterline, comprising: a leak detection assembly adapted to be secured adjacent a floor under a waterline; a leak detector sensor secured to the leak detection assembly and mounted on the floor; and means for connecting the leak detector sensor to a motor-actuated, normally-open valve held in a housing mounted in a waterline, to control the flow of water through the waterline.

2. The water flow control and leak detecting device of claim 1, further including a warning-sounding speaker, and a plurality of actuating switches in the housing.

3. The water flow control and leak detecting device of claim 2 wherein a plurality of waterlines have motor-actuated, normally-open valves held in housings mounted in the plurality of waterlines.

4. The water flow control and leak detecting device of claim 3 wherein a first of the plurality of actuating switches is to shut off the warning sounding speaker.

5. The water flow control and leak detecting device of claim 4, further including a plurality of light indicators in the housing.

6. The water flow control and leak detecting device of claim 1 wherein the motor-actuated, normally-open valve has a gear drive mounted between an electrical motor and a rotary valve element in the housing.

7. The water flow control and leak detecting device of claim 6 wherein there are a plurality of waterlines with a plurality of motor-actuated, normally-open valves having gear drives therein.

8. A combination water flow control and water leak detecting device held in a waterline, comprising: a leak detector assembly releasably secured to a floor below the waterline; a microprocessor motor-operated, normally-open valve, including a gear drive and an electrical power source held in a housing, connected in the waterline to control the flow of water therethrough; and means for connecting the leak sensor assembly to the microprocessor.

9. The combination water flow control and water leak detecting device of claim 8 wherein the leak detector assembly includes a leak sensor and a transmitter for transmitting an RF signal to the microprocessor motor-operated, normally-open valve, if the leak sensor detects a leak, to close the valve.

10. The combination water flow control and water leak detecting device of claim 8, further including a warning-sounding speaker, and a plurality of actuating switches in the housing, and wherein the means for connecting the leak sensor assembly is electrical or RF.

11. The combination water flow control and water leak detecting device of claim 10 wherein a first of the plurality of actuating switches is to open the valve in the housing.

12. The combination water flow control and water leak detecting device of claim 10 wherein a second of the plurality of actuating switches is to shut off the warning sounding speaker.

13. The combination water flow control and water leak detecting device of claim 10, further including a plurality of light indicators in the housing.

14. The combination water flow control and water leak detecting device of claim 13 wherein the motor-actuated, normally-open valve has a gear drive mounted between an electrical motor and a rotary valve element.

15. The combination water flow control and water leak detecting device of claim 14 wherein there are a plurality of waterlines, each having a motor-actuated, normally-open valve with a gear drive mounted therein.

16. A combination water flow control and leak detecting device for at least a one waterline, comprising: a leak sensor assembly mounted adjacent a floor under the at least one waterline and being electrically or RF connected to a housing; and the housing having a gear driven motor-actuated, normally-open valve, connected between a microprocessor and a power source and a low battery indicator, adapted to be held in the at least one waterline to control the flow of water through the at least one waterline.

17. The combination water flow control and leak detecting device of claim 16 wherein the water leak detector includes a transmitter for transmitting an RF signal to the microprocessor and to at least one further receiver.

18. The combination water flow control and leak detecting device of claim 17 wherein there are a plurality of waterlines with housings therein, and each housing includes a warning-sounding speaker, and a pair of actuating switches.

19. The combination water flow control and leak detecting device of claim 18 wherein a first of the pair of actuating switches is to open the valve in the housing; and a second of the pair of actuating switches is to shut off the warning sounding speaker.

20. The combination water flow control and leak detecting device of claim 17, further including a “low battery” LED and a leak alarm LED in the housing, and wherein the motor-actuated, normally-open valve has a gear drive mounted between an electrical motor and a rotary valve element.

Description:

CROSS REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATION

[0001] This application is a continuation-in-part of pending application Ser. No. 09/769,855, filed Jan. 25, 2001.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

[0002] 1. Field of the Invention

[0003] This invention relates generally to fluid control devices, and more particularly, to a device adapted to be mounted on waterline, for detecting any leaks and shutting off the flow of water to avoid wastage.

[0004] 2. Description of Related Art

[0005] As homeowners and others are aware, if appliances, sinks, toilets and other devices that use water are not connected properly, or as they get older, they may leak. Such leakage, if not stopped, can waste large amounts of water, or cause flooding, which may result in unwanted cost and/or serious problems. Furthermore, with the scarcity of water becoming more wide spread, water conservation has become increasingly more important. Therefore, the detecting and prevention of water leaks to save water when using such appliances and devices has become a priority.

[0006] The present invention incorporates a leak detecting sensor that is easily and conveniently positioned in a desired location, and which transmits a signal to a control device having a warning-sounding alarm speaker or LED, and a low-voltage, rechargeable battery for energizing a drive assembly to operate a valve to cut off water flow.

[0007] The present invention further provides a simple and easy-to-use device that is easily placed in a waterline, and which is operated by a remote detection device to shut off water flow if a water leak is detected, in a more expeditious and cheaper manner.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

[0008] Accordingly, it is a general object of the present invention to provide an improved and simplified flow control and leak detector device. It is a particular object of the present invention to provide an improved and simplified water flow control and leak detector device, including a sensor that is mounted in a desired location. It is yet another particular object of the present invention to provide an improved and simplified water flow control and leak detector system, having a separate leak detecting portion, and one or more waterline shutoff devices for mounting in one or more waterlines. It is yet another particular object of the present invention to provide an improved and simplified microprocessor controlled waterline shutoff device having one or more sensing members mounted in desired locations to detect leaks. And, it is still another particular object of the present invention to provide an improved and simplified water flow control device having a microprocessor-operated drive assembly connected to a valve means that is operated by a leak detector mounted in a desired location and which includes a warning sounding alarm speaker and one or more LED devices indicating that is a water leak has been detected.

[0009] These and other objects and advantages of the present invention are achieved by providing a device having one or more leak detecting means mounted in pre-selected locations and connected, either electrically or by radio frequency (“RF”) to one or more means for activating gear-operated valves held in housings mounted in waterlines.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

[0010] The objects and features of the present invention, which are believed to be novel, are set forth with particularity in the appended claims. The present invention, both as to its organization and manner of operation, together with further objects and advantages, may best be understood by reference to the following description, taken in connection with the accompanying drawings, wherein:

[0011] FIG. 1 is a side elevational view of an appliance showing a device of the present invention having a gear-operated valve means mounted in a waterline to control water flow; together with a leak detector of the present invention mounted on a wall or floor, under the waterline and electrically connected to the device;

[0012] FIG. 2 is a further side elevational view of a preferred device of the present invention connected in a waterline under a sink, together with a leak detector mounted on a wall or floor and connected to the device by RF;

[0013] FIG. 3 is an exploded perspective view of a housing holding the device;

[0014] FIG. 4 is an enlarged perspective view of a preferred structure having the water flow control device mounted therein; and

[0015] FIG. 5 is an enlarged partial perspective view of a preferred embodiment of the gearing and a motor to operate a ball valve to open and close a waterline.

DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENTS

[0016] The following description is provided to enable any person skilled in the art to make and use the invention and sets forth the best modes contemplated by the inventor of carrying out his invention. Various modifications, however, will remain readily apparent to those skilled in the art, since the generic principles of the present invention have been defined herein specifically to provide for an improved and simplified water flow control and leak detecting system 10 comprised of a water leak detector 12, such as a sensor 11 and a transmitter 18, and a gear-actuated valve system 21, connected electrically or by RF to the detector 12 and held in a housing 14. The water leak detector 12 is preferrable mounted on a floor 15 or may be mounted on a wall 17 below a waterline 28 connected to an appliance 13 (FIG. 1), a sink 15 (FIG. 2), or the like.

[0017] It is to be understood that each waterline connected to the appliance 13 or sink 15, for example hot and cold, or the main waterline leading into an apartment, cleaning area, home, or the like, may contain a housing 14 and gear-actuated valve assembly to shut off water flow therethrough, if a leak is detected. The leak detector 12 may include a transmitter 18 that transmits an RF signal to a microprocessor 31 held in the housing 14. Or, as shown in FIG. 1, the transmitter 18 may be eliminated and the sensor 11 directly connected to the microprocessor by a lead 19. In either case, when a leak is detected by sensor 11 and a signal received by microprocessor 31, a motor 26 is actuated to close a normally open valve 20 by means of the gear drive system 21, held in the housing 14. Upon closing of valve 20, water flow in waterline 28 will be shut off. The waterline 28 may have a bib, cut-off valve or faucet 32, of any desired or known type, so that water flow may be manually shut-off as needed.

[0018] When water is detected by the sensor 11, it causes one or more microprocessors 31 to operate one or more ball valves 20 to the closed position. When the one or more valves 20 move to the closed position, water leak detected LEDs or lights 47 will be actuated, or an RF-operated, battery-operated remote light for the hearing impaired may be turned on. Additionally, a signal may be sent to a central terminal or to a pager or cell phone, identifying the specific location where the leak occurred.

[0019] The leak detector 12 is mounted in any desired location, preferably on or near the floor 15, by a mounting or securing means, such as a clip, two-sided tape, a hook and loop securing means, a suction cup, or the like.

[0020] As best shown in FIGS. 3 and 4, the housing 14 is preferably rectangular, having a front cover or face 34, a rear cover or face 36, an inlet or outlet 23 and an adjustable or pivotable inlet or outlet 25 for connection in the waterline 28 and to the faucet or bib 32. The normally open valve 20 is preferably of the rotary type and supported in a valve seat 22, held in a conduit formed in the housing 14, between inlet 23 and outlet 25. The motor 26 is connected between the microprocessor 31 and a power source, such as a battery or an electrical outlet, to operate the valve 20 between the open and closed positions via the gear drive system 21, which is rotatably held in the housing 14 between the front and back covers 34, 36. The housing 14 includes an internal frame means 38 that contains a PC board holding the microprocessor 31 and various other electronic components, the conduit 27 and a plurality of mounting pins or shafts 40, for rotatably carrying a plurality of different size gears 42.

[0021] The housing 14 may include a warning sound alarm speaker 44, or the like, connected to the microprocessor, to sound an alarm that indicates the valve 20 has been closed because water has been detected, for example from a leaking appliance or sink. The housing also preferably includes a number of alarms, LED lights or indicators 44, 46, 47 connected to the microprocessor 31, which will flash or provide a continuous alarm or light to indicate that there is a leak, and/or that a battery or power source is low. The housing may also contain switches 48 and 50, connected to the microprocessor, to allow the alarm to be shut off and to manually open the valve 20, after it has been closed, provided that no water leaks are sensed. That is, preferably, water will not be allowed to flow back through the line to the appliance, the sink, or the like, unless the water leak has been repaired.

[0022] The microprocessor 31 includes an adjustable timer or clock for operation of the sensor 12. For example, every few minutes or so, (adjustable) power is applied to the sensor for an adjustable period of say 3-5 seconds. If no water is sensed, the microprocessor will wait for a further predetermined period of time to monitor again.

[0023] If the sensor 12 detects a leak, it will immediately repeat another test to assure that a positive leak alarm has been picked up.

[0024] The leak alarm LED, located at the front of the unit, will also be turned on. The user can turn off the alarm if desired and repair the leak at this time. The user can, at any time, press the open valve button to open the water valve 20 to allow water to flow to the appliance, sink, a hot water heater, or the like. If water is still present at the sensor, the open valve button is inoperable.

[0025] When the valve 20 is returned to its original open position, the leak detecting monitoring will start again. The microprocessor 31 can be programmed to monitor for any time interval time desired.

[0026] Those skilled in the art will appreciate that various adaptations and modifications of the just-described preferred embodiments can be configured without departing from the scope and spirit of the invention. Therefore, it is to be understood that, within the scope of the appended claims, the invention may be practiced other than as specifically described herein.