Title:
Easy to clean toilet seat bidet
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A combination toilet seat/bidet consisting of a conventionally sized toilet seat that projects water through two axially located nozzles in order to cleanse the user. Water originates in the closet supply tube, is diverted by valves into flexible tubing that connects to the seat. Water then flows through channels inside the seat and exits through the two spherically adjustable nozzles located at the front and rear of the seat's central opening. Since the channels and most of the nozzles are contained within the seat, it is no more difficult to clean than a typical toilet seat.



Inventors:
Marshall, Jeanne Carol (Norwich, CT, US)
Application Number:
10/254393
Publication Date:
03/25/2004
Filing Date:
09/24/2002
Assignee:
MARSHALL JEANNE CAROL
Primary Class:
International Classes:
E03D9/08; (IPC1-7): E03D9/08
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
PRUNNER, KATHLEEN J
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
Jeanne Marshall (Norwich, CT, US)
Claims:
1. A combination bidet-toilet seat comprising: a toilet seat, consisting of a seat with a large central opening that sits on top of a toilet bowl, that supports the user and allows waste to pass through said opening to the bowl; said seat contains channels through which water may flow; said channels end in nozzles located at the frontal and distal ends of the opening.

2. The bidet-toilet seat in claim 1 receives water into said channels via flexible tubing that runs from the closet supply tube, connected by water diverting and controlling devices.

3. The bidet-toilet seat in claim 1 contains nozzles that protrude only slightly from the surface of the seat, and each said nozzle consists of a sphere, with a hole running axially through it, placed at the end of each said channel, and each said sphere can be adjusted to change the direction of water flow by placing a long, thin object such as a piece of wire into said hole and rotating the sphere in any direction, thus enabling the user to direct a relatively fine stream of water precisely where it is needed for cleansing the user's private parts.

4. Said bidet-toilet seat can contain two nozzles or one nozzle with said nozzle at either the frontal or distal end of the opening.

Description:

CROSS-REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATIONS

[0001] Not applicable.

STATEMENT REGARDING FEDERALLY SPONSORED RESEARCH OR DEVELOPMENT

[0002] Not Applicable

REFERENCE TO SEQUENCE LISTING

[0003] Not Applicable

BACKGROUND—FIELD OF INVENTION

[0004] The present invention relates to the combination of two appliances known as a toilet seat and a bidet.

[0005] More specifically, it relates to a form of a toilet seat that acts as a bidet. As such, it has nozzles located axially at the front and real of the central opening of the seat. When activated, said nozzles direct small streams of water to cleanse the user's anus and genital area. Said seat contains the bidet apparatus internally, and thus, is no more difficult to clean than a typical toilet seat.

BACKGROUND—DESCRIPTION OF PRIOR ART

[0006] Bidets are a commonly used device in Europe and it has been established that using a bidet can improve personal hygiene, and subsequently prevent irritation and infections. However, the concept of a separate unit in a bathroom has not become popular in the United States. Currently, most bathrooms are not set up to accommodate either the space requirements or the plumbing requirements of a separate unit. Numerous previous inventors have attempted to solve this problem by combining the toilet and the bidet into one unit. Some with entirely new units, and some with devices that retro-fit onto an existing toilet. However, to date, none of these units have become commonly used in the United States. In the early part of the 20th century, devices were patented with simple designs, using the toilet seat. However, the designs never became refined enough to reach acceptance. As designs became more refined, and modem materials made more things possible, the designs became more and more complicated. They also became more expensive and more difficult to clean. Thus, these devices were never positioned to become popular. My invention has a unique place in this very crowded field of prior art, because it uses a carefully developed design that is simple, effective, inexpensive and easy to clean.

[0007] I have divided the prior art into some basic categories in order to have an organizational starting point. The first category are inventions that attach to the toilet bowl rather than the seat. There are several of these, and they continue to the present time. They generally include a member that, when triggered, will pivot into the middle of the bowl and spray the user. The rest of the time, the apparatus remains to the side of the bowl. The major problem with all of these is that toilet bowls are smooth for a reason. The toilet bowl is exposed to more germs and bacteria than possibly any other object in the household. Anything interrupting a smooth and continuous surface will collect germs. I do not believe that consumers will relish the thought of picking waste from behind auxiliary pipes hanging in their toilet bowls. Some of these prior patents are as follows: 1

6,408,451Carn et alJun. 25, 2002
5,911,516ChangJun. 15, 1999
5,884,345Sugiyama, et alMar. 23, 1999
5,652,971WokasAug. 5, 1997
5,647,069Han et al.Jul. 15, 1997
5,495,625McGuireDec. 12, 1994
4,807,311IngelsFeb. 28, 1989
4,551,867Gurevich et al.Nov. 12, 1985
4,451,942HiranoJun. 5, 1984
4,406,025Fluck et al.Sep. 27, 1983
4,391,004KawaiJul. 5, 1983
4,360,934Ishigami et al.Nov. 30, 1982
4,242,764FukudaJan. 6, 1981
4,181,985RiusJan. 8, 1980
4,135,255MenendezJan. 23, 1979
4,094,018BemthinJun. 13, 1978

[0008] Another category of the prior art utilizes the seat, but attaches to the outside of the seat, usually underneath. One type in particular uses a nozzle on some sort of a moveable rod, so that by manipulating a handle, the user can direct the spray of water. In addition to having the hygienic disadvantages of the previous category, these add unnecessary complexity and expense to the apparatus. They are also vulnerable to mechanical failure. These inventions include: 2

6,192,527PaulFeb. 27, 2001
6,105,179BurnsAug. 22, 2000
5,799,341RodasSep. 1, 1998
5,765,238FurukawaJun. 16, 1998
5,722,097DeveerMar. 3, 1998
5,706,525OlivierJan. 13, 1998
5,504,948ChandlerJul. 11, 1994
5,384,919SmithJan. 31, 1995
5,331,692AlbertiJul. 26, 1994
5,271,104LaToraDec. 21, 1993
5,247,711KwonMay 13, 1991
4,069,519AlexanderJan. 24, 1978

[0009] Another variation is the group of bidet attachments that fit underneath the seat but direct the water by means other than moveable rods. Some attach to the seat, and some to the toilet itself. Some have elaborate retractable nozzles, and some have nozzles that rotate into action. Some of them include storage tanks for heating water. Some even include venting devices for removing odors. The more elaborate the device, generally, the larger it is. These devices often include additional pieces either behind the seat, or on the floor beside the toilet. As the size increases, so does the unsightliness, and the space requirements. As previously stated, anything added to the toilet, in an exposed manner, provides places for germs to collect. The under-the-seat examples include the following: 3

6,327,718Ono, et alDec. 11, 2001
6,397,406MoshkovichJun. 4, 2002
6,167,577 B1HammadJan. 2, 2001
6,178,568 B1BoulierisJan. 30, 2001
5,960,486HuligangaOct. 5, 1999
5,953,766SzokeSep. 21, 1999
5,946,741MoonSep. 7, 1999
5,933,881SmithAug. 10, 1999
5,666,672BirselSep. 16, 1997
5,659,901DerakhshanAug. 26, 1997
5,263,205LeunissenOct. 15, 1990
5,138,726CampbellAug. 18, 1992
4,967,423AoyamaNov. 6, 1990
4,691,391KuoJun. 9, 1986
4,441,219EpsteinApr. 10, 1984
4,422,189CouvretteDec. 27, 1983
4,391.004KawaiJul. 5, 1983
4,383,339MillerMay 17, 1983
4,326,308SilverApr. 27, 1982
4,208,746MinamotoJun. 24, 1980
4,127,904JunkerDec. 5, 1978

[0010] Similarly, there are a few prior art examples of devices that fit over the toilet seat. While somewhat more hygienic than those that fit under the seat, these are still less convenient than my invention. Examples of these include: 4

6,321,396VallejoNov. 27, 2001
5,734,997RaffApr. 7, 1998
5,630,234ChildsMay 20, 1997
3,545,015RichardsonApr. 15, 1968

[0011] Finally, there are the prior art examples closest to my invention. These have exercised the hygienically superior option of placing the apparatus inside the toilet seat. However, they are still different that my invention in various ways as I will explain.

[0012] U.S. Pat. No. 6,339,852 (Huang, Jan. 22, 2002) describes, in an alternate embodiment, placing the water channel inside the seat. However, it only has water outlets in the front. My invention has nozzles in the front and back. Huang uses several small holes as outlets instead of one with a directable nozzle. Huang's invention also needs to be connected to a temperature controlled water supply such as a sink. By using a plurality of water outlets, it makes the user more vulnerable to the effects of temperature of the water. I have found that if the stream of water is small enough, than cold water from the closet supply tube can be used without major discomfort.

[0013] U.S. Pat. No. 5,570,479 (Chomik Nov. 5, 1996) describes a seat that contains tubing, but also attempts to store water in the seat and heat it. I have found through experimentation that if the jet of water is small enough, the temperature is less important. Thus, my invention does not require electricity, or have bulky, unsightly storage tanks. Chomik's seat is larger than normal, requires electricity, and jets the water through elaborate telescoping retractable nozzles that are vulnerable to malfunction, and contamination. In U.S. Pat. No. 4,850,060, Jul. 25, 1989) Chieng Ming describes a seat similar to Chomik. It heats water, stores it, but disperses it through nozzles that extend below the rim. Once again, anything that protrudes from the seat makes it more difficult to clean. U.S. Pat. No. 4,393,525 (Kondo Jul. 19, 1983) describes another seat that heats water before dispensing it. It adds the additional complication of a fan that blows hot air at the user. The nozzles extend below the seat, and, unlike my nozzles that adjust spherically, and can aim in numerous directions, these can only adjust on an up and down axis. U.S. Pat. No. 4,370,764 (Ando Feb. 1, 1983) also describes a seat that heats water. The water is held in a tank behind the seat. The nozzle is placed below the seat (thus making it more difficult to clean), and water is electrically pumped out in timed bursts. U.S. Pat. No. 4,327,451 (Baus May 4, 1982) also describes a seat with heated water, but the nozzle is on a long pipe that rotates into the bowl. It also takes water from the toilet tank rather than the supply tube, and it features an elaborate system wherein water flows from the tank when the seat is down, but does not flow when it is raised. In addition to the aforementioned unhygienic aspects of the extra apparatus, this invention prevents the user from using cleaning agents in the toilet tank. U.S. Pat. No. 4,237,560 (Riegelman Dec. 9, 1980) describes another seat with heated water, and a complicated delivery system to nozzles that are below the seat. This one is electrically actuated when the user sits on the seat. U.S. Pat. No. 3,879,769 (Slawinski Apr. 29, 1975) is not electric, but it is still complicated. It has nozzles that are controlled by handles outside of the seat. The nozzles can pivot up and down within a track, as directed by the handles. In addition to being unnecessarily complicated, the open track in which the nozzles pivot can collect dirt, and would be difficult to clean. Rather than taking water from the closet supply tube, it takes both hot and cold water from other pipes in the bathroom. It requires having pipes nearby, and requires running additional pipes to the toilet. U.S. Pat. No. 3,154,793 (Congdon Nov. 3, 1964) is another device that heats the water and blows warm air to dry the user. The water storage and additional apparatus are housed in a cabinet that sits beside the toilet. So, in addition to the problems of being expensive, and overly complicated, it also takes up considerable extra space. In small bathrooms, every inch matters. This would not even fit in many bathrooms. U.S. Pat. No. 1,990,268 (Crane Feb. 5, 1935) is one of the earlier designs, that did not use excessive instrumentation. Rather than a flexible tube, this invention uses rigid pipes and designed a rotating coupling device that allowed the seat to pivot while allowing water to flow into a channel in the seat. The seat was made with an additional extrusion descending below the seat. This is where the water exited. The nozzle was placed in a fixed position, and was not adjustable. The rigid pipe design was vulnerable to leakage, and the design did not contemplate a second nozzle in the front of the seat. Additionally, the rigid pipe design assumed a relatively large volume of water in the cleansing stream. As mentioned before, my smaller stream reduces the discomfort of cold water, and reduces overspray, while accomplishing the necessary cleansing. U.S. Pat. Nos. 1,977,758 (Epier Oct. 23, 1934) and 1,960,839 (Campus May 29, 1934) describe a differently designed seat in which the seat consists of two halves pivotally connected to a pipe. The pipe rigidly connects to a nozzle that extends between the two halves of the seat. This design, in addition to its cosmetic drawbacks, does not allow for a nozzle in the front of the seat. Also, it requires that the seat be integral to the toilet, rather than detachable. U.S. Pat. No. 1,785,935 (Campus, Dec. 23, 1930) utilizes a rotating connection to a rigid pipe. It describes a unique nozzle that is mounted above the seat, and a device for making water available only when someone is sitting on the seat. The over-the-seat design makes it especially vulnerable to overspray.

[0014] Despite the crowded prior art and the relative simplicity of my invention, the design is unique. I believe it will fill an important niche. My invention is cosmetically very similar to what the public is already used to. It is inexpensive enough to risk trying, and presents no additional difficulty in cleaning the toilet.

SUMMARY

[0015] This invention consists of a commonly used toilet seat with a central opening, that contains one or two channels through which water may flow. The channels may be made of waterproof material or they may contain a flexible tube. Each channel terminates in a nozzle, one in the rear of the opening, and one at the front. The nozzles consist of a sphere with a hole through the center (resembling a bead) held in place by pressure from the surrounding flexible tubing (or similar flexible material.) The direction of water flowing from the nozzle can be adjusted by placing an object such as a piece of wire into the hole in the sphere and turning the hole to point in another direction. The nozzles protrude only minimally from the seat structure. Water is supplied to the seat via flexible tubing connected to the closet supply tube of the toilet via valves. The valves are enclosed in a housing that is mounted on the closet supply tube, and controlled via knobs or similar control handles that protrude from the housing.

Objects and Advantages

[0016] Accordingly, several objects and advantages of my invention are:

[0017] 1. My invention is no more difficult to clean than a typical toilet seat. Many of the prior art examples consist of spraying devices that pivot under the seat on an arm with a handle, or that pivot into the toilet bowl. These devices put pipes and other associated gadgets into the toilet, making it more difficult to clean. The toilet is one of the most difficult things in any household to keep clean and sanitary, due to the unsanitary nature of its use. Adding anything that can trap dirt and bacteria will not be appealing, especially to the family members who actually clean the toilet.

[0018] 2. My invention is simple, and low maintenance. Much of the more modem prior art depicts seats with retractable nozzles, that require storage space, elaborate operating mechanics, self cleaning devices, and a door to protect them when not in use. Since my nozzles do not protrude, they do not collect dirt. If something should get in the small hole in the sphere that directs the flow, simply turning on the water will clean it out. The sphere allows the water direction to be customized for the individual user.

[0019] 3. My invention does not substantially change the size or weight of the typical toilet seat. Many of the modern prior art devices require additional devices to aid in raising and lowering the seat because it has become so heavy. Also, with heating devices, water storage chambers, etc. the seats have become considerably larger. Many of them also consist of additional machinery that must sit on or near the toilet, thus substantially changing the aesthetic of the bathroom.

[0020] 4. My invention does not require additional plumbing or electricity. Through experimentation, I have determined that a sufficiently small stream of water, even if cold, is not uncomfortable. Thus, I avoid the drawback of much of the prior art that requires running hot water pipes to the toilet, or electrically heating the water. Most bathrooms do not have electric outlets next to the toilet. Adding additional wiring is an unnecessary inconvenience, not to mention the additional safety precautions required when using electricity in close proximity to water. My invention can be installed in a few minutes using simple tools. Also, since the water for my invention comes from the closet supply tube, and not the tank, it does not preclude using cleaning solutions in the tank.

[0021] 5. Since it relies on a simple, efficient design rather than elaborate technology, my invention is considerably less expensive than the prior art. This is especially important in the United States, where bidets are not common. Consumers may be willing to try something new, but unwilling to make a major investment in it.

[0022] 6. Further objects and advantages of my invention will become apparent from a consideration of the drawings and ensuing description.

DRAWING FIGURES

[0023] In the drawings, closely related figures have the same number but different alphabetic suffixes.

[0024] FIG. 1 is a perspective drawing of my invention in use on a typical toilet.

[0025] FIG. 2 is a perspective drawing of my invention alone

[0026] FIG. 2-a is a perspective drawing of an alternate configuration, in which an open front commercial style seat has only one nozzle.

[0027] FIG. 2-b is a perspective drawing of my invention showing water spraying from the nozzles

[0028] FIG. 3 indicates the path of the tubing inside the seat

[0029] FIG. 4 is a detail of one possible configuration of valves connected to the closet supply tubes, as seen from inside the housing, in which two valves tap directly into the closet tube.

[0030] FIG. 4-a is a detail of a second possible configuration of valves connected to the closet supply tube inside the housing, in which a “T” connector branches off from the closet tube and splits between two valves in either another “T” or “Y” connection, or a “gang valve” arrangement such as is common in air supply tubes for aquariums. This arrangement can be mounted directly on the closet tube as shown or it can extend forward to make the controls easier to reach.

[0031] FIG. 5 is a detail of the nozzle showing a cut away section of the seat 1, tube 4, sphere 12 and sealant 13.

[0032] FIG. 5-a is a detail of the alternative embodiment of the nozzle in which the channel itself is waterproof, and thus does not require tubing. The sphere 11 resides in a cavity at the end of the channel 8 and is held in place by flexible material 16. This figure also shows a cut away section of the seat 1, channel 8, and sphere 12.

Reference Numerals in Drawings

[0033] 1. Toilet seat

[0034] 2. toilet seat lid

[0035] 3. nozzles

[0036] 4. flexible tubing

[0037] 5. housing

[0038] 6. knobs (or similar handle devices)

[0039] 7. closet supply tube

[0040] 8. channel in seat

[0041] 9. valve

[0042] 10. “T” or “Y” connector

[0043] 11. sphere

[0044] 12. hole in sphere

[0045] 13. sealant around tubing,

[0046] 14. toilet bowl

[0047] 15. water

[0048] 16. flexible material to hold sphere in channel

DESCRIPTION—FIGS. 1, 2, 2-b, 3 and 5—Preferred Embodiment

[0049] The preferred embodiment of the invention is illustrated in use in FIG. 1 and FIG. 2. The invention consists of a conventional toilet seat 1 of any of the commonly used shapes. Said seat has a large central opening through which waste products may pass. Said seat can be made of wood, plastic, or other convenient material. Said seat is pivotally connected to the toilet bowl 14. Said seat contains two internal channels 8 (FIG. 3) that contain a flexible tube 4. Said tubes continues out of the seat and connect to the closet supply tube 7. Channels are either formed as part of the seat, or are cut out as grooves and covered over. They are not visible on the outside of the seat except at their beginning and ending. The channels 8 terminate at nozzles 3, placed in the opening of the toilet seat, along a central axis, one in the front, one in the rear. These nozzles 3 are recessed into the seat, and protrude only slightly from the edge. (See FIG. 5) The area immediately surrounding the exit of the nozzle is sealed and water tight. The nozzles consist of the end of the flexible tube 4 containing a sphere 11. (FIG. 5) The sphere has a hole 12 through the middle of it. The sphere is held in place by pressure from the surrounding tube and channel. The sphere serves to direct the water coming from the nozzle, and remains able to rotate within the tubing, but is held in place by pressure and friction. Water is provided to the channels through flexible tubing 4. (FIG. 2-b) The water originates from the closet tube 7 and is directed through valves into the tubing 4.

[0050] FIG. 2-a Alternative Embodiment

[0051] An alternate embodiment (FIG. 2-a) utilizes an open-front commercial style seat and has only one nozzle in the rear. This is for institutions that must comply with codes and regulations that require open-front toilet seats

[0052] FIGS. 5-a, 4 and 4-a Additional Embodiment

[0053] In an additional embodiment, the seat itself is made of a water-proof material such as plastic. Rather than continuing through channels in the seat, the flexible tubing connects to the channels that are themselves waterproof. FIG. 7 depicts the nozzle arrangement for such an embodiment. The sphere 11 resides in a cavity in the end of the channel. It is held in place by flexible material 16. As in the other embodiment, the direction of the water spray can be adjusted by placing a narrow object into the hole 12 in the sphere 11 and rotating the sphere.

[0054] There are various possibilities with regards to the arrangement of valves on the closet tube. FIGS. 4 and 4-a illustrate two such arrangements. FIG. 4 shows one possible configuration of valves, as seen from inside the housing, in which two valves tap directly into the closet tube. FIG. 4-a is a detail of a second possible configuration of valves, in which a “T” connector branches off from the closet tube and splits between two valves in either another “T” or “Y” connection, or a “gang valve” arrangement such as is common in air supply tubes for aquariums. This arrangement can be mounted directly on the closet tube as shown or it can extend forward to make the controls easier to reach.

Operation—FIGS. 1, 2-b and 5

[0055] The easy-to-clean toilet seat bidet operates in a similar manner to toilet seats commonly in use. (FIG. 1) It mounts on the toilet bowl with two bolts in the rear of the seat. It pivots up and down to allow direct access to the toilet bowl. It has a cover that also pivots to completely block access to the toilet bowl. It differs from the seats now in use because it has the ability to spray water on the anus and genitals of the user. The user turns on the water by turning knobs or handles 6 located on housing 5 connected to closet supply tube 7. One knob 6 sprays water from the front nozzle 3. The other knob 6 sprays water to the rear nozzle 3. (FIG. 2-b shows water spraying) The nozzle's 3 consist (FIG. 5) of a sphere 11 inside a tube 4 and can be adjusted by placing a narrow object such as a nail or piece of wire into the hole 12 in the middle of the sphere 11, and rotating it in the desired direction. Thus the user can customize the spray to hit exactly where needed. This minimizes the need for excess water, and as previously mentioned, allows effective cleaning by a water stream small enough that the temperature does not cause discomfort.

Conclusion, Ramifications, and Scope

[0056] Thus, the reader will see that this bidet/toilet seat is easy to clean, easy to install, relatively inexpensive, and cosmetically space requirement wise, very similar to what is in current use, all the while significantly improving the personal hygiene of the user.

[0057] While my above description contains many specificity's, these should not be construed as limitations on the scope of the invention, but rather as an exemplification of one preferred embodiment thereof. Many other variations are possible. For example: The tubing and material that seals it around the outside of the nozzle can be integral. The toilet seat shape can be any shape that is designed to work with a particular toilet, such as round, elongated, square, etc. The valves, closet tube and housing can all be integral, or separate to whatever degree is most practical to manufacture. The knobs or handles that control the valves can be placed directly on the closet tube, or they can extend forward to improve reachability. The entire invention can be made in whatever color the customer desires.

[0058] Thus the scope of the invention should be determined by the appended claims and their legal equivalents, rather than by the examples given.