Title:
Replaceable toilet valve lip
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
An outflow valve system for a toilet tank is disclosed, wherein the outflow valve system includes a valve body, a valve opening formed in the valve body, wherein the valve opening is configured to be positioned adjacent a bottom surface of the toilet tank when the outflow valve system is installed in the toilet tank, a removable and replaceable valve cover coupled to the valve body over the primary valve lip, wherein the removable valve cover includes a cover opening in fluid communication with the valve opening and a lip disposed around the cover opening, and a movable sealing member configured to selectively form a seal with the lip.



Inventors:
Hand, Douglas P. (Lake Oswego, OR, US)
Application Number:
10/705027
Publication Date:
05/12/2005
Filing Date:
11/10/2003
Assignee:
HAND DOUGLAS P.
Primary Class:
International Classes:
E03D1/34; (IPC1-7): E03D1/34
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
NGUYEN, TUAN N
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
KOLISCH HARTWELL, P.C. (PORTLAND, OR, US)
Claims:
1. An outflow valve system for a toilet tank, comprising: a valve body; a valve opening formed in the valve body, wherein the valve opening is configured to be positioned adjacent a bottom surface of the toilet tank when the outflow valve system is installed in the toilet tank; a removable and replaceable valve cover coupled to the valve body over the primary valve lip, wherein the removable valve cover includes a cover opening in fluid communication with the valve opening and a lip disposed around the cover opening; and a movable sealing member configured to selectively form a seal with the lip.

2. The outflow valve system of claim 1, wherein the valve cover is removably coupled to the valve body with a threaded connection.

3. The outflow valve system of claim 2, wherein the valve body includes an outflow tube, wherein the valve opening is formed in an end of the outflow tube, and wherein the valve cover is removably connected to an interior portion of the outflow tube.

4. The outflow valve system of claim 2, wherein the valve body includes an outflow tube, wherein the valve opening is formed in an end of the outflow tube, and wherein the valve cover is removably connected to an exterior portion of the outflow tube.

5. The outflow valve system of claim 1, wherein the valve cover is removably coupled to the valve body via a snap-on connection.

6. The outflow valve system of claim 5, wherein the valve body includes a flange, and wherein the valve cover includes at least one appendage configured to snap around the flange.

7. The outflow valve system of claim 1, wherein the lip is removably coupled to the valve cover.

8. The outflow valve system of claim 7, wherein the lip is removably coupled to the valve cover with a threaded connection.

9. The outflow valve system of claim 1, wherein the valve cover includes at least one of a protrusion and a depression configured to provide a location at which the valve cover is gripped during removal and/or attachment.

10. The outflow valve system of claim 9, wherein the valve cover is coupled to the valve body via a threaded connection, and wherein the valve cover includes a plurality of protrusions to improve grip on the valve cover during removal.

11. The outflow valve system of claim 1, wherein the sealing member is a flapper.

12. An outflow valve system for a toilet tank, comprising: a valve body; a valve opening formed in the valve body, wherein the valve opening is configured to pass water from the toilet tank into the valve body for discharge from the toilet tank; and a valve cover removably coupled to the valve body, wherein the valve cover includes a cover opening in fluid communication with the valve opening and a lip disposed around the cover opening, and wherein the valve cover includes at least one of a depression and a protrusion configured to provide a location at which the valve cover is gripped during removal.

13. The outflow valve system of claim 12, wherein the valve cover includes a plurality of protrusions.

14. The outflow valve of claim 12, wherein the valve cover is coupled to the valve body via a threaded connection.

15. The outflow valve of claim 12, wherein the valve cover is coupled to the body via a snap-on connection.

16. The outflow valve of claim 15, wherein the valve body includes a flange, and wherein the valve cover includes at least one appendage configured to snap around the flange.

17. The outflow valve system of claim 12, wherein the valve lip is removably coupled to the valve body.

18. The outflow valve system of claim 17, wherein the valve lip is removably coupled to the valve body via a threaded connection.

19. A valve cover configured to be coupled to a toilet outflow valve system, the toilet outflow valve system including a valve body, a valve opening formed in the valve body, and a sealing member configured to selectively seal against the valve cover, the valve cover comprising: a body configured to be coupled the toilet outflow valve system adjacent the valve opening; a cover opening defined in the body, wherein the cover opening is configured to pass water through the cover and into the valve opening; a cover lip disposed around the cover opening, wherein the cover lip is configured to form a seal with the sealing member when contacted by the sealing member; and a connector configured to connect to a complementary connector on the valve body to removably couple the valve cover to the valve body.

20. The valve cover of claim 19, wherein the connector includes threads configured to connect to complementary threads on the valve body.

21. The valve cover of claim 20, wherein the threads are disposed on an outside surface of the tube segment.

22. The valve cover of claim 20, wherein the threads are disposed on an inside surface of the tube segment.

23. The valve cover of claim 19, wherein the connector includes a snap configured to be coupled to a complementary feature on the valve body.

24. The valve cover of claim 23, wherein the snap includes at least one appendage configured to hook around the complementary feature on the valve body.

25. The valve cover of claim 19, wherein the cover includes at least one of a depression and a protrusion configured to provide a location at which the valve cover is gripped during removal.

26. The valve cover of claim 25, wherein the valve cover includes a plurality of protrusions to improve grip on the valve cover during removal.

27. A method of repairing a toilet outflow valve system, the toilet outflow valve system including a valve body defining a valve opening, a sealing member configured to selectively cover the valve opening, and a lip removably coupled to the valve body around the valve opening and configured to form a seal with the sealing member when the sealing member covers the valve opening, the method comprising: removing the lip from the valve body; and attaching a new lip to the valve body.

28. The method of claim 27, wherein the lip is disposed on a cover removably attached to the valve body, and wherein removing the lip from the valve body includes rotating the cover to disengage threads on the cover from threads on the valve body.

29. The method of claim 27, wherein the lip is disposed on a cover removably attached to the valve body, and wherein removing the lip from the valve body includes disengaging a snap on the cover from a complementary feature on the valve body.

Description:

TECHNICAL FIELD

The present invention relates to an easily reparable outflow valve for a toilet tank.

BACKGROUND

Toilet tank outflow valves permit the selective discharge of water from a toilet tank into a toilet bowl. Outflow valves typically include a valve opening configured to pass water from the tank into the valve and out of the toilet tank, and a sealing member configured to selectively cover the valve opening. The sealing member seals against a lip defined around the valve opening when in a closed position, preventing water from flowing through the valve opening until the sealing member is moved from the valve opening by a user.

However, over time, varying types of harsh water found in many areas of the world may cause damage to the lip around the valve opening. A damaged valve lip can harm the integrity of the seal between the lip and sealing member, which may result in water leakage through the valve. This leakage may cause the toilet tank inflow valve to cycle on and off, which may waste water and also may cause the inflow valve to wear.

Due to the low cost of toilet outflow valves, a leaky toilet valve lip is typically repaired by replacing an entire outflow valve assembly. However, replacing the entire outflow valve assembly generally requires a user to turn off water to the toilet tank, drain the toilet tank, disconnect the valve from the bottom of the toilet tank, and perform other such plumbing steps. The valve replacement process may thus be difficult and time-consuming for persons not skilled in plumbing, who may instead incur the expense of having a skilled plumber perform this repair.

SUMMARY

An outflow valve system for a toilet tank is disclosed, wherein the outflow valve system includes a valve body, a valve opening formed in the valve body, wherein the valve opening is configured to be positioned adjacent a bottom surface of the toilet tank when the outflow valve system is installed in the toilet tank, a removable and replaceable valve cover coupled to the valve body over the primary valve lip, wherein the removable valve cover includes a cover opening in fluid communication with the valve opening and a lip disposed around the cover opening, and a movable sealing member configured to selectively form a seal with the lip.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

FIG. 1 is a perspective view of a toilet having an outflow valve system according to an embodiment of the present invention.

FIG. 2 is an exploded side view of a valve cover and a portion of a valve body according to another embodiment.

FIG. 3 is a top view of the embodiment of FIG. 2.

FIG. 4 is an exploded side view of a valve cover and a portion of a valve body according to another embodiment.

FIG. 5 is an exploded side view of a valve cover and a portion of a valve body according to another embodiment.

FIG. 6 is an exploded side view of a removable valve lip and a portion of a valve body according to another embodiment.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE DEPICTED EMBODIMENTS

FIG. 1 shows, generally at 10, a first exemplary embodiment of an outflow valve system according to the present invention, as a single flush-volume flapper-type outflow valve system positioned in a gravity flush, non-pressurized toilet tank 12. Outflow valve system 10 includes a base 14 with which it may be mounted to the inside of toilet tank 12, and a valve body 16 extending from the base into the toilet tank. Valve body 16 includes an upright outflow tube section 18 extending upwardly from base 14, and a side outflow tube section 20 extending away from the upright outflow tube section along the bottom of toilet tank 12. A flush valve 22 is coupled to the side outflow tube section 20 adjacent the toilet tank bottom. Flush valve 22 is configured to empty essentially all water from toilet tank 12 when opened, and includes a sealing member 23 that selectively seals flush valve 22 closed. Sealing member 23 is attached to a flush wand 24 with a chain or cord 26, and is operated by a handle 28 on the exterior of toilet tanks 12. Outflow valve system 10 also may include an overflow tube section 30 coupled to upright outflow tube section 18, and a toilet bowl refill tube 32 configured to refill a toilet bowl after a flush.

FIG. 2 shows a portion of flush valve 22 and side outflow tube section 20 in more detail. Side outflow tube section 20 includes a valve opening 34 for discharging water from toilet tank 12 into a hollow interior portion 36 of the side outflow tube section, and thus out of the toilet tank, when sealing member 23 is lifted.

Outflow valve system 10 also includes a cover 40 removably coupled to an end portion of side outflow tube section 22. FIG. 2 shows a side view of cover 40, and FIG. 3 shows a top view of the cover. Cover 40 includes a lip or outer rim 42 configured to form a watertight seal when in contact with sealing member 23, and an opening 44 configured to pass water through the cover when the sealing member is lifted.

Cover 40 is configured to be removable to allow outflow valve system 10 to be easily and quickly repaired if lip 42 is damaged or degraded by harsh water conditions, etc. As described above, degraded valves in the past have typically been repaired by replacing the entire valve system. This may require several relatively complex and time-consuming steps, including disconnecting and reconnecting conduits leading to the water supply and to the toilet bowl. In contrast, replacing cover 40 requires only that toilet tank 40 be drained before performing the replacement. The water supply to the toilet tank may, but need not, be turned off for this procedure. Thus, the use of cover 40 greatly simplifies the repair of a damaged outflow valve lip. Furthermore, the small size and simple construction of cover 40 allows the cover to be manufactured and sold for a much lower cost than an entire valve assembly, and thus may greatly reduce the cost of this repair.

Cover 40 may be coupled to side outflow tube section 20 (or other part of valve body 16) in any suitable manner. In the embodiment of FIG. 2, cover 40 includes a threaded interior portion 46 configured to connect to a threaded exterior portion 48 of side tube 20. This allows cover 40 to be replaced simply by unscrewing the cover having a damaged lip from side tube 20, and then screwing a new cover onto the side portion. Other suitable methods of coupling cover 40 to side outflow tube section 20 are described in more detail below.

Outflow valve system 10 may include a gasket 50 disposed between cover 40 and side outflow tube section 20 to prevent water from leaking between the joint between these two parts. Gasket 50 is compressed between an interior edge 52 of cover 40 and a valve opening lip 54 disposed around the perimeter of valve opening 34 when the cover is tightened on the side tube. Furthermore, a second gasket or seal, such as an O-ring 56, may be provided around side outflow tube section 20 to provide further protection against possible leakage of water from tank 12 into outflow valve assembly 10. O-ring 56 is compressed between an outer edge 58 of cover 40 and a collar 60 formed around side outflow tube section 20 when the cover is tightened on the side outflow tube section.

Cover 40 may include various features to increase the ease with which the cover is attached to and removed from side outflow tube section 20. For example, cover 40 may be provided with a roughened surface, or with a coating made of a non-slip surface, around its perimeter to improve a user's grip on the cover during attachment and/or removal. Alternatively, cover 40 may include one or more depressions or protrusions around its perimeter to improve the grip of the user. In the depicted embodiment, cover 40 includes a plurality of protrusions 62 disposed around its perimeter. Protrusions 62 help both to improve a user's grip on the cover, and also to provide leverage to assist in attaching the cover more tightly. While the depicted embodiment includes four protrusions, it will be appreciated that a cover according to the present invention may include either more or fewer protrusions.

Cover 40 may be made of any suitable material. For example, cover 40 may be made of PVC or other plastic materials from which toilet valves are often made. Alternatively, cover 40 may be made from suitable elastomeric materials, composite materials, etc.

Likewise, cover 40 may extend as far along the side of side tube segment 20 as desired. In the depicted embodiment, cover 40 extends along only a portion of an upwardly angled end portion 64 of side tube segment 20. Alternatively, cover 40 may also extend along the entire length of the upwardly angled end 64 of the side tube segment, or along a shorter length than that shown.

Upwardly angled end portion 64 may be provided to allow cover 40 to be more easily removed when outflow valve system 10 is installed in a toilet tank. In other embodiments, side tube segment 20 may not include upwardly angled end 64, but rather may extend straight out from upright outflow tube section 18, or even have a downward angle. In yet other embodiments, the side tube may be omitted, and valve opening 34 may be formed directly in the side of upright tube segment 18. Furthermore, many other possible geometries and constructions are possible, as those disclosed herein are merely illustrative, and not intended to be limiting in any sense.

FIG. 4 shows another exemplary embodiment of a side tube segment 120 and valve cover 140 according to the present invention. Valve cover 140 is similar in many ways to valve cover 40 of FIG. 2. However, valve cover 140 includes a threaded exterior surface 146 configured to connect to a threaded interior surface 148 of side tube segment 120. A gasket or O-ring 150 may be used to seal the joint between valve cover 140 and side tube segment 120. O-ring 150 is compressed between an outer edge 152 of valve cover 140 and a lip 154 of side tube segment 120. Valve cover 140 may include one or more protrusions 162 or other grip-enhancing features configured to facilitate the attachment and/or removal of the valve cover.

FIG. 5 shows yet another exemplary embodiment of a side tube segment 220 and valve cover 240 according to the present invention. Instead of being attachable to side tube segment 220 via a threaded connection, valve cover 240 is configured to be pressed directly onto side tube segment 220, and to be held on the side tube segment via one or more snap connectors 242. Snap connectors 242 extend downwardly from a flange or rim 244 formed around the perimeter of cover 240, and may include an inwardly extending portion 246 configured to engage a complementary recess 248 formed in flange 244. Each connector may include a sloped lower edge 250 configured to deflect each snap connector 242 outwardly as cover 240 is pressed into place on the end of side tube segment 220, or may have any other suitable configuration. While the depicted embodiment includes four snap connectors, it will be appreciated that a cover according to the present invention may have either more or fewer snap connectors. Furthermore, while the snap connectors of the depicted embodiment are disposed on cover 240, the snap connectors also may be disposed on side tube segment 220 and be configured to engage complementary connectors on cover 240. Also, while a flange is provided in the depicted embodiment as a feature to which the snap connectors connect, it will be appreciated that any other suitable feature to which the snap connectors can connect may be used.

The above-described embodiments each include a replaceable valve cover having a lip configured to form a seal with a valve sealing member. In yet other embodiments of the invention, the valve lip itself is replaceable. FIG. 6 shows an exemplary embodiment of a replaceable valve lip 300, along with an exemplary side tube segment 320 configured to accommodate the replaceable lip. Valve lip 300 includes an upper surface 302 configured to form a seal with sealing member 23, and a threaded side 304 configured to couple with a complementary threaded interior portion 306 of side tube 320. A gasket (not shown) may be used to seal the connection between valve lip 300 and side outflow tube section 320.

Valve lip 300 is configured to extend above an outer surface 308 when it is tightened against an interior stop 310 that is configured to prevent lip 300 from being screwed into side outflow tube section 320 too far. This may help to improve the contact between sealing member 23 and lip 300, and also may facilitate the installation and removal of the lip. Furthermore, valve lip 300 may include one or more features (not shown) configured to facilitate gripping the lip during installation and/or removal. Examples of suitable features include, but are not limited to, high-friction surfaces and/or non-slip materials disposed about a perimeter, as well as features such as the protrusions 62 of the embodiment of FIGS. 2 and 3.

Although the present disclosure includes specific embodiments, specific embodiments are not to be considered in a limiting sense, because numerous variations are possible. The subject matter of the present disclosure includes all novel and nonobvious combinations and subcombinations of the various elements, features, functions, and/or properties disclosed herein. The following claims particularly point out certain combinations and subcombinations regarded as novel and nonobvious. These claims may refer to “an” element or “a first” element or the equivalent thereof. Such claims should be understood to include incorporation of one or more such elements, neither requiring nor excluding two or more such elements. Other combinations and subcombinations of features, functions, elements, and/or properties may be claimed through amendment of the present claims or through presentation of new claims in this or a related application. Such claims, whether broader, narrower, equal, or different in scope to the original claims, also are regarded as included within the subject matter of the present disclosure.