Title:
FlowSentry toilet water saver
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
FlowSentry is an apparatus designed to save water in a conventional operating toilet. When the level of water in a toilet tank drops ⅛ of an inch (absent a normal flush) FlowSentry alerts the user of the toilet, by way of an audible alarm, that the toilet is leaking water. FlowSentry only determines that the level of water in the tank has dropped or risen (in an overflow situation), it cannot diagnose the cause of the drop or rise in water level (i.e. leaking flapper, faulty overflow tube, etc.). During the normal flush process the Flow Sentry monitors the time it takes the tank to refill with water and determines if the supply valve has closed properly. If the water level fails to return to normal level in one minute or tank continues to fill exceeding normal level, a continuos audible alarm will sound until corrective action is taken or the 9V battery is exhausted.



Inventors:
Mckenna, Edward Joseph (Dunedin, FL, US)
Mckenna, Christopher Michael (Palm Harbor, FL, US)
Application Number:
10/833688
Publication Date:
11/03/2005
Filing Date:
04/28/2004
Primary Class:
International Classes:
E03D1/00; E03D11/02; E03D11/18; (IPC1-7): E03D11/02; E03D11/18
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
HUYNH, KHOA D
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
EDWARD J. MCKENNA (DUNEDIN, FL, US)
Claims:
1. The FlowSentry is for use in a toilet of the type having a tank, a flush port, a valve seat, an overflow tube, and a flush handle. Said apparatus is mounted on the overflow tube in the air space between the upper level of the water in the tank and the tank cover. The flowsentry, is comprised of a stainless steel mounting arm, a main deck which is a circuit board on which is mounted an ALARM, a 9-volt battery, an ON DELAY RELAY, A water tight housing for the FLOATING RELAY assembly, a float attached to a float rod, mounted on the exterior of the housing, the floating relay within its housing and a remote supply valve monitor relay.

2. The FlowSentry described in claim 1, has a float attached to a FLOAT ROD ASSEMBLY. The purpose of the FLOAT ROD ASSEMBLY is to detect a drop in the normal water level.

3. The FLOAT ROD ASSEMBLY, as described in claim 2 is used to detect when the water in the toilet tank fails to reach its proper level or moves from its proper level. When the water does not reach its desired level after the toilet is flushed or leaves its desired level (thus detecting that the toilet is leaking), the FLOAT ROD ASSEMBLY sends a signal to the SENTRY HOUSING, which in turn initiates the alarm sequence.

4. The signal sent to the SENTRY HOUSING, as described in claim 3, is initiated when there is an occurrence of downward movement of ⅛″. When this happens, the SENTRY RELAY sends two separate signals to the ALARM. One signal goes directly to the ALARM. The second signal goes to the ALARM via a one minute ON DELAY RELAY. During a normal flush operation, a split second alarm will sound, indicating that the device is working and that the battery is functional.

5. In the event of a silent or slow leak, the first signal sent to the ALARM will last for the time interval it takes for the water level to drop another ⅛″. The ON DELAY RELAY is now also receiving a signal and within 1-minute, if still active, will sound a full alarm.

6. The FlowSentry also has a SUPPLY VALVE MONITOR that detects when the supply valve fails to close properly and water is entering the overflow tube from the toilet tank. In this situation (an overflow in the toilet tank), an alarm will sound until corrective action is taken or the battery is exhausted.

7. The FlowSentry described in the above claims can be utilized in any conventional household or commercial toilet and provides the ability to alert the toilet's owner when the toilet is leaking, thereby compelling the owner of the toilet to take corrective action. By doing so, the owner of the toilet will save water.

Description:

CROSS REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATIONS

We have been unable to find any published information in our Patent Search that concern inventions that relate to the invention presented in this application.

BACKGROUND OF INVENTION

This invention is a water saving device that detects water movement in a toilet's water tank, and by way of an alarm system, signals the user when such movement is caused by a malfunction of one of the objects in the water tank. For example, when a toilet's flapper has failed, has a slow leak, or when the toilet's tank has an overflow situation, the FlowSentry will alert the user that there is a problem. There have been several products designed to save water that concern the flapper, but they do not accomplish the features that will be described in this invention.

SUMMARY OF INVENTION

A primary object of this invention is to provide a device that detects when water runs continually after the toilet is flushed. By doing so, the device assists the user in saving water. It also provides the user with a device with options that are not currently available.

An additional object is to be able to detect when water continues to run after the toilet is flushed and if the supply valve fails to close properly.

Another object is that the device will detect when water is leaving the tank when the toilet is not in use.

Another object is that the device has an automatic battery check.

Another object is that all components of the device function out of sight (completely enclosed in the toilet tank).

Another object is that the device can be installed in minutes with no tools required.

Another object is that the device is designed to be water and moisture proof.

Another object is that the device is low voltage.

Another object is that the device is inexpensive.

Another object is that the device requires minor installation adjustments as to location.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF DRAWINGS

FIG. 1 is a diagrammatic perspective view of the FlowSentry's Main Deck. The diagram demonstrates the positioning of, the MOUNTING ARM, the FLOATING SENTRY RELAY HOUSING, the ON DELAY RELAY, the ALARM, the BATTERY CONTACTS, the SUPPLY VALVE MONITOR CONTACTS (C3A and C3B), and the MAIN DECK (circuit board).

FIG. 2 is a schematic drawing that demonstrates the SENTRY FLOATING RELAY HOUSING FOUNDATION on the MAIN DECK. The SENTRY HOUSING is glued on the foundation after the SENTRY FLOATING RELAY is installed with the Copper Plate side facing the Main Board.

FIG. 3 is a diagrammatic perspective demonstrating front and rear views of the SENTRY FLOATING RELAY. The front view demonstrates the positioning of the steel plate on the SENTRY FLOATING RELAY and faces the magnetic float. Also, it fits snug against the inside housing. The rear view demonstrates the positioning of the copper contacts on the SENTRY FLOATING RELAY and faces the Main Deck. The SENTRY FLOATING RELAY fits snug against the Main Deck.

FIG. 4 is a diagrammatic perspective view of the FlowSentry mounted to the overflow tube. The diagram also demonstrates the positioning of the SUPPLY VALVE MONITORING DEVICE (RELAY), the OVERFLOW TUBE, where the device is positioned in relation to the toilet's overflow line and tank fill line, and the magnetic guide and stop, as it relates to the SENTRY HOUSING. The diagram also shows the position of the MAGNETIC FLOAT ROD, the FLOAT, the FLOAT ROD GUIDES, and the position of the BATTERY HOUSING.

FIG. 5 is a diagrammatic perspective view of FlowSentry's SUPPLY VALVE MONITOR RELAY. The diagram also demonstrates the positioning of the hinged float rod with float, with magnet attached to the float rod, the contacts (2) that run to and from the MAIN DECK, the supply valve's air-tight housing, the STEEL RELAY PLATE, and the ADJUSTABLE MOUNTING CLIP.

FIG. 6 is a diagrammatic perspective view of a toilet water tank having the current invention installed therin.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION

In the description of the drawings, similar reference characters will denote similar elements throughout the several views, the Figures illustrate the FlowSenty apparatus for use in a toilet that will attach to the overflow tube (see FIG. 6).

In the description of the drawings, the mounting arms will be noticed (see FIG. 1). The MOUNTING ARMS are stainless steel bands (½″× 1/16″×4½″). The band will have a ⅛″ hole centered ½″ from right side lengthwise and a ⅛″ hole centered 1″ from right side (lengthwise), to rivit board to arm. Additionally, each band will have a 3/16″ centered threaded hole ⅜″ from the left side (lengthwise) and a 3/16″ centered threaded hole 2 11/16″ from left side (lengthwise), to mount unit to the overflow tube with thumb-screws (wingnuts). (see FIG. 4)

In the description of the drawings, the MAIN DECK will be noticed. (see FIG. 1). The MAIN DECK is a standard 3½″×2″ circuit board. Attached to the circuit board (Main Deck), are the SUPPLY VALVE MONITOR RELAYS, the BATTERY CONTACTS, the ON DELAY RELAY, the ALARM, the FLOATING SENTRY RELAY HOUSING, the MOUNTING ARM, the BATTERY HOUSING, the MAIN FLOAT ASSEMBLY, and the ADJUSTABLE MAGNETIC SUPPLY VALVE MONITOR.

In the description of the drawings, the sentry housing will be noticed. As seen in FIG. 4, the sentry housing is 1¾″ in Height, ½″ Wide, ¼″ depth (inside dimensions). The sentry housing is molded plastic with top open, in order to adhere to main deck over housing foundation. It will be mounted on housing. Two float rod guides will be installed (glued or molded) on the face. The guides will be molded plastic ⅛″ thick with a ¼″ opening (see FIG. 4—FLOATROD GUIDES {2}). They will be centered and aligned with one guide ¼″ from bottom of housing the other guide ⅝″ from the top of the housing. This will allow the FLOAT ROD to move down ½″ (⅜″ max drop for sentry relay. The FLOAT ROD will be a round plastic rod, 1⅝″ long, with a diameter of 3/16″. This rod will have a float attached on the lower end, and a permanent magnetic attached to the top end (FIG. 4—Permanent Magnetic Stop). The magnet will be a disk with a diameter of ½″.

In the description of the drawings, the SENTRY FLOATING RELAY (outside dimensions) will be noticed (see FIG. 3). The dimensions are 1¾″× 15/32″× 15/64″. This will be molded plastic block. On one side (outside face) a steel plate (¼″×½″× 1/16″) will be molded lengthwise flush with the top of the block and flush with the surface of the outside face (see FIG. 3—Steel Plate). On the other side (inside face), a copper plate (⅜″× 3/16″× 1/16″) will be molded lengthwise down the top left hand side of the block flush with the top, the left edge and with the surface of the inside face (see FIG. 3—Copper Contact Relay 2). Another copper plate ( 3/16″× 3/16″× 1/16″) in the top right hand corner of the block flush with the top, the right edge and with the surface of the inside face (see FIG. 3—Copper Contact Relay 1). This will leave a ⅜″× 3/16″ rectangular copper surface top left side of the block and a ⅜″×⅜″ square copper surface in the top right hand corner of the block.

In the description of the drawings, the contacts will be noticed (see FIG. 2). Contacts C1A, C1B, C2A and C2B are copper discs with a diameter of ⅛″ and a thickness of 1/32″. Contact C1A is embedded on the main deck in the upper left hand corner just within the housing foundation. It is flush with the surface of the MAIN DECK. Contact C1B is installed in the same manner, ¼″ directly below contact C1A. Contact C2A is installed in the same manner on the right hand side of the foundation directly across from C1B. Contact C2B is installed ¼″ below Contact C2A. (see FIG. 2—C1A, C1B, C2A, C2B).

In the description of the drawings, the BATTERY HOUSING will be noticed (see FIG. 4—Battery Housing mounted on back of main deck). The BATTERY HOUSING is an open faced, molded rectangular container measuring 2½″ in length, 1⅛″ in width, and is ⅝″ in depth. It is mounted on the back of the MAIN DECK on a secured closed cell foam rubber pad. It is held in place by two spring retainer clips. The BATTERY CONNECTOR is a standard, commercially available snap on connector. It is soldered to the MAIN DECK (see FIG. 1—Battery Contacts).

In the description of the drawings, the SUPPLY VALVE MONITOR RELAY HOUSING will be noticed (see FIG. 5). The SUPPLY VALVE MONITOR RELAY HOUSING is a hollow container with inside measurements of Length 10 MM, Width 5 MM, and Depth 3 MM. This container has two small holes drilled through the bottom surface. One centered on the left side and the other on the right (to pass wires to contacts on the Main Deck). (see FIG. 1—C3A and C3B).

Inside the SUPPLY VALVE MONITOR RELAY HOUSING is an unattached beveled steel plate measuring 9.9 MM by 2.9 MM and is 1 MM thick (see FIG. 5—Steel Relay Plate). Inside SUPPLY VALVE MONITOR RELAY HOUSING, there are also 2 circular copper contacts that are 1 MM thick with a diameter of 2 MM. These contacts are anchored to the floor of the container. One is on the right side and one is on the left side. A separate single wire (12″ long) is soldered to each contact and is passed out through holes in the container for soldering to the Main Deck (see FIG. 1—C3A and C3B). The holes are then sealed. One of these wires is soldered to contact C3A, while the other wire is soldered to contact C3B on MAIN DECK (wires not shown). There is a socket on the top of this container (left side Center) to attach the HINGED FLOAT ROD with float to the SUPPLY VALVE MONITOR RELAY HOUSING (see FIG. 5). There are 2 posts on the right edge outside corners. These posts are mounted perpendicular to the top of the housing corners and serve as float rod guides (see FIG. 5—Secondary Float Guides).

There is one small stainless steel alligator clip attached to the SUPPLY VALVE MONITOR RELAY HOUSING (see FIG. 5—Adjustable Mounting Clip). This will allow the unit to be attached to the MAIN BOARD at various positions. Also, there is a 45 MM stainless steel rod with a mounting eye on one end and a float on the other end (see FIG. 5—Hinged Float Rod with Float/Secondary Float). The rod has a 45-degree downward bend 6 MM from the mounting eye. There is a permanent magnet (see FIG. 5—Secondary Magnet) attached to the float rod. This magnet is 5 MM in length, 2 MM in width, and is 2 MM thick. It is attached diagonally to the rod 3 MM from the mounting eye.

The PERMANENT MAGNETIC STOP (see FIG. 4—Permanent Magnet Stop) affixed to the top of the float rod (see FIG. 4—Plastic Float Rod) mounted on the exterior of the FLOATING SENTRY HOUSING (see FIG. 4—Sentry Housing) controls the movement of the FLOATING RELAY (see FIG. 3) inside the FLOATING SENTRY HOUSING by way of the metal plate on the relay (see FIG. 3—Steel Plate). As the float drops ⅛″ the FLOATING RELAY drops ⅛″ closing contacts C1A and C1B (see FIG. 2—C1A & C1B) by way of Copper Plate on relay (see FIG. 3—Copper Contact Relay 1) which activates the ALARM (see FIG. 4—Alarm). As the float continues to drop, another ⅛″ contacts C1A and C1B are opened and alarm is deactivated from these contacts. This second drop has now closed contacts C2A and C2B (FIG. 2—C2A & C2B) by way of Copper Plate on relay (see FIG. 3—Copper Contact Relay 2) which activates the ON DELAY RELAY (see FIG. 4—On Delay Relay). Output from the ON DELAY RELAY is wired directly to the ALARM (see FIG. 4—Alarm), if contacts C2A and C2B are still closed after one minute (adjustable), the ALARM will be activated. The ALARM will remain activated until contacts C2A and C2B are opened by float rising, corrective action taken or battery is exhausted.

The float on the SUPPLY VALVE MONITORING RELAY (see FIG. 5—Secondary Float) normally will hang in space. The PERMANENT MAGNET DISK (see FIG. 5—Secondary Magnet) affixed to the arm of the stainless steel float rod on the SUPPLY VALVE MONITORING RELAY (see FIG. 5—Hinged Float Rod) keeps a steel plate (FIG. 5—Steel Relay Plate) from closing contacts (see FIG. 5—Contacts (2) from/to Main Board) in this unit. When the water in a tank rises enough to cause the float (FIG. 5—Secondary Float) to move up ½″ the magnet (see FIG. 5—Secondary Magnet) will drop the steel plate (see FIG. 5—Steel Relay Plate) causing contacts from MAIN BOARD to close. (see FIG. 5—Contacts (2) From Main Board). This drop will close contacts C3A and C3B (see FIG. 1—C3A & C3B). Contact C3B is wired directly to ALARM (see FIG. 4—Alarm) and will activate the ALARM. This alarm will continue until corrective action is taken or battery is exhausted. When the situation is corrected, the magnet will grab the steel plate (see FIG. 5—Steel Relay Plate) contacts C3A and C3B will be open and alarm will be deactivated from these contacts.