Title:
Toilet flush tank water leakage control and water use reduction
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
An upwardly open reservoir adapted for placement in a toilet flush tank is described. The reservoir is designed to be positioned directly below the float of a float actuated flush system. Flush water refill tubes and/or an overflow tube supply flush water separately to the flush tank and the reservoir. Under normal, non-leakage conditions an equilibrium water level is maintained in both the flush tank and the reservoir. Under conditions in which water leaks from the flush tank through the flush valve, the reservoir maintains a flush water level that is independent from the flush tank itself, such that the float is elevated to a level and maintained in a position that prevents a further flow of refill water into the flush tank. A secondary reservoir receives water from the overflow tube and provides water to the main reservoir to raise the float sufficiently to shut off water flow when water supply from the overflow tube stops.



Inventors:
Charbonneau, Vincent (Otterburn Park, CA)
Kolker, William R. (North Vancouver, CA)
Desroches, Jacques (St. Hilaire, CA)
Application Number:
11/313411
Publication Date:
05/11/2006
Filing Date:
12/21/2005
Assignee:
Integral Water Ventures, L.L.C.
Primary Class:
International Classes:
A47K3/022; A47K3/34; A47K3/36; E03D1/00; G01F
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
FETSUGA, ROBERT M
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
KILYK & BOWERSOX, P.L.L.C. (WARRENTON, VA, US)
Claims:
What is claimed is:

1. A system for controlling a float actuated water inlet valve that supplies refill water in a flush tank of a toilet, comprising: a reservoir adapted to be disposed within said flush tank, wherein said reservoir has an open top and includes at least one side wall and a bottom wall, said walls defining an interior of said reservoir, and wherein said interior of said reservoir is adapted to receive at least a portion of said float; a drain hole in said bottom wall; and a drain valve adapted to control water flow through said drain hole, wherein said drain valve is adapted to pivotally mount within said interior of said reservoir.

2. The system of claim 1, further comprising a reservoir refill tube adapted to supply said refill water to said reservoir.

3. The system of claim 2, further comprising a flush tank refill tube adapted to supply said refill water to said flush tank, and a connecting tube adapted to supply said refill water to said reservoir refill tube and said flush tank refill tube.

4. The system of claim 3, wherein said flush tank refill tube has an inner diameter that is greater than an inner diameter of said reservoir refill tube.

5. The system of claim 3, wherein said flush tank refill tube comprises an overflow tube.

6. The system of claim 1, further comprising a buoyant member adapted to contact said float in said reservoir.

7. The system of claim 1, wherein said reservoir is integrally formed with said flush tank.

8. The system of claim 1, wherein said reservoir is adapted to be suspended from at least one upright wall of said flush tank.

9. The system of claim 1, further comprising at least one support adapted to be disposed between said bottom wall of said reservoir and an interior bottom surface of said flush tank.

10. The system of claim 1, wherein said at least one side wall includes an angled portion in a direction of said water inlet valve.

11. The system of claim 1, wherein said interior of said reservoir has a volume of from about 1000 to about 4000 cc.

12. The system of claim 1, wherein said reservoir reduces by about 500 ml or less an amount of flush water used for a flush of said toilet.

13. The system of claim 1, wherein said drain hole has a diameter of from about 2 to about 3 inches.

14. The system of claim 1, wherein a clearance is provided between said bottom wall and an interior bottom surface of said flush tank, wherein said clearance is sufficient to allow said drain valve to fully close.

15. The system of claim 1, further comprising a clearance between said bottom wall and an interior bottom surface of said flush tank, wherein said clearance is from about 2 to about 8 inches.

16. The system of claim 1, wherein said drain valve comprises a flapper valve.

17. The system of claim 1, wherein said drain valve and a flush valve of said flush tank are interchangeable.

18. The system of claim 1, wherein said drain valve is adapted to pivotally open at an angle of about 85° or less relative an interior bottom surface of said flush tank.

19. The system of claim 1, wherein said drain valve includes a flapper valve, a valve seat, and a conical washer.

20. The system of claim 1, wherein said drain valve has a formation located on a top portion thereof for manual opening of said drain valve.

21. The system of claim 1, further comprising a tool for manual opening of said drain valve.

22. The system of claim 1, firther comprising a connecting rod to couple said float and said water inlet valve, wherein said connecting rod has a shape that accommodates a portion of said at least one side wall of said reservoir.

23. The system of claim 22, wherein said shape comprises an inverted “U” formed between opposing ends of said connecting rod.

24. The system of claim 22, further comprising a dam member adapted to cover a slot formed in at least one side wall for accommodating said connecting rod.

25. A toilet comprising the system of claim 1.

26. A method of controlling a float actuated water inlet valve for supplying refill water in a flush tank of a toilet, comprising: disposing a reservoir within said flush tank, wherein said reservoir has an open top and includes at least one side wall and a bottom wall, said walls defining an interior of said reservoir, wherein said interior is adapted to receive at least a portion of said float; providing a drain hole in said bottom wall; providing a clearance between said drain hole and an interior bottom surface of said flush tank; providing a drain valve adapted to control water flow through said drain hole; providing a reservoir refill tube for supplying said refill water to said reservoir; and providing a flush tank refill tube for supplying said refill water to said flush tank.

27. A system for controlling a float actuated water inlet valve that supplies refill water in a flush tank of a toilet, comprising: a water overflow tube; a primary reservoir adapted to be disposed within the flush tank, the primary reservoir having at least one wall defining an interior of the reservoir, with the interior adapted to receive at least a portion of the float, and the interior adapted to receive a portion of the refill water supplied to the tank; and a secondary reservoir positioned within the flush tank and connected to the water overflow tube, the secondary reservoir being adapted to supply a portion of the refill water to the primary reservoir.

28. The system of claim 27, wherein a drain hole is provided from the primary reservoir; a drain valve adapted to control water flow to and from the primary reservoir through the drain hole; and first and second conduits connected to the secondary reservoir for supplying the refill water to the primary reservoir from above the drain hole, the first conduit being of a smaller flow cross-section than the second conduit.

29. The system of claim 28, wherein the first conduit extends from a bottom portion of the secondary reservoir to a point in the primary reservoir at which the refill water level in the primary reservoir causes the float to shut off the water inlet valve.

30. The system of claim 28, wherein the second conduit extends from a top portion of the secondary reservoir and is adapted to supply refill water from the secondary reservoir when the secondary reservoir is substantially full to the primary reservoir.

31. The system of claim 27, wherein the water overflow tube is adapted to provide a portion of the water from the water inlet valve through an overflow pipe to the toilet, and another portion of the water from the water inlet valve to the secondary reservoir.

32. The system of claim 27 in combination with a toilet.

33. A method of controlling a float actuated water inlet valve for supplying refill water in a flush tank of a toilet, wherein a water overflow tube, a primary reservoir and a secondary reservoir are provided within the flush tank and the float is at least partially received within the interior of the primary reservoir, the method comprising: directing at least a portion of the water flowing through the water overflow tube to the secondary reservoir, and from the secondary reservoir to the primary reservoir to raise the water level within the primary reservoir; and when water is not flowing to the secondary reservoir from the water overflow tube, and the water level in the primary reservoir is below the level necessary to shut off the float actuated water inlet valve, continuing to direct water from the secondary reservoir into the primary reservoir.

34. The method of claim 33, wherein the flow of water from the secondary reservoir into the primary reservoir stops when the water level in the primary reservoir is at the level necessary to shut off the float actuated water inlet valve.

Description:

This application is a continuation of International Application No. PCT/US2004/020175 filed Jun. 23, 2004, which in turn claims priority under 35 U.S.C. §119(e) of prior U.S. Provisional Patent Application Ser. No. 60/480,948 filed Jun. 24, 2003, both of which are incorporated in its entirety by reference herein.

FIELD

The present invention relates to flush toilets. More particularly, the present invention relates to devices and methods for reducing water usage and leakage from toilet flush tanks.

BACKGROUND

Untold amounts of potable or otherwise useable water are wasted every day due to water leakage from toilet flush tanks through faulty, malfunctioning, and/or obstructed flush valve assemblies, which typically include a flapper valve, a valve seat, and a conical washer. Improper closure of the flush valve assembly results in unintended flow of stored flush water from the flush tank to the toilet bowl, and then on to the septic or sewage system, apart from a deliberate flush of waste. For float actuated flush systems that are used by most residential toilets, leakage of water from the flush tank through a non-working flush valve is not limited to the amount of water contained in a full flush tank. In a float actuated flush system, flush tank supply or refill water is controlled by a water inlet or fill valve, e.g., ball cock valve, that is actuated by a float assembly in conjunction with the water level in the flush tank. Depending upon the severity of the water leak, i.e., leakage rate, the flush tank water level may fail to reach a designated fill line in which case the float assembly will fail to close the water inlet valve altogether (severe leak). Alternatively, having reached the fill line and closed the water inlet valve, the flush tank water level may drop down below the fill line such that the float assembly reopens the water inlet valve until the flush tank water level is again restored to the fill line (minor leak). In either case, water is wasted in between intended flushes.

Depending upon its severity, a flush tank water leak may go unnoticed or undetected and thus, not fixed for some time, particularly when the flush tank fill line can be reached but not maintained. Even when a water leak is detected, it is likely to go unrepaired if it is supposed that the amount of water being wasted is not worth the time or expense of performing maintenance and/or repair of the flush valve assembly. However, decreasing potable water supply, and increasing costs for water usage, septic, and sewage treatment can, in many cases, result in a substantial economic cost associated with relatively small amounts of wasted water.

Previous attempts to detect and prevent water leakage from flush tanks have primarily included retrofitting existing conventional toilets with devices designed to be installed around existing hardware typically found in flush tanks. However, the retrofits have required extensive modification of existing components, and/or have been comparatively costly or prohibitively complex to install, thereby making the retrofits less desirable or impractical in view of the perceived low costs associated with water usage.

Accordingly, a need exists for a relatively low cost after-market system or device that can reduce the amount of water waste associated with faulty or obstructed flush valves that can readily be installed in existing conventional toilets with a variety of flush assembly designs. In addition, a need exists for a flush tank leakage detection and prevention system designed to be integrally formed in the manufacture of new toilets without significantly increasing the manufacturing costs of such toilets. A further need exists for a flush tank water leakage detection and prevention system which, while preventing substantial water leakage, can also serve to reduce the amount of flush water used under normal (i.e., non-leakage) conditions.

SUMMARY

According to various embodiments, a system is provided for detecting and preventing water leakage from a flush tank, with the system being readily installed in the flush tank of a toilet having a float actuated flush system.

A system is also provided for detecting and preventing water leakage from a flush tank, with the system adapted to be integrally formed in the manufacture of a toilet having a float actuated flush system.

According to various embodiments, a further feature is to provide a flush tank leakage detection and prevention system that reduces the amount of flush water used in an intended flush of the toilet.

According to various embodiments, a system is provided for controlling a float actuated water inlet valve that supplies refill water in a flush tank of a toilet. The system can include a reservoir adapted to be disposed within the flush tank, the reservoir having an open top and including at least one side wall and a bottom wall that has a drain hole, the walls defining an interior of the reservoir that is adapted to receive at least a portion of the float; and a drain valve adapted to control water flow through the drain hole, the drain valve being adapted to pivotally mount within the reservoir interior. The system optionally includes a reservoir refill tube or an overflow tube and a flush tank refill tube adapted to supply refill water to the reservoir and the flush tank, respectively, and a connecting tube adapted to supply refill water to the reservoir refill tube and the flush tank refill tube.

According to various embodiments, a float assembly can be provided for use in a flush tank of a toilet having a float actuated system, in which a float and a water inlet valve are coupled by a connecting rod, the connecting rod having a shape that accommodates a portion of a side wall of a reservoir located in the flush tank.

According to various embodiments, a system can be provided for controlling a water inlet valve located in a flush tank of a toilet, which includes a reservoir that suspends from an upright wall of the flush tank, or a reservoir that rests on one or more supports between the reservoir and the flush tank.

According to various embodiments, a system can be provided for controlling a water inlet valve located in a flush tank of a toilet, which includes a reservoir having a drain valve that is placed in an open position due to water pressure created by flush water accumulating in the flush tank.

According to various embodiments, a system can be provided for controlling a water inlet valve located in a flush tank of a toilet, that has a reservoir having a side wall(s) whose top edges extend to or beyond the flush tank water fill line.

According to various embodiments, a system can be provided for controlling a water inlet valve located in a flush tank of a toilet, which includes a reservoir having a drain valve that is an inexpensive, mass-produced, commercially available valve that is typically used as a flush valve.

According to various embodiments, a system can be provided for controlling a float actuated water inlet valve that supplies refill water in a flush tank of a toilet. The system can include a water overflow tube, a primary reservoir adapted to be disposed within the flush tank, the primary reservoir having at least one wall defining an interior of the reservoir, with the interior adapted to receive at least a portion of the float, and the interior adapted to receive a portion of the refill water supplied to the tank, and a secondary reservoir positioned within the flush tank and connected to the water overflow tube, the secondary reservoir also adapted to supply a portion of the refill water to the primary reservoir.

According to various embodiments, a method of controlling a float actuated water inlet valve for supplying refill water in a flush tank of a toilet can include directing a portion of the water flowing through a water overflow tube to a secondary reservoir within the flush tank, and from the secondary reservoir into a primary reservoir also within the flush tank, and when water is not flowing to the secondary reservoir from the water overflow tube, and the water level in the primary reservoir is below the level necessary to shut off the float actuated water inlet valve, directing water from the secondary reservoir into the primary reservoir.

It is to be understood that both the foregoing general description and the following detailed description are exemplary and explanatory only and are intended to provide a further explanation according to various embodiments, as claimed.

The accompanying drawings, which are incorporated in and constitute a part of this application, illustrate various embodiments, and together with the description, serve to explain the principles according to various embodiments.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

FIG. 1 is a cross-sectional view of a flush tank of a conventional toilet having a float actuated flushing system.

FIGS. 2a and 2b are cross-sectional views of a reservoir used according to various embodiments that illustrates optional in-tank mounting devices.

FIGS. 3-12 are cross-sectional views of a flush tank having a system according to various embodiments that sequentially illustrate pre-flush, flush, and tank refill states of the flush tank under normal, i.e., non-leakage, operating conditions.

FIGS. 13-22 are cross-sectional views of a flush tank having a system according to various embodiments that sequentially illustrate pre-flush, flush, and tank refill stages under malfunctioning, i.e., water leakage, conditions.

FIG. 23 is a cross-sectional view of a flush tank having a system according to various embodiments.

FIGS. 24a and 24b are cross-sectional views of a flush tank having a system according to various embodiments that includes a reservoir having an angled side wall for accommodating the float arm.

FIGS. 25a-d are cross-sectional views of a flush tank having a system that includes a reservoir having a buoyant device in the reservoir for engaging the float according to various embodiments.

FIGS. 26a-c are perspective views of a side wall of a reservoir for use in cooperation with a float assembly according to various embodiments.

FIG. 27 is a cross-sectional view of a flush tank having a system according to various embodiments.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF CERTAIN EMBODIMENTS

According to various embodiments, a system for controlling a float actuated water inlet valve that supplies refill water in a flush tank of a toilet, includes a reservoir adapted to be disposed within the flush tank, wherein the reservoir has an open top and includes at least one side wall and a bottom wall, the walls defining an interior of the reservoir, and wherein the interior of the reservoir is adapted to receive at least a portion of the float; a drain hole in the bottom wall; and a drain valve adapted to control water flow through said drain hole, wherein the drain valve is adapted to pivotally mount within the interior of the reservoir. The system optionally includes a reservoir refill tube and a flush tank refill tube adapted to supply refill water to the reservoir and the flush tank, respectively, and a connecting tube adapted to supply refill water to the reservoir refill tube and the flush tank refill tube.

According to various embodiments, generally, the toilet can be any conventional toilet that has a float actuated flushing system located in the flush tank that can be positioned on or above the toilet bowl. In more detail, the float actuated flushing system can include a flush assembly that uses a flush valve assembly, and a float assembly that is coupled to an actuation mechanism for controlling the opening and closing of the water inlet or water supply valve. The flush valve assembly can include a discharge drain plug or flush valve that is a tank ball, flapper disc or flapper valve, or other stopper that can provide a seal in connection with a valve seat and a conical washer. The water inlet valve can be a ball-cock valve or other valve that supplies refill water or flush water in the flush tank or cistern or flush water storage tank. Flushing the toilet can be achieved by operating a flush handle to open the flush valve for releasing or discharging flush water from the flush tank. The float can drop corresponding to the flush water level which in turn opens the water inlet valve. In normal (i.e., non-leakage) conditions, the flush valve closes when substantially all of the flush water has been released. The refill water supplied by the water inlet valve can accumulate in the flush tank and the float can rise with the flush water level. At a predetermined flush water level, i.e., the fill line, the level of the float operates to close the water inlet valve. In the float assembly, the float can be coupled to the actuating mechanism using a float arm or float lever or other coupler(s).

FIG. 1 shows an example of a conventional flush tank 10 that uses a float actuated flush system. The flush assembly includes a flush valve 20 that controls the discharge of flush water stored in the flush tank 10 through a drain pipe (not shown) to a toilet bowl (not shown) positioned below the flush tank 10. The flush assembly also includes a float assembly, shown here to include a float 30 affixed at its outer surface at about its center line to a float arm 40 that is coupled to the water inlet valve 50, e.g., a ball cock valve. The float 30 shown is in the shape of a ball, but other shapes can be used (e.g., cylinder or cup), as well as other devices for its coupling (e.g. float lever) to the water inlet valve 50, which controls the supply of refill water or flush water to the flush tank via a filler pipe 80. The water inlet valve 50 also controls the supply of refill water or flush water to an overflow standpipe 70 via an overflow refill tube 60.

According to various embodiments, the reservoir for use in the system can be of any shape, regular or irregular, that can be disposed within the flush tank. For instance, the reservoir can be in the shape of a cube, a cone, or a cylinder. Preferably, the reservoir has an oval cross section. Most preferably, the reservoir walls are contoured to the shape of the float, and/or the reservoir has a cross section that is substantially similar to a cross section of the float, preferably so the float can at least partially nest within the reservoir. The reservoir preferably has a top that is open such that at least a portion of the float can enter into or be received by the reservoir through the open top thereof. The reservoir can have a partially open top, for example, a top wall with an opening of a shape and a size sufficient to accommodate the float, or preferably, the reservoir has a completely open top, i.e., no top wall. Preferably, the opening in the top of the reservoir has a shape that can accommodate floats of a variety of shapes and sizes. The reservoir preferably has at least one side wall. The side wall(s) can be attached to the top wall, and/or the top edges of the side wall(s) can form the open top of reservoir. The reservoir can have a plurality of side walls that are joined or contiguous at their respective edges. The reservoir preferably has a bottom wall that is joined to or contiguous with the sidewall(s). The bottom wall can be joined to or contiguous with the sidewall(s) at an angle relative to the interior bottom surface of the flush tank or the bottom wall can form a parallel plane to the interior bottom surface of the flush tank. The bottom wall can include one or more walls that are offset or disjointed or otherwise nonplanar. For example, the bottom wall can include an inset or recessed portion and/or a downwardly extended portion. Preferably, the bottom wall can comprise one wall that lies in a plane. The bottom wall can be flat or curved. In one embodiment, the bottom wall comprises that portion of a reservoir of unitary construction which comprises the lowest point in the reservoir. The bottom wall preferably has a drain hole provided therein through which flush water can flow both into and out of the reservoir.

The reservoir can be formed of a single unitary piece or can have a multi-walled construction in which the joints or points of attachment are preferably sealed. Preferably, the construction of the reservoir provides a container that can hold water and more preferably that is substantially water tight. The reservoir can have a rigid or firm shape, a semi-rigid shape, and/or a shape that is flexible, expandable, or conformable, for example, such that it can be disposed in a variety of flush tank shapes and styles. The reservoir walls bound or define an interior of the reservoir. The interior of the reservoir can have a volume that is bounded by the reservoir walls and the plane comprising the open top of the reservoir. The interior of the reservoir can have any volume that is less than the volume of the flush tank, and preferably, the volume of the reservoir is about half or less of the volume of the flush tank. For example, the reservoir can have a volume of from about 100 to about 10,000 cc and preferably from about 500 to about 5,000 cc, or from about 1,000 to about 4,000 cc.

The walls of the reservoir can be made of any solid material. Preferably, the walls of the reservoir are made of materials that can be exposed to water without eroding, corroding, deteriorating, and/or degrading due to water exposure, or more preferably that can be submersed in water for an extended period (e.g., years) without eroding, corroding, deteriorating, and/or degrading. The materials can have a density that is greater than or less than the density of water. Examples of materials that can be used to form one or more walls of the reservoir include synthetic materials or natural materials, polymeric materials, wood, elastomeric, inorganic material, vitreous china, plastics, ceramics, aluminum, and/or other non-corrosive metals or metal alloys. According to various embodiments, the reservoir can be formed of the same type of material as the toilet flush tank.

The walls of the reservoir can have any dimension that permits the reservoir to be disposed within the flush tank. Preferably, the walls are of a shape that allows the reservoir to be disposed within the flush tank without interfering with the operation or movement of the flush tank internal components or modification thereof. Preferably, the walls are of a shape that allows the reservoir to be positioned or located directly beneath the float within the flush tank. The side walls of the reservoir can have a height of from about 5 to about 7 inches relative to the bottom wall. The sidewalls can have heights that are substantially the same or that differ one from another. One or more of the side walls can have an adjustable height and/or width. Each of the side walls preferably has a height such that the top edge of the sidewall is preferably above the water fill line and/or the water flood line, and preferably the sidewall that is nearest to the water inlet valve is positioned such that the top edge of the sidewall is about or at the water fill line and at or below the water fill line. The reservoir walls can be any thickness, for example, from about 1/32 to about ½ inch thick. The thickness of the reservoir wall can be constant or it can vary throughout the wall. The thickness of the reservoir walls can vary one to another.

The drain hole in the bottom wall of the reservoir can be located anywhere in the bottom wall. Preferably, the drain hole is located at or near the lowest point of the bottom wall. The drain hole can be any size or shape. Preferably, the drain hole is circular with a diameter of from about 2 to about 3 inches. Preferably, the drain hole is of sufficient size to allow a lower portion of a flapper valve to pass through the drain hole. The drain hole can be fitted with drain valve assembly components including a valve seat assembly and/or a conical washer.

According to one embodiment, the reservoir includes a drain valve adapted to control water flow through drain hole. The drain valve preferably functions without external mechanical means, that is, in flushing conditions the drain valve opens and closes solely by fluid (i.e., flush water) pressure on the drain valve. The drain valve can be attached to any internal surface of a wall of the reservoir. Preferably, the drain valve is adapted to pivotally mount within the interior of the reservoir. Any method of mounting the drain valve can be used, for example, the drain valve can include an articulated joint that is attached to the bottom wall of the reservoir. Another example of mounting includes the use of a rod and/or pin. Preferably, the pivotal mounting method used allows easy installation and removal of the drain valve. Preferably, the pivotal mounting method used is substantially similar to that used for the flush valve. The drain valve assembly of the reservoir can include a drain valve, a valve seat, and a conical washer. The drain valve can be any drain valve and is preferably a flapper type valve. Preferably, the drain valve is an inexpensive, mass-produced, commercially available flapper-type valve that is typically used as a flush valve. In a preferred embodiment, the reservoir drain valve is substantially similar to the flush valve, and more preferably, the reservoir drain valve is interchangeable with the flush valve; thus the drain valve can be used as a temporary replacement of a defective or malfunctioning flush valve. The drain valve can be substantially as described, for example, in U.S. Pat. Nos. 4,698,859 and D281,713, incorporated in their entireties herein by reference. The drain valve can be made from any material, and preferably from a non-corrosive material such as rubber or plastic or the like that is capable of providing a seal in conjunction with a valve seat.

According to one embodiment, the drain valve is adapted to pivotally open at an angle relative to the interior bottom surface of the flush tank, such that the drain valve cannot pivot to the degree or extent that the drain valve does not fall toward the drain valve as water flows from the reservoir through the drain hole. The drain valve is preferably adapted to pivotally open at an angle of about 85° or less relative to the interior bottom surface of the flush tank. Any method can be used to limit the pivot angle of the drain valve, to preferably prevent the drain valve from floating to a perpendicular position relative to the interior bottom surface of the flush tank. For example, a stop pin, a cam, a chain, or other element can be incorporated into the pivot mounting mechanism of the drain valve. As another example, a formation can be provided on a side wall and/or on a portion of the drain valve such that contact is made with the side wall of the reservoir before the drain valve opens beyond the preferred pivot angle.

According to one embodiment, the drain valve includes a formation on a top side thereof that can be used to manually open the drain valve. The formation can be, for example, donut shaped or a half circle or any other shape that can be hooked, grasped, pulled, or otherwise engaged by hand or by a tool. According to one embodiment, the system includes a tool for manually opening the drain valve. Preferably, the tool is made from a non-corrosive material. Preferably, the tool can be stored within the flush tank. Preferably the tool is from about 5 to about 8 inches in length. Preferably the tool has a length that is greater than a depth of the reservoir.

The reservoir can be integrally formed within the flush tank or can be installed or inserted within the flush tank as a separate component. Integrally forming the reservoir can be achieved by any method. The integrally formed reservoir can have side walls that are independent of the upright walls of the flush tank or the reservoir and the flush tank can have one or more common walls. According to one embodiment, the reservoir can be adapted to be fit or disposed within the flush tank by providing one or more support members between reservoir and the interior bottom surface of the flush tank. The support member(s), e.g., footing, can be unattached or attached to the reservoir and/or the flush tank. Preferably, the support member(s) does not interfere with the proper closure of the drain valve. FIG. 2a shows an example of support members 130 under the reservoir 90. According to one embodiment, the reservoir can be adapted to be fit or disposed within the flush tank by suspending the reservoir from one or more points of attachment made with one or more upright walls of the flush tank. Suspension of the reservoir can be by any means, and preferably by providing the reservoir with one or more adjustable straps having hooks that can engage a top edge of the upright walls of the flush, preferably without interfering with closure of the flush tank cover or lid. FIG. 2b shows an example of a reservoir 90 having hooks 230 for mounting.

A space or clearance is preferably provided between the bottom wall of the reservoir and the internal bottom surface of the flush tank. Preferably, the clearance is sufficient to allow flush water to flow through (in and out) the drain valve. Preferably, the clearance is sufficient to allow the drain valve to close properly. Preferably, the clearance is from about 2 to about 8 inches. Most preferably, the reservoir is positioned within the flush tank such that the drain hole is about 4 inches or less below the flush water refill line.

Preferably, the side wall(s) of the reservoir extends from below the flush water fill line to beyond the flush water fill line. In this case, the float assembly and/or the side wall nearest the water inlet valve are preferably provided with features so that the float is able to drop to a sufficient level to open the water inlet valve, i.e., the side wall accommodates the float arm or connecting rod, for example, or the connecting rod accommodates the side wall. Various methods can be used to accomplish a cooperating action between the side wall and the connecting rod. According to one embodiment, the connecting rod is formed to include an inverted “U” shape between its opposing ends; other shapes are also possible. FIGS. 3-22 show an example of a float arm 40 having an inverted “U” shape therein for cooperating with the side wall 180 of the reservoir 90. In another embodiment, the side wall or a portion thereof can be angled in a direction toward the water inlet valve, an angle relative to a line normal to the interior bottom surface of the flush tank of from about 30 to about 60°. FIGS. 24a and b show an example of a float arm 40 cooperating with a side wall 180 having an angled portion formed therein. According to another embodiment, a buoyant member can be provided in the reservoir for contacting or supporting the float from underneath. The buoyant member preferably allows the float to obtain a sufficient lowered level to open the water inlet valve. FIGS. 25a-d show an example of a buoyant member 240 in the reservoir 90 for contacting the float 30. In yet another embodiment, the side wall or a portion thereof can include a cutout or slot therein. A barrier or dam member whose position can change relative to the side wall depending on the position of the connecting rod can be used in conjunction with the slot to prevent refill water from flowing through the slot. The dam member can be attached to the connecting rod or affixed to the side wall. The dam member is preferably made of a resiliently deformable or pliable material that can be deformed when contacted by the connecting rod. FIGS. 26a-c show an example of a side wall 180 of reservoir (not shown) having a slot 250 formed therein and a cooperating dam member 255 which is adapted to seal the slot 250 against a flow of flush water therethrough and which is adapted to allow movement of the float arm 40 within the slot 250. Any of the above described features or other means for providing a cooperating action between the float assembly and the reservoir side wall can be used alone or in combination.

According to various embodiments, a reservoir refill tube is adapted to supply refill water to the reservoir. The overflow refill tube can be used to supply refill water to the reservoir. According to various embodiments, a flush tank refill tube can be adapted to supply refill water to the flush tank, and a connecting tube adapted to supply refill water to the reservoir refill tube and the flush tank refill tube. According to various embodiments, the flush tank refill tube has an inner diameter that is greater than an inner diameter of the reservoir refill tube. The tubes used for the above purposes can be made of any solid material that is suitable for conducting water, for example, copper, aluminum, plastic, or rubber. The tubes can be rigid, semi-rigid, or flexible. Preferably, the tubes are of semi-rigid construction such that the tubes can be routed upon installation within the flush tank such that they substantially retain their given configuration, and more preferably such that no retaining devices for securing the tubes are necessary. The tubes can have any inner diameter, for example, of from about 1/16 to about ⅜ inch. According to various embodiments, the system includes securing and guide devices for proper positioning of the tubes. For example, pincher clips or the like can be used to fix the tubes in position. Preferably, the flush tank refill tube and the reservoir refill tube are positioned so that their respective open ends (outlets) are at or above the flush water fill line.

According to various embodiments, a method of controlling a float actuated water inlet valve for supplying refill water in a flush tank of a toilet, includes disposing a reservoir within the flush tank, wherein the reservoir has an open top and includes at least one side wall and a bottom wall, the walls defining an interior of the reservoir, wherein the interior is adapted to receive at least a portion of the float; providing a drain hole in the bottom wall; providing a clearance between the drain hole and an interior bottom surface of the flush tank; providing a drain valve adapted to control water flow through the drain hole; providing a reservoir refill tube for supplying refill water to the reservoir; and providing a flush tank refill tube for supplying refill water to the flush tank.

According to various embodiments, a toilet includes controlling a float actuated water inlet valve that supplies refill water in a flush tank. The system can be an “add-on,” part of a repair kit, or can be integrally part of a new or refurbished toilet. Federal, state, and/or local authorities can even have a program to give credit or purchase such a system for water consumers.

Referring now to FIG. 3, when a toilet using the system, according to various embodiments, is operating normally, i.e., not leaking, prior to being flushed, the flush tank 10 and the reservoir 90 within the flush tank 10 are preferably filled in equilibrium with refill water to a common fill line 120 and the float 30 is in an elevated position such that the water inlet valve 50 is closed. As shown, supports are provided between the reservoir and the interior bottom surface 150 of the flush tank 10, but installation of the reservoir 90 is preferably achieved by suspending the reservoir 90 with hanging devices 230 as shown in FIGS. 2b and 23. The flush valve 20, e.g., flapper valve, of the flush tank 10 is preferably closed, which prevents flush water from draining into the drain pipe (not shown) through the flush valve seat (not shown) and conical washer (not shown) of the flush tank 10. The drain valve 100 which is preferably pivotally mounted within the reservoir 90 is preferably floating in an open position due to a water pressure directly below it (located at the bottom of the flush tank 10) and within the reservoir 90 causing it to float. By design, the drain valve 100 of the reservoir 90 is preferably restricted from pivoting open beyond a pivot angle of about 85° relative to the interior bottom surface 150 of the flush tank 10. Any method can be used to limit the pivot angle of the drain valve 100, to preferably prevent the drain valve 100 from floating to a perpendicular position relative to the interior bottom surface 150 of the flush tank 10. For example, a stop pin, a cam, a chain, or other element can be incorporated into the pivot mounting mechanism 140 of the drain valve 100. As another example, a formation (not shown) can be provided on a side wall 180 and/or on a portion of the drain valve 100 such that contact is made with the side wall 180 of the reservoir 90 before the drain valve 100 opens beyond the preferred pivot angle. In the preferred pivot angle position, the drain hole 110 in the bottom wall 160 of the reservoir 90 is open but the drain valve 100 is still in a position to drop down due to gravity when flush water is drained out of the reservoir 90 after the toilet has been flushed. Prior to being flushed, there is no net flow of flush water between the reservoir 90 and the flush tank 10 because the water inlet valve 50 is closed due to the elevated position of the float 30.

Referring now to FIGS. 4-12, when the normally operating toilet using the system, according to various embodiments, is flushed by engaging a flush handle (not shown), the flush valve 20 of the flush tank 10 is raised to an open position by a chain (not shown) connected to a trip lever (not shown) that is connected to the flush handle. When the flush valve 20 is opened, flush water flows from the flush tank 10 through the drain pipe (not shown) causing a siphon effect inside the flush tank 10 and the reservoir 90. The siphon effect can cause the flush water in the flush tank 10 and the flush water in the reservoir 90 to flow into the toilet bowl (not shown) through the drain pipe. As the flush water flows from the flush tank 10 and the reservoir 90, the flush valve 20 and the drain valve 100 can pivot downward to close the drain pipe and drain hole 110, respectively. Preferably, residual flush water 260 (FIG. 6) is retained in the reservoir 90 in an amount of about 500 ml or less. The reduced water level in the reservoir 90 causes at least a partial lowering in the position of the float 30 to the point at which the water inlet valve 50 is opened, i.e., below the fill line 120. The lowest possible position of the float 30 can be determined by the float arm 40 contacting a portion of the side wall 180. Refill water can be supplied through the open water inlet valve 50 and can enter into the flush tank 10 and the reservoir, preferably from a position at or above the common fill line of both, through water conduits or tubes that are directly or indirectly connected to the filler pipe 80. The refill water flowing from the filler pipe 80 is preferably directed through a water-conducting hose or connecting tube 190 to a splitter or joint 200, e.g., a “T.” A flush tank refill tube 210 is directed toward the flush tank 10 and a reservoir refill tube 220 directed to the reservoir 90, can be fluidly connected to respective openings of the joint 200. Preferably, the flush tank refill tube 210 and the reservoir refill tube 220 are adapted to conduct refill water such that refill water enters the flush tank 10 at a faster rate than the refill water entering the reservoir 90. Preferably, the reservoir refill tube 220 is not positioned directly over the drain valve 100. An alternative to the configuration shown for routing refill water into the flush tank 10 and the reservoir 90 would be simply to redirect some of the water entering the overflow refill tube 60 from the overflow pipe 70 into the reservoir 90. Other alternatives are possible.

According to one embodiment, the preferred respective flow rates of refill water into the flush tank and the reservoir can be achieved by, for example, the flush tank refill tube being provided with an inner diameter that is larger than a diameter of the reservoir refill tube. Preferably, the flow rates of refill water into the flush tank and the reservoir are adjustable. Preferably, the refill water is set to flow into the flush tank and the reservoir at respective flush rates such that refill water accumulates in the flush tank at a sufficient rate to create an upward force on the drain valve located within the reservoir that is sufficient to overcome the downward force of accumulated refill water within the reservoir so as to open (i.e., unseat) the drain valve, thereby allowing refill water to enter the reservoir up through the drain hole. The drain valve of the reservoir can thereby be pivotally raised up or elevated off the drain hole of the reservoir, allowing the reservoir to be filled at substantially the same time as the flush tank when the toilet and flush tank are operating properly, i.e., when the drain valve is forced up by the water pressure of refill water entering the reservoir from the reservoir drain hole.

Referring now to FIGS. 13-22, in an improperly working condition of the toilet in which the flush valve 20 of the flush tank 10 is leaking, obstructed, or malfunctioning, the pre-flush and flush states are shown in FIGS. 13-16 and are substantially as described above and therefore do not bear repeating. In the post flush state, however, the drain valve 100 of the reservoir 90 preferably remains closed due to an insufficient amount of refill water being maintained in the flush tank 10 (FIGS. 17-22). In this case, the refill water flowing into the reservoir 90 through reservoir refill tube 220 or the refill tube 60 is sufficient to fill the reservoir 90 with refill water while the flush tank 10 is leaking. In this case, the flush water level within the reservoir 90 rises and the float 30 rises with the flush water level so that when the flush water level in the reservoir 90 reaches the fill line 120, the float 30 is elevated to a position that enables it to shut off or close the water inlet valve 50 while the flush water level inside the flush tank 10 remains below the fill line 120.

According to various embodiments, a system can be provided for detecting and preventing relatively minor flush tank leaks. A minor leak can result in a loss of flush water from the flush tank at a rate of from about ½ to about 1 gpm. The minor leak condition is characterized by flush water being accumulated at a reduced rate in the flush tank but nevertheless in an amount sufficient to raise the water level in the flush tank up to and above drain valve. Preferably, in this case, the respective flow rates of refill water into the flush tank and the reservoir is set such that refill water accumulates at a rate and in an amount in the reservoir that the downward force created by the accumulated water is not overcome by the upward force created by the water in the flush tank. Thus, the drain valve remains closed and the water level in the reservoir rises, thereby elevating the float until the fill line is reached in the reservoir and the supply of refill water ceases without the water level in the flush tank having reached the fill line.

In the case where the flush tank ball of the flush tank is leaking or obstructed which would characteristically allow flush water to continually flow through the drain pipe unabated, i.e., not accumulate in the flush tank (a severe or catastrophic leak), the constructive action of the system, according to various embodiments, can prevent the unintended loss of water. A severe leak can result in a loss of flush water from the flush tank at a rate of from about 2 to about 7 gpm. As before, the flush handle is pushed engaging the trip lever which causes the flush valve of the flush tank to lift open. Flush water flows from the flush tank and the reservoir into the toilet bowl through the drain pipe. In this case, the flush valve does not seal the drain pipe and refill water directed into the flush tank continues to flow unchecked into the toilet bowl. Preferably, refill water simultaneously flows into the reservoir. In this case, the drain valve of the reservoir is preferably closed, thereby sealing the reservoir drain hole located at the bottom of the reservoir. Preferably, the closed drain valve allows refill water to accumulate in the reservoir while refill water continues to flow through the unsealed flush valve into the drain pipe. Preferably, the flush water level inside the reservoir steadily rises directly beneath the float until the float reaches a height to enable it to turn off the water inlet valve thereby stopping the flow of refill water. In this manner the toilet does not continue to run and lose an excessive amount of flush water through the drain pipe. Rather, the reservoir is sealed and it keeps the float elevated which closes the water inlet valve, thereby preventing an excessive loss of water.

According to various embodiments, a user of the toilet having the system is made aware of the leaking or malfunctioning flush valve the next time the toilet is flushed. That is because insufficient flush water is present in the flush tank to flow from the flush tank to initiate the siphon effect. The proper repair can then be made to the leaking flush valve (or its assembly) of the flush tank. Upon repair, the drain valve of the reservoir can be opened manually, preferably using a tool provided with the system for lifting the drain valve off of its valve seat in the reservoir. Manually opening the drain valve can allow the flush water in the reservoir to flow into the flush tank, causing the float ball to drop to the water inlet valve “on” position, thereby initiating the flow of refill water into the flush tank and the reservoir, filling both with refill water until the float once again rises to the water inlet valve “off” position. In this manner the proper function of the flush tank and toilet can resume without the wasting of water that would have otherwise occurred in the absence of the system according to various embodiments.

FIG. 23 shows a version of the system according to various embodiments having various features as described above including a tool 270 and a formation 280 on the drain valve 100.

As discussed in accordance with various embodiments, the water level within the reservoir and within the toilet tank must rise to a level such that the float ball is raised to a sufficient height to shut off the water intake valve by closing the ball cock supply valve. Water can be supplied to the reservoir that is disposed within the tank from the water intake tube by attaching a tube with a tee connector to the water supply tube and connecting that tube to the top of the reservoir. Water flowing into the reservoir within the toilet tank continues to flow, raising the float ball within the reservoir until the water supply valve is closed.

According to various embodiments, and as shown in the exemplary embodiment of FIG. 27, a configuration of the water supply valve within the toilet tank and in relationship to the reservoir within the toilet tank may make it difficult to provide a water connection from the water supply tube 352 to the reservoir. Accordingly, water can be supplied partially or entirely to the reservoir by redirecting some of the overflow water from the overflow tube. The overflow tube is often more easily accessible from the top of the flush tank than the water supply tube 352, and can be accessed without the use of special tools, and can be attached to with a tee or other connector. However, because the flow of water through the overflow tube may stop before the water flowing from the water intake tube stops, in situations where there is an improperly seated or malfunctioning toilet flapper valve 20, water may continue to flow from the water supply valve 350 into the toilet tank, and overflow water from the overflow tube 360 may stop before enough water has entered the reservoir 392 to raise the float 330 to a level sufficient to shut off the water supply valve 350.

Accordingly, in the exemplary embodiment shown in FIG. 27, an additional or secondary water reservoir 390 can be provided above the primary reservoir 392, and water can be supplied to this secondary reservoir 390 through a tube 364 that is connected by a tee connector 362 to water overflow tube 360. The secondary reservoir 390 is supplied by water from the overflow tube 360 through tee connector 362 and tube 364 whenever water is flowing into the overflow tube 360 and into overflow pipe 370. As shown in FIG. 27, the tube 364 providing water from the overflow to the secondary reservoir 390 is connected at the top of the reservoir 390. As shown in FIG. 27, an additional tube 320 is connected at the top of the secondary reservoir 390, and directs water from the secondary reservoir 390 to the main reservoir 392 whenever water is flowing into the additional reservoir 390 from the overflow tube 360.

An additional tube 322 is connected to the bottom of the secondary reservoir 390, and terminates within the reservoir 392, with the bottom of tube 322 being positioned at the water level necessary within reservoir 392 for raising the float ball 330 to a height sufficient to shut off the water supply valve 350.

When the flush valve 20 within the toilet tank is working properly, the reservoir drain valve 100 within reservoir 392 is open as a result of its buoyancy as water flowing from the water supply valve 350 enters the tank and fills the reservoir 392 from below and around reservoir support legs 430. A stopper 394 can be provided above the drain valve 100 to prevent the valve 100 from coming completely out of the drain hole. Perforations or openings 394a in the stopper 394 allow water to fill the reservoir 392. The reservoir drain valve 100 will only close when there is no water below the reservoir drain valve 100. This situation occurs when the toilet is flushing or when water is rapidly draining out of the toilet tank due to a malfinction of the flush valve 20. Under these circumstances, water enters the reservoir 392 from above by water flowing through the overflow tube into secondary reservoir 390, and from the secondary reservoir 390 through tube 320 into the reservoir 392. This flow of water continues as long as water is entering the overflow tube.

As the float ball 330 rises within the reservoir 392, the flow of water from the overflow tube will stop before the flow of water from water supply valve 350 is shut off. At this point in the embodiment shown in FIG. 27, the water level within reservoir 392 has not yet reached the height of the bottom of tube 322 connected to the bottom of secondary reservoir 390. Accordingly, water flows from the secondary reservoir 390 through the tube 322 and into reservoir 392 until the level of water within reservoir 392 has reached the bottom of the tube 322. At this water level the float 330 has now been raised to a sufficient level to shut off the water supply valve 350. The diameter of flow cross-section of tube 322 can be smaller than that of tube 320 so that water will preferentially flow from secondary reservoir 390 through tube 320 as long as water continues to flow into the secondary reservoir 390 from the water overflow tube. Some water can also flow from the secondary reservoir 390 through the smaller diameter tube 322 as a result of gravity until the water level within reservoir 392 has reached the bottom of tube 322.

In arrangements according to various embodiments such as the embodiment shown in FIG. 27, and wherein water is supplied to the reservoir 392 from the overflow tube rather than from the water intake tube under circumstances where the flush valve 20 is malfunctioning, the additional reservoir 390 above the reservoir 392 provides a source of water to continue raising the level of water within reservoir 392 even after the water from the overflow tube has stopped flowing so that the water level within reservoir 392 is raised sufficiently to shut off the water supply valve 350.

It is intended that the present specification and examples be considered as exemplary only, with the true scope and spirit of various embodiments being indicated by the following claims and equivalents thereof.