Title:
Filtered exhaust system for commode
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
The apparatus of the present invention relates to exhausting noxious odors from the vicinity of a toilet. The invention comprises a means of taking in air from the vicinity of the toilet, a filter, and a means of inducing the air flow. The air is taken in by said means of taking in air, passed on to and through the filter, and then passed on to the means of inducing air flow. The air is then discharged from the system. The filter is separate and unitary and can be easily installed and removed without exposure of the filtering matrix within the filter. The contaminants entering the filter, i.e. bacteria and viruses, are killed and odorous gases are trapped in the filter. The person changing the filter is therefore not exposed to the possibility and vulgarity of contact with contaminants entrapped within a used filter when the change of the filter is needed.



Inventors:
Kirby, David (Huntington, WV, US)
Application Number:
11/071863
Publication Date:
09/07/2006
Filing Date:
03/03/2005
Primary Class:
International Classes:
E03D9/04; A47K13/00
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
FETSUGA, ROBERT M
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
ROBERT R. WATERS, ESQ. (HUNTINGTON, WV, US)
Claims:
I claim:

1. A toilet ventilator apparatus, comprising; a) a seat, said seat being at least partially hollow; b) at least one point of entry to said partially hollow seat; c) at least one point of exit from said partially hollow seat; d) a hose having a first end and a second end; e) a filter positioned within said hose; and f) a means for inducing air flow, wherein; g) said first end of said hose is detachably connected to said point of exit, h) and said second end of said hose is detachably connected to said means of inducing air flow.

2. The toilet ventilator apparatus of claim 1, wherein; a) said seat is pivotally mounted to said toilet, and; b) said exit is located proximate to said mount.

3. The toilet ventilator apparatus of claim 1, wherein; a) said seat is pivotally mounted to said toilet, and; b) said exit is located coaxial with the axis of said pivot.

4. The toilet ventilator apparatus of claim 1, wherein; said filter comprises granular particles.

5. The toilet ventilator apparatus of claim 1, wherein; said filter comprises a chemically treated paper substrate.

6. The toilet ventilator apparatus of claim 1, wherein; said filter comprises chemically treated batting.

7. The toilet ventilator apparatus of claim 1, wherein; said filter comprises activated charcoal.

8. The toilet ventilator apparatus of claim 1, wherein; said filter comprises a liquid gas trap wherein the liquid in said gas trap is antiseptic.

9. The toilet ventilator apparatus of claim 1, wherein; said hose has float valves located at each end to prevent fluid from flowing to said means for inducing air flow.

10. The toilet ventilator apparatus of claim 1, wherein; said hose has petcock type valves located at each end.

11. The toilet ventilator apparatus of claim 1, wherein; said first end and said second end of said hose are compatible with each other to be joined with each other, closing said hose when removed.

12. The toilet ventilator apparatus of claim 1, wherein; said hose has uni-directionally biased valves on each end which are opened when attached to said exit and said means for inducing air flow and closed when unattached.

13. A method of removing bathroom odor from a toilet bowl, comprising; a) drawing air through a partially hollow toilet seat; b) then drawing said air through a removable filtering hose attached to said partially hollow toilet seat; c) and finally drawing said air through a means for inducing air flow.

14. A toilet ventilator apparatus, comprising; a) a seat, said seat being at least partially hollow; b) at least one point of entry to said partially hollow seat; c) at least one point of exit from said partially hollow seat; d) a filter having an entry port and an exit port; e) a means for inducing air flow, wherein; f) said entry port of said filter is detachably connected to said point of exit of said toilet seat, and; g) said exit port of said filter is detachably connected to said means of inducing air flow.

15. For a toilet seat ventilation system, a unitary filter, comprising; a) an outer casing; b) within said outer casing, means of filtering air passing therethrough; c) an entry port into said casing; and d) an exit port from said casing; wherein e) said entry port is detachably connectable to an air gathering element on said toilet; and f) said exit port is detachably connectable to a means for inducing air flow.

16. An apparatus for retrofitting a toilet to remove bathroom odors, comprising; a) a seat, said seat being at least partially hollow; b) at least one point of entry to said partially hollow seat; c) at least one point of exit from said partially hollow seat; d) a filter having an entry port and an exit port; e) a means for inducing air flow, wherein; f) said entry port of said filter is detachably connected to said point of exit of said toilet seat, and; g) said exit port of said filter is detachably connected to said means of inducing air flow. h) wherein said partially hollow seat is used to replace the original seat of the toilet.

17. A method of removing bathroom odor from a toilet bowl, comprising; a) drawing air through a partially hollow toilet seat; b) then drawing said air through a removable filter unit attached to said partially hollow toilet seat; c) and finally drawing said air through a means for inducing air flow attached to said removable filter unit, wherein; d) said removable filtering unit is wholly external to both said toilet seat and said means of inducing air flow.

Description:

FIELD OF THE INVENTION

This invention relates generally to an improved apparatus for exhausting noxious odors from the vicinity of a toilet commode during use, wherein an air vacuum system is incorporated into the commode seat, featuring a filtered hose which is easily removable and replaceable for treating the removed air.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

This invention addressed an age-old problem that has plagued mankind since the first indoor bathroom experience, namely the problem of dealing with noxious odors around the commode. Even though the bathroom experience is often a brief one, it is still unpleasant as the odors inherently created while using the bathroom are unpleasant for most people, and severely unpleasant for some. The problem is also compounded by the fact that bathrooms are frequently small, which serves to concentrate the odors in a very small area. In addition, unpleasant odors are also a problem in public restrooms, and bathroom users generally have even less tolerance for odors created by others in a public setting than they do in their own home. Accordingly, many inventors have developed devices for arresting and/or containing odors from the vicinity of a bathroom commode.

One means of addressing the above stated problem is to utilize a vacuum system incorporated into the commode, or more specifically the commode seat. Numerous U.S. Patents have set forth vacuum based odor removal systems in a variety of configurations as will be discussed in the next section. Many of these systems feature a hollow seat structure with openings oriented above the bowl portion of the commode seat and oriented to face downward toward the bowl. The hollow seat is further outfitted with a vacuum hose and a means for creating a suction. The suction means creates a current for removing the foul air from the hollow interior of the commode seat to a secondary location such as outside of the bathroom or into a filter box. The removed air may then be filtered, scented, or simply diluted.

Despite the fact that odor removing vacuum systems have existed for years, they have not achieved widespread use and appeal. This is because many of the systems are so cumbersome and complicated that they are awkward for the user or simply cost prohibitive. It is very important that a vacuum system for the commode be both simple and durable in order to be economically feasible. In addition, it is important that the odor removing be accomplished without the need to redesign the entire bathroom. In order to be economically practical, the entire unit should be available as a retrofit for existing commodes, and it should be simple enough for an average unskilled consumer to install without special tools or construction knowledge.

Another significant problem for odor removing systems is the effective discharge or filtering of the removed air. Many prior art systems incorporate the use of a charcoal filter system located in a filter box downstream of a fan or other vacuum generation means. However, changing a charcoal filter in such a system is a very undesirable chore. People will generally not want to touch or disturb the filter. In addition, if the vacuum system is installed in a public restroom, it will be necessary for janitorial employees to change and handle any filter used in the system. Given that some human diseases may be transmitted by gaseous emissions (such as hepatitis), the filter must be treated as a bio-hazard and be carefully removed. For this reason, it is important that a vacuum system for a commode incorporate a filtering means that is easy to replace and does not require someone to touch or handle a used filter with his or her hands.

DESCRIPTION OF PRIOR ART

Among the prior art patents which are pertinent to this invention, U.S. Pat. No. 5,671,484 by Robert Lee, III, is noted. Lee discloses a system comprised of a toilet seat constructed with an odor correction channel formed therein in gaseous communication with an odor correction hose which leads to a box-shaped housing. The housing is designed to be mounted or otherwise placed in the floor near the commode, and the housing includes a fan with a motor housed therein. The inventor states that the fan is adapted to transfer air with unpleasant odors through the housing and into a replaceable charcoal filter disposed within the housing. The system may further include a scenting means for masking the unpleasant odors contained in the evacuated air, and the scenting means may also be powered using the same circuit that powers the fan in the housing. Although the Lee device is very useful, it also features some significant drawbacks. Specifically, the location and use of a charcoal filter inside a fan housing is not optimum. Changing the filter will be cumbersome and require an individual to come into physical contact with the used filter. Furthermore, since the location of the filter is downstream of the fan, the fan blades will be fouled by the unpleasant air stream making it unpleasant during a filter changing operation. Similar systems may also be found in U.S. Pat. No. 5,638,553 by Loewen et al., and U.S. Pat. No. 5,819,324 by Bianco.

Rather than filtering the removed air, some of the prior art devices feature transporting the foul air to a location outside the room or to a ceiling fan for discharge outside of the room. U.S. Pat. No. 5,355,536 by Prisco, U.S. Pat. No. 5,305,472 by Eger and U.S. Pat. No. 3,939,506 by Pearson detail such a system. However, installation of a system like this requires more extensive construction costs than many homeowners will endure.

Another novel approach is taken in U.S. Pat. No. 4,220,940 by Buchanan. In this patent, the noxious air, which will generally include combustible gases, is fed to an incinerator located in the bathroom near the commode. While certainly novel, the use of an incineration device next to the commode will not be acceptable to many consumers.

Many prior art patents feature the variation that once the foul air is removed from the vicinity of the commode seat, it is placed into the water tank portion of the commode for further treatment. Some of these systems include air fresheners, filters or other such treatment steps contained within the water tank. These include U.S. Pat. No. 6,694,534 B2 by Stone, U.S. Pat. No. 6,804,837 B1 by Guess, Sr., U.S. Pat. No. 5,369,810 by Warren, U.S. Pat. No. 5,394,539 by Poirer et al., U.S. Pat. No. 5,718,005 by Ng, U.S. Pat. No. 4,583,250 by Valarao, U.S. Pat. No. 5,231,705 by Ragusa, as well as others. While many of these systems are impressive, utilizing these systems requires replacing or severely altering the water tank of the commode. This compromises or eliminates the use of the system in a retrofit manner, as many conventional water tanks for commodes cannot be easily adapted to incorporate these odor removing and filtering systems. Accordingly, the utility of water based tank systems is reduced.

For many prior art systems, automated switching features or high tech filters are incorporated. Although novel, these systems are even farther removed from the present invention as it is a key goal of the present invention to construct an odor removing vacuum system that is simple, inexpensive, easy to install and easy to handle. None of the prior art patents adequately accomplish these goals.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

The apparatus of the present invention relates to exhausting noxious odors from the vicinity of a toilet. The invention comprises a means of taking in air from the vicinity of the toilet, a filter, and a means of inducing the air flow. The air is taken in by said means of taking in air, passed on to and through the filter, and then passed on to the means of inducing air flow. The air is then discharged from the system.

This arrangement results in air that is filtered before passing into the remaining working parts of the system. This prevents any fan or blower and related hosing and circuitry from being contaminated by the noxious air drawn from the commode. The apparatus uses a filter which is unitized separate from the collection and flow inducement, which makes it easily serviced and contained for sanitary purposes. The filter unit can be easily changed without any contact or undue exposure to the filtering matrix within the filter unit.

As discussed above, the device of the present invention overcomes the disadvantages inherent in prior art methods and devices. In this respect, before explaining at least one embodiment of the invention in detail, it is to be understood that the invention is not limited in its application to the details of construction and to the arrangement of the components set forth in the following description or illustrated in the drawings. The invention is capable of other embodiments and of being practiced and carried out in various ways. Also, it is to be understood that the phraseology and terminology employed herein are for the purpose of description and should not be regarded as limiting.

Accordingly those skilled in the art will appreciate that the conception upon which this invention is based may readily be utilized as a basis for the design of other structures, methods and systems for carrying out the several purposes of the present invention. It is important, therefore, that the claims be regarded as including such equivalent constructions insofar as they do not depart from the spirit of the present invention.

Furthermore, the purpose of the foregoing Abstract is to enable the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office and the public generally, and especially including the practitioners in the art who are not familiar with patents or legal terms or phraseology, to determine quickly from a cursory inspection, the nature and essence of the technical disclosure of the application. The Abstract is neither intended to define the invention of the application, nor is it intended to be limiting to the scope of the invention in any way.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

Additional utility and features of the invention will become more fully apparent to those skilled in the art by reference to the following drawings, which illustrate the primary features of the preferred embodiment.

FIG. 1 shows the odor collection and filtering apparatus of the present invention.

FIG. 2 shows a cross section of a possible interchangeable filter.

FIG. 3 shows a cross section of a possible interchangeable filter.

FIG. 4 shows the detachable aspect of the filter.

FIG. 5 shows a partially hollow toilet seat for noxious air induction.

FIG. 6 shows a cross section of a the partially hollow toilet seat.

FIG. 7 shows a cross section of the seat perpendicular to the circumference of the seat.

FIG. 8 shows a cross section of the seat perpendicular to the circumference of the seat at the point where the noxious air is conducted to the filter.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENT

The detailed description below is for preferred embodiments and is intended to explain the current invention. It is to be understood that a variety of other arrangements are also possible without departing from the spirit and scope of the invention.

FIG. 1 shows an overview of the toilet ventilation system 10. This system comprises a toilet seat 20, a removable filter 30, and a means of inducing air flow, or fanbox 40. Toilet seat 20 is partially hollow having at least one entry point where air can be induced into and through toilet seat 20 and exit port 50 where filter 30 attaches. Filter 30 attaches at its other end into fanbox 40. Removable filter 30 is detachable at both ends, the end where it attaches to toilet seat 20 and the end where it attaches to fanbox 40. This is one of the major advantages of the system in that the entire filter 30 may be easily removed and disposed of and a new filter put in its place.

Referring now to FIGS. 2 and 3, cross-sections of filter 30 are shown. At each end of these filters' 30 are couplings 60 and 70. These couplings are configured to easily couple with the toilet seat 20 and the fanbox 40. Internal to the filters 30 is the matrix 80 which actually does the filtering of the air. This matrix 80 may be comprised of different constituents including; activated charcoal, coated paper elements, treated batting, granular materials, and other such materials known in the art. The coated paper elements and treated batting would be treated with such chemicals as deemed effective for this application. In the case of granular materials, the grains may be lightly fused at their surfaces or constrained by clothe or paper pouches or otherwise held in location. In addition to that, the internal matrix 80 of the filter 30 may be a single element stretching essentially from one end to the other of filter 30, or it may be segmented with partitions 90. If the interior of filter 30 is segmented by partitions 90, the individual chambers 100 created by partitions 90 could comprise different types of matrices 80. Also partitions would not be a necessity to a matrix with changing characteristics. In addition to possible solid matrices mentioned above, the filter could be internally structured to form a liquid gas trap. In which case the liquid would be of a nature to sterilize and treat the air bubbled through it in the gas trap.

Other structural alterations in the filter may include various valve arrangements. Since, on occasions, toilets become overfull with water, an air intake system may also take in water, float valves located within the filter would protect the fan box from water taken in along with the air. These work by having a float being lifted into a sealing position by rising liquid. Such a valve could also serve as a safety back-up for filters employing liquid gas traps. Petcock valves at each opening of the filter would provide means for sealing a filter before it is removed, thus isolating the trapped contaminants and odors. Yet another common type of valve which would be applicable are spring loaded valves which are biased closed when the filter is unattached. When the filter is installed, elements in the couplings of the filter hold open the valve, allowing the flow of air. Removing the filter automatically releases the valves for closure and sealing of the contents. In another alteration of the filter, if it is flexible enough, its ends may be formed to join with each other so that the filter may be sealed upon itself when removed.

Now looking at FIG. 4, the easy installation and removal of filter 30 is shown where the self-contained aspect of filter 30 allows it to be handled with minimal exposure of its contents, whether new or used. Now looking at FIG. 5, it can be seen with dotted lines where exit 50 from toilet seat 20 is connected to channel 120 within the seat also in dotted lines. Located around the rim of seat 20, entry ports 110 allow air to go in and through seat 20.

FIGS. 6, 7 and 8 show further details of entry ports 110 and channel 120 of toilet seat 20 through the use of cross-section views. FIG. 6 shows channel 120 passing around the full circumference of toilet seat 20. Entry ports 110 are located periodically along the circumference of channel 120. Connecting the channel to exit point 50 is exit tube 130. This allows the air to pass from channel 120 to exit point 50 and then into filter 30, eventually to exit fanbox 40. FIG. 7 shows a cross-section of toilet seat 20 perpendicular to the circumference of toilet seat 20. It can be seen that channel 120 is connected to the surface of toilet seat 20 by intake port 110. FIG. 8 shows a cross-section through toilet seat 20 at the point where exit to 130 connects to the channel 120 and exit point 50.

In reviewing the figures, it can be seen that there are many ways where a toilet seat can be made with a partially hollow interior and various entry and exit possibilities for exit points. The important feature is the ability to interface with an easily interchanged or easily removed filter. Likewise, the means of inducing air flow, generally represented by a box, may be any device known in the art and suitably adapted to this particular use.

Having provided detailed descriptions of the preferred embodiment, it should be noted that there are several means to vary the specific sizing and arrangement but still accomplish the construction of the invention. It should be obvious from this that there are numerous embodiments subsumed in the present invention and the scope of this invention should not be limited by the discussion of the preferred embodiment above. Neither the specification, nor the abstract, should be taken as an exhaustive illustration of the invention.





 
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