Title:
System controlling shower water flow
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
The invented system controls hot and cold water flows to a conventional shower. It includes a soap dish; dish cover; fitting with interconnected lower and upper chambers having a through flow capable of interrupting by a ball, the lower chamber downwardly connected to the shower; a cross-shaped valve having a shaft with a fixed pusher lowered by said dish cover when opened by the user during lathering, thereby shutting the water by the ball, and said pusher lifted when the dish cover closed, thereby opening the water; a pressure balance mixer connected to the upper chamber, comprising left and right chambers, conical connectors, frame, balancer, divider, left and right balls, stabilizing the outlet mixed water temperature when the hot or cold water pressure fluctuates, keeping previous regulation settings of the hot and cold taps allowed to be constantly opened, while the cross-shaped valve shuts and opens the outlet mixed flow.



Inventors:
Tsipov, Michael (Brooklyn, NY, US)
Application Number:
11/243729
Publication Date:
04/05/2007
Filing Date:
10/05/2005
Primary Class:
International Classes:
E03C1/04
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
NGUYEN, TUAN N
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
Michael Tsipov (Brooklyn, NY, US)
Claims:
I claim:

1. A system controlling a cold water flow inlet from the conventional cold water supply system and a hot water flow inlet from the conventional hot water supply system both outlet to a shower, or tub, or sink device, said controlling system comprising: a mixing means for combining of said cold and hot water flows into one mixed flow; a soap holding means; a soap covering means capable to be actuated by a user preferably during the lathering process; a transmission means for receiving said mixed water flow, and further directing it to the shower, tub, or sink device; an interrupting valve means capable to close and open said transmission means when being actuated by said soap covering means.

2. The system according to claim 1, wherein said transmission means comprising an upper chamber connected to said mixing means, a lower chamber connected to said shower, or tub, or sink device, a round hole connecting the upper and lower chambers; said interrupting valve means comprising a cross-shaped valve disposed within said transmission means; said cross-shaped valve including: a rotatable elongated valve shaft supported by said transmission means, said shaft having a rectangular cross-section at its ends for attachment to said soap covering means, said shaft having a segmental cutoff substantially made at the middle of the shaft, said shaft having a threaded hole drilled substantially at the middle of the cutoff perpendicularly to the central longitudinal axis of said shaft; a pusher having a flag-like profile, made as a whole of a head portion with the working profile shaped as part of an ellipse curve and a threaded leg portion capable to be screwed into said threaded central hole; a central ball capable to close said round hole by freely rolling down into the round hole, and capable to open the round hole by rolling out of said round hole while being pushed up by said pusher when the pusher being actuated by the soap covering means.

3. The system according to claim 1, wherein said mixing means further comprising a balancing means capable to regulate said cold and hot water flows so that when the pressure of at least one of the flows increasing against the other, thereby changing the temperature of the mixed flow, the flow with increased pressure being reduced by said balancing means resulting in the mixed flow re-acquiring substantially the same temperature it had prior to said increasing of pressure of one of the water flows; said balancing means supported by said mixing means.

4. The system according to claim 3, wherein said mixing means comprising a hot-cold water horizontal tubular mixer with a pressure balancer, said mixer including a housing with a central part downwardly connected to said transmission means, a left chamber and a right chamber attached to the central part with their corresponding ends, said mixer including two conical connectors narrowing respectively to the left and the right ends of the mixer, said connectors attached by their wider ends to the respective ends of the left and right chambers, said connectors attached by their narrower ends to hot and cold water conventional hand-regulated valves correspondingly connected to the hot and cold water supply systems; said balancing means comprising a hot-cold water pressure balance valve including: a frame mounted inside the central part, said frame having a bottom with an opening, and said frame having two sidewalls each with a groove on its top; a pendulum balancer having a bottom performed as a portion of an annular shape, a window at the center of the bottom, a front wall and a back wall both of a sector-like shape, and two horizontal tongues at the tops of the front and back walls; said balancer suspended on said frame by placing its tongues within the grooves of the frame; a divider having two leaned sides and upper wings horizontally folded out and supported by the top portions of the sidewalls of said frame; a left ball and a right ball disposed respectively within the left and the right chambers of the housing and capable to freely roll along the chambers and the conical connectors until stopped by the narrowing body of connector wherein shutting the water flow in the connector; said left and right balls capable to move said balancer respectively to the right or to the left whenever a pressure difference between the cold and hot water existing and providing the movement of said balancer toward the chamber with the lower pressure, wherein the overlapping areas of the frame's opening and the balancer's window to the left and the right sides of the center of said divider changing, thereby reducing the water flow with the increased pressure and stabilizing the temperature of the mixed water flow.

Description:

TECHNICAL FIELD

The present invention relates to plumbing valve systems, particularly to systems controlling water flow to tub-shower installations.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

As known, tub-shower installations consume considerable amounts of cold and hot water, heat energy. It is therefore important for the society to wisely use those resources, which will improve the natural environment. On the other hand, the devices that allow to reasonably save the resources will also economically benefit the utilities suppliers and consumers. A number of technical solutions have been proposed to achieve the savings. In particular, U.S. Pat. Nos. 4,508,141 and 4,633,902 disclose valves for interruption the water flowing to a shower or a sink, wherein the valves are controlled by the position of a soap dish capable to close or open the valve through an intermediate mechanism. The closed position of the soap dish permits the water flow from the supply system to the shower device, the movement of the soap dish to the open (soap retrieving) position interrupts the water flow, since it's unnecessary during the lathering process. After the lathering, the person taking the shower (user) returns the soap to the soap dish and closes it, whereby actuating the intermediate mechanism resulting in the terminating of the interruption phase, and re-opening the water flow to the shower.

However, the design of the valve and intermediate mechanism have proven to be complicated and expensive to manufacture. Besides, one of the intentions of those inventions was to keep substantially the same temperature of water flowing through the shower after re-opening of the valve. Nevertheless, due to fluctuations of cold and hot water pressure this effect sometimes could not be achieved. It compelled the user to regulate the hot and cold water valves by hand all over that could substantially eliminate the water saving, make the process inconvenient, not to mention endanger him/her in the event of abrupt surges of hot water pressure or drops of cold water pressure.

There are also known devices to provide pressure balance in mixers of hot and cold water, e.g. disclosed in U.S. Pat. No. 6,257,134. This valve requires precession in design and manufacture, expensive, and complicated in performance. Also, the mineral substances always present in water, deposited on the valve's internals, may essentially affect its performance.

BRIEF SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

One of the aims of this invention is to provide a new, effective, and inexpensive system controlling the water flow through the shower device to allow for water and energy savings in tub-shower installations.

The other aim is to provide an effective means capable to continuously balance the pressure of the hot and cold water inlet from the water supply systems, resulting in the keeping of substantially constant temperature of the outlet water flow mixed from the inlet hot and cold water.

Other aims of the invention will become apparent from a consideration of the drawings, ensuing description, and claims as hereinafter related.

The description of the invention, discussed herein below, will show the following advantages of the invention:

Rational water management provided by the invented system allows saving up to 50% of water and heat energy;

Simple operation and creating a convenience of lathering without watering;

Maintaining of substantially constant temperature of the showering water;

The system mainly comprises a stationary soap dish with a rotatable cover. The soap dish is coupled with a fitting having a lower and upper chambers. The upper chamber is connected to a hot-cold water mixer, connected to the hot and cold water supply systems.

The mixer includes a housing, having a central portion, a left chamber (e.g. from the hot water side) and a right chamber (e.g. from the cold water side) respectively connected to the central portion. The other ends of the chambers are respectively connected to conventional hot and cold water valves through conical connectors gradually narrowing from the center of mixer.

The mixer includes a hot-cold water pressure balance valve. The water pressure balance valve comprises a frame, supporting a pendulum balancer and a divider, all installed in the central portion of the housing. The water pressure balance valve comprises two balls, wherein the first (left) ball is inserted in the left chamber and the second ball (right) is inserted in the right chamber. The balls are capable to freely roll from the central portion of mixer through the respective conical connectors, wherein at some point of the connector the ball may completely close the inner hole of the connector.

As it is shown below herein, the configurations and relative dispositions of the water balance valve's elements mentioned above are arranged in such a way that when there is a fluctuation of the hot or cold water pressure, the corresponding ball pushes the balancer changing its position relative to the divider. This will change the proportion of the hot and cold water flows outlet from the mixer. If, for instance, the hot water pressure surges, the pressure balance valve reduces the hot water flow, and the mixed water substantially maintains its previous temperature.

The fitting contains a cross-shaped valve containing a ball capable to open or close a connecting round hole between the upper and lower chambers regulates the water flow coming from the upper chamber to the lower chamber, and further to the shower device. The position of the ball is changed by a pusher fixed on a valve shaft connected to the rotatable cover. So, the position of the rotatable cover controls the water flowing to the shower device.

Typically, first the rotatable cover is opened and the soap is accessible. The water flow is not permitted into the lower chamber and to the shower. Then the user closes the cover, thereby opening the cross-shaped valve and permitting the water flow to the shower device. Then he opens the cover to get the soap, and starts the lathering process. After that he closes the cover to resume the water flow. Then he lifts the cover, finishes the showering process and leaves the bathroom.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

FIG. 1 is a cross-sectional view of a soap dish with a rotatable cover and valves controlling the water flow according to the present invention.

FIG. 2 is a top plan view of the soap dish depicted on FIG. 1 taken along line B-B shown on FIG. 1.

FIG. 3 is a fragment of a cross-shaped valve where the water flow is shut.

FIG. 4 is a cross-sectional view of a fragment of the invented system shown taken along line D-D shown on FIG. 2, the cover is closed.

FIG. 5 is a cross-sectional view of a fragment of the system shown on FIG. 2 taken along line E-E, the cover is opened.

FIG. 6 is orthogonal detail view of a valve shaft as a part of the cross-shaped valve.

FIG. 7 is orthogonal plan and side views of a pusher as a part of the cross-shaped valve

FIG. 8 is a cross-sectional detail view of a joint arrangement between the soap dish and a fitting of the invented system, taken along line F-F on FIG. 1.

FIG. 9 is a cross-sectional view of a hot-cold water mixer including a balance valve, and a rear view of the soap dish taken along line C-C of FIG. 1.

FIG. 10 is orthogonal detail views of parts of the balance valve.

FIG. 11 is a sectional view showing the balance valve at work.

FIG. 12 is a front overall view of a basic type of the system made in accordance with the present invention. The cover of the soap dish is closed.

FIG. 13 is a side view of the system shown on FIG. 12 taken along line G-G. The cover of the soap dish is closed.

FIG. 14 is a side view of the system shown on FIG. 12 taken along line H-H. The cover of the soap dish is open.

FIG. 15 is a front view of a bathroom wall with the invented system in a tub-shower installation, the shower is on.

FIG. 16 is a side view of the tub-shower installation of FIG. 15 illustrating a supply water pipe development around the system. The shower is off.

FIG. 17 is a front view of an optional type of the tub-shower installation with a hand-held shower head. It also shows a possible placement of bath accessories on the body of mixer.

FIG. 18 is a side view of the installation shown on FIG. 17.

FIG. 19 is a front view of the soap dish bottom with a fragment the hand-held shower head in the suspended position.

DESCRIPTION OF PREFERRED EMBODIMENT

While the invention may be susceptible to embodiment in different forms, there is shown in the drawings, and will be described in detail herein, a specific embodiment of the present invention, with the understanding that the present disclosure is to be considered an exemplification of the principles of the invention, and is not intended to limit the invention to that as illustrated and described herein.

A system controlling the shower water flow shown on FIG. 1,2 in accordance with the present invention comprises:

a) a stationary soap dish (1), which is positioned slightly leaned to the horizontal plane with a rear wall, and a flat bottom having a drain to let the accumulated water out. The rear wall has two ferromagnetic insertion (10) mounted as shown on FIG. 4,5,8. Soap dish 1 is preferably made of a light alloy resistant to rust.

b) a fitting (3) depicted on FIG. 1,2,9 which is connected to a tub-shower pipe (17). Fitting 3 is immovably joined to soap dish 1 that is shown on FIG. 8. Fitting 3 has a lower and an upper chambers connecting to each other through a connecting round hole to provide a water flow from the upper to the lower chamber. The upper chamber has a cylindrical shape with an outer threading. The lower chamber is partially cylindrically shaped with a lower opening that has an inner threading for connection to pipe 17. The lower chamber has two side holes. Fitting 3 can be moulded of a suitable metal, e.g. bronze. Then it can be cast with the soap dish as a whole unit.

c) a seal type cross-shaped valve capable to open and close the water flow inlet into the tub-shower pipe. The cross-shaped valve is disposed in the lower chamber of fitting 3.

The cross-shaped valve comprises a rotatable elongated valve shaft (4) shown on FIG. 1,2,3,6 inserted into the side holes of the lower chamber of fitting 3 and sealed by rings made preferably of rubber or teflon. Valve shaft 4 has two end protrusions each having a rectangular cross-section and a threaded hole drilled along the central longitudinal axis of the valve shaft. Valve shaft 4 has a segmental cutoff at the middle of the valve. Valve shaft 4 has a threaded hole drilled at the middle of said cutoff, perpendicularly to the longitudinal axis of the valve.

The cross-shaped valve comprises a pusher (5) shown on FIG. 1,2,3,7 with a flag-like profile, having two portions: a head and a threaded leg made as a whole unit. The working surface of the head of pusher 5 is shaped as part of ellipse. The threaded leg of pusher 5 can be screwed into the threaded hole at the middle of shaft 4 through the opening in the lower chamber of fitting 3.

The cross-shaped valve comprises a central ball (12), preferably made of suitable plastic material, and disposed in the upper chamber of fitting 3. If the leg of pusher 5 is positioned horizontally as shown on FIG. 3, the central ball 12 sits in its lowest position and closes the round hole connecting the upper and lower chambers of fitting 3, thereby shuts the water flow through fitting 3 to the shower. If the leg of pusher 5 is lifted at an angle “alpha” substantially equal to sixty degrees, as shown on FIG. 1, the central ball 12 is pushed up by pusher 5 at the edge of the round hole of fitting 3. Thus, pusher 5 elevates ball 12, and rolls it out, thereby opening the round hole to inlet the water flow.

d) a rotatable cover (2) of soap dish 1. Cover 2 is illustrated on FIG. 1,2,4, in a lower position where it closes soap dish 1, so that the soap placed in soap dish 1 is inaccessible. Cover 2 has hollow 7 to allow the cover to be turned into an upper position until the “alpha” angle is reached, as shown on FIG. 1 (by dashed lines), and FIG. 5.

Cover 2 has two box-shaped levers with slots so configured, that the slots are contacted with the end protrusions of shaft 4, as shown on FIG. 2,4,5. When the user turns up cover 2 to the “alpha” angle into the upper position of cover 2, the slots actuate a turn of shaft 4 around its longitudinal axis to the “alpha” angle. Consequently, the head of pusher 5 is lowered into its lower position, thereby causing ball 12 to roll down into the round hole and shut the water flow from the upper to the lower chamber of fitting 3.

Cover 2 has two permanent magnets (9) mounted as shown on FIG. 2,4,5, to provide the capability of cover 2 to stay in the upper position when opened. In the upper position, magnets 9 and ferromagnetic insertions 10 of soap dish 1 attract to each other and allow cover 2 to remain open until the user puts down the cover into its lower position.

e) a hot-cold water horizontal tubular mixer (8) with a pressure balancer, shown on FIG. 9. Mixer 8 comprises a housing having an upper cylindrical opening with an outer threading. The housing of mixer 8 comprises a lower opening of a cylindrical shape with an inner threading capable to be connected to the outer threading of the upper chamber of fitting 3. The top of the upper cylindrical opening is covered by a cap (11), having an inner threading for the connection, which is sealed by a rubber seal (16).

The housing of mixer 8 comprises a left chamber and a right chamber. The left and right chambers are connected to the central part of the housing, and on the other ends each chamber has a conical connector with a cross-sectional diameters gradually reducing from the center of housing to the ends of the connectors. Each connector connects mixer 8 to either a hot or a cold water conventional hand-controlled valve (not shown herein).

Mixer 8 comprises a hot-cold water pressure balance valve shown separately on FIG. 10, and as an assembly on FIG. 11. The pressure balance valve includes two balls (12)—the left ball 12 and the right ball 12, preferably made of a suitable plastic material. The left and right balls 12 are respectively disposed within the left and the right chambers of housing of mixer 8 and capable to freely roll along the chambers. The balls 12 may be inserted through the upper opening of the housing.

The pressure balance valve includes a frame (13) depicted on FIG. 9,10,11. Frame 13 is mounted inside the central part and above the lower opening of the housing by inserting through the upper opening of the housing. Frame 13 has a bottom, and two sidewalls, each having a groove on its top. Frame 13 has an opening, which is narrowing to the center, located in its bottom as shown on FIG. 10. Frame 13 is made of a suitable plastic.

The pressure balance valve includes a pendulum balancer (14), preferably made of metal, shown on FIG. 9,10,11 having a bottom performed as a portion of an annular shape, a window of a rectangular shape, at the center of the bottom, a front wall and a back wall both of a sector-like shape, and two horizontal tongues at the tops of the front and back walls. Balancer 14 is suspended on frame 13 by placing its tongues within the grooves of the frame.

The pressure balance valve includes a divider (15), preferably made of plastic, having two inclined sides and upper wings horizontally folded out. When assembled, the wings are supported by the top portions of the sidewalls of frame 13. Divider 15 actually divides the housing of mixer 8 into the left and the right chambers.

An increase of water pressure from the right side (e.g. cold water) causes the right ball 12 to push the balancer to the left, wherein the overlapping areas of the balancer's window and the frame's opening will change: the left area becomes greater and the right area becomes smaller. Therefore the fraction of right water flow (cold water with an increased pressure) will be reduced in the common mixed outlet water flow, thereby stabilizing its temperature.

The configurations and mutual dispositions between frame 13, balancer 14, and divider 15 are arranged in such a way that when the right (or the left) ball 12 is pushed by the cold (or hot) water maximally close to the center of divider 15, a minimal water flow must still exist over the ball through a minimal right (or left) window portion of balancer 14, as shown on FIG. 11. Otherwise an abrupt increase of the cold water pressure could cause a complete shutoff of the cold water that might injure the user by the still flowing hot water.

The system is connected to a conventional shower device, such as, for instance, shown on FIG. 16, having a flow regulation head (18) and a conventional spout with a diverter (19). The invented system can optionally be utilized with a hand-held shower (20), illustrated on FIG. 17,18. In such a case, an additional connector (21) shown on FIG. 13,14 may be provided to connect a pipe 17 from the outlet of fitting 3 and hand-held shower 20. The hand-held shower may have its own hand-regulating valve, or may not.

For the user convenience, the shower head can be suspended under soap dish 1. For this purpose, two holders (22) are provided, depicted on FIG. 1,2,9,19. A bracket clamp (23) shown on FIG. 1,2,9,17,19 can be fixed on holders 22 by stretching. A shackle (24) can be attached to the head of the hand-held shower enabling to hang it on clamp 23.

FIG. 17,18 show the possibility of placement of bath accessories on the body of mixer 8. Hooks (26) illustrated on FIG. 17 may also be used to place things necessary for the showering. FIG. 17 also shows a mirror (27) can be placed on the wall.

Pipe 17 connecting fitting 3, the hot and cold water valves are provided with conventional couplings (not shown herein), which connected to nipples (not shown) protruded from the wall, and further connected to the water supply systems. Various conventional flanges (25) reflected on FIG. 13, 14 are used for decoration purposes.

OPERATION OF THE INVENTION

During normal operation of the system, hot and cold water flows enter mixer 8 from the hot and cold water conventional valves connected to the respective conventional hot and cold water supply pipes. Rotatable soap dish cover 2 is typically disposed in its open position. Pusher 5 is situated in its lower position, and the central ball 12 sits in the round hole of fitting 3, shutting the water flow from mixer 8 and the upper chamber to the lower chamber of fitting 3, and further to the shower and spout. In order to activate the shower, the user has to turn down cover 2, that is to close soap dish 1. It closes the soap from splashes of water and turns shaft 4, lifting pusher 5, which pushes the central ball 12 up and rolls it out from the round hole, opening the water flow, as reflected on FIG. 1.

When in the showering process the user needs to use the soap, he/she lifts cover 2 into the open position, exposing the soap. This releases the central ball 12, which rolls back to the round hole and shuts the water flowing to the shower. Thus, the invented system allows for significant water saving by preventing the water from being wasted when the user is using the soap. At the same time, the hot and cold water valves remain in the positions where they were before cover 2 was lifted and the water flow was closed. The valves can be opened as long as needed without leakage.

It is also important to provide a stable temperature of the mixed water flow outlet from mixer 8. Sometimes an abrupt hot water fluctuation may injure the user of the shower. The special construction of the pressure balance valve allows to automatically adjust the water flows from the left and right chambers of mixer 8 during pressure fluctuations or abrupt changes. Let's suppose that the cold water pressure (e.g. in the right chamber) suddenly drops. It causes the left ball 12 move to the center of housing pushing balancer 14 to the right thereby increasing the right portion of the balancer's window (i.e. the area of window positioned to the right from the central lowest point of divider 15) and letting in a greater flow of the cold water. On the other hand, the left portion of the window will be reduced and the hot water flow will decrease. As a result, the mixed flow will remain substantially of the same temperature, and the user will not be hurt.

In the existing cold and hot water supply systems, there is a pressure difference between the water flows of the two systems. Besides, the opening and shutting the hot and cold valves in the neighboring installations may cause a destabilization of pressure and temperature of water in the invented system. Also, there are often spontaneous fluctuations of pressure. This creates a differential flow within the mixer from one supply system to the other that may cause substantial inconveniences for the users. The differential flow may be prevented by the regulating taps of the devices, or by the installing of special protection means.

The invented control system allows to keep the cold and hot valves constantly open. The function of protection here is carried out by balls 12. When the shower device is not used, the cold and hot water valves may optionally be open. The water from the supply system with the greater pressure (e.g. cold water) in the opened right chamber of mixer 8 pushes the right ball 12 to balancer 14. The cold water penetrates into the upper chamber of fitting 3 through the portion of the window of balancer 14. When the central ball 12 of the cross-shaped valve is depressed by the water flow and shuts the connecting round hole of fitting 3, the cold water will flow up into the left chamber of mixer 8. The water flow in the left chamber pushes the left ball 12 into the left conical connector of mixer 8, until the narrowing body of the connector will stop the ball. This will prevent the differential flow and fluctuation.

Thus, the user can by one simple action of opening or closing the rotatable cover to:

  • open the water flow to the shower device (or another device connected to the control system);
  • stop the water flow to the device;
  • stop the overflow and fluctuation in the system;
  • keep the last regulation setting of the cold and hot water valves;
  • save the time avoiding a new regulation of the cold and hot water valves.
  • All these problems are solved by the use of the three balls 12 in conjunction with other elements of the invented control system.