Title:
Adjustably sizable ventilator assembly for variously sized toilets
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
Methods and apparatus are disclosed for adjustably sizing a ventilator assembly to toilets of various size to remove malodorous air during use. The assembly includes three modular components fitted with one another about the toilet bowl, neck and water tank. The first component includes holes that mate with the seat fastener holes of the neck to substantially immovably overhang an air intake into the bowl. The second component rests on the neck and adjustably engages the air intake with an air conduit path. The third component engages the second component outside the neck and tucks fairly underneath the water tank. A fan assembly fluidly communicates with both the air intake and the air conduit path to draw odors from the bowl. In other aspects, fragrance traps, charcoal filters, battery operations, rechargeable battery arrangements, operator switches and timers, clean air exhausts, and balanced weight are contemplated.



Inventors:
Littrell, Chestser Gayle (Lexington, KY, US)
Mitchuson, Calvin Ray (Lexington, KY, US)
Application Number:
11/476390
Publication Date:
01/03/2008
Filing Date:
06/28/2006
Primary Class:
International Classes:
E03D9/04
View Patent Images:
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20100095449MOTOR WITH NOZZLE FOR A MASSAGE BATHTUBApril, 2010Yu
20030140412Replaceable shower deviceJuly, 2003Gabriele
20090205126SEALING ARRANGEMENT FOR BATH BARAugust, 2009Forrest
20090049587Toilet Device With Cleanser and FragranceFebruary, 2009Bulala et al.
20080276367Faucet With Spray HeadNovember, 2008Bares et al.
20080034482Ventilated toiletFebruary, 2008Lehman



Primary Examiner:
LE, HUYEN D
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
KING & SCHICKLI, PLLC (LEXINGTON, KY, US)
Claims:
What is claimed:

1. An adjustably sizable ventilator assembly for variously sized toilets having a bowl and attendant neck and a water tank, the neck further including holes to receive fasteners to attach a toilet seat during use, comprising: three modular components fitted with one another about the bowl, the neck and the water tank to remove odors from the bowl, wherein: a first of the three modular components has holes to mate with the holes of the neck so that during use an air intake of the first component substantially immovably overhangs into the bowl; a second of the three modular components adjustably engages with the first component and rests on the neck, further including an air conduit path that mates with the air intake; and a third of the three modular components engages with the second of the three modular components and during use tucks fairly underneath the water tank, a fan assembly of the third of the three modular components being in fluid communication with both the air intake and the air conduit paths to draw odors from the bowl during use.

2. The ventilator assembly of claim 1, wherein the air intake of the first component includes a section raised from an otherwise planar surface.

3. The ventilator assembly of claim 2, wherein the raised section includes guides for sliding receiving the second component.

4. The ventilator assembly of claim 1, wherein the air conduit path of the second component includes a connector.

5. The ventilator assembly of claim 4, wherein the connector slides into the first component during use.

6. The ventilator assembly of claim 1, wherein the third component further includes a clean air exhaust downstream of the fan assembly.

7. The ventilator assembly of claim 1, wherein the third component further includes a filter upstream of the fan assembly.

8. The ventilator assembly of claim 1, wherein the third component further includes a fragrance trap.

9. The ventilator assembly of claim 1, wherein the third component further includes a user operable switch for connecting the fan assembly to power.

10. The ventilator assembly of claim 1, wherein the third component further includes an automatic timer for operating the fan assembly.

11. The ventilator assembly of claim 1, wherein the third component further includes a compartment for a battery and a circuit board to operate the fan assembly.

12. The ventilator assembly of claim 11, further including a connector electrically connected to the compartment to recharge the battery.

13. The ventilator assembly of claim 1, wherein the third component is substantially weight balanced relative to a position where the third component and the second component engage one another so that substantially no rotation of the third component occurs about the position during use.

14. The ventilator assembly of claim 1, wherein the second component includes a substantially elongate member having a distal and proximate end, the proximate end engaging the third component.

15. The ventilator assembly of claim 14, wherein the elongate member adjustably engages up to about 5 inches away from a periphery of the first component.

16. The ventilator assembly of claim 14, wherein the elongate member has an open interior for accommodating the air conduit path.

17. The ventilator assembly of claim 14, wherein the second member includes a connector transverse to the elongate member for sliding engagement with the first member.

18. The ventilator assembly of claim 14, wherein the elongate member is of sufficient length to extend beyond the neck.

19. An adjustably sizable ventilator assembly for variously sized toilets having a bowl and attendant neck and a water tank, the neck further including holes to receive fasteners to attach a toilet seat during use, comprising: three modular components adjustably fitted with one another about the bowl, the neck and the water tank to remove odors from the bowl, wherein: a first of the three modular components has holes to mate with the holes of the neck so that during use an air intake of the first component substantially immovably overhangs into the bowl, the first component having a section raised from an otherwise substantially planar surface with a periphery to accommodate the air intake; a second of the three modular components adjustably engages with the first component and rests on the neck, further including an air conduit path that mates with the air intake, the air conduit path residing in an elongate member and a transverse connector that slidingly engages the raised section, the elongate member being extendable from the periphery; and a third of the three modular components engages with the second of the three modular components and during use tucks fairly underneath the water tank, a fan assembly of the third of the three modular components being in fluid communication with both the air intake and the air conduit paths to draw odors from the bowl during use.

20. A method of adjustably fitting a ventilator assembly to remove malodorous air from variously sized toilets having a bowl and attendant neck and a water tank, the neck further including holes to receive fasteners to attach a toilet seat during use, comprising: mating holes of a first of three modular components to the holes of the neck to substantially immovably overhang an air intake of the first component into the bowl; resting a second of the three modular components on the neck; adjustably engaging the second component with the first component so that an air conduit path of the second component fluidly mates with the air intake; and engaging a third of the three modular components with the second components in such a way as to fairly tuck the third component underneath the water tank and fluidly connect a fan assembly of the third of the three modular components with both the air intake and the air conduit paths.

Description:

FIELD OF THE INVENTION

Generally, the present invention relates to ventilators for toilets to remove malodorous air. Particularly, it relates to an adjustable ventilator assembly accommodating toilets of any size. In one aspect, the invention 5 contemplates modular components adjustably fitting with one another so that bulky components can be unobtrusively positioned under a water tank regardless of toilet size. In other aspects, the invention contemplates adjustable components with an air intake substantially immovably fluidly communicating with the toilet bowl regardless of size. Still other aspects, to name a few, contemplate adjustable modular components with air fresheners, electric fans, charcoal filters, battery operations, rechargeable battery arrangements, and balanced weight.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

Through the years, the prior art has fairly suggested a variety of ventilators for toilets to remove odors. In miscellaneous designs, some relate to automatic operation, toilet seat design, air circulation paths, electrical circuitry, filters, and even adjustability. However, all suffer shortcomings making their popularity poor and commercial attractiveness unfeasible. For instance, many have used intricate designs which complicates manufacturing and installation. Others have used excessive components which overprices the product. Still others have been unsightly. Some have even implemented features at the expense of functionality.

For example, some toilet ventilators contemplate an adjustable design to accommodate various toilet size, but have done so in a manner that defeats effectiveness. With reference to FIG. 1, U.S. Pat. No. 5,488,741 to Hunnicutt teaches oversized slots 41 and 42 adjustably accommodating undersized posts 29 and 30 to mate with various sized toilets. As they state it at col. 6, 11. 11-16, a “pair of slots 41 and 42, corresponding to openings 34 and 35 in toilet bowl 14, are formed through base 40 and receive threaded ends 32 and 33 of hinge posts 29 and 30. Slots 41 and 42 are employed to allow forward and rearward adjustments to be made in positioning odor collector 24.” However, when the design needs to accommodate larger toilets, which is the trend of today, the odor collector 24 needs to slide backward towards the water tank (not shown). The design is rendered ineffective, though, because they also slide the malodorous air intake 45 away from the bowl itself (at position 15). To the extent alternate designs contemplate longer slots and longer air intakes, a problem arises for smaller toilets whereby the air intake juts too far into the bowl.

Accordingly, a need exists in the field of toilet ventilators to adjustably accommodate variously sized toilets. Also, the need extends to designs that avoid diminishing effectiveness. Naturally, any improvements should further contemplate good business practices, such as relative inexpensiveness, ease of implementation and manufacturing, low complexity, unobtrusiveness, etc.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

The above-mentioned and other problems become solved by applying the principles and teachings associated with the hereinafter described adjustably sizable ventilator assembly for variously sized toilets. In this regard, the ventilator assembly contemplates modular components adjustably and unobtrusively fitted with one another about toilets of any size.

Preferably, the assembly includes three modular components fitted with one another about the toilet bowl, neck and water tank. The first component includes holes that mate with the seat fastener holes of the neck to substantially immovably overhang an air intake into the bowl. In turn, the air intake resides in a raised section of an otherwise substantially planar structure that sits on the neck. The second component also rests on the neck and adjustably engages the first component. Especially, an air conduit path resides in an elongate member and connector, transverse to the elongate member, and slides to mate with the air intake of the raised section. The elongate member is also extendable from a periphery of the planar structure according to neck size of the toilet. The third component engages the second component outside the neck and tucks fairly underneath the water tank. A fan assembly fluidly communicates with both the air intake and the air conduit path to draw odors from the bowl during use. Naturally, a filter resides upstream of the fan assembly to remove malodorous air.

In other aspects, the components contemplate: a clean air exhaust downstream of the fan assembly; a filter upstream of the fan assembly; a fragrance trap; a user operable switch for connecting the fan assembly to power; an automatic timer for operating the fan assembly; a compartment for a battery to operate the fan assembly; a connector electrically connected to the compartment to recharge the battery; and weight balanced components so that substantially no rotation of the components torque the assembly off the toilet during use.

These and other embodiments, aspects, advantages, and features of the present invention will be set forth in the description which follows, and in part will become apparent to those of ordinary skill in the art by reference to the following description of the invention and referenced drawings or by practice of the invention. The aspects, advantages, and features of the invention are realized and attained by means of the instrumentalities, procedures, and combinations particularly pointed out in the appended claims.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

The accompanying drawings incorporated in and forming a part of the specification, illustrate several aspects of the present invention, and together with the description serve to explain the principles of the invention. In the drawings:

FIG. 1 is a diagrammatic view in accordance with the prior art design of U.S. Pat. No. 5,488,741;

FIG. 2 is a diagrammatic view in accordance with the present invention of a plurality of components in a disassembled state forming the adjustably sizable ventilator assembly;

FIG. 3 is a diagrammatic view in accordance with the present invention of the plurality of components of FIG. 2 in an assembled state;

FIG. 4 is an alternate diagrammatic view in accordance with the present invention of the plurality of components of FIG. 2 in an assembled state;

FIG. 5 is a diagrammatic view in accordance with the present invention of the plurality of components of FIG. 2 in a partially assembled state and showing various attendant features;

FIGS. 6A and 6B are diagrammatic views in accordance with the present invention of two of the components in an assembled state on a representative toilet to showing adjustability;

FIG. 7 is a diagrammatic view in accordance with the present invention of two of the components in an assembled state on an alternate representative toilet having a relatively short neck; and

FIG. 8 is a diagrammatic view in accordance with the present invention of the components fully assembled on a representative toilet.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENTS

In the following detailed description of the preferred embodiments, reference is made to the accompanying drawings that form a part hereof, and in which is shown by way of illustration, specific embodiments in which the invention may be practiced. These embodiments are described in sufficient detail to enable those skilled in the art to practice the invention, and it is to be understood that other embodiments may be utilized and that process, electrical, mechanical, and/or other changes may be made without departing from the scope of the present invention. In accordance with the present invention, methods and systems for adjustably sizing a ventilator assembly to toilets of various size to remove malodorous air during use are hereinafter described.

With reference to FIGS. 2-5, modular components of a ventilator assembly for fitting together about a toilet are given generically as 10. A first component 12 includes a substantially planar surface 14 with a raised section 16. The planar section is essentially flat on a surface 18 and conforms during 20 use to the generally flat surface of a toilet neck 40 (e.g., FIGS. 6A and 6B) between a toilet bowl 42 and water tank 46. Two holes 50, 52 of the planar section are also provided and they mate with seat fastener holes of the toilet neck h1, h2 (e.g., FIGS. 6A and 6B) during use so that an air intake 54 substantially immovably overhangs a distance O (e.g., FIGS. 6A and 6B) into the toilet bowl, as will be described below.

The second component 60 generally includes a substantially elongate member 62 and a connector 64, generally transverse thereto. The elongate member has a distal 66 and proximate end 68 and portions of its length sits on the toilet neck during use while other portions extend beyond the neck. The proximate end also engages the third component 70 beyond the neck by insertion into a depth of a receiver 72. To attach to the first component 12, the connector 64 slidingly mates with the raised section 16. Especially, wings 65, 67 are slid into and received by guides 69, 71 of the raised section. Limiting braces 75, 77 of appropriate tolerances are provided on the connector, transverse to the wings, to control torque between the connector and raised section and ensure a relatively square and trim fit. The amount of sliding between the connector and raised section is dictated by the length and arrangement of the toilet neck. Relatedly, a distance D develops between the elongate member 62 and a periphery 73 of the planar section 14 to adjustably engage the two components during use, as will be described more below.

The third component 70 includes a fan assembly 76 to draw out malodorous air from the toilet bowl. Its power comes from one or more batteries in a battery compartment 78. In this regard, a switch 79 is provided that users turn on or off as the toilet is utilized. An optional timer (not shown) electrically connects to the switch to turn the fan assembly off in case users forget. Also, the batteries are preferably rechargeable so that a user can attach electrical AC power to a connector 80 that is, in turn, electrically connected to the compartment 78. Alternatively, the fan runs directly on AC power via a cord, not shown, connecting to a wall, electrical outlet.

Beneath the fan assembly is a trap 82 for insertion of fragrance, such as oils, scented pads, lotions or the like, to freshen the air. A tray 84 defines the trap and slides open and closed under the fan assembly 76 for users to insert the fragrance. A clean air exhaust 86 exists fluidly downstream of the fan assembly and vents clean smelling air during use. It includes, or not, air freshened with fragrance depending upon whether the trap 82 is full or empty.

At 88, a second tray exists that includes a filter 90, especially charcoal. It filters malodorous air from the toilet bowl. It resides fluidly upstream of the fan assembly and is operable to slide open and closed for convenient user insertion and replacement of the filter 90. An attendant latch 92 allows users to lock the tray 88 and filter 90 in place upstream of the fan assembly during use.

In fluid operation, the air intake 54 is at least partially defined by the raised section 16 of the first component. It couples, upon adjustable connection to the connector 64, to an air conduit path 100 of the second component 60. The air conduit path begins between the limiting braces 75, 77, and continues through an opening 102 in the elongate member 62. In turn, the opening communicates with an interior 104 of the cross section of the elongate member. To cap air from fluidly communicating externally to the second component 70, a cap 106 fits in the distal end 66. Within the hollowness of the receiver 72, fluid communication ties to the open interior 104 of the elongate member and to the opening 110, generally above the filter 90, in the tray 88. Through a false floor in the tray 88, the fan assembly beneath the tray fluidly communicates with the opening 110 of the tray. The clean air exhaust 86 then fluidly communicates downstream of the fan assembly. During use, odor is drawn from the bowl at the air intake. It travels to the air conduit path and to the filter where charcoal removes its foulness. From there, it passes through the fan assembly and out the clean air exhaust.

Weight balance is also contemplated for the components to prevent undue torque and slippage of the ventilator assembly. Representatively, a position 175 is provided where the second component 60 and the third component 70 engage one another. The individual features of the third component (such as the switch, the fan assembly, the fragrance trap, the filter, the trays, the batteries and compartment, the connector) are then substantially arranged about the position 175 in or on a housing 114 such that no rotation of the third component occurs about the position 175 during use. In other words, a center of gravity of the housing is such that the assembly does not induce torque in the direction of the arrows A or B (FIG. 8).

With reference to FIGS. 6A and 6B, adjustably fitting the ventilator assembly to a representative toilet is described. That is, the holes 50, 52 of the first component are mated with the holes h1, h2 of the neck 40 of the toilet. Naturally, mechanical fasteners (not shown) of the toilet seat fill the holes and secure the first component in place on the neck. In this manner, the air intake 54 is substantially immovably overhung a distance O into the toilet bowl 42. Because the air intake is in the section 16 raised from an otherwise planar surface, the air intake is able to draw malodorous air away from the bowl 42. Also, the overhang distance is preferably less than a width of the seat S (FIG. 8) so that when the seat is in the down position on the bowl, the first component does not jut into the bowl beyond the seat.

Adjustably mated with the air intake and the first component is the connector 64 of the second component. As before, the elongate member 62 rests on the neck 40 and wings 65, 67 of the connector slide into and are received by guides 69, 71 of the raised section. For appropriate fitting, users position the elongate member 62 of the second component a distance D from the periphery 73 of the first component so that the third component 70 (FIG. 8) can be unobtrusively positioned and fairly tucked, in part, underneath the water tank 46. The amount that distance D extends varies and is dictated generally by a length L of the variously sized toilet necks. To a lesser extent, it is also a function of how close the water tank sits to the bowl.

By comparing FIGS. 6A and 6B to FIG. 7, skilled artisans will observe that the distance D between can be quite lengthy (e.g., FIG. 6B, on the order of a few inches) to nearly non-existent (e.g., FIG. 7). Thus, toilets of all sizes are readily fitted with a common ventilator assembly but, at the same time, the air intake 54 is relatively overhung a common distance O into the toilet bowl 42 regardless of toilet size. In this manner, the effectiveness of the ventilator assembly for all toilets is fairly assured, unlike the prior art which is sometimes rendered ineffective by poor positioning.

In FIG. 8, a fully assembled ventilator assembly is shown. In this regard, the three modular components 12, 60 and 70 adjustably fit about the toilet bowl, neck and water tank. The third component also fits fairly underneath the water tank to provide an unobtrusive look.

During use, a user simply turns on the switch 79 to power the fan assembly 76. Because of the vacuum created, and the fluid communication from the air intake of the first component, to the air conduit path of the second component, to the fan assembly of the third component, malodorous air from the toilet bowl is drawn out and exhausted cleanly to atmosphere. After use, the user switches off the switch or a timer turns it off automatically.

For materials, it is contemplated that plastics will be used for the three components. Alternatively, metal, wood, combinations or other are contemplated. They are formed by traditional extrusions, molding, tool and die, cutting or other methods. Also, tolerances are such that secure fits between the components exist while at the same time affording users easy assemblage about their toilets.

Regardless of embodiment, certain advantages of the invention are certainly realized over the prior art. For instance, the ventilator assembly described herein enables adjustable accommodation of variously sized toilets, but does so without diminished effectiveness. It also uses simply formed and readily obtainable materials which enables inexpensive and easy manufacturing. Further, ease of implementation occurs because of the simple design and sliding fitting of the components. Unsightliness is prevented by positioning the components out of the way of users and fairly under the water tank. It is also prevented by choosing coloring of the components to match or blend with the color scheme of the toilet.

Finally, the foregoing description is presented for purposes of illustration and description of the various aspects of the invention. The descriptions are not intended, however, to be exhaustive or to limit the invention to the precise form disclosed. Rather, the embodiments described above were chosen to provide the best illustration of the principles of the invention and its practical application to thereby enable one of ordinary skill in the art to utilize the invention in various embodiments and with various modifications as are suited to the particular use contemplated. Therefore, all such modifications and variations, including combinations of the foregoing, are also within the scope of the invention and are precisely determined by the appended claims according to the breadth to which they are fairly, legally and equitably entitled.