Title:
Toilet bowl protection apparatus and method
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A protective toilet bowl cover for temporary installation during construction or pending maintenance. The bowl cover element includes a clear viewing window so that toilet operation can be observed with the cover in place. The bowl cover element may be adjustable by breaking off a portion of the cover along a selected score line. Two bowl rim engagement elements are pivotally mounted on the bottom of the bowl cover, and provided with toothed pull elements, so that a rim engagement portion of each engagement element may be rotated into contact with the underneath side of the bowl rim by pulling the pull elements partially through small holes in the cover. The toothed portions of the pull elements engage the holes to hold the pull elements and rim engagement elements in place, and excess exposed length of the toothed pull element may be cut.



Inventors:
Orona Jr., Abelino (New Braunfels, TX, US)
Application Number:
12/197759
Publication Date:
02/26/2009
Filing Date:
08/25/2008
Primary Class:
International Classes:
A47K13/00
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
CHAPMAN, JEANETTE E
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
RICK B. YEAGER, ATTORNEY (AUSTIN, TX, US)
Claims:
What is claimed is:

1. A toilet protection device for a toilet, the toilet comprising a bowl and a rim, the protection device comprising a toilet bowl cover having a window, an upper surface and a bottom surface; a first rim attachment element comprising a first rim engagement element, and a first rim engagement pull element; and a second rim attachment element comprising a second rim engagement element, and a first rim engagement pull element.

2. The toilet protection device of claim 1 wherein the first rim engagement element and the second rim engagement element each comprise a first end pivotally attached to a bracket positioned on the bottom surface of the toilet bowl cover, and a second end; the first rim engagement pull element comprises a first end portion with a plurality of teeth or ribs, and a second end with a pivotal attachment to a middle portion of the first rim engagement element; and the second rim engagement pull element comprises a first end portion with a plurality of teeth or ribs, and a second end with a pivotal attachment to a middle portion of the second rim engagement element.

3. The toilet protection device of claim 2 wherein the second end pivotal attachment of the first rim engagement pull element further comprises a living hinge formed by a single injection molding of the first rim engagement element with the first rim engagement pull element, such that the second end of the rim engagement pull element further comprises a flexible thin plastic member which is attached to the rim engagement element.

4. The toilet protection device of claim 2 wherein the second end pivotal attachment of the first rim engagement pull element further comprises a hinge formed by snapping the second end of the first rim engagement pull element over a middle portion of the first rim engagement element.

5. The toilet protection device of claim 3 wherein the toilet bowl cover further comprises a first hole, such that the first end portion of the first rim engagement pull element may be pulled upward through the hole in order to rotate the first rim engagement element into contact with the bowl rim, and when the first end portion is released, the first hole engages the teeth or ribs of the first end portion of the first rim engagement pull element in order to hold the first rim engagement element in contact with the bowl rim.

6. The toilet protection device of claim 5 wherein the toilet bowl cover further comprises a first knockout, and the first hole is positioned within the first knockout.

7. The toilet protection device of claim 1 wherein the toilet bowl cover further comprises at least one score line such that a portion of the cover can be broken off or cut along the score line in order to adjust the cover size.

8. The toilet protection device of claim 1 wherein the toilet bowl cover further comprises an extension tab.

9. A method for using a toilet protection device for a toilet having a bowl and a rim, the method comprising providing a toilet protection device comprising a toilet bowl cover having a window, a first hole, and a second hole, a first rim attachment element comprising a first rim engagement element, and a first rim engagement pull element; and a second rim attachment element comprising a second rim engagement element, and a second rim engagement pull element; and attaching the toilet bowl cover to a toilet by placing the toilet bowl cover over the rim, contacting a first portion of the rim with the first rim engagement element by pulling a portion of the first rim engagement pull element through the first hole, securing the rim engagement pull element, contacting a second portion of the rim with the second rim engagement element by pulling a portion of the second rim engagement pull element through the second hole, and securing the second rim engagement pull element.

10. The method of claim 9 for using a toilet protection device wherein securing the first rim engagement pull element further comprises engaging a rib or tooth on the first rim engagement pull element with a portion of a wall of the first hole.

11. The method of claim 9 for using a toilet protection device further comprising providing the first hole in a first knockout; attaching the cover at a first time; removing the knockout at a second time later than the first time; and removing the cover from the toilet bowl.

12. The method of claim 11 for using a toilet protection device further comprising replacing the knockout; and reusing the cover.

13. The method of claim 9 for using a toilet protection device further comprising providing at least one score line on the cover; and removing a portion of the cover along the score line in order to achieve a better fit on the bowl.

14. The method for claim 9 for using a toilet protection device further comprising observing the operation of the toilet through the window after the cover is attached to the bowl.

Description:

This is non-provisional patent application is related to U.S. Provisional Application No. 60/957,979 filed Aug. 24, 2007, and claims the benefit of that filing date.

BACKGROUND

1. Field of Invention

The current invention relates to an apparatus and method for protecting a toilet bowl such as after installation but before completion of new construction, or to prevent use of the toilet pending maintenance.

2. Prior Art

The prior art includes numerous devices for preventing the use of a toilet by children or others. Representative prior art devices are summarized below.

Chain or Cable Devices

U.S. Pat. No. 735,927 to Woodruff shows a chain wrapped around underside of toilet with stiff wire hook and padlock.

Enclosures

U.S. Pat. No. 1,793,815 to McCann shows a box enclosure with chain and padlock.

U.S. Pat. No. 5,581,824 to Crook, Sr. shows a rigid housing member which encloses toilet seat and bowl by a strapping mechanism which wraps around the back of the toilet.

Arms

U.S. Pat. No. 5,347,663 to Yost describes hinges with an arm that extends over the lid.

Lid Shaped Devices

U.S. Pat. No. 6,173,454 to Alvarez shows a safety lid under the actual toilet lid.

U.S. Pat. No. 6,321,580 to Olson describes a toilet lid cover composed of articulated members which fit the form of the lid, the members are tightened to grab onto the toilet and prevent use and access to the toilet.

Bowl Covers

U.S. Patent Application Publication No. 20070250997 (PCT/AU04/01301) to Andrew McDonald et al, published Nov. 1, 2007 for “Means for Disenabling the Use” describes several embodiments of a temporary toilet bowl cover means which use either single or dual cover locking elements to secure the cover to the rim.

U.S. Patent Application Publication No. 20030024038 to Lynette Cross et al, published Feb. 6, 2003 for “Commode Bowl Guard” describes several embodiments of installing a toilet bowl cover means to the rim.

There is a need for improved low cost devices and methods that discourage unauthorized use of a toilet while permitting observation of toilet operation, and which accomplish those function without damage to the toilet.

SUMMARY OF INVENTION

One aspect of the current invention is to provide a device which may be installed over a toilet bowl during construction of a building in order to protect the toilet and to prevent use of the toilet until the construction is completed.

One embodiment of the current invention comprises a Claw-Lock™ protective cover plate that may be locked in position over the toilet bowl. This protective plate is designed to prevent unauthorized use of the toilet. In one example, this protective plate is held in position over the toilet bowl by means of simple clamps that are tightened into a locking position with toothed pull elements.

The clamps may comprise a pair of hinged rim engagement elements that each have a first end attached to a bracket on the bottom of the cover plate, and a second end that engages an underneath portion of the toilet bowl rim. The second ends of the rim engagement elements are drawn into contact with the rim by pulling rim engagement pull elements partially through holes in the cover. The rim engagement pull elements have a first end portion which is toothed or ribbed in order to engage the side walls of the hole, thereby holding the pull elements in a desired position. The second ends of the rim engagement pull elements are pivotally attached to middle portions of the rim engagement elements, so that as the first end portions are pulled upward through the cover holes, the second ends of the rim engagement elements are rotated upwards into contact with the rim. The pull elements can then be cut substantially flush with the protective plate, thereby holding the rim engagement element in position against the underside of the toilet bowl rim.

In one example, a pull element is provided on opposite sides of the toilet bowl. Each pull element is drawn through a knockout plug. The device may be removed by removing a portion of each knockout plug. The device may be disposable, or may be re-used by replacing the knockout plugs.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF DRAWINGS

FIG. 1 is a top perspective view of one embodiment of a protective cover.

FIG. 2 is a top perspective view of the protective plate of FIG. 1.

FIG. 3 is a bottom perspective view of the protective plate of FIG. 1 showing rim engagement pull elements connected to rim engagement elements.

FIG. 4 is a side view of the protective plate of FIG. 1 without rim engagement pull elements attached.

FIG. 5 is a side view of the protective plate of FIG. 1 without rim engagement pull element attached, and with rim engagement elements rotated to positions where they would typically engage the underside of the rim of the toilet bowl.

FIG. 6 is top view of the protective plate of FIG. 1 installed over a toilet bowl.

FIG. 7 is top view of the protective plate of FIG. 6 installed over a toilet bowl with the toilet seat lowered.

FIG. 8 is top view of the protective plate of FIG. 7 installed over a toilet bowl with the cover lowered.

FIG. 9 is top perspective view of a protective cover showing a pair of rim engagement pull elements and a rim engagement element in an open position.

FIG. 10A is a detailed side view of an assembly of a rim engagement pull element pivotally attached to a rim engagement element.

FIG. 10B is a detailed top view of the assembly of FIG. 10A.

FIG. 11A is top view of a cover plate with a window and a pair of knockouts.

FIG. 11B is side view of the cover plate of FIG. 11A.

FIG. 11C is front view of the cover plate of FIG. 11A.

DESCRIPTION OF EMBODIMENT

Claw-Lock™ Toilet Protection Device with Clamp Bracket

Toilet

A typical toilet comprises a bowl having a rim. The current invention provides a cover to be locked into position over the bowl by engaging the rim.

Toilet Bowl Cover

FIG. 1 is a top perspective view of a toilet bowl cover 200 which is a protective plate with an upper surface and a bottom surface. In this example, the plate includes a main portion 210 which covers the toilet bowl; and holes 230 and 232; and a viewing window 240.

An optional extension 220 (not shown) may be provided on the straight end of the main portion 210 so that the extension can be positioned between toilet seat mounting bolts to provide resistance against lifting the plate from the bowl. The cover may include score lines such as 222 (not shown) and 224 (not shown) so that the cover may be broken or cut along the score lines in order to provide a better fit over the bowl.

Rim Engagement Elements and Rim Engagement Pull Elements

FIG. 10A is a detailed side view of an assembly 270 of rim engagement pull element 260 pivotally attached to a rim engagement element 272. FIG. 10B is a detailed top view of the assembly 270 of FIG. 10A.

In this embodiment, the rim engagement pull element 260 includes a first toothed or ribbed portion 262 and a second end 261 which is attached to element 275 of the rim engagement element. In one example, this connection may be made by snapping second end 261 over a rigid element 275 to form a pivotal connection. In another example, the second end 261 and element 275 may be part of a single injection molded part where the connection is a plastic living hinge.

In this embodiment, the rim engagement pull element 272 includes a first end 274 which is pivotally attached to a bracket on the bottom of the cover, such as by snapping the first end over portions of the bracket. The rim engagement pull element 272 includes an enlarged second end 273 for engaging the underneath portion of the rim. The outer portion of this second end may be rounded to permit a greater contact area with the rim.

FIG. 2 is a top perspective view of the protective plate of FIG. 1 showing rim engagement pull elements 250 and 260 partially inserted through holes 230 and 232. In one embodiment, the holes are provided in knockout holes so that the device can be easily removed by punching out the knock out holes. In another embodiment, the holes are provided directly in the cover.

FIG. 3 is a bottom perspective view of the protective plate of FIG. 1 showing rim engagement pull elements 250 and 260 connected to rim engagement elements 272 and 282. In this example, the rim engagement elements have first ends pivotally connected to portions 276 and 286 of a bracket 300 (not labeled) on the bottom of the cover. In this example, the rim engagement elements are fabricated separately from the cover, and are attached by snapping ends 274 and 284 of the rim engagement elements over portions of the bracket.

FIG. 4 is side view of the protective plate of FIG. 1 without rim engagement pull elements attached. The upper portions of the rim engagement pull elements 270 and 280 are pivotally attached to the bracket portions 276 and 286 so that rim engagement pull elements 272 and 282 are hanging freely.

FIG. 5 is a side view of the protective plate of FIG. 1 without rim engagement pull elements attached. In this example, rim engagement pull elements 272 and 282 are shown rotated to positions where they would typically engage the underside of the rim of the toilet bowl. In this example, the pivoting arm members are rotated into locking position by pulling the rim engagement pull elements upward through holes in the knockout plates.

FIG. 9A is top perspective view of a protective cover 200 with a window 240 and showing a pair of rim engagement pull elements 260 and 270 and a rim engagement element 272 in an open position.

FIG. 11A is top view of a cover plate 200 with a window 240 and a pair of holes 230 and 232 in knockouts 231 and 233 (not labeled). FIG. 11B is side view of the cover plate of FIG. 11A showing a bracket 300. FIG. 11C is front view of the cover plate of FIG. 11A showing the bracket 300 and the knockouts 231 and 233.

Installation

FIG. 6 is top view of the protective plate of FIG. 1 installed over a toilet bowl. In this embodiment, the viewing window 240 permits observation of toilet operation, such as for a plumbing inspection.

FIG. 7 is top view of the protective plate of FIG. 6 installed over a toilet bowl with the toilet seat lowered. FIG. 8 is top view of the protective plate of FIG. 7 installed over a toilet bowl with the cover lowered.

Toilet Protection Device with Adjustable Size Cover

In one embodiment of the current invention, the protective cover is provided with one or more scored lines so that a back portion of the cover may be broken off in order to shorten the cover. By removing the optional extension tab and a portion of the plate along the rear lip, if necessary, the cover size can be modified to fit a variety of toilet bowl geometries including round and oval bowls. For example, the cover may be provided in a size that will fit a long oval bowl, and a rear portion of the cove may be broken off along a score line in order to shorten the cover to fit a round bowl.

Alternate Rim Engagement Elements and Rim Engagement Pull Elements

One aspect of the current invention is the ability to provide a simple and low-cost method of securing a cover on a toilet bowl. In one embodiment, as described above, the rim engagement elements and rim engagement pull elements may be provided as single injection molded components with a living hinge. In another embodiment, the rim engagement elements and rim engagement pull elements may be provided as separate elements that snap together.

In other embodiments, other designs may be used for these elements. In one example, the rim engagement elements and rim engagement pull elements may be combined into a single L-shaped part which has a toothed or ribbed upper portion and a lower rim engagement element. In this example, the L-shaped parts have a first open position where the lower elements are rotated away from the rim; and a second locked position where the L-shaped part is pulled upward to the cover as it is rotated where the rim engagement element is rotated under the rim. The ribs or teeth lock the rim engagement pull elements into holes located on the outer portions of the cover. The exposed portion of the rim engagement pull elements may be trimmed. The L-shaped part may be held in place in knockouts so that the cover may be removed by punching out the knockouts.

In another example, the rim engagement elements may be hinged devices that have an upper portion attached to the bottom of the cover and a hinged lower portion which may rotate under the rim. The hinged portion is held open by a rim engagement pull element such as a tie strap. When a portion of the tie strap above the cover is cut, a spring attached to the upper portion and lower portion of the rim engagement element pulls and pivots the lower portion into contact with the rim. The upper portions may be attached to the cover by knockouts so that the cover may be removed by punching out the knockouts.

Method of Installing and Removing Toilet Protection Device

Installing the Protective Cover

In this embodiment, a method for using a toilet protection device comprises providing a a toilet protection device and attaching the toilet protection device to the toilet. The toilet protection device may comprise a toilet bowl cover having a window, a first hole, and a second hole; a first rim attachment element comprising a first rim engagement element, and a first rim engagement pull element; and a second rim attachment element comprising, a second rim engagement element, and a second rim engagement pull element. The toilet protection device may be attached to the toilet bowl cover to a toilet by placing the toilet bowl cover over the rim; contacting a first portion of the rim with the first rim engagement element by pulling a portion of the first rim engagement pull element through the first hole; securing the rim engagement pull element; contacting a second portion of the rim with the second rim engagement element by pulling a portion of the second rim engagement pull element through the second hole; securing the second rim engagement pull element; and optionally removing the exposed portion of the rim engagement pull element. As each rim engagement pull element is pulled through its respective hole, it causes a rim engagement element to pivot into contact with the underside of the toilet bowl rim. The rim engagement pull element may be cut substantially flush with the protective cover thereby discouraging tampering with the cover.

In this example, securing the first rim engagement pull element further comprises engaging a rib or tooth on the first rim engagement pull element with a portion of a wall of the first hole. The first hole may be located in a knockout.

In one example, before installation, the cover size may be adjusted by removing a portion of the cover along a score line in order to achieve a better fit on the bowl.

Observing Toilet Operation

After the cover is installed, the operation of the toilet flushing may be observed through the window.

Removing the Protective Plate

In order to remove the protective plate, the knockout plugs may be punched partially out of the plate in order to loosen the rim engagement pull elements. The plate may then be removed. In another example, the rim engagement pull elements may be punched out of the holes to loosen the cover.

In the case of knockout plugs, the cover may be re-used after replacement of the plugs. In another example, the cover may be disposable.

While this invention has been described in connection with example embodiments thereof, it is obvious that modifications and changes therein may be made by those skilled in the art to which it pertains without departing from the spirit and scope of the invention. Accordingly, the scope of this invention is to be limited only by claims.