Title:
Toilet plunger having disinfectant dispenser
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A toilet bowl plunger includes a fluid reservoir for containing a disinfectant fluid and a fluid dispensing mechanism for dispensing the disinfectant fluid from the reservoir out from the toilet bowl plunger upon activation by a user.



Inventors:
Dressel, Mark C. (Narberth, PA, US)
Application Number:
12/288213
Publication Date:
04/30/2009
Filing Date:
10/17/2008
Primary Class:
International Classes:
E03D11/00
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
PHILLIPS, CHARLES E
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
Cozen O''Connor (NEW YORK, NY, US)
Claims:
1. A toilet bowl plunger, comprising: a plunger handle having first and second end regions; an inverted cup-shaped plunger portion connected to said second end region of said handle portion; a fluid reservoir associated with said toilet bowl plunger for containing a disinfectant fluid or the like; and a fluid dispensing mechanism associated with said toilet bowl plunger for dispensing said disinfectant fluid from said reservoir out from said toilet bowl plunger upon activation by a user.

2. A toilet bowl plunger as recited in claim 1 wherein: said fluid reservoir is situated in an interior space within said handle.

3. A toilet bowl plunger as recited in claim 2 wherein: said fluid dispensing mechanism comprises a fluid dispensing part including a first one-way valve situated within said second end region of said plunger handle portion.

4. A toilet bowl plunger as recited in claim 3 wherein: said fluid dispensing mechanism comprises an activating part including a second one-way valve situated in said plunger handle.

5. A toilet bowl plunger as recited in claim 4 wherein: said activating part further includes an activating handle coupled to said second one-way valve.

6. A toilet bowl plunger as recited in claim 1, wherein: said fluid dispensing mechanism comprises a valve situated at said second end region of said plunger handle.

7. A toilet bowl plunger as recited in claim 1 wherein: said fluid dispensing mechanism comprises a valve adapted to dispense the disinfectant fluid into a space defined by an inner concave surface of said inverted cup-shaped plunger portion.

Description:

RELATED APPLICATIONS

This application claims the filing date of U.S. provisional application Ser. No. 60/980,598 filed Oct. 17, 2007, the disclosure of which is incorporated by reference herein.

FIELD OF THE INVENTION

This invention relates generally to apparatus for removing obstructions from a toilet bowl drain pipe and, more particularly, to toilet bowl plungers.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

The use of toilet bowl plungers for removing obstructions from toilet bowl drain pipes is well known. A toilet bowl plunger is typically used when the trap becomes obstructed with waste matter, including fecal matter. The obstruction prevents water and other matter from being flushed from the toilet bowl into the sewage system.

A typical toilet bowl plunger comprises an elongated handle and an inverted cup-shaped plunger portion connected to an end of the handle. The plunger portion is formed of rubber or some equivalent resilient material. When the trap becomes obstructed, the open end of the plunger portion is placed over the opening at the bottom of the bowl and the walls of the plunger portion collapsed in response to a downward push on the handle thereby forcing air under pressure into the trap. The plunger portion is then returned to it's initial shape pulling upwardly on the handle thereby applying suction to the trap. The resulting agitation tends to dislodge and free the obstruction from the trap.

A drawback to the use of conventional toilet bowl plungers is that during the process of dislodging the obstruction from the toilet trap, the plunger portion of the plunger comes into contact with unsanitary waste material. After flushing the toilet, the plunger portion can be rinsed in the clean water which fills the bowl. However, simply rinsing the plunger portion with water in the toilet bowl, or elsewhere, is not sufficient to disinfect the plunger portion which has been in direct contact with human waste material. Disinfecting the plunger portion by simply applying a disinfectant from a separate bottle onto the surfaces of the plunger portion can be time consuming and messy.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

Accordingly, one object of the present invention is to provide a new and improved toilet plunger.

Another object of the present invention is to provide a new and improved toilet plunger having self-contained apparatus for dispensing disinfecting fluid.

Still another object of the present invention is to provide a new and improved toilet bowl plunger including a self-contained reservoir for containing a disinfectant fluid and a self-contained fluid dispensing mechanism for dispensing disinfectant fluid from the self-contained reservoir.

Yet another object of the present invention is to provide a new and improved toilet plunger which can be cleaned and disinfected within the confines of the toilet bowl area.

Briefly, in accordance with the invention, these and other objects are attained by providing a plunger comprising a plunger handle having first and second end regions and an inverted cup-shaped plunger portion connected to the second end region of the plunger handle. A fluid reservoir is associated with the plunger handle for containing a disinfectant fluid or the like. A fluid dispensing mechanism is associated with at least one of said plunger handle and plunger portion for dispensing the disinfectant fluid from the reservoir upon actuation by a user.

In one embodiment, the fluid reservoir is situated in the plunger handle and the fluid dispensing mechanism includes an activating part associated with the plunger handle and a fluid dispensing part at the second end region of the handle through which disinfectant fluid is dispensed into the open space defined by the inner concave side of the inverted cup-shaped plunger portion upon activation of the activating part.

In use, after the plunger has been used in a conventional manner to dislodge an obstruction in the trap of a toilet, the toilet is flushed to fill the bowl with clean water. The plunger is then held over the bowl with the plunger portion situated over the water in the bowl whereupon the user activates the activating part to dispense disinfecting fluid into the water of the bowl through the dispensing part. The disinfectant is concentrated so that when it is mixed with the water in the bowl, a disinfecting solution is formulated which is effective to disinfect the surface of the plunger portion. The plunger portion is submerged into the newly formed disinfectant solution in the bowl and agitated thereby causing the disinfectant mixture to flow over all of the surfaces of the plunger portion to effectively disinfect the same.

The invention thus provides a convenient arrangement by which the plunger portion of a plunger can be disinfected within the confines of the area of the toilet bowls without having to fill a bucket with a disinfecting solution or to obtain a separate container of disinfectant and apply the disinfectant directly to the plunger portion either of which can be time consuming and messy. The toilet bowl itself becomes a tank for containing a disinfectant mixture and is sufficiently deep that the entire plunger portion can be immersed in the disinfecting solution.

According to another embodiment of the invention, the fluid dispensing part can be designed to dispense disinfectant fluid directly onto the inner surface of the plunger portion upon activation of the activating part. In this embodiment, the user activates the activating device to dispense disinfecting fluid directly onto the inner surface of the plunger portion from which it can be wiped using ordinary paper towels or the like.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

A more complete appreciation of the present invention and many of the attendant advantages thereof, will be readily understood by reference to the following detailed description when taken in conjunction with the accompanying drawings, in which:

FIG. 1 is a perspective view of a toilet bowl plunger in accordance with an embodiment of the present invention;

FIG. 2 is a front elevation view, in section, of a first end region of a plunger handle and an activating part of a fluid dispensing mechanism of a toilet bowl plunger in accordance with the illustrated embodiment;

FIG. 3 is an exploded perspective view of the components of the activating part of the fluid dispensing mechanism;

FIG. 4 is a front elevation view, in section, of a second end region of the plunger handle of the illustrated embodiment of the invention to which a plunger portion is connected, and showing a fluid dispensing part of the fluid dispensing mechanism; and

FIG. 5 is an exploded perspective view of the components of the fluid dispensing part of the fluid dispensing mechanism.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENT

Referring now to the drawings wherein like reference characters designate identical or corresponding parts throughout the several views, and more particularly to FIG. 1, an embodiment of a toilet bowl plunger 10 in accordance with the invention includes a plunger handle 12 having first and second end regions 12a and 12b and an inverted cup-shaped plunger portion 14 connected to the second end region 12b of plunger handle 12. An activating handle 16 is coupled to the first end region 12a of the plunger handle 12 and comprises a component of the activating part of a fluid dispensing mechanism described below. The plunger portion 14 comprises an inverted cup-shaped member formed of rubber. Other suitable flexible materials may be used. An opening 18 (FIG. 4) is formed through the apex of plunger portion 14 which is surrounded by an internally threaded collar 20 integral with plunger portion 14, and an externally threaded portion of the second end region 12b of plunger handle 12 extends through the opening 18 and is threaded within collar 20 and is thereby connected to the plunger portion 14.

Turning to FIGS. 2 and 4, the plunger handle 12 comprises a tubular member formed of aluminum. Other metallic or plastic materials may be used, such as aluminum composites, rubber composites, polyurethane, acrylics and the like, so long as the material is rigid. In the illustrated embodiment the plunger handle 12 should be non-porous since a hollow interior portion of plunger handle 12 functions as a reservoir 22 for disinfectant fluid 24. For example, the hollow interior of the plunger handle 12 is filled with a suitable disinfectant fluid, such as chlorine bleach (sodium hypochlorite). An activating part 26 (FIG. 2) of a mechanism for dispensing the disinfectant fluid from the reservoir 22 is associated with the plunger handle 12 at its first end region 12a, while a dispensing part 42 (FIG. 4) of the disinfectant fluid dispensing mechanism is associated with the plunger handle 12 at its second end region 12b. The activating and dispensing parts 26, 42 each comprise a one-way valve situated at a respective end of the plunger handle 12 to trap disinfectant fluid in the reservoir 22. The dispensing part 42 utilizes a spring to control the compressive force acting on a gate to close the gate as described below. Where chlorine bleach is used as the disinfecting fluid, the amount dispensed should be adjusted based on the quantity of water in the bowl such that, preferably, about a 5% solution is achieved.

Referring to FIGS. 2 and 3, activating part 26 comprises a valve housing 28 affixed, such as by glue, to the end of the first end region 12a of plunger handle 12, a valve gate 30 slidably mounted in a lower chamber of valve housing 28, a spring 32 mounted in an upper chamber of valve housing 28, a toggle lock 34 having a keyway shaped opening 35, a washer 26 and an activating handle 16. A screw 38 is threaded upwardly through a threaded bore in the gate 30, and passes through the valve housing 28, spring 32, toggle lock 34 and washer 36 and is then threadedly connected to an axially extending internally threaded bushing 40 in activating handle 16. The activating part 26 functions as an upper seal to prevent the disinfectant fluid from escaping from reservoir 22. The spring 32 normally urges the activating handle 16 via washer 36 upwardly which urges the screw 38 and gate 30 upwardly to close the valve. The toggle lock is slidable back-and-forth in a lateral direction through slots 39 formed at opposite sides of activating handle 16. If the toggle lock 34 is in its unlocked position as seen in FIG. 2 moving the activating handle 16 in a downward direction moves the gate 30 downwardly thereby allowing air to enter the top of the reservoir. When in its unlocked position, the enlarged portion of the keyway opening is situated below the washer so as not to present an obstacle to the movement of the activating handle. When in its locked position, the reduced portion of the keyway opening is situated beneath the washer, which is larger than the reduced portion of the keyway opening and prevents downward movement of the activating handle. When the toggle lock 34 is in its unlocked position and the activating handle 16 is moved downwardly, the force of the fluid moving in the downward direction is sufficient to overcome the force of the spring in the lower dispensing part 42 of the fluid dispensing mechanism so that gate 30 moves downwardly opening the valve.

Referring to FIGS. 4 and 5, the dispensing part 42 comprises a valve housing 44 affixed, such as by glue, to the end of the second end region 12b of plunger handle 12, a valve gate 46 slidably mounted in a lower chamber of valve housing 44, a spring 48 mounted in an upper chamber of valve housing 44, and a washer 50. A screw 52 passes downwardly through openings in the washer 50, spring 48 and valve housing 44 and is threadedly connected to gate 46. Spring 48 normally urges the washer 50 upwardly which in turn urges the screw 52 and gate 46 upwardly to close the valve.

When the activating handle is moved downwardly, the force of the fluid moving in the downward direction overcomes the resistance of spring 48 and allows gate 46 to open to dispense the disinfectant. The force of the downwardly moving fluid overcomes the spring force in the lower fluid dispensing part 42 thereby allowing disinfectant fluid to be dispensed from the second end of the plunger handle 12 into the space defined by the concave inner surface of plunger portion 14.

In use, after the toilet bowl plunger 10 has been employed in a conventional manner to dislodge an obstruction in the trap of a toilet, the toilet is flushed to fill the bowl with clean water. While holding the plunger 10 so that the plunger portion is situated over the water in the bowl, the user slides the activating handle downwardly to dispense disinfecting fluid into the water in the bowl. The disinfectant mixes with the water to form a disinfecting solution which is effective to disinfect the surface of the plunger portion. The plunger portion is submerged into the disinfectant solution in the bowl and agitated to cause the disinfectant mixture to flow over the surfaces of the plunger portion to disinfect the same.

The upper activating part 26 can be adjusted to increase or reduce the amount of disinfecting fluid dispensed with each downward movement of activating handle 16 over the plunger handle 12. This is accomplished by rotating the activating handle 16 to raise or lower the handle 16 on screw 38. Rotating the handle 16 to further compress spring 32 reduces the amount of fluid dispensed through the lower dispensing part 42, and vice versa.

Other arrangements are possible. For example, the reservoir for disinfecting fluid may take the form of a separate cylinder attached to the exterior of the plunger handle and fluidly coupled to the dispensing part of an external rubber tube. An electric pump can be activated by pushing a button to pump the disinfecting fluid from the reservoir through the dispensing part. Alternatively, only a portion of the plunger handle may be hollow and function as the disinfecting fluid reservoir. Other one-way valve constructions may be utilized for the activating and fluid dispensing parts, such as ball valves.

Obviously, numerous modifications and variations of the present invention are possible in light of the above teachings. It is therefore to be understood that within the scope of the claims appended hereto, the invention may be practiced otherwise then as specifically disclosed herein.