Title:
APPARATUS FOR REDUCING FLUSH WATER IN TOILETS
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A replacement toilet valve apparatus for a toilet includes a rod bracket attachable to the stand pipe at a selected vertical location. A vertical rod channel is defined in the bracket at an adjustable lateral distance from the stand pipe. A valve rod slides up and down in the rod channel and is connected to the flush lever. A valve member mounted to the bottom end of the valve rod is configured to engage the valve seat to seal the top end of the flush water outlet. The valve member is configured such that same sinks in water. A float is attached to the valve rod at one of a plurality of vertical float locations and the float is operative, when immersed in water, to prevent the valve member from sinking.



Inventors:
Pfeifer, Pius (Edmonton, CA)
Application Number:
12/129481
Publication Date:
12/03/2009
Filing Date:
05/29/2008
Primary Class:
International Classes:
E03D1/34
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
FORD, GISELE D
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
PATTERSON THUENTE PEDERSEN, P.A. (MINNEAPOLIS, MN, US)
Claims:
What is claimed is:

1. A replacement toilet valve apparatus for a toilet comprising a tank, a flush water outlet connecting a bottom of the tank to a bowl, a valve seat on a top end of the flush water outlet inside the tank, a substantially vertical stand pipe inside the tank, and a flush lever, the apparatus comprising: a rod bracket adapted for attachment to the stand pipe at a selected vertical location, the rod bracket defining a substantially vertical rod channel at a lateral distance from an attached stand pipe, wherein the lateral distance from the attached stand pipe is adjustable; a valve rod slidable up and down in the rod channel and adapted at a top end thereof for connection to the flush lever; a valve member mounted to a bottom end of the valve rod and configured to engage the valve seat to seal the top end of the flush water outlet, wherein the valve member is configured such that same sinks in water; a float attached to the valve rod at one of a plurality of vertical float locations, the float operative, when immersed in water, to prevent the valve member from sinking.

2. The apparatus of claim 1 wherein the valve rod and rod channel are configured such that the valve rod can slide up and down in the rod channel and such that the valve rod is prevented from rotating in the rod channel.

3. The apparatus of claim 2 wherein the valve seat of the toilet is oriented at an inclined angle to a horizontal tank bottom, and wherein the orientation of the valve member with respect to the valve rod is adjustable such that a sealing plane of the valve member can be oriented to engage the valve seat at a corresponding inclined angle to seal the top end of the flush water outlet.

4. The apparatus of claim 3 wherein: a threaded bottom portion of the valve rod below the rod channel is bent at an angle to an upper portion thereof; the threaded bottom portion of the valve rod engages a threaded socket defined by the valve member; the threaded socket is oriented at an angle to the sealing plane such that rotating the valve member on the valve rod changes the orientation of the sealing plane with respect to the upper portion of the valve rod.

5. The apparatus of claim 4 wherein the valve rod and valve member are marked to indicate relative angular orientations thereof as the valve member is rotated on the valve rod.

6. The apparatus of claim 1 wherein the float is attached to the valve rod above the rod channel.

7. The apparatus of claim 6 wherein the float comprises right and left float members mounted on a float bracket such that the float members are located substantially equidistant from the valve rod and such that the right and left float members and the valve rod are substantially aligned.

8. The apparatus of claim 7 wherein the valve rod extends upward through a mounting aperture defined by the float bracket, and wherein the float members are located on lower ends of float arms extending outward and downward from the mounting aperture.

9. A toilet comprising: a tank; a flush water outlet connecting a bottom of the tank to a bowl; a valve seat on a top end of the flush water outlet inside the tank; a substantially vertical stand pipe inside the tank; a flush lever mounted on an exterior of the tank; a rod bracket attached to the stand pipe at a selected vertical location, the rod bracket defining a substantially vertical rod channel at a lateral distance from an attached stand pipe, wherein the lateral distance from the attached stand pipe is adjustable; a valve rod in the rod channel and slidable up and down and connected at a top end thereof to the flush lever; a valve member mounted to a bottom end of the valve rod and configured to engage the valve seat to seal the top end of the flush water outlet, wherein the valve member is configured such that same sinks in water; a float attached to the valve rod at one of a plurality of vertical float locations, the float operative, when immersed in water, to prevent the valve member from sinking.

10. The apparatus of claim 9 wherein the valve rod and rod channel are configured such that the valve rod can slide up and down in the rod channel and such that the valve rod is prevented from rotating in the rod channel.

11. The apparatus of claim 10 wherein the valve seat of the toilet is oriented at an inclined angle to a horizontal tank bottom, and wherein the orientation of the valve member with respect to the valve rod is adjustable such that a sealing plane of the valve member can be oriented to engage the valve seat at a corresponding inclined angle to seal the top end of the flush water outlet.

12. The apparatus of claim 11 wherein: a threaded bottom portion of the valve rod below the rod channel is bent at an angle to an upper portion thereof; the threaded bottom portion of the valve rod engages a threaded socket defined by the valve member; the threaded socket is oriented at an angle to the sealing plane such that rotating the valve member on the valve rod changes the orientation of the sealing plane with respect to the upper portion of the valve rod.

13. The apparatus of claim 12 wherein the valve rod and valve member are marked to indicate relative angular orientations thereof as the valve member is rotated on the valve rod.

14. The apparatus of claim 9 wherein the float is attached to the valve rod above the rod channel.

15. The apparatus of claim 14 wherein the float comprises right and left float members mounted on a float bracket such that the float members are located substantially equidistant from the valve rod and such that the right and left float members and the valve rod are substantially aligned.

16. The apparatus of claim 15 wherein the valve rod extends upward through a mounting aperture defined by the float bracket, and wherein the float members are located on lower ends of float arms extending outward and downward from the mounting aperture.

Description:

FIELD OF THE INVENTION

This invention is in the field of flush toilets and in particular a valve apparatus to reduce the amount of water required to effectively flush the toilet.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

Water conservation is becoming more desirable as populations increase and water sources become overburdened. Conventional toilets use about 20 liters of water for each flush. More recently these conventional toilets have been replaced in the market by newer low flow toilets that require only about six liters per flush, however there are still millions of high flow conventional toilets in use. In addition to consuming excess water, these conventional toilets create excessive amounts of sewage which must also be treated.

A conventional toilet comprises a tank mounted on a bowl. A flush water outlet leads from the bottom of the tank to the bowl, and a valve seat on the top of the flush water outlet is sealed by a hollow valve ball. A water inlet in the tank is connected to a water supply source and water flows into the tank through the water inlet and through an intake valve. A float or pressure switch opens the intake valve when the water level in the tank is below a selected level, and closes the intake valve when the water level reaches the selected level.

A flush lever is mounted external to the tank and is connected by a chain or wire to the ball valve such that tripping the flush lever raises the hollow ball valve out of the valve seat. The hollow ball valve floats in the tank water and thus the flush water outlet remains open until substantially all the water in the tank is drained into the bowl, at which time the water level is about at the same level as the valve seat at the top end of the flush water outlet, and the ball valve drops into the seat, closes the outlet, and water flows into the tank until it again reaches the selected level.

A stand pipe is also connected to the bowl and is oriented vertically inside the tank and has an open top. Should a malfunction in the intake valve occur such that water continues entering the tank, water can only rise in the tank to the level of the open top of the stand pipe, and will then flow through the stand pipe and into the bowl. Overflows are thus prevented.

Water savings have been realized in conventional toilets by manipulating the toilet tank float to lower the level of water in the toilet tank, however when the water level is lowered the head of water is reduced and the flush water flows into the toilet bowl with reduced pressure and force. Flushing is therefore less effective such that multiple flushing may be required to flush material from the bowl.

Thus it is desirable to maintain the water level as high as possible in the toilet tank to maintain the conventional head pressure, while reducing the actual amount of water that flows into the bowl, as disclosed in U.S. Pat. No. 3,561,014 to Johnson. In the valve mechanism of Johnson, moving the flush lever moves the ball valve out of the seat but only a portion of the water in the tank flows into the bowl before the ball valve drops into the seat. Thus only the top portion of the water in the tank, that portion that provides the greatest head pressure, is used to flush the bowl, providing an effective flush with reduced water flow through the bowl.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

It is an object of embodiments of the present invention to provide a replacement toilet valve apparatus that overcomes problems in the prior art.

In a first embodiment the present invention provides a replacement toilet valve apparatus for a toilet comprising a tank, a flush water outlet connecting a bottom of the tank to a bowl, a valve seat on a top end of the flush water outlet inside the tank, a substantially vertical stand pipe inside the tank, and a flush lever. The apparatus comprises a rod bracket adapted for attachment to the stand pipe at a selected vertical location, the rod bracket defining a substantially vertical rod channel at a lateral distance from an attached stand pipe, wherein the lateral distance from the attached stand pipe is adjustable. A valve rod is slidable up and down in the rod channel and is adapted at a top end thereof for connection to the flush lever. A valve member mounted to a bottom end of the valve rod is configured to engage the valve seat to seal the top end of the flush water outlet. The valve member is configured such that same sinks in water. A float is attached to the valve rod at one of a plurality of vertical float locations, the float operative, when immersed in water, to prevent the valve member from sinking.

In a second embodiment the present invention provides a toilet comprising a tank; a flush water outlet connecting a bottom of the tank to a bowl; a valve seat on a top end of the flush water outlet inside the tank; a substantially vertical stand pipe inside the tank; and a flush lever mounted on an exterior of the tank. A rod bracket is attached to the stand pipe at a selected vertical location, the rod bracket defining a substantially vertical rod channel at a lateral distance from an attached stand pipe, wherein the lateral distance from the attached stand pipe is adjustable. A valve rod is located in the rod channel and is slidable up and down and connected at a top end thereof to the flush lever. A valve member is mounted to a bottom end of the valve rod and is configured to engage the valve seat to seal the top end of the flush water outlet. The valve member is configured such that same sinks in water. A float is attached to the valve rod at one of a plurality of vertical float locations and the float is operative, when immersed in water, to prevent the valve member from sinking.

The replacement toilet valve apparatus of embodiments of the invention is adjustable to fit a wide variety of toilet tank configurations, including those where the valve seat is inclined to the horizontal. The float is located a selected distance above the valve member and when the flush lever is activated the float pulls the valve member up through the water and water flows out through the flush water outlet. When the water level falls the float moves down until the valve member, located the selected distance below the float and thus below the water level, falls into the valve seat. Water flow out of the flush water outlet is thus stopped while the water level is the selected distance above the valve seat, instead of as in conventional toilets where the water level falls to the bottom of the tank.

The apparatus of the invention reduces water use by preventing the bottom portion of the water in the tank from flowing into the bowl. Flushing effectiveness is maintained because the water that is used is that in the top portion of the tank which flows under increased force and pressure compared to the water in the bottom portion of the tank.

DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

While the invention is claimed in the concluding portions hereof, preferred embodiments are provided in the accompanying detailed description which may be best understood in conjunction with the accompanying diagrams where like parts in each of the several diagrams are labeled with like numbers, and where:

FIG. 1 is a schematic front view of an embodiment of a replacement toilet valve apparatus of the present invention installed in a toilet tank with the valve member sealing the valve seat;

FIG. 2 is a schematic front of the embodiment of FIG. 1 with the valve member pulled out of the valve seat and suspended in the water by the float;

FIG. 3 is a perspective view of the replacement toilet valve apparatus of FIG. 1, with a pair of floats;

FIG. 4 is schematic side view showing the valve rod and valve member oriented at an inclined angle to seal a valve seat oriented at an inclined angle.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE ILLUSTRATED EMBODIMENTS

FIGS. 1 and 2 schematically illustrate a side view of a replacement toilet valve apparatus 1 for a toilet. The toilet comprises a tank 3 and a flush water outlet 5 connecting a bottom of the tank 3 to a bowl 7. The top end of the flush water outlet 5 forms a valve seat 9 inside the tank 3. A stand pipe 11 is oriented substantially vertically inside the tank 3, and a flush lever 13 is mounted external to the tank 3.

The apparatus 1, as also illustrates in FIG. 3, comprises a rod bracket 15 that is adapted for attachment to the stand pipe 11 by a clamp 17 at one end thereof. The clamp 17 allows the rod bracket 15 to be attached to the stand pipe 11 at a selected vertical location. The rod bracket 15 defines a substantially vertical rod channel 19 at a lateral distance D from the attached stand pipe 11. The illustrated rod bracket 15 comprises two H telescoping portions 15A, 15B. Portion 15A includes a slot 21 and a screw 23 is threaded into a hole in portion 15B such that the portions may be secured at any desired point thus making the lateral distance D adjustable such that various toilet models and configurations may be accommodated.

A valve rod 25 is slidable up and down in the rod channel 19 and is adapted at a top end thereof for connection to the flush lever 13 by a chain 27 or like flexible tether. A flush arm 29 is attached to the flush lever and extends over toward the rod channel 19 to provide a more directly upward direction of pull on the valve rod 25.

A valve member 31 is mounted to a bottom end of the valve rod 25 and is configured to engage the valve seat 9 to seal the top end of the flush water outlet 5. Unlike a conventional ball valve which is hollow and configured to float in water, the valve member 31 is configured such that same sinks in water.

A float 33 is attached to the valve rod at a selected one of a plurality of vertical float locations. The float 33 is configured such that the float is operative, when immersed in water, to prevent the valve member 31 from sinking. In FIG. 1, the valve member 31 is sealing the valve seat 9, and the float 33 is immersed in water but the pressure of the water above the valve member 31 prevents the upward floatation force F exerted by the float 33 from raising the valve member 31 off the valve seat 31.

However with the tank full of water to level A as illustrated in FIG. 1, pushing the flush lever 13 raises the valve rod 25 and moves the valve member 31 up and off the valve seat 9 such that water flows out of the tank 3 through the flush water outlet 5 into the bowl 7. Water is then present both above and below the valve member 31 and so the upward force F exerted by the float 33 on the valve rod 25 and valve member 31 is sufficient to pull the valve member 31 upward until it is stopped by contact with the rod bracket 15 as illustrated in FIG. 2. When the water level falls from level A to level B, the float 33, and thus the valve member 31, begin to drop with the water level until the water level reaches the level C shown in FIG. 1 at which point the valve member 31 again seals the valve seat 9 stopping flow through the flush water outlet 5, and the water level again begins to rise, with the pressure of the water above the valve member 31 again preventing the float 33 from pulling the valve member up out of the valve seat 9.

In the apparatus 1 the valve rod 25 and rod channel 19 are square such that the valve rod 25 can slide up and down in the rod channel 19 but such that the valve rod 25 is prevented from rotating in the rod channel 19. Fixing the orientation of the valve rod 25 facilitates configuring the valve rod 25 and valve member 31 to accommodate certain toilet configurations such as illustrated in FIG. 4 where the valve seat 9A is oriented at an inclined angle to the horizontal tank bottom 3B. The orientation of the valve member 31 with respect to the valve rod 25 is adjustable such that a sealing plane SP of the valve member 31 can be oriented to engage the valve seat 9A at a corresponding inclined angle as illustrated in FIG. 4, or horizontally to engage the horizontal valve seat 9 as illustrated in FIG. 1.

In the illustrated embodiment the threaded bottom portion 25B of the valve rod 25, below the rod channel, 19, is bent at an angle N to an upper portion 25A thereof. The threaded bottom portion 25B of the valve rod 25 engages a threaded socket 41 defined by the valve member 31, and the threaded socket 41 is oriented at an angle to the sealing plane SP such that rotating the valve member 31 on the bottom portion 25B of the valve rod 25 changes the orientation of the sealing plane SP with respect to the upper portion 25A of the valve rod 25.

Since the upper portion 25A of the valve rod remains substantially vertical, the angle with respect to the horizontal of the sealing plane SP of the valve member 31 can be varied to accommodate a variety of angular inclined orientations of the valve seat 9. The lateral distance D from the stand pipe 11 to the valve rod can be varied as above. Further the relative position of the rod bracket 15 and stand pipe 11 can be varied by turning the rod bracket on the stand pipe and tightening the clamp 17. Thus a wide variety of toilet tank configurations can be accommodated using a single apparatus 1.

As illustrated in FIG. 3, the valve rod 25 and valve member 31 can be are marked to indicate relative angular orientations thereof as the valve member 31 is rotated on the valve rod 25. An indicator peg 43 extends from the valve rod 25, and varying numbers of upward extending bumps 45 at various locations around the valve member 31 can be coded to indicate the relative positions of the parts.

In the illustrated apparatus 1 the float 33 is attached to the valve rod 25 above the rod channel 19. In FIG. 3, the float 33 is illustrated as comprising right and left float members 33R, 33L mounted on a float bracket 47 such that the float members 33R, 33L are located substantially equidistant from the valve rod 25 and such that the right and left float members 33R, 33L and the valve rod 25 are substantially aligned. The valve rod 25 extends upward through a mounting aperture 49 defined by the float bracket 47, and the float members 33R, 33L are located on lower ends of float arms 51 extending outward and downward from the mounting aperture 49. The illustrated configuration increases stability and reduces binding of the valve rod 25 in the rod channel 19.

The foregoing is considered as illustrative only of the principles of the invention. Further, since numerous changes and modifications will readily occur to those skilled in the art, it is not desired to limit the invention to the exact construction and operation shown and described, and accordingly, all such suitable changes or modifications in structure or operation which may be resorted to are intended to fall within the scope of the claimed invention. For purposes of interpreting the claims for the present invention, it is expressly intended that the provisions of Section 112, sixth paragraph of 35 U.S.C. are not to be invoked unless the specific terms “means for” or “step for” are recited in a claim.