Title:
Splash shield and kit for use when plunging a toilet
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A disposable splash shield sized to fit on a toilet bowl rim to prevent splashing of water from the bowl when a plunger is used to free an obstruction in the toilet. The shield is foldable in half and a gasket seal is affixed to a bottom marginal edge portion to effect a seal between the shield and the toilet bowl rim. Adhesive material on the underside of the gasket seal, or strips of adhesive tape on the marginal edge of the shield, releasably secures the shield in position. In a preferred embodiment the shield is made of cardboard. A toilet kit includes the splash shield, gloves, at least one paper towel, and a flattened box, all packaged in an envelope-like bag that can be used to contain and dispose of these items following use.



Inventors:
Martinisko, Robert S. (Clifton, VA, US)
Application Number:
12/217394
Publication Date:
01/07/2010
Filing Date:
07/03/2008
Primary Class:
International Classes:
E03D11/00
View Patent Images:
Related US Applications:
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20060075546Electro-mechanical flush mechanismApril, 2006Sigler
20060090255Load Sensor Safety Vacuum Release SystemMay, 2006Cohen
20040237181Removable urinal splash shield deviceDecember, 2004Atkins-williams
20090105618SPA CHAIR WITH PHYSICAL MASSAGE ELEMENTSApril, 2009Ta
20090217453PLEXIGLAS SURFACE WITH ANTI-SLIP PROPERTIES AND SANITARY ELEMENTS EQUIPPED WITH THE LATTERSeptember, 2009Theil et al.
20080282462Portable bathtub apparatusNovember, 2008Williams
20040172747Toilet flapperSeptember, 2004Sirizzotti
20070266486Urinal splash guard employing flexible bristlesNovember, 2007Ramirez



Primary Examiner:
LOEPPKE, JANIE MEREDITH
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
Dennis H. Lambert & Associates (Burke, VA, US)
Claims:
What is claimed is:

1. A disposable splash shield for preventing splashing of water out of a toilet when: a plunger is being used to unclog the toilet, said shield comprising: a substantially flat planar shield body having an annular marginal edge portion with a bottom surface adapted to fit on an upper surface of a toilet bowl rim; means forming an opening through a central portion of said shield body for receiving a plunger handle, said opening being positioned in said shield body so that it is in substantial alignment with a drain opening from the toilet bowl when the splash shield is in use and is correctly positioned on the rim of a toilet bowl; said shield body having means enabling a user to view through the shield and into the toilet bowl when the shield is operatively positioned on a toilet bowl; a gasket seal affixed to the bottom surface of said marginal edge portion for effecting a seal between said shield and said toilet bowl rim; and adhesive means carried by said shield for releasably securing said shield in place on a toilet bowl.

2. A disposable splash shield as claimed in claim 1, wherein: said shield body is foldable in half about a transverse fold line for compact storage and shipment.

3. A disposable splash shield as claimed in claim 1, wherein: said shield body is transparent, said transparent body comprising said means enabling a user to view into a toilet bowl when said shield is in operative position on a toilet bowl.

4. A disposable splash shield as claimed in claim 1, wherein: said shield body is opaque, and said means enabling a user to view through the shield and into the toilet bowl when the shield is operatively positioned on a toilet bowl comprises an opening through said body, and a transparent sheet secured over said opening.

5. A disposable splash shield as claimed in claim 4, wherein: said shield body is made of cardboard.

6. A disposable splash shield as claimed in claim 1, wherein: said shield body is made of cardboard.

7. A disposable splash shield as claimed in claim 1, wherein: said shield body is made of a transparent plastic material, said transparent plastic material comprising said means enabling a user to view into a toilet bowl when said shield is in operative position on a toilet bowl.

8. A disposable splash shield as claimed in claim 1, wherein: said adhesive means comprises an adhesive band on an underside of said gasket seal.

9. A disposable splash shield as claimed in claim 1, wherein: said adhesive means comprises a plurality of strips of adhesive tape affixed to a marginal edge portion of said shield body for attachment to an adjacent upper outer surface portion of a toilet bowl.

10. A disposable splash shield as claimed in claim 2, wherein: said adhesive means comprises a plurality of strips of adhesive tape affixed to an outer marginal edge portion of said shield body for attachment to an adjacent upper outer surface portion of a toilet bowl.

11. A disposable splash shield as claimed in claim 2, wherein: said shield body is made of cardboard.

12. A disposable splash shield as claimed in claim 8, wherein: a strip of peel-away material is applied to said adhesive band to prevent it from adhering to something until it is desired to use the shield.

13. A disposable splash shield as claimed in claim 9, wherein: a strip of peel-away material is applied to said strips of adhesive tape to prevent them from adhering to something until it is desired to use the shield.

14. A disposable splash shield as claimed in claim 1, wherein: said shield body is made of cardboard and is foldable about a transverse fold line to make it more compact for storage and shipping; said means enabling a user to view through the shield and into the toilet bowl when the shield is operatively positioned on a toilet bowl comprises an opening through said body, and a transparent sheet secured over said opening; and said adhesive means comprises a plurality of strips of adhesive tape affixed to an outer marginal edge portion of said shield body for attachment to an adjacent upper outer surface portion of a toilet bowl.

15. A disposable splash shield as claimed in claim 14, wherein: said shield is part of a kit that includes said shield body, a pair of latex or nitrile rubber gloves, at least one paper towel, and an envelope-like bag, said shield body, said gloves, and said at least one paper towel being packaged in said envelope-like bag for display and sale, and said bag comprising a container for receiving and disposing of said shield body, said gloves, and said at least one paper towel following use thereof.

16. A disposable splash shield as claimed in claim 14, wherein: a plurality of shields are packaged together in an envelope for display and sale.

17. A disposable splash shield kit, comprising: an envelope-like bag; a disposable splash shield packaged in said bag, said shield intended for preventing splashing of water out of a toilet when a plunger is being used to unclog the toilet, and comprising a substantially flat planar shield body having an annular marginal edge portion with a bottom surface adapted to fit on an upper surface of a toilet bowl rim, said shield body being folded in half; a pair of latex or nitrile rubber gloves packaged in said bag with said splash shield; and at least one paper towel packaged in said bag with said gloves and said splash shield, said bag comprising a container for receiving and disposing of said splash shield, said gloves, and said at least one paper towel following use thereof.

18. A kit as claimed in claim 17, wherein: a box in a flattened condition is in said bag, said box being openable to an expanded condition to hold a plunger following use for carrying the plunger to a location to be cleaned.

Description:

TECHNICAL FIELD OF THE INVENTION

This invention relates to apparatus for use in plunging flush toilets, and particularly to a splash shield for preventing splashing of water out of a toilet when a plunger is being used to unclog the toilet.

BACKGROUND ART

Residential and commercial toilets dispose of human waste by using water to flush it through a drainpipe to another location. Most modern flush toilets incorporate an ‘S’ bend or trap that normally remains filled with water to create a water seal that prevents flow of noxious gases back through the toilet. The trap also provides a siphon action that helps accelerate the flushing process. When the toilet is flushed, water fills up the bowl and creates a high pressure area that forces the water past the trap. If the trap should become obstructed, the toilet can overflow when it is flushed. A plunger typically is used to remove the obstruction, but its use can result in splashing of water and other material from the toilet.

Several devices have been developed in the prior art to prevent splashing of water from the toilet when a plunger is being used to remove an obstruction from the toilet. Exemplary of such devices are those shown in U.S. Pat. Nos. 4,458,368, 4,831,669, 4,922,555, 5,706,528, 5,860,170, 6,487,730, 6,594,831 and 7,134,450. These devices either are intended for re-use and are relatively expensive and complex in construction, and/or are difficult to use.

DISCLOSURE OF THE INVENTION

According to one aspect of the invention, a simple, inexpensive, easy to use disposable splash shield is provided to prevent splashing of water from a toilet when a plunger is being used to remove an obstruction from the toilet, said disposable splash shield comprising:

a substantially flat planar shield body having an annular marginal edge portion with a bottom surface adapted to fit on an upper surface of a toilet bowl rim;

means forming an opening through a central portion of said shield body for receiving a plunger handle so that the plunger can be reciprocated relative to the shield without moving the shield away from the rim and destroying the seal, said opening being positioned in said shield body so that it is in substantial alignment with a drain opening from the toilet bowl when the splash shield is in use and is correctly positioned on the rim of a toilet bowl;

said shield body having means enabling a user to view through the shield and into the toilet bowl when the shield is operatively positioned on a toilet bowl;

a gasket seal affixed to the bottom surface of said marginal edge portion for effecting a seal between said shield and said toilet bowl rim; and

releasable adhesive means carried by said shield for releasably securing said shield in place on a toilet bowl.

In one form the releasable adhesive means comprises strips of tape around the periphery of the shield that are pressed downwardly against an upper outer surface of the toilet bowl to hold the shield in place. In another form the releasable adhesive means comprises an adhesive material applied to the underside of the sealing gasket, whereby the marginal edge portion of the shield merely needs to be pressed downwardly against the rim of the toilet bowl.

In a preferred embodiment the shield is made of cardboard having a transparent panel in it so that the user can observe the level of water in the toilet when the shield is being used. In another preferred embodiment the shield is made of a transparent plastic material having sufficient thickness and rigidity to maintain its shape.

In a still further preferred embodiment the shield is foldable so that it can be folded into a smaller configuration for shipping and storage.

According to another aspect of the invention, a kit is provided that includes the splash shield, a pair of latex or nitrile rubber gloves, a box for transporting a plunger to a location to be cleaned after it has been used, and optionally one or more paper towels. The shield, gloves, box and paper towels preferably are packaged together in an envelope-like bag that can be used to dispose of these items following their use. If desired, an inexpensive disposable plunger can be a part of the package.

A further embodiment comprises an envelope containing a plurality of splash shields, with or without gloves or other accessories as described above in the full kit.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

The foregoing, as well as other objects and advantages of the invention, will become apparent from the following detailed description when taken in conjunction with the accompanying drawings, wherein like reference characters designate like parts throughout the several views, and wherein:

FIG. 1 is a top perspective view of an elongated toilet bowl with a transparent plastic splash shield according to a first form of the invention in place over the toilet bowl rim and a plunger in operative position below the shield, with the handle of the plunger received through the slit opening in the shield.

FIG. 2 is a slightly enlarged fragmentary side view in elevation of the toilet bowl and shield of FIG. 1.

FIG. 3 is a top plan view of the shield of FIG. 1.

FIG. 4 is a bottom perspective view of the shield of FIG. 3, showing the protective peel-away strip being removed from the adhesive surface of the gasket seal on the underside of the shield of FIG. 3.

FIG. 5 is an enlarged fragmentary sectional view taken along line 5-5 in FIG. 3.

FIG. 6 is an enlarged fragmentary sectional view similar to FIG. 5, but showing an embodiment wherein the shield is made of cardboard.

FIG. 7 is a top plan view of a splash shield like that of FIG. 1, but with a plurality of strips of adhesive tape spaced around the margin of the shield for securing it in place over the rim of a toilet bowl rather than the continuous band of adhesive on the gasket seal as used in the embodiment of FIG. 1.

FIG. 8 is an enlarged fragmentary side view in elevation of the shield of FIG. 7 secured in place on a toilet bowl.

FIG. 9 is an enlarged fragmentary sectional view taken along line 9-9 in FIG. 7, showing the protective peel-away strip being removed from the adhesive side on one of the strips of adhesive tape in that form of the invention wherein strips of adhesive tape are used in lieu of the adhesive band on the gasket seal.

FIG. 10 is a top plan view of an alternate embodiment of splash shield according to the invention wherein the shield has a round configuration for use on a round toilet bowl, and showing in dot-and-dash lines the strips of adhesive tape that may be used in lieu of the band of adhesive on the underside of the gasket seal.

FIG. 11 is a fragmentary perspective view of the round splash shield of FIG. 10, depicting the protective peel-away strip being removed from the adhesive on the underside of the gasket seal

FIG. 12 is a top plan view of an embodiment of splash shield according to the invention, wherein the shield is made of an opaque material such as cardboard and a viewing cut-out is formed in the shield, covered with a film or sheet of transparent material to enable a person using the shield to see into the toilet bowl.

FIG. 13 is an enlarged fragmentary sectional view taken along line 13-13 in FIG. 12.

FIG. 14 is a bottom perspective view of a further embodiment of the shield of the invention, wherein the shield comprises a layer of cardboard adhesively secured to a layer of plastic.

FIG. 15 is a plan view of a kit according to the invention, wherein a splash shield, gloves, paper towels, and a flattened box are packaged in an envelope-like bag.

FIG. 16 depicts the bag of FIG. 15 being used to dispose of a used shield, towels and gloves, and also showing it being used to carry a plunger to be cleaned or for disposal.

FIG. 17 is a top perspective view showing the box from the package of FIG. 15 in an expanded or opened up condition and being used to carry a used plunger to a location to be cleaned.

FIG. 18 is a plan view of an embodiment wherein a plurality of splash shields is packaged in an envelope.

BEST MODES FOR CARRYING OUT THE INVENTION

A first form of splash shield according to the invention is indicated generally at 10 in FIGS. 1-5. In this form of the invention the shield 11 is made of a transparent plastic material having sufficient thickness and rigidity to maintain its shape when being used, and has an elongated shape to conform to the shape of the rim of an elongated toilet bowl 12. A plurality of slits 13 are made in the shield in a position to be in approximate alignment with the drain opening from the toilet bowl when the shield is in operative position, and a gasket seal 14 extends around the margin of the shield on its underside. The gasket seal mates with the rim of the toilet bowl to effect a good seal between the shield and the toilet bowl.

In one embodiment the underside of the gasket seal has an adhesive 15 applied to it, either in the form of double sided tape or a coating of adhesive on the gasket seal. In either case, a protective peel-away strip 16 of paper or other material known in the art for this purpose preferably is applied to the adhesive to prevent it from adhering to something until ready for use. The peel-away strip is then removed, as shown in FIG. 4.

As seen best in FIG. 2, the edge 17 of the shield 11 could project slightly beyond the outer surface of the toilet bowl to provide an edge under which the fingers can be placed to facilitate lifting of the shield from the bowl when desired.

In a preferred embodiment the shield is foldable in half about a hinge line 18 for more compact shipping and storage and to minimize dripping of waste water onto the floor when the shield is removed from the rim of the toilet bowl, as explained more fully hereinafter.

The enlarged fragmentary sectional view of FIG. 5 shows the gasket seal 14, adhesive 15 and peel-away strip 16 applied to a plastic splash shield 11, and the enlarged fragmentary sectional view of FIG. 6 shows the gasket seal 14, adhesive 15 and peel-away strip 16 applied to a splash shield 11′ made of cardboard. These two forms of the invention are identical except for the fact that shield 11′ is made of cardboard and the shield 11 is made of plastic.

FIGS. 7, 8 and 9 show an embodiment 10A wherein the adhesive layer 15 on the underside of the gasket seal is omitted, and in lieu thereof strips 19 of adhesive tape are spaced around the periphery of the shield for securing it in place on the rim of a toilet bowl. Four such strips of tape are shown in FIG. 7, but any number could be used, as desired or necessary. Alternatively, both forms of adhesive securing means could be provided in combination, if desired.

As depicted in FIG. 9, the strips of adhesive tape preferably have a protective peel-away strip 20 applied to the adhesive side to prevent the strips of tape from adhering to objects until ready for use. In use, the shield is positioned on the rim of the toilet bowl, the peel-away strips are removed, and the strips of tape pulled downwardly and pressed against the outside of the toilet bowl to secure the shield in place.

FIGS. 10 and 11 show another embodiment 10B, wherein the shield 22 is round rather than elongated as in the first form of the invention. In all other respects this form of the invention is the same as that previously described, and preferably has a gasket seal 23 on its underside to engage against the top surface of the rim of a toilet bowl, with either an adhesive applied to the underside of the gasket seal and/or strips of adhesive tape 24 spaced around the margin of the shield.

A further embodiment 10C is shown in FIGS. 12 and 13, wherein the shield 30 is made of an opaque material such as cardboard rather than the transparent plastic of the first form described above. The use of a cardboard material is advantageous in that it will absorb some of the water that splashes onto it, minimizing dripping when the shield is removed from the toilet. Otherwise, and with the exception of the viewing opening described below, this form of the invention is essentially identical to the forms described above. As shown in FIG. 12 the shield is round as in the FIG. 10 embodiment, but it could have an elongated configuration as in the FIG. 1 embodiment. In order to enable the user to see into the bowl when an opaque shield is used, an opening 31 is made through the shield and a transparent film or sheet 32 is secured over the opening. Slits 13 are formed through the sheet to form an opening for receiving the handle of a plunger.

Another embodiment is indicated generally at 10D in FIG. 14. In this embodiment a layer of cardboard 40 is laminated with a plastic layer 41, both of which extend over the full area of the shield. As in the FIG. 12 embodiment, an opening 31 is formed through the cardboard so that the user can see through the shield into the toilet. The transparent plastic layer 41 covers the opening and is slit at 13 to accommodate the handle of a plunger. A separate gasket seal 14 may be applied to the underside of the cardboard layer at its outer margin as indicated by dot-and-dash lines. However, since the bottom surface of the shield comprises cardboard, the gasket seal could be omitted if desired. Alternatively, a band of releasable adhesive could be applied on a bottom marginal portion of the cardboard layer to secure the shield in position on a toilet bowl rim as in the FIG. 1 embodiment. Strips of adhesive as in the FIG. 7 embodiment could be used in lieu of the band of adhesive.

A flexible strap 45 can be secured to a top surface of any of the forms of the shield disclosed herein to serve as a handle to lift the shield, if desired. The handle can comprise any suitable material, including plastic, and may be secured with adhesive or other suitable means. The handle is shown in full lines in FIGS. 1 and 2, and in dot-and-dash lines (as an optional feature) in FIGS. 7, 8 and 10.

In addition to its more compact size for shipping and storage, the use of a foldable shield as described can be advantageous because the plunger can be used to lift the shield when it is removed from the toilet bowl, resulting in the opposite sides of the shield folding downwardly about the plunger, thereby helping to reduce dripping of soiled water from the shield onto the floor.

A disposable splash shield kit incorporating a shield according to the invention is shown at 50 in FIG. 15. The kit comprises an envelope-like bag 51 in which are packaged a shield 11 (shown folded in half), a pair of latex or nitrile rubber gloves 52, one or more paper towels 53, and a small flattened or collapsed cardboard box 54. The bag preferably has an eyelet 55 in one end, and a frangible tear line 56 to enable the bag to be opened to gain access to the contents.

After the shield has been used, the shield, gloves, and used paper towels may be returned to the bag 51 for disposal, as depicted in FIG. 16. If a disposable plunger has been used it may also be placed in the bag as shown. If the plunger is not to be disposed of, the box 54 can be opened up and the plunger placed in the box as depicted in FIG. 17 so that the plunger can be carried to a location to be cleaned without dripping soiled water onto the floor.

FIG. 18 shows an embodiment 50′ wherein a plurality of splash shields 11 are packaged in the envelope 51′, without gloves or other accessories provided in the package. Any number of shields may be included, but 5-10 are contemplated. Further, the full kit shown in FIG. 15 may include a plurality of splash shields, if desired.

The invention is usable with any type of plunger, and may be adapted to any shape and size of toilet. Although cardboard and transparent plastic have been disclosed as preferred materials, it should be understood that other materials could be used as long as they are suitable for the intended purpose. The kit may include a disposable plunger or sold without a plunger included, as desired.

Although particular embodiments of the invention are illustrated and described in detail herein, it is to be understood that various changes and modifications may be made to the invention without departing from the spirit and intent of the invention as defined by the scope of the appended claims.