CROSS-REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATIONS
This application claims priority to, and the benefit of, U.S. Provisional Patent Application Serial No.: 60/295,702, entitled “TANK VALVE” and filed on Jun. 4, 2001, which is hereby incorporated by reference in its entirety.
- BACKGROUND INFORMATION
The present invention relates to toilet valves.
Water conservation is an important issue in many communities due to population growth and severe weather conditions. Thus, it is desirable to conserve water as much as possible during our daily activities. One daily activity that consumes a large quantity of water is the flushing of toilets. Many toilets consume 10 to 12 liters or more of water during each flush.
Conventional toilets typically include a bowl which is adapted to receive liquid and solid waste, and a deposit or tank which provides a reservoir of water for flushing the waste from the bowl. A tank valve assembly is often mounted in the tank which is operated by the user to initiate the flushing of the bowl. By operation of an actuation mechanism, such as a lever, the tank valve opens to release water from the tank into the bowl and closes when the amount of water left in the tank reaches a predetermined level. Such flush systems use a full tank of water to flush down both liquid waste and solid waste.
- SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION
Such methods of flushing a toilet may be unsatisfactory in a number of respects. For example, there is no ability for the user to select a volume that may be desirable for flushing the toilet. Stated another way, there is no ability to have flushes of different volumes in a single system. The quantity of water necessary to flush down liquid waste and low density products such as toilet paper, is less than the amount of water required to flush down higher density solid waste. Thus, water may be wasted whenever liquid waste is flushed, as more water than is necessary is used to flush the liquid waste, resulting in an inefficient use of water. In addition, it may be desirable to have a water flush volume that is larger than normal for waste that is difficult to flush.
BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS
While the way in which the present invention addresses the disadvantages of the prior art will be discussed in greater detail below, in general, the present invention provides for a flush system that includes a tank valve assembly that permits a user to select a pre-determined flush water volume from a plurality of flush water volumes when flushing a toilet. In accordance with one embodiment of the present invention, the tank valve assembly includes a primary body assembly having a first aperture and a second aperture, wherein the first aperture is positioned at a different height on the primary body assembly than the second aperture. The tank valve assembly further includes a first valve configured to cover the first aperture and a second valve configured to cover the second aperture.
A more complete understanding of the present invention may be derived by referring to the detailed description when considered in connection with the figures, where like reference numbers refer to similar elements throughout the figures, and:
FIG. 1 illustrates, in cross-section, a conventional flush system;
FIG. 2 illustrates, in cross-section, an exemplary flush system in accordance with one embodiment of the present invention;
FIG. 3 illustrates, in cross-section, an exemplary flush system in one mode of operation in accordance with certain aspects of the present invention;
FIG. 4 illustrates, in cross-section, an exemplary flush system in a second mode of operation in accordance with certain aspects of the present invention;
FIG. 5 illustrates, in cross-section, an exemplary flush system in accordance with a further embodiment of the present invention;
FIG. 6 illustrates, in cross-section, an exemplary flush system in accordance with a further embodiment of the present invention; and
DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF EXEMPLARY EMBODIMENTS
FIG. 7 illustrates, in perspective, an exemplary valve body assembly in accordance with a further embodiment of the present invention.
The present invention may be described in terms of various functional components and various processing steps. Such functional components may be realized by any number of hardware or structural components configured to perform the specified functions. Such general techniques and components that are known to those skilled in the art are not described in detail herein. To understand the various operational sequences of the present invention, an exemplary description is provided. However, the following example is for illustration purposes only and the present invention is not limited to the embodiments disclosed.
Generally, referring to FIG. 1, a typical flush system 100 includes a tank 120 and a bowl 130. An overflow pipe 110 is housed within tank 120 and extends vertically within the tank. Overflow pipe 110 has a discharge end 112 that extends into bowl 130 for directing water received in pipe 110 from tank 120 to bowl 130. Flush system 100 further includes an inlet valve 170 that connects to an external water supply and provides an inlet for water to flow into tank 120. Float ball 180 is used to control the flow of water from inlet valve 170 into tank 120. When flush system 100 is activated by pressing down on actuator 160, actuator arm 162 pulls up on chain 150 which causes valve 140 to open. Water then flows through discharge end 112 and flushes bowl 130. Once the water level in tank 160 reaches water level 195, valve 140 closes over discharge end 112 and water fills tank 160 until water level 190 is reached.
In accordance with one embodiment of the present invention, referring to FIG. 2, flush system 200 includes a tank valve assembly 240 that may be disposed in discharge end 112 for controlling the flow of water from tank 120 to bowl 130.
Tank valve assembly 240 has a primary body assembly 235 that may be made from any suitable material such as polyvinyl chloride (PVC) and the like. A first water aperture 242 (see FIG. 3) is formed in the primary body assembly 235 and is controlled by a first valve 244. First valve 244 comprises any suitable component, such as a flapper or tank ball, configured to control the flow of water through water aperture 242.
Similarly, tank valve assembly 240 further includes a second water aperture 252 (see FIG. 4) controlled by a second valve 254. Second valve 254 may comprise any suitable component, such as a flapper or tank ball, configured to control the flow of water through water aperture 252. In accordance with one embodiment of the present invention, valves 244 and 254 have spaced apart support arms pivotally supported by the tank valve assembly to allow pivoting of the valves 244 and 254 between open and closed positions.
Flush system 200 suitably includes an actuator or flush control handle 160 for selectively controlling the first and second valves 244 and 254 for two modes of operation as described below. In accordance with one embodiment of the present invention, actuator 160 is driveably attached to an actuator arm 162 which is connected by a first flexible chain 264 to first valve 244. Flexible chain 264 may comprise any suitable flexible line such as a thin metal chain and the like. Chain 264 has a predetermined length providing a desired amount of slack such that first valve 244 remains closed when actuator 160 is not pressed down. Pressing down on actuator 160 causes flexible chain 264 to pull first valve 244 such that first water aperture 242 opens. Alternatively, other motions may be used to manipulate actuator 160 such as a rotating motion, a motion that results in actuator pulling out from tank 120, or any other motion that may be used to cause actuator 160 to control the opening and closing of valve 244.
In accordance with a further aspect of the present invention, first valve 244 is attached to second valve 254 by a second flexible chain 266. Flexible chain 266 may comprise any suitable flexible line such as a thin metal chain and the like. Chain 266 has a predetermined length providing a desired amount of slack such that second valve 254 may remain closed when first valve 244 is opened by an initial pressing down of actuator 160. But the length of chain 266 may be configured such that a further pressing down of actuator 160 will cause second valve 254 to open, resulting in first and second valves 244 and 254 being open.
As mentioned briefly in the Background section, prior art flush systems are unsatisfactory in that the user is not provided with any real control over the amount of water used to flush waste, resulting in an inefficient usage of water as more water than is necessary is used to flush liquid waste. In accordance with various aspects of the present invention, flush system 200 may operate in two modes selectable by a user of the system, such that a first volume of water may be used to flush liquid and other low density waste such as toilet paper, and a second, larger, volume of water may be used to flush higher density, solid waste.
Pressing down on actuator 160 to a first position, causes first chain 264 to pull first valve 244 to open the first water aperture 242, while the second water aperture 252 remains closed by second valve 254 as illustrated in FIG. 3. Opening the first water aperture 242, allows water to flow from tank 100 into bowl 130 via the water aperture 242. While first water aperture 242 is open, the water level in tank 100 drops from water level 300 to water level 310. In this manner, a predetermined amount of water may be used to flush bowl 130 by pressing down on actuator 160 such that first valve 244 is open while second valve 254 remains closed.
In a second mode of operation, actuator 160 may be pressed down such that first chain 264 pulls first valve 244 open, and first valve 244 pulls on second chain 266 which pulls opens second valve 254 uncovering first and second water apertures 242, 252 as illustrated in FIG. 4. Opening the first and second water aperture 242, 252 allows water to flow from tank 100 into bowl 130 via the water apertures. While the water apertures are open, the water level in tank 100 drops from water level 400 to water level 410. In this manner, a predetermined amount of water may be used to flush bowl 130 by pressing down on actuator 160 such that first and second valves 244, 254 are pulled open.
In the first mode of operation where only first valve 244 is open, a smaller amount of water is used to flush bowl 130 than in the second mode of operation where first and second valves 244, 254 are open. This effect is due to the location of valves 244, 254. As first valve 244 is higher than second valve 254, less water will drain from tank 120 when only first valve 244 is open.
In accordance with another aspect of the present invention, tank valve assembly 240 may be easily installed in, and removed from, a conventional toilet that has a tank such as tank 120. Tank valve assembly 240 may be installed in tank 120 without any modification of the tank. First, remove the standard flapper 140 and chain 150 (if present) from tank 120. Next, place tank valve assembly 240 in discharge end 112. Finally, connect chain 264 to actuator arm 162 and the installation is complete.
Similarly, tank valve assembly 240 is easily removed from tank 120 by disconnecting chain 264 from actuator arm 162 and lifting tank valve assembly from discharge end 112 of overflow pipe 110. A standard flapper 140 can then be connected to actuator arm 162 by a chain 150 and used to control the flow of water from tank 120 to bowl 130 through discharge end 112 as illustrated in FIG. 1.
In an alternate embodiment, illustrated in FIG. 5, chains 564 and 566 connect to actuator arm 162. Chain 564 connects to first valve 244 and actuator arm 162, and chain 566 connects to second valve 254 and actuator arm 162. Chains 564 and 566 have a different length and slack such that first valve 244 may be pulled up by chain 564 while second valve 254 remains closed due to the excess slack in chain 566. Chains 564 and 566 may be connected to actuator arm 162 so that chain 566 is positioned further away from actuator 160 than chain 564. Alternatively, chains 564 and 566 may be connected to actuator arm 162 so that chain 566 is positioned closer to actuator 160 than chain 564.
Actuator arm 162, when activated by actuator 160, pulls up on chains 564 and 566. Depending upon the amount of pressure used to push on actuator 160, either one of or both of valves 244, 254 may be pulled up. If less pressure is used, then only valve 244 may be pulled up, resulting in a smaller flush water volume. If more pressure is used on actuator 160 by the user, both valves 244, 254 will be pulled up by chains 564, 566, resulting in a larger flush water volume.
In accordance with various aspects of the present invention, multiple valves may be interconnected in any number of ways. Two or more valves may be used to produce two or more flush water volume settings for selection by the user of flush system 200. The valves maybe interconnected such that the movement of each valve is dependent on the movement of the other valves. Alternatively, the valve may be connected independently to an actuator arm or the like, such that each valve moves independently of the other valves. In addition, the valves may be connected sequentially, such that the valves open one at a time in a sequential order.
In accordance with still further aspects of the present invention, user selection of pre-determined flush water volumes may be accomplished by using one or more tanks that are divided into regions that hold different volumes of water. For example, one region may be small so that a small flush water volume may be selected if desired. Alternatively, another region may be large so that a larger flush water volume may be selected if desired by the user.
In a further embodiment, illustrated in FIG. 6, tank valve assembly 240 has two body elements 241, 243 such that first element 241 can be adjusted at different heights to allow for different flush water volumes. First element 241 may be attached to overflow pipe 110, such that first element 241 is separate from second element 243. Second element 243 may be disposed in discharge end 112. Optionally, second element 243 may also be attached to overflow pipe 110.
In a still further embodiment, illustrated in FIG. 7, primary body assembly 700 may comprise a single assembly that includes a first water aperture 710, a second water aperture 720, and a pivot arm 730. A first and second valve (not shown in FIG. 7) may be pivotally attached to pivot arm 730 such that one valve covers the first water aperture and the other valve covers the second water aperture. Primary body assembly 700 may be disposed in tank 120 in a manner similar to the previous embodiments, so that water flows through apertures 710, 720 (if uncovered) and into bowl 130 through discharge end 112. Optionally, primary body assembly 700 may be attached to overflow pipe 110 for additional support, so that body assembly 700 is integral with overflow pipe 110.
The present invention has been described above with reference to an exemplary embodiment. However, changes and modifications may be made to the exemplary embodiment without departing from the scope of the present invention. For example, more than two valves may be used, or multiple tank regions with different size volumes may be used. These alternatives can be suitably selected depending upon the particular application or in consideration of any number of factors associated with the operation of the system. These and other changes or modifications are intended to be included within the scope of the present invention.