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Publication numberUS20070174959 A1
Publication typeApplication
Application numberUS 11/627,420
Publication dateAug 2, 2007
Filing dateJan 26, 2007
Priority dateJan 31, 2006
Also published asCA2638030A1, EP1984577A2, WO2007090039A2, WO2007090039A3
Publication number11627420, 627420, US 2007/0174959 A1, US 2007/174959 A1, US 20070174959 A1, US 20070174959A1, US 2007174959 A1, US 2007174959A1, US-A1-20070174959, US-A1-2007174959, US2007/0174959A1, US2007/174959A1, US20070174959 A1, US20070174959A1, US2007174959 A1, US2007174959A1
InventorsMark Golightly Sanders, Thomas F. Reynolds, Gerald Cox, Wayne Streble
Original AssigneeMark Golightly Sanders, Reynolds Thomas F, Gerald Cox, Wayne Streble
Export CitationBiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan
External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet
Water recycling device
US 20070174959 A1
Abstract
A water recycling system utilizes gray water from a gray water source, such as a bathroom sink, to flush a toilet.
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Claims(20)
1. A water recycling device, comprising:
a gray water reservoir disposed to receive and collect gray water from a gray water source;
a toilet water tank including a toilet float valve controlling incoming potable water to said tank:
a pump:
a gray water line in communication with said pump, said gray water reservoir, and said toilet water tank, such that said pump transfers gray water from said gray water reservoir to said toilet water tank through said gray water line;
a pivoting seesaw mechanism mounted in said toilet water tank, said seesaw mechanism including first and second arms mounted so as to pivot together about a pivot point fixed relative to said toilet water tank, wherein said first arm includes a receptacle which receives gray water from said gray water reservoir, and said second arm cooperates with said toilet float valve so that, when said first arm receptacle is filled with water, the weight of the water pivots said second arm into position to maintain said toilet float valve in a closed position: and
a switch that activates said pump in response to the pivoting movement of said pivoting seesaw mechanism.
2. A water recycling device as recited in claim 1, and further comprising a timer control circuit that shuts off said pump after a certain time period.
3. A water recycling device as recited in claim 2, wherein said timer control circuit includes means for shutting off said pump after a short time period if said receptacle for receiving gray water is not filled during said short time period and means for allowing said pump to run for a longer time period if said receptacle is filled with gray water during said short time period.
4. A water recycling device as recited in claim 1, wherein said switch is a snap-action switch.
5. A water recycling device as recited in claim 4, and further comprising a cam on the pivot point of said seesaw mechanism that contacts said snap-action switch.
6. A water recycling device as recited in claim 1, wherein said switch is an infrared switch, including means for detecting the position of said pivoting seesaw mechanism.
7. A water recycling device as recited in claim 3, wherein said timer control circuit includes means for adjusting the length of said longer time period.
8. A water recycling device as recited in claim 1, and further comprising:
a frame defining a left side and a right side, wherein said seesaw mechanism is pivotally attached to said frame;
an elongated bar having a left end and a right end and slidably received by said frame for sliding in the left-to-right direction; and
means for fixing the elongated bar to said frame to prevent said elongated bar from sliding.
9. A water recycling device as recited in claim 8, wherein said toilet tank includes a back wall, and further comprising a mounting bracket for hanging said frame on said back wall of said toilet tank, including means for adjusting the height of said seesaw mechanism within said toilet tank.
10. A water recycling device as recited in claim 1, and further comprising a toilet bowl, a hollow bolt, and a nut, wherein said hollow bolt cooperates with said nut to secure said toilet bowl and said toilet tank together and said gray water line passes through said hollow bolt.
11. A water recycling device, comprising:
a gray water reservoir disposed to receive and collect gray water from a gray water source;
a toilet, including a toilet water tank defining a potable water inlet;
a toilet float valve which controls the flow of incoming potable water to said tank;
a pump;
a gray water line in communication with said pump, said gray water reservoir, and said toilet water tank, such that said pump transfers gray water from said gray water reservoir to said toilet water tank through said gray water line; and
a timer control circuit electrically connecting said pump to a power supply, and including:
a first timed relay that is energized in response to flushing said toilet, activating said pump for an initial time period; and
a second timed relay that is energized in response to gray water being pumped into said toilet tank during said initial time period, keeping said pump activated for a secondary time period.
12. A water recycling device as recited in claim 11, wherein said secondary time interval is set to fill said toilet tank to a desired fill level.
13. A water recycling device, comprising:
a gray water reservoir disposed to receive and collect gray water from a gray water source;
a toilet including a bowl and a tank, said tank defining a potable water inlet;
a first hollow bolt extending through said tank and said bowl and securing said tank and said bowl together:
a pump; and
a first gray water line in fluid communication with said pump, said gray water reservoir, said hollow bolt, and said tank, such that said pump transfers gray water from said gray water reservoir, through said first gray water line and said hollow bolt, and into said tank.
14. A water recycling system as recited in claim 13, wherein said tank has a bottom, said hollow bolt extends through the bottom of said tank, and said first gray water line terminates inside said tank at a height substantially above said bottom.
15. A water recycling system as recited in claim 13, and further comprising:
a second hollow bolt extending through said tank and said bowl and securing said tank and said bowl together: and
a second gray water line providing fluid communication from said gray water reservoir through said second hollow bolt into said tank.
16. A water recycling system as recited in claim 13, and further comprising:
a toilet float valve for controlling the flow of water through said potable water inlet; and
a pivoting seesaw mechanism mounted in said toilet water tank and including a first arm including a receptacle and a second arm in communication with said toilet float valve, so that, when said first arm receptacle is filled with water, the weight of the water pivots said second arm into position to maintain said toilet float valve in a closed position; wherein said first gray water line supplies gray water to said receptacle.
17. A water recycling system as recited in claim 13, wherein said gray water source is a bathroom sink, and further comprising:
a drain line from said sink, said drain line splitting into first and second legs, said first leg going to said gray water reservoir and said second leg going to a P-trap and then on to a sewer line; and
a diverter in said drain line, said diverter splitting the water flow from said bathroom sink drain line so that some water flows into each of said first and second legs.
18. A toilet filling system as recited in claim 17, and further comprising a tablet dispenser holding at least one sanitizing tablet, said tablet dispenser in fluid communication with said first leg of said drain line for sanitizing gray water from said sink prior to entering said gray water reservoir.
19. A method of installing a water saver unit in a toilet tank, comprising the steps of:
providing a standard toilet tank including left, right, front and rear walls and containing a toilet float valve;
hanging a water saver unit on the back wall of said toilet tank, said water saver unit including a frame and an elongated bar slidably received by said frame for sliding in the left-to-right direction;
moving said water saver unit along the back wall of said toilet tank until the left end of said elongated bar is aligned with the toilet float valve; then
sliding the elongated bar to the right relative to said frame until the right end of said elongated bar abuts the right wall of said toilet tank; and then
fixing the position of said elongated bar relative to said frame.
20. A method of installing a water saver unit in a toilet tank as recited in claim 19, and further comprising the step of adjusting the vertical position of said water saver unit in said tank.
Description
BACKGROUND

This application claims priority from U.S. Provisional Application Ser. No. 60/763,838, filed on Jan. 31, 2006, which is hereby incorporated herein by reference. The present invention relates to a water recycling system. More particularly, it relates to a water recycling system that uses gray water from a bathroom sink or some other household source to fill a toilet tank.

U.S. Pat. No. 6,276,005, which is hereby incorporated herein by reference, describes a water recycling system that uses gray water from a bathroom sink to fill a toilet tank. That system collects water from the sink into a reservoir, and the gray water in the reservoir is pumped to the toilet tank whenever the system senses that the toilet tank is empty, thus conserving fresh water. The toilet tank is supplemented with normal potable water when the gray water does not supply all its requirements.

SUMMARY

One embodiment of a device made in accordance with the present invention provides several improvements to the water recycling system described in the '005 patent. The improvements include incorporating a disinfecting tablet dispenser, using hollow tank bolts to make it easier to route the gray water into the toilet tank, and having an electrical control system connected to the reservoir pump to control water flow.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

FIG. 1 is a schematic view of an example of a water recycling system made in accordance with the present invention;

FIG. 2 is a side view of the gray water reservoir and disinfecting tablet dispenser of the water recycling system of FIG. 1;

FIG. 2A is a sectional view of the tee in FIG. 2;

FIG. 3 is a side view of one of the hollow bolts used in the water recycling system of FIG. 1;

FIG. 4 is a broken away sectional view through the toilet showing the hollow bolt of FIG. 3 connecting a toilet tank and toilet bowl together;

FIG. 5 is a sectional view of the toilet tank of FIG. 1;

FIG. 6 is a front elevation view of one embodiment of a fill control unit used in the water recycling system of FIG. 1;

FIG. 6A is rear elevation view of the fill control unit of FIG. 6;

FIG. 6B is a detailed view of the portion 6B circled in FIG. 6A;

FIG. 7 is a broken away plan view of the fill control unit of FIG. 6;

FIG. 7A is a view taken along line 7A-7A of FIG. 6;

FIG. 8 is a plan view of the fill control unit of FIG. 6 in the process of being installed in a toilet tank;

FIG. 9 is a plan view of the fill control unit of FIG. 6 installed in a toilet tank;

FIG. 10 is a view taken along line 10-10 of FIG. 7;

FIG. 11 is a view taken along line 11-11 of FIG. 8;

FIG. 12 is a schematic view of a toilet tank with a first embodiment of the water recycling system installed, and with the toilet in the default position awaiting a toilet flush;

FIG. 13 is a schematic view of a first embodiment of a control system, including a circuit board, made in accordance with the present invention as it is in the default position awaiting a toilet flush as in FIG. 12;

FIG. 14 is a schematic view of the toilet tank and water recycling system of FIG. 12 just after the toilet has been flushed;

FIG. 15 is a schematic view of the control system of FIG. 13 just after the toilet has been flushed;

FIG. 16 is a schematic view of the toilet tank and water recycling system of FIG. 12 during the initial stage of filling the toilet tank with gray water;

FIG. 17 is a schematic view of the control system of FIG. 13 during the initial stage of filling the toilet tank with gray water;

FIG. 18 is a schematic view of the toilet tank and water recycling system of FIG. 12 as it moves from the initial to the secondary tank filling stage;

FIG. 19 is a schematic view of the control system of FIG. 13 as it moves from the initial to the secondary tank filling stage;

FIG. 20 is a schematic view of the toilet tank and water recycling system of FIG. 12 during the secondary tank filling stage;

FIG. 21 is a schematic view of the control system of FIG. 13 during the secondary tank filling stage;

FIG. 22 is a schematic view of the toilet tank and water recycling system of FIG. 12 after the secondary tank filling stage, with the toilet tank and water recycling system back in the default position;

FIG. 23 is a schematic view of the control system of FIG. 13 after the secondary tank filling stage, with the toilet tank and water recycling system back in the default position;

FIG. 24 is a schematic view of the toilet tank and water recycling system of FIG. 12 after the toilet has been flushed when there is no gray water in the reservoir to fill the tank;

FIG. 25 is a schematic view of the control system of FIG. 13 corresponding to the situation of FIG. 24;

FIG. 26 is a schematic view of a second embodiment of a control system, including an infrared switch, made in accordance with the present invention as it is in the default position awaiting a toilet flush as in FIG. 12;

FIG. 27 is a schematic view of the control system of FIG. 26 just after the toilet has been flushed; and

FIG. 28 is a perspective view of the infrared switch of FIG. 26.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION

FIG. 1 shows a water recycling system 10 installed in a bathroom with a sink 12 and toilet 14. The system 10 includes a gray water reservoir 16, a pump 13 inside the reservoir 16, a control unit 20 inside the toilet tank 14A, a tablet dispenser 30 for disinfecting the gray water as it goes into the reservoir 16, and hoses and piping to connect the parts together.

The system 10 collects water from the sink 12 into a gray water reservoir 16 and pumps the gray water into the toilet tank 14A, where it is used for flushing. Inside the toilet tank 14A, the control unit 20 includes a seesaw mechanism 11 (best shown in FIGS. 6 and 6A) that interacts with the existing toilet float 21 and toilet float valve 31. The toilet float 21 and toilet float valve 31 are standard parts of the toilet that control the flow of fresh, potable water that enters the tank from the fresh water supply line 18. When the float 21 is lowered, the float valve 31 is open, and fresh water enters the tank. When the float 21 is raised, the float valve 31 is closed, and the flow of fresh water stops. By having a seesaw mechanism 11 that interacts with the toilet float 21, the system 10 not only pumps gray water collected from the sink 12 to the toilet 14; it simultaneously controls the flow of fresh, potable water entering the toilet tank 14A through the fresh water supply line 18. Thus, the system conserves fresh, potable water. Of course, the water recycling system alternatively could be used with other gray water sources besides a bathroom sink, such as a shower, washing machine, or the like.

As best shown in FIG. 2, the system 10 shown in this embodiment is retrofitted to the existing sewage pipe 33 of the sink 12 via a tee 35. The majority of the water from the sink 12 flows through the tee 35, then through a drainage pipe 32, a tablet dispenser 30, and into the gray water reservoir 16. However, some of the water is diverted into the sewage pipe 33 by means of a baffle 35A on the interior of the tee 35. The baffle 35A (shown in FIGS. 2 and 2A) is angled downwardly toward the sewage pipe 33 in order to divert some of the water coming from the sink to the sewage pipe 33 to keep the P-trap 33A in the sewage pipe 33 primed with water. If no water flowed into the sewage pipe 33, the water in the P-trap 33A could eventually evaporate over time, allowing sewage gases to back up into the bathroom through the sink. The baffle ensures that the water in the P-trap 33A is replenished.

Although not shown, other means for diverting water into the sewage pipe could be used. For instance, a valve could be used in place of the baffle 35A, or the pipes could be angled or otherwise configured to ensure that some water flows to the sewage pipe 33, while most of the water flows to the reservoir 16.

If the gray water reservoir 16 completely fills up with water, the water fills up to the tee 35 and overflows into the sewage pipe 33. As a result, the sewage pipe 33 is available as an alternate passageway to drain surplus gray water, preventing gray water from backing up into the sink 12.

Between the sink drainage pipe 32 and the gray water reservoir 16 is a disinfecting tablet dispenser 30. The tablet dispenser 30 is used to disinfect the gray water as it flows into the reservoir 16. The dispenser 30 has a threaded, removable cap 34, and disinfecting tablets 36 are placed inside the dispenser 30 by removing the cap 34, inserting the tablets 36, and then replacing the cap 34. The disinfecting tablets 36 in this case are tablets that are typically used in swimming pools and spas, and the tablets contain chlorine. Of course, other known sanitizing ingredients alternatively could be used.

In this case, the dispenser 30 is shown holding three disc-shaped tablets 36 stacked directly on top of each other. As water travels from the sink 12, through the dispenser 30, to the gray water reservoir 16, it washes over the tablets 36, washing some chlorine into the reservoir 16 to disinfect the gray water in the reservoir 16. The tablets 36 do not remain submerged as is normally the case for disinfecting tablets inside a toilet tank but rather remain dry until water from the sink 12 passes over them. As a result, the tablets 36 last a long time while still providing sufficient disinfectant to the reservoir 16. Three tablets typically last over a year when used for a bathroom sink under typical use by two people.

As shown in FIG. 1, the reservoir 16 includes a screen or filter 15 that separates the reservoir into two sections. In this embodiment, water from the sink 12 enters on the right side of the filter 15, and there is a pump 13 on the left side of the filter. The pump 13 pumps water from the reservoir 16 to the tank 14A of the toilet 14 via a primary gray water supply hose 50, and hollow bolts 40A, 40B provide passageways for the water into the toilet tank 14A. Inside the tank 14A, gray water is routed to the toilet overflow tube 60 of the toilet 14 and to the fill control unit 20. The fill control unit 20 controls the flow of gray water by activating or deactivating the pump 13 (as will be explained in detail later), and it controls the flow of fresh water by raising or lowering the regular toilet float 21 on the toilet float valve 31 (as will also be explained in detail later). A control module 73, mounted to the top of the gray water reservoir 16, houses a circuit board 74 (shown in FIGS. 13-27) that controls the activity of the pump 13, as will also be explained in greater detail later.

FIGS. 3-5 show the hollow threaded bolts 40 (40A, 40B) used in the water recycling system 10. The threaded bolts 40 (40A, 40B) replace the regular bolts used to connect the toilet tank 14A to the toilet bowl 14B, and as previously mentioned, they provide gray water inlet passageways into the toilet tank 14A from the reservoir 16. As shown in FIGS. 3 and 4, each hollow bolt 40 includes an inside end 41 with a head 42 on the inside of the toilet tank 14A and an outside end 43 with a nut 44 on the outside of the toilet bowl 14B. Each bolt 40 is threaded through its central portion and has barbs on its ends 41, 43. As shown in FIG. 4, the nut 44 is threaded onto the bolt 40 for tightening the tank 14A and toilet bowl 14B together. In this case, a rubber washer 46 is used inside the toilet tank 14A between the head 42 and bottom wall of the toilet tank 14A to create a watertight seal, and a metal washer 48 is used on the outside of the toilet tank 14A between the nut 44 and the wall of the toilet bowl 14B. The inside and outside ends 41, 43 of the hollow bolts 40 have barbed fittings for engaging with flexible hosing, as will be explained in detail shortly. Thus, as used in this system, the hollow bolts 40 both secure the tank 14A to the bowl 14B and provide passageways for gray water to enter the tank 14A.

FIGS. 1 and 5 show a pair of the hollow threaded bolts 40A, 40B installed on the toilet 14 as part of the water recycling system 10. As shown in FIG. 1, a primary gray water supply hose 50 extends from the pump 13 in the gray water reservoir 16 to the toilet tank 14. Near the toilet 14, the primary gray water supply hose 50 splits into left and right gray water supply hose legs 50A, 50B via a tee connection 52. As best shown in FIG. 5, the left gray water supply hose leg 50A is secured to the outside end 43A of the left hollow bolt 40A, and the right gray water supply hose leg 50B is secured to the outside end 43B of the right hollow bolt 40B.

On the inside of the toilet tank 14A, an extension 50B of the right gray water supply hose 50B is secured to the inside end 41B of the right hollow bolt 40B. The right extension 50B′ extends upwardly to an inlet port 26B (shown in FIG. 6) on the fill control unit 20. The gray water flows from the inlet port 26B to a balance cup 23 on one side of the seesaw mechanism 11 of the fill control unit 20, which will be explained in greater detail later. The inside end 41A of left hollow bolt 40A is connected to an extension 50A′ of the left gray water supply hose 50A, which, in turn, is connected to a tee 55. The tee 55 splits the water flow between a first path 54A going to an inlet port 26A of the fill control unit 20 and a second path 54B going to the toilet overflow tube 60. (The toilet overflow tube 60 is a standard part of the toilet which allows water to flow into the toilet bowl 14B, and water typically fills the bowl 14B through the overflow tube 60 at the same time that the tank 14A is filled, as is well known in the art).

Like the ends 41, 43 of the hollow bolts 40, the tee 55 and the inlet ports 26A, 26B have barbed fittings for engaging the respective hoses. Alternatively, the hoses could be clamped in place, or threaded connections or other known types of connections could be used. In the case of the hollow bolts 40, the supply hoses alternatively could pass through the inside of the bolts. In that case, there would be a seal between the hose and the bolt to prevent leakage.

As best shown in FIG. 1, the pump 13 pumps gray water from the reservoir 16, through the common gray water supply hose 50, through the hoses 50A, 50B, through the hollow bolts 40A, 40B, through the hose extensions 50A′, 50B′, and into the tank 14A. Inside the tank 14A, the gray water is routed to the balance cup 23 on one side of the seesaw mechanism 11 of the fill control unit 20, as well as to the toilet overflow tube 60. Using the hollow bolts 40A, 40B to provide an inlet to the toilet tank allows the toilet tank lid 14C to rest normally on the toilet tank 14A, without requiring hoses to enter the tank between the lid and the tank.

Although not shown, it would also be possible to replace just one of the existing regular toilet bolts with a hollow bolt, leaving the other regular toilet bolt in place. In that case, the gray water supply hose would be routed through the single hollow bolt, and it would be configured on the inside of the toilet tank 14A to supply gray water to the balance cup 23 and to the overflow pipe 60.

FIGS. 6, 6A, 6B, 7, and 7A show the fill control unit 20 of the water recycling system 10 in greater detail. The fill control unit 20 is part of a control system that controls the flow of gray water and fresh water to the toilet tank. The fill control unit 20 includes four main parts:

1. A bracket 22, which hangs on the back of the toilet tank.

2. A frame 17, which hangs from the bracket 22 and includes a top plate 19 and legs 19A, 19A′, 19A″, 19B, 19C projecting downwardly from the top plate 19. The legs 19A″ support the inlet ports 26A, 26B.

3. A seesaw mechanism 11, which pivots relative to the frame 17 about a pivot point 25 on the legs 19A, 19A′ of the frame 17 and includes a control arm 24 on one side of the pivot 25 and a fill cup 23 on the other side of the pivot 25.

4. A track bar 90, which mounts on top of the top plate 19.

The legs 19B, 19C of the frame 17 wrap around the back of the bracket 22, as shown in FIG. 6A, and restrict the relative movement between the frame 17 and the bracket 22 to the vertical direction. The left side of the bracket 22 has teeth 22A, and the leg 19B has an upwardly-projecting arm 28B with a head 28 that engages between two of the teeth 22A to fix the vertical position of the frame 17 relative to the bracket 22. To adjust the vertical position of the frame 17 relative to the bracket 22, the horizontal arm 28A, which is attached to the head 28, is pushed downwardly, causing the vertical arm 28B to flex, thereby allowing the head 28 to move out of the space between the teeth 28A, as shown in phantom in FIG. 6B. The frame 17 is then moved in the vertical direction relative to the bracket 22, and then the horizontal arm 28A is released, allowing the head 28 to move back into one of the spaces between the teeth 28A and again fix the vertical position of the frame 17 relative to the bracket 22.

FIGS. 6 and 6A each show two positions of the seesaw mechanism 11. In the first (empty) position, the balance cup 23 is up and the control arm 24 is down. In the second (full) position, shown in phantom, the control arm 24 and balance cup 24 have pivoted in a clockwise direction about the pivot point 25, so the balance cup 23 is down and the control arm 24 is up. When the fill control unit 20 is installed in the toilet tank and the seesaw mechanism 11 is in this second (full) position, the control arm 24 is raising the float 21 on the toilet float valve 31, preventing fresh, potable water from flowing into the tank.

In order for the fill control unit 20 to function properly, it needs to be installed correctly in the toilet tank. The elongated track bar 90 is used to facilitate proper installation of the fill control unit 20 in the toilet tank 14A.

As best shown in FIG. 7, the elongated track bar 90 is essentially a thin, flat, elongated member with elongated openings 98 along its central axis. The track bar 90 has thicker, upwardly-projecting edges 96, which function as tracks, and it has upwardly-projecting stops 97, located closer to one end. (The stops 97 can be seen in FIGS. 7, 8, 10, and 11.) The track bar 90 is received by a pair of upwardly projecting guides 27 on the top plate 19 of the frame 17.

FIG. 7 depicts the typical configuration of the track bar 90 and fill control unit 20 as it is shipped to a customer. The track bar 90 fills the space between the guides 27 and slides within the guides 27 on the top plate 19, and it is secured to the top plate 19 by means of a screw 91. The track bar 90 has a top side 92, a bottom side 93 (shown in FIG. 9), a first end 94, and a second end 95. The track bar 90 is shipped with the top side 92 facing up and the bottom side 93 facing down. The stops 97 are positioned closer to the first end 94 of the track bar 90 than to the second end 95, and the elongated slots 98 allow the screw 91 to pass through the track bar 90 and secure the track bar 90 to the top plate 19 of the frame 17. As shipped to the customer, the first end 94 of the track bar 90 is to the left and the second end 95 is to the right.

The track bar 90 serves a dual purpose, functioning both as a positioning guide and as a brace. As a positioning guide, the track bar 90 serves as a measuring stick to help the installer position the bracket 22 in the correct horizontal position so that, when the control arm 24 of the fill control unit 20 pivots upwardly, it properly interacts with the toilet float 21. Once the bracket 22 is properly located, the track bar 90 is secured to the top plate 19 of the frame 17 in a position in which it is braced against the right side of the toilet tank 14A to prevent the bracket 22 from sliding horizontally as the fill control unit 20 operates.

As shown in FIG. 8, in order to use the track bar 90 as a positioning guide, the installer first removes the screw 91, and then flips and rotates the track bar 90 so that the top side 92 of the track bar 90 is facing down (and the bottom side 93 is facing up), the second end 95 of the track bar 90 is to the left, and the first end 94 is to the right. The second end 95 of the track bar 90 is set against the right side of the fill control valve 31, and the frame 17 and bracket 22 are slid to the left until the left side of the top plate 19 abuts the stops 97 of the track bar 90, which are now projecting downwardly. This sets the proper horizontal position of the fill control unit 20. In other words, the distance between the second end 95 of the track bar 90 and the stops 97 of the track bar 90 is equal to the desired distance between the fill control valve 31 and the left side of the top plate 19 of the fill control unit 20.

Now that the proper position of the fill control unit 20 is set, this position is marked or visually noted along the back of the toilet tank 14A, such as denoted by the dashed line 99 in FIG. 8. As shown in FIG. 9, the fill control unit 20 is then hung along the back of the toilet tank 14A with the left end of the mounting bracket 22 at the position denoted by the dashed line 99. With the fill control unit 20 hanging on the rear wall of the toilet tank 14A in the proper horizontal position, the arm 24 properly contacts the float 21 when it is raised.

As shown in FIG. 9, once the fill control unit 20 is hung in the proper position on the toilet tank, the track bar 90 is repositioned for use as a right side brace to prevent the fill control unit 20 from gradually “crawling” to the right along the back of the toilet tank 14A as it operates. For use as a brace, the track bar 90 is flipped back over so that the top side 92 is again facing up and the bottom side 93 is facing down. Then, the first end 94 is slid to the right until it abuts the right side wall of the toilet tank 14A. Then, the screw 91 is screwed through one of the slots 98 and into the top plate 19 of the frame 17 to lock the track bar 90 in place relative to the frame 17. In some instances, the slots 98 of the track bar 90 may not align with the screw hole in the top plate 19 when the first end 94 abuts the toilet tank 14A. In such cases, the track bar 90 can be removed, rotated 180 degrees (putting the first end 94 on the left and the second end 95 on the right), and replaced so that the second end 95 abuts the right side wall of the toilet tank 14A. After rotating the track bar 90, one of the slots 98 will align with the screw hole, because the spacing of the slots 98 in the track bar 90 is not symmetrical, as best shown in FIG. 7. The slots 98 are located a different distance from the first end 94 than from the second end 95 of the track bar, so, if the screw hole in the top plate 19 does not align with a slot 98 when the first end 94 is against the right side wall of the toilet tank 14A, it will align with a slot 98 when the second end 95 is against the right side wall of the toilet tank 14A.

Thus, the slide bar 90 functions both as a measuring stick, to properly position the fill control unit 20 horizontally in relation to the toilet float 21, and as a brace to brace the fill control unit 20 against the right side wall of the toilet tank 14A in order to prevent horizontal movement of the fill control unit 20 during operation.

The fill control unit 20 also should be adjusted vertically once it is hung inside the toilet tank 14A. More specifically, the frame 17 should be adjusted vertically relative to the bracket 22 so that the control arm 24 is under the float 21 and parallel to the water line when the balance cup 23 is in the “up” position as shown in solid lines in FIGS. 6 and 6A, which is the position when the balance cup 23 is empty.

The water recycling system 10 now is properly installed.

Operation of the System:

The water recycling system 10 incorporates a control system that fills the toilet tank 14A with gray water when gray water is available in the gray water reservoir 16 and fills the tank 14A with fresh, potable water when gray water is not available. The control system includes a control module 73 (shown in FIGS. 1 and 2) that houses a circuit board 74 (shown schematically in FIGS. 12-27). The control module 73 is electrically connected to a power supply 82, to the pump 13, and to a snap-action switch 70.

The snap-action switch 70 is secured to the fill control unit 20 with a screw 71, as best shown in FIG. 7. As shown in FIGS. 5 and 6, the snap-action switch 70 is mounted such that it is switched on or off by a cam 72 which pivots with the seesaw mechanism 11 on the pivot point 25 of the fill control unit 20. When the balance cup 23 is full, it causes the seesaw mechanism 11 to pivot clockwise due to the weight of the water in the cup 23, causing the cam 72 to rotate clockwise away from the switch 70 (and deactivating the switch 70). When the balance cup 23 is empty, the weight of the control arm 24 causes the seesaw mechanism 11 to pivot counterclockwise, causing the cam 72 to rotate counterclockwise and contact the switch 70 (activating the switch).

As shown schematically in FIGS. 12-25, the switch 70 is electrically connected to the circuit board 74, pump 13 and power supply 82. The power supply 82 in this embodiment is a 120 V Volt AC to 12 Volt DC transformer plugged into a bathroom electrical outlet as shown in FIG. 1. Of course, a different power supply, such as a battery, could be used. The switch 70, circuit board 74, fill control unit 20 and pump 13 control the flow of water as will be explained in greater detail with reference to FIGS. 12-27.

FIGS. 12-25 are schematics of the toilet tank 14A and circuit board 74 at various stages of operation. FIGS. 12 and 13 show the toilet tank 14A and circuit board 74 in the default position (i.e. awaiting toilet flush). The circuit board 74 includes a pair of relay/timers 84, 86. The first relay/timer 84 includes a switch 84A and a coil 84B, and the second relay/timer also includes a switch 86A and a coil 86B. The relay/timers 84, 86 facilitate the flow of gray water to the toilet tank in two separate stages, but at this point, neither relay/timer has been activated. The balance cup 23 and toilet tank 14A are full of water, and the cam 72 and switch 70 are in a first position 76 (see FIG. 13) which yields an open circuit and means that the pump 13 is deactivated.

FIGS. 14 and 15 show the toilet tank 14A and circuit board 74 immediately after the toilet is flushed. The toilet tank 14A has emptied, and the balance cup 23 has also emptied, because the balance cup 23 has at least one drain hole 29. With the balance cup 23 empty, the seesaw mechanism 11 has pivoted counterclockwise, lowering the control arm 24, which allows the regular toilet float 21 to lower as well, and the cam 72 has rotated counterclockwise, causing the switch 70 to move to a second (activated) position 78 (see FIG. 15), which completes a circuit to the coil 84B of the first relay/timer 84 on the circuit board 74.

When the coil 84B is activated, it switches the relay 84A to complete a circuit to the pump 13, as shown in FIG. 17. The pump 13 is activated, and it starts to pump gray water to the balance cup 23 and toilet tank 14A. (This is assuming there is water in the reservoir 16. The scenario where there is no gray water in the reservoir 16 is discussed later.)

FIG. 16 shows the cup 23 and tank 14A in the process of being filled, and FIG. 17 shows the relay/timer 84A activated to complete the circuit to the pump 13. The first relay/timer 84 will remain in this position for a set time period that allows the balance cup 23 to fill with gray water (typically about 15 seconds).

In FIGS. 18 and 19, the balance cup 23 has been filled, which pivots the seesaw mechanism 11 clockwise, causing the cam 72 to pivot back to the initial position in which the switch 70 is inactivated and raising the control arm 24. As the control arm 24 is raised, it raises the regular toilet float 21. Of course, the regular toilet float 21 is mounted on the toilet fill valve 31 and controls the flow of fresh water to the tank 14A (according to the normal operating mechanism of the toilet). When the toilet float 21 is raised the flow of fresh water to the toilet tank is shut off.

When the switch 70 moves to the first (inactivated) position 76 and the first relay/timer 84 has not yet timed out, a circuit is completed through the switch 70 and through the first relay/timer 84 to the coil 86B of the second relay/timer 86 as depicted in dash-dot lines in FIG. 19.

This causes the coil 86B of the second relay/timer 86 to activate the switch 86A on the second relay/timer 86, which completes another circuit to the pump 13, as shown in FIG. 21. This, in turn, keeps the pump activated (after the first relay/timer 84 has timed out) for the duration of a second set time period. The second set time period is set to finish filling the tank 14A with water. In this embodiment, the second time period is manually adjustable from 1 minute to 4 minutes, with the specific time period depending primarily on the size and configuration of the toilet tank 14A.

Thus, the tank 14A is filled in two stages: an initial stage for a short period of time to fill the balance cup 23 (and rotate the seesaw mechanism 11 and the cam 72 and activate the switch 70): and a secondary stage for a longer period of time to fill the toilet tank 14A. Once the tank is filled, the system returns to the default position as shown in FIGS. 22 and 23, which are identical to FIGS. 12 and 13, and the system awaits another toilet flush.

FIGS. 24 and 25 represent the situation in which there is no gray water in the reservoir 16 when the toilet is flushed. In that case, after the toilet is flushed, the seesaw mechanism 11 pivots counterclockwise, causing the cam 72 to pivot with it, and moving the switch 70 to the activated position 78, activating the first relay/timer 84, which activates the pump 13, but this time there is no water in the reservoir 16 to pump into the balance cup 23.

As a result, the balance cup 23 remains empty, which means the switch 70 remains in the activated position 78. Now, since the switch 70 does not change positions in order to close the circuit that activates the second coil of the second relay/timer 86, the first relay/timer 84 simply times out without the second relay/timer 86 being activated. Thus, the secondary stage of filling is never started. As a result, the control system ensures that the pump 13 does not operate for an extended period of time without water in the reservoir (which could damage the pump). The pump 13 operates only during the short initial stage, but it does not run during the longer secondary stage.

Since the balance cup 23 does not fill with water, the seesaw mechanism 11 does not pivot, and the control arm 24 does not rise to lift the regular toilet float 21. With the toilet float 21 lowered, the tank 14A fills with fresh, potable water through the normal toilet fill valve 31 (according to the normal operating mechanism of the toilet) until the float 21 is raised by the incoming water. Once the tank 14A is full, the flow of fresh water is stopped by the toilet float 21 and toilet fill valve 31 in accordance with the normal operating mechanism of the toilet. As water fills the tank, it also fills the balance cup 23 through the drain hole(s) 29 until the balance cup is full causing the seesaw mechanism 11 to pivot clockwise, and raising the control arm 24 to the position shown in FIGS. 12 and 13.

FIGS. 26 and 27 are schematics showing another embodiment of a water recycling system made in accordance with the present invention. In this case, the cam-action switch 72 is replaced with an infrared switch 172. FIG. 28 is an illustration of the infrared switch 172, which is an off-the-shelf item. The infrared switch 172 has an emitter 172A and a detector 172B, which are separated by a gap. The emitter 172A transmits a light beam 172C toward the detector 172B to establish a first switch position 176. The infrared switch 172 switches from the first switch position 176 to a second switch position 178 whenever an opaque object is inserted into the gap between the emitter 172A and detector 172B and interrupts the light beam 172C.

FIG. 26 schematically shows the infrared switch in the first position 176, which is similar to the first position 76 of the cam-action switch of FIGS. 12-25. The balance cup 123 is in the lowered position (full of water) and does not interfere with the light beam of the infrared switch 172.

FIG. 27 schematically shows the infrared switch in the second position 178, which is similar to the second position 78 of the cam-action switch of FIGS. 12-25. Here, the balance cup is in the raised position (empty), and part of the balance cup 123 has broken the light beam 172C between the emitter 172A and detector 172B, switching the infrared switch 172 to the second position 178. Of course, the representations of the balance cup 123 and infrared switch 172 in FIGS. 26 and 27 are not to scale. In actual use, only a very small portion of the balance cup, such as a projection or a bar, is used to interact with the gap of the infrared switch.

The sequence of events described in the control system for the cam-action switch, including the activation of the first and second relay/timers, are the same for the system using the infrared switch. It is also possible to use other types of switches that are activated and deactivated by the movement of the flow control unit.

It will be obvious to those skilled in the art that modifications may be made to the embodiments described above without departing from the scope of the invention as claimed.

Referenced by
Citing PatentFiling datePublication dateApplicantTitle
US7448160 *Oct 21, 2004Nov 11, 2008Roberts Donald RMosquito harvest trap
US7996928Jan 14, 2010Aug 16, 2011Judith W. LorenzCombination toilet and dehumidifier
WO2009003213A1 *Jun 6, 2008Jan 8, 2009Caroma Ind LtdA cabinet
Classifications
U.S. Classification4/665
International ClassificationE03C1/01, A47K4/00
Cooperative ClassificationE03D5/003, E03D5/006
European ClassificationE03D5/00B1, E03D5/00B
Legal Events
DateCodeEventDescription
Jan 26, 2007ASAssignment
Owner name: WATERSAVER TECHNOLOGIES LLC, KENTUCKY
Free format text: ASSIGNMENT OF ASSIGNORS INTEREST;ASSIGNORS:SANDERS, MARK GOLIGHTLY;REYNOLDS, THOMAS F;COX, GERALD;AND OTHERS;REEL/FRAME:018809/0880
Effective date: 20070112