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Patent Searching and Data


Title:
TOILET FLUSHING ASSEMBLY AND SEQUENCE
Document Type and Number:
WIPO Patent Application WO/2011/062818
Kind Code:
A1
Abstract:
A toilet (10) has an electronic flush assembly operable in either a short or long flush sequence selectable by a user. The long flush sequence includes a pre-rinse cycle and a rinse cycle in which a supply valve (54) and a flush valve (26) are both opened and closed twice, once each first during the pre-rinse cycle and again during a subsequent rinse cycle. The rim supply valve and the flush valve are opened during the pre-rinse and rinse cycles but are closed at the start and end of each cycle. An electronic control (28) controls operation of the valves as well as water supply control components. Level sensors (48, 66) can also be included to provide feedback to the controller, for example, to prevent overflow conditions.

Inventors:
STAUBER, Joseph (640 Richardson Avenue, Sheboygan Falls, Wisconsin, 53085, US)
DENZIN, Peter, W. (N6808 Ridge Road, Glenbeulah, Wisconsin, 53023, US)
MAROTZ, Ben (621 E. Riverside Drive, Kohler, Wisconsin, 53044, US)
Application Number:
US2010/056136
Publication Date:
May 26, 2011
Filing Date:
November 10, 2010
Export Citation:
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Assignee:
KOHLER CO. (444 Highland Drive, Kohler, Wisconsin, 53044, US)
STAUBER, Joseph (640 Richardson Avenue, Sheboygan Falls, Wisconsin, 53085, US)
DENZIN, Peter, W. (N6808 Ridge Road, Glenbeulah, Wisconsin, 53023, US)
MAROTZ, Ben (621 E. Riverside Drive, Kohler, Wisconsin, 53044, US)
International Classes:
E03D5/012; E03D5/10; E03D11/10
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
SPROW, Marcus, W. (FOLEY & LARDNER LLP, 777 East Wisconsin AvenueMilwaukee, WI, 53202, US)
Download PDF:
Claims:
CLAIMS

What is claimed is:

1. A toilet, comprising:

a bowl having a bowl outlet and a rim having a rim outlet;

a flush valve operable to control flow through the bowl outlet; and a rim supply Valve operable to control flow into the bowl rim;

wherein the toilet flushes water through the bowl during a flush sequence in which the rim supply valve and the flush valve are both opened and closed twice, first during a pre-rinse cycle and subsequently during a rinse cycle, the rim supply valve and the flush valve being closed at a start and end of the cycles and open between the start and end of the cycles.

2. The toilet of claim 1 , wherein the rinse cycle includes flowing rinse water into the bowl from the rim outlet and from an eductor.

3. The toilet of claim 1 , further including an electronic control and wherein the flush valve and the rim supply valve are operated by the electronic control to open and close.

4. The toilet of claim 3, further including a water supply reservoir having a filler operable by the electronic control.

5. The toilet of claim 4, further including a level sensor mounted in the bowl and coupled to the electronic control for sending bowl level input signals to the electronic control.

6. The toilet of claim 5, further including a supply water sensor mounted at the water supply reservoir and coupled to the electronic control for sending reservoir level input signals to the electronic control.

7. A toilet, comprising:

a bowl having a bowl outlet and a rim having a rim outlet;

a flush valve operable to control flow through the bowl outlet; and a rim supply valve operable to control flow into the bowl rim;

wherein the toilet is selectively operable in first and second flush sequences, wherein the first flush sequence includes a pre-rinse cycle in which the toilet flushes water through the bowl by opening and closing the rim supply valve and the flush valve once, and wherein the second flush sequence includes the pre- rinse cycle and a rinse cycle in which the rim supply valve and the flush valve are both opened and closed twice, first during the pre-rinse cycle and subsequently during the rinse cycle, the rim supply valve and the flush valve being closed at a start and end of the cycles and open between the start and end of the cycles.

8. The toilet of claim 7, wherein the rinse cycle includes flowing rinse water into the bowl from the rim outlet and from an eductor,

9. The toilet of claim 7, further including an electronic control and wherein the flush valve and the rim supply valve are operated by the electronic control to open and close.

10. The toilet of claim 9, further including a water supply reservoir having a filler operable by the electronic control.

11. The toilet of claim 10, further including a level sensor mounted in the bowl and coupled to the electronic control for sending bowl level input signals to the electronic control.

12. The toilet of claim 11 , further including a supply water sensor mounted at the water supply reservoir and coupled to the electronic control for sending reservoir level input signals to the electronic control.

13. A flush sequence for a toilet having a bowl with a bowl outlet closable by a flush valve and a supply valve for controlling flow of water to a rim having a rim outlet in communication with the bowl, the flush sequence comprising:

initiating a pre-rinse cycle, including:

opening the supply valve to flow water to the rim and pass water through the rim outlet into the bowl;

opening the flush valve to empty the bowl through the bowl outlet; closing the flush valve;

initiating a rinse cycle, including:

opening the supply valve to flow water to the rim and pass water through the rim outlet into the bowl;

opening the flush valve to evacuate the bowl through the bowl outlet;

closing the flush valve; and

closing the supply valve.

14. The flush sequence of claim 13, wherein the rinse cycle further includes passing water into the bowl through an eductor.

15. The flush sequence of claim 13, wherein the toilet includes an electronic control and wherein the flush valve and the rim supply valve are operated by the electronic control to open and close.

16. The flush sequence of claim 15, further including a water supply reservoir having a filler operable by the electronic control.

17. The flush sequence of claim 16, further including a level sensor mounted in the bowl and coupled to the electronic control for sending bowl level input signals to the electronic control.

18. The flush sequence of claim 17, further including a supply water sensor mounted at the water supply reservoir and coupled to the electronic control for sending reservoir level input signals to the electronic control.

Description:
TOILET FLUSHING ASSEMBLY AND SEQUENCE

CROSS-REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATIONS

[0001 ] Not applicable.

STATEMENT REGARDING FEDERALLY SPONSORED RESEARCH

[0002] Not applicable.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

[0003] The present invention relates to plumbing fixtures such as toilets. In particular, the present invention relates to the flush assembly and flush sequencing for toilets.

[0004] Conventional toilets utilize a single mechanical flush sequence to evacuate waste from the toilet bowl, rinse the bowl, and possibly to refill a water tank. Simple mechanical components such as gravity operated flapper valves and float controlled fill valves are normally used to control the passage of water through the bowl and the filling of the tank. The trade-off for such a simple mechanical flush assembly is wasted water consumption in low waste conditions and inadequate or inconsistent rinsing of the bowl in high waste conditions.

[0005] Over time there have been numerous revisions and improvements made to the conventional toilet. For example, several toilets have been devised with electronically controllable flush, rinse and fill components, see e.g., U.S. patents 5,548,850 and 6,332,229. These patents also disclose toilets with alternate flush sequences. And, more forceful rinsing action has been achieved using jet components, such as disclosed by U.S. patent 2,715,228. However, as of yet the flush control components and sequencing of conventional toilets has often been insufficient to achieve an efficient and adequate flush in varied waste load conditions.

[0006] There is thus a need for toilets with advanced flush assemblies and sequencing to better address problems with known toilets.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

[0007] In one aspect the invention provides a toilet having a bowl with a bowl outlet and a rim having a rim outlet. A flush valve operates to control flow through the bowl outlet. A rim supply valve operates to control flow into the bowl rim. The toilet flushes water through the bowl during a flush sequence in which the rim supply valve and the flush valve are both opened and closed twice, first during a pre-rinse cycle and subsequently during a rinse cycle. The rim supply valve and the flush valve are closed at the beginning and end of the cycles and open therebetween.

[0008] In another aspect the invention provides a toilet as described that is selectively operable in first and second flush sequences. The first flush sequence includes a pre-rinse cycle in which the toilet flushes water through the bowl by opening and closing the rim supply valve and the flush valve once. The second flush sequence includes the pre-rinse cycle and a rinse cycle in which the rim supply valve and the flush valve are both opened and closed twice, first during the pre-rinse cycle and subsequently during the rinse cycle.

[0009] In still another aspect the invention provides a flush sequence for a toilet which includes initiating a pre-rinse cycle and subsequently initiating a rinse cycle for the same flush event. The pre-rinse cycle includes opening the supply valve to flow water to the rim and pass water through the rim outlet into the bowl, opening the flush valve to empty the bowl through the bowl outlet, and closing the flush valve. The rinse cycle includes opening the supply valve to flow water to the rim and pass water through the rim outlet to the bowl, opening the flush valve to evacuate the bowl through the bowl outlet, and closing the flush valve and the supply valve.

[0010] To improve flush performance, the flush sequence, particularly the rinse cycle, can further include using an eductor to increase the flow rate of rinse water into the bowl.

[001 1] Additionally, the toilet can include an electronic control which controls the open and close operation of the flush valve and the rim supply valve. In addition to the rim water supply, the electronic control can control filling and output flow from a reservoir water supply, such as toilet tank. And, level sensors, such as mounted in the bowl and/or the water supply reservoir, can be coupled to the electronic control for sending bowl and reservoir level input signals to the electronic control, and thereby control fill levels in both. [0012] Hence, the invention provides an advanced electronically controlled toilet which provides an improved flush. To save water in low-waste conditions, the toilet can be operated in a quick or short flush mode, in which the bowl is briefly rinsed by water from the bowl rim. For higher waste conditions, the user can select a long or dual rinse mode in which the bowl is pre-rinsed with water from the rim to empty the waste and then rinsed again, this time with rim water which may be eductor-assisted. To do this, the electronic control opens and closes the rim supply valve and the bowl flush valve one time during the pre-rinse cycle and a second time during the regular rinse cycle. Thus, fully opening and closing these valves twice during a single flush event. Additional electronic control and sensing can be provided to further automate and regulate the flushing operation.

[0013] The foregoing and still other advantages of the invention will appear from the following description. In that description reference is made to the accompanying drawings which form a part hereof and in which there is shown by way of illustration a preferred embodiment of the invention.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

[0014] FIG. 1 is a perspective view of a toilet according to the present invention with its lid down;

[0015] FIG. 2 is a perspective view of the toilet of FIG. 1 with its lid up;

[0016] FIG. 3 is a side view of the toilet with the bowl, the trapway, and the plumbing components shown in phantom lines;

[001 7] FIG. 4 is a cross-sectional side view of the toilet taken along line 4-4 of FIG. 1 ;

[0018] FIG. 5 is a cross-sectional side view of the toilet taken along line 5-5 of FIG. 1 ;

[0019] FIG. 6 is a front lower left side view of some of the internal plumbing components of the toilet of FIG. 1 ;

[0020] FIG. 7 is a simplified schematic of the plumbing of the toilet of FIG. 1 ; [0021] FIG. 8 is a process chart of a long flush sequence for the toilet of FIG. 1; and

[0022] FIG. 9 is a process chart of a short flush sequence for the toilet of FIG. 1.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION

[0023] Referring now to FIGS. 1-5, a toilet 10 is shown that is configured to have two flushing sequences. Although the specifics of the flushing sequences will be described in more detail below, an overview of the components of the toilet 10 and their connectivity will be described first to provide a structural context for the flushing sequences. Although a two-part modular construction is shown, it should be appreciated that the toilet 10 need not be of a modular design and could be of a more conventional toilet assembly. Accordingly, the modular assembly is only one example of a toilet that may utilize the flushing sequences described below.

[0024] As best seen in FIGS. 1 and 2, the toilet 10 includes a frontal basin portion 12 and a rear backpack portion 14. In the embodiment shown, the toilet 10 is designed to be a modular assembly in which, generally speaking, the rear backpack portion 14 supports and/or houses many of the functional components of the toilet 10 while the frontal basin portion 12 is one of several possible front-side attachments which is adapted to be connected to the rear backpack portion 14. As different front-side attachments may be made, the toilet 10 can take on various appearances using a single rear backpack portion 14. Moreover, the rear backpack portion 14 may be configurable to receive various components that provide accessory functions to the toilet such as a bidet wand, automatic seat and/or lid lifting mechanisms, air circulating functions, music accessories, and so forth.

[0025] The frontal basin portion 12 includes a bowl 16 extending from a bowl rim 18 at the top of the bowl 16 to a bowl opening 20 proximate the bottom of the bowl 16. The bowl rim 18 includes a channel 22 (best seen in FIG. 4) which selectively receives water which may then be directed into the bowl 16 during a flushing sequence via apertures or rim openings in an underside of the bowl rim 18. The bowl opening 20 may be placed in selective communication with a trapway 24 by a flush valve 26 that is located therebetween.

[0026] The flush valve 26 is electromechanically controlled by a control board 28 (e.g., a controller or electrical control, and as schematically illustrated in FIG.7) which is located in the rear backpack portion 14 of the toilet 10. This control board 28 is electronically coupled to a motor 30 which is mechanically coupled to the flush valve 26 via a linkage 32 such as a belt or a chain. When the motor 30 drives the linkage 32, the flush valve 26 may be actuated from an open position to a closed position or vise-versa. In the closed position, shown in FIGS. 3 and 4, an arcuate surface 34 of the flush valve 26 forms a seal about the bowl opening 20 at the bottom of the bowl 16 such that any water and waste contents located in the bowl 16 are substantially retained in the bowl 16. Then, in the open position (not shown), the flush valve 26 is rotatably actuated from the close position to remove the seal between the bowl 16 and the trapway 24 such that the contents of the bowl 16 can pass from the bowl 16 into the trapway 24 such as during a flushing operation. Although a flush valve 26 that is rotatable is shown, other types of valves could also be used to selectively place the bowl 16 in fluid communication with the trapway 24.

[0027] The trapway 24 is a tube-like passage that snakes under the bowl 16 and rearwards in a sideways S-shape from the bowl opening 20 to a trapway end 36 which connects to an opening in the floor which connects to a waste line pipe (not shown) or the like. The geometry of the trapway 24 is such that a first leg 38 of the trapway 24 proximate the flush valve 26 extends downward to a dip 40, a second leg 42 of the trapway 24 extends upward from the dip 40 to a weir 44, and a third leg 46 of the trapway 24 extends downward from the weir 44 to connect to the opening in the floor. To prevent the escape of trapped sewer gases from the waste water line into the bowl 16 (and into the atmosphere surrounding the toilet 10), water may be captured in the space between the dip 40 and the weir 44 to form a water seal in the trapway 24.

[0028] A water level sensor 48 (schematically illustrated in FIG. 7) may also be coupled to the bowl 16 to detect a level of the water in the bowl 16. The water level sensor 48 may be electronically coupled to the control board 28 to indicate the current state of water in the bowl 16 (e.g., a water level of the bowl 16) via a signal. The water level sensor 48 may be utilized to detect the water level in the bowl 16 and to stop the feeding of water to the bowl 16 during a flush sequence during a fill step or in the event that a blockage in the trapway 24 or the like prevents water from emptying from the bowl 16.

[0029] Now with additional reference to FIGS. 5, 6, and 7, the rear backpack portion 14 supports and houses the plumbing utilized in performing the flushing sequences. Beginning at the source, a water supply 50 (illustrated schematically in FIG. 7) provides water to the other plumbing components. The water supply 50 is connected with the toilet 10 via an inlet line 52 that comes in from the behind the rear backpack portion 14 of the toilet 10. The inlet line 52 is connected to a solenoid valve 54. The solenoid valve 54 may be electronically controlled by the control board 28, to selectively place the inlet line 52 in fluid communication with a tank 56 via a tank fill line 58 (i.e., a filler) or the bowl rim 18 via a rim line 60. The rim line 60 is placed in fluid communication with the bowl rim 18 via a spud connection or the like at an end 68 of the rim line 60. Although a single solenoid valve 54 is shown in FIGS. 3 to 6, a separate rim supply valve 54a and fill valve 54b may also be used as illustrated in the schematic of FIG. 7.

[0030] Notably, the tank 56 (or water supply reservoir) is also placed in communication with the rim line 60 via an eductor line 62 which connects to the rim line 60 to form an eductor 64. This eductor 64 may assist in providing a particularly strong flow of water to the rim 18 when water from the tank 56 supplements the water being supplied via the rim line 60.

[0031] Additionally, a float switch 66 may be located in the tank 56. When the water level in the tank 56 exceeds a pre-determined threshold level, typically causing a portion of the float switch 66 to rise within the tank 56, this

displacement of a portion of the float switch 66 may cause the closing of a shutoff valve (possibly either by a direct mechanical connection between the float switch 66 and the shutoff valve or by a sending an electrical signal to the control board 28 which operates the shutoff valve) which temporarily closes off the water supply 50 from the other plumbing components.

[0032] With reference to FIG. 7, a summary of the connectivity of the control board 28 to the various components may be made. With respect to the bowl 16, the control board 28 may be electrically coupled to the water level sensor 48 and the motor 30 that controls the open or closed state of flush valve 26. With respect to the plumbing components in the rear backpack portion 1 , the control board 28 is electrically coupled to the solenoid valve 54 (illustrated in FIG. 7 as separate rim supply valve 54a and fill valve 54b) which controls the flow of water from the water supply 50 into the tank 56 and into the rim 18. Further, the control board 28 may receive a status of the state of the water level in the tank 56 via the float switch 66. Although not previously described, the control board 28 is also electronically coupled to a short flush button 70 and a long flush button 72. Of course, rather than being buttons, these could be any of a number of types of controls, switches, buttons, or the like. The short flush button 70 and the long flush button 72 may be used to start a short flushing sequence or a long flushing sequence that will now be described.

[0033] Referring now to FIG. 8, a long flush sequence 800 is shown. The long flush sequence 800 is initiated when the long flush button 72 is pressed according to step 802. Once the control board 28 detects the operation of the long flush button 72, the control board 28 instructs the various components to perform a pre-rinse, rinse, and fill of the bowl 16.

[0034] The pre-rinse cycle begins with the control board 28 instructing the rim supply valve 54a to open and then close according to step 804 to pre-rinse the bowl 16. This pre-rinse cycle may remove debris, such as toilet paper, stuck on the walls of the bowl 16 above the water fill line. Only a small of amount of water may be used to perform the pre-rinse of the bowl 16.

[0035] Next, according to step 806, the flush valve 26 is opened to remove waste from the bowl 16 while the rim supply valve 54a remains closed. This is a short, water efficient step, which removes the waste from the bowl 16. The flush valve 26 is then closed to seal the bowl opening 20 of the bowl 16 according to step 808.

[0036] Once the pre-rinse cycle is completed, the rinse cycle begins. After the flush valve 26 closed, the rim supply valve 54a is opened according to step 810 to start the bowl rinse cycle. After a sufficient amount of water has been introduced into the bowl 16, the flush valve 26 is opened according to step 812 to evacuate the water accumulated during the rinse cycle from the bowl 16. While the flush valve 26 is opened, water may continued to be supplied to the rim 18 to rinse the bowl 16. After a period of time, the flush valve 26 is closed according to step 814 to seal the bowl 16 and the rim supply valve 54a is closed according to step 816 to end the bowl rinse cycle.

[0037] Notably, while the rim supply valve 54a is opened and supplying water to the rim 18 via the rim line 60 either during the pre-rinse cycle or the rinse cycle, the eductor 64 may be used to increase the rate at which water is supplied to the rim 18. As the Water introduced from the tank 56 to the rim line 60 via the eductor line 62 increases the flow rate of the rinse water into the bowl rim 18, the water is supplied more quickly and in such a manner as to more effectively and efficiently rinse the bowl 16. At greater flow rates, better bowl rinsing can be performed more quickly and with less water than with eductor-less flush mechanisms.

[0038] After the bowl rinse cycle is complete, then the fill cycle begins to refill the bowl 16 for another use of the toilet 10. During the fill cycle, the fill valve 54b is open and then closed according to step 818 to supply water to the water tank 56 (which may have been partially or fully depleted during the pre- rinse and rinse cycles) and to re-fill the bowl 16. The fill valve 54b remains open until the bowl 16 and the tank 56 are refilled. The determination of the levels of water in the bowl 16 and tank 56 may be determined by the water level sensor 48 and the float switch 66, respectively. Of course, a stop condition for refilling the bowl could potentially be based on one of or both of the water level sensor 48 and the float switch 66 or could be based on some other sensor or timing mechanism. [0039] It should be appreciated that during the fill cycle, the rim supply valve 54a may be closed and, accordingly, the rate of flow of water into the bowl 16 may be comparatively slower than during the pre-rinse and/or rinse cycle. Of course, depending the particular plumbing configuration, the bowl re-fill may be accomplished using an additional bowl fill valve or by using the rim supply valve 54a either alone or in combination with the fill valve 54b.

[0040] Referring now to FIG. 9, a short flush sequence 900 is illustrated which may be generally used for the elimination of light or low waste, such as urine or perhaps small amounts of bath tissue, from the bowl 16. Upon pressing the short flush button 70 according to step 902, the short flush sequence 900 is initiated. First, a pre-rinse cycle occurs in which the rim supply valve 54a is open and then closed according to step 904 to supply a shot of water to the rim 18 and clear any waste or debris from the walls of the bowl 16. Next, the flush valve 26 is opened to remove the water and waste from the bowl 16 via the trapway 24 according to step 906. After the water and waste are eliminated from the bowl 16, the flush valve 26 is closed according to step 908. The fill valve 54b is then open and closed to re-fill the water in the bowl 16 and the tank 56 according to step 910. Of course, as described above, the re-fill step may be achieved by opening the fill valve 54b or by opening one or more other valves to fill the tank 56 and bowl 16.

[0041 ] Thus, a toilet is disclosed that is capable of performing two flush sequences. The longer of the two flush sequences is engineered with the removal of solid waste or the like from the bowl. The shorter of the two flush sequences is engineered with the removal of light waste or the like from the bowl. Given the benefits of water conservation, these flush sequences aim to use an appropriate amount of water for the task at hand.

[0042] Further, these flush sequences may utilize a pre-rinse cycle which helps to more efficiently use the water of the flushing sequence. In contrast to conventional flush cycles, which may have water continuously fed to the bowl via the rim while water continually drains from the bowl opening, the rim supply valve 54a may be opened and closed to provide an initial shot of water to pre-rinse the walls and then opened again after the bowl has been evacuated. By shutting off the rirn supply valve in between the pre-rinse cycle and the subsequent rinse cycle, the amount of water used over the flush cycle is reduced.

[0043] While a specific embodiment of the present invention has been shown, various modifications falling within the breadth and scope of the invention will be apparent to one skilled in the art. For example, one or more jets may assist in vacating water and waste from the bowl. Thus, the following claims should be looked to in order to understand the full scope of the invention.

INDUSTRIAL APPLICABILITY

[0044] Disclosed is a plumbing fixture, such as a toilet having an advanced flush control assembly and sequencing providing efficient water consumption with adequate rinsing of the bowl.