CROSS REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATION
This application is based upon provisional application 61/156,987 filed on Mar. 3, 2009, which is incorporated herein by reference and the priority of which is claimed.
BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION
1. Field of the Invention
This invention relates generally to sanitary toilets, and in particular to a foot-operated apparatus for raising and lowering toilet seats.
2. Description of the Prior Art
Toilet seat lifting and lowering devices are known in the art, as it is desirable in certain locations to be able to move the toilet seat without having to touch the seat with one's hands. For example, hospitals, nursing homes, and sanitariums may benefit from hands-free toilet seats. Additionally, public restrooms in service stations, rest stops, restaurants, retail stores and the like may benefit from improved cleanliness if male patrons are more likely to raise the seat prior to urination because they need not touch the seat with their hands.
U.S. Pat. No. 3,516,095 issued to Clifton, et al., U.S. Pat. No. 5,280,654 issued to Wolfer, and U.S. Pat. No. 5,369,814 issued to Denys, and U.S. Patent Publication No. 2007/0044216 in the name of Cosby, all show foot generated toilet seat lifting devices. Each device includes an actuator, damper, gearing, motor, shock absorber, or some other costly and cumbersome component. It is desirable to have a toilet seat lift device that has a simplified structure to reduce costs and to improve the aesthetic appearance.
3. Identification of Objects of the Invention
A primary object of the invention is to provide a simplified apparatus for hands-free raising and lowering of a toilet seat that does not require or use cumbersome or costly components such as motors, gears, actuators, shock absorbers or dampers.
It is another object of the invention to provide a toilet seat lifting device that is simple for a homeowner who has limited tools and home repair skills to install.
It is another object of the invention to provide a toilet seat lifting device that is aesthetically pleasing.
It is another object of the invention to provide a toilet seat lifting device that mounts to the commode at the toilet seat mounting holes, thus simplifying installation.
SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION
The objects described above and other advantages and features of the invention are incorporated in a simplified apparatus for allowing hands-free raising and lowering of a toilet seat. In a preferred embodiment, the toilet seat actuating apparatus includes a `U` shaped foot operated level which when depressed by a user, pivots about a fulcrum and raises the toilet seat via left and right linkages. The fulcrum is formed by a bracket assembly that mounts in between the porcelain throne and the seat. The apparatus is devoid of actuators, dampers, and other cumbersome or costly components that are employed on the toilet seat operating devices of prior art.
BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS
The invention is described in detail hereinafter on the basis of the embodiments represented in the accompanying figures, in which:
FIG. 1 is a perspective view of a toilet seat lift device according to a preferred embodiment of the invention; and
FIG. 2 is a side view of the lift device of FIG. 1 shown installed on a typical residential or commercial toilet.
DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENT OF THE INVENTION
FIG. 1 illustrates a toilet seat lift device 10 according to a preferred embodiment of the invention, and FIG. 2 illustrates the lifter 10 as it is installed on a toilet 12 with seat 14. Referring to both FIGS. 1 and 2, lifter 10 includes a channel or `U` shaped mounting bracket 20 that has a planar center portion 22 and left and right flanges 24L, 24R, respectively. Center portion 22 of mounting bracket 20 has two holes 26 formed therethrough which align with the holes in the porcelain bowl 16 that are used for mounting the seat 14 thereto. Lifter 10 is installed on commode 12 between throne 16 and seat 12, with the seat bolts passing through holes 26.
A fulcrum arm 30L, 30R is attached to each flange 24L, 24R of mounting bracket 20, respectively. Each fulcrum arm 30L, 30R is attached with two fasteners 32L, 32R so that the fulcrum arm will not pivot with respect to mounting bracket 20. However, fulcrum arm 30L, 30R may be welded to mounting bracket 20, formed integrally with mounting bracket 20 (for example, if molded of plastic material), or may be attached by any other suitable method or arrangement as is known to routineers in the art.
The lower ends 34L, 34R of fulcrum arms 30L, 30R act as a fulcrum, about which a U-shaped yoke 40 pivots. Yoke 40 is pivotally attached to fulcrum arms 30L, 30R by fasteners 42L, 42R at an approximate midpoint of yoke 40. Fasteners 42L, 42R may be bolts or rivets, for example, and may include a bushing made of nylon or teflon, for example, to promote frictionless pivoting.
A foot pedal 50 is mounted to the front end of yoke 40. Pedal 50 may be an angled bracket that is bolted to yoke 40, for example. Alternatively, pedal 50 may be formed integrally with yoke 40 or molded about yoke 40, for instance. Pedal 50 preferably includes means for adjusting its vertical position relative to yoke 40, so that it may be adjusted to be in contact with the floor when the toilet seat 14 is in the full upright position. In this manner, one cannot continue to exert a net downward force on pedal 50 with the weight of his foot once the seat 14 is lifted, because the pedal 50 is in contact with the solid floor. This adjustment feature minimizes the likelihood that rough operation or operation by a heavy person will break the lift device 10. In one embodiment, the adjust means is one or more vertical slots 52 formed in pedal 50, and one or more fasteners 54 that passes through slots 52 for securement to yoke 40.
Left and right linkages 60L, 60R are pivotally connected to the rear ends 44L, 44R of yoke 40. Linkages 60L, 60R are used to connect yoke 40 to toilet seat 14 for actuating the seat. Yoke 40 preferably includes an array of holes 46L, 46R to the rear of fasteners 42L, 42R that serve as connection points to linkages 60L, 60R. In this manner, lifter 10 can be adjusted to accommodate toilets 12 of various sizes and shapes. Linkages 60L, 60R are pivotally connected at their lower ends 62L, 62R at a symmetrical pair of holes 46L, 46R by fasteners 48L, 48R. Fasteners 48L, 48R may be bolts or rivets, for example, and may include a nylon or teflon bushing, for example, to promote frictionless pivoting.
As shown in FIG. 2, the upper ends 64L, 64R of linkages 60L, 60R are connected to left and right sides of seat 14, respectively, at a position ideally a few inches forward of the seat hinges. Fasteners 66L, 66R, such as wood screws with bushing inserts, are used to attach linkages to seat 14 through holes 68L, 68R.
Preferably, both the upper ends 64L, 64R and the lower ends 62L, 62R of linkages 60L, 60R are bent inwards about 1/2 inch so that a clearance exists between linkages 60L and fulcrum arm 30L and a clearance exists between linkage 60R and fulcrum arm 30R. In this manner, an infant or pet is less likely to become seriously injured by becoming pinched between the linkages and fulcrum arms during operation of lifter 10.
Lifter 10 is made of plastic or metal, for example. For example, a painted or coated steel or aluminum may be used. Stainless steel may be appropriate for hospital environments.
Lifter 10 may be sold only with the components as shown in FIG. 1 for retrofitting existing toilets. Lifter 10 may also be sold in combination with seat 14. Alternatively, lifter 10 may be sold in combination with a complete toilet 12.
The Abstract of the disclosure is written solely for providing the United States Patent and Trademark Office and the public at large with a way by which to determine quickly from a cursory reading the nature and gist of the technical disclosure, and it represents solely a preferred embodiment and is not indicative of the nature of the invention as a whole.
While some embodiments of the invention have been illustrated in detail, the invention is not limited to the embodiments shown; modifications and adaptations of the above embodiment may occur to those skilled in the art. Such modifications and adaptations are in the spirit and scope of the invention as set forth herein.