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Patent Analysis of

Device and method for concealing a flange of a waste water strainer

Updated Time 12 June 2019

Patent Registration Data

Publication Number

US10151088

Application Number

US15/276384

Application Date

26 September 2016

Publication Date

11 December 2018

Current Assignee

WCM INDUSTRIES, INC.

Original Assignee (Applicant)

WCM INDUSTRIES, INC.

International Classification

A47K1/14,E03C1/262,E03C1/26

Cooperative Classification

E03C1/262,A47K1/14,E03C1/26,Y10T156/10,Y10T29/49826

Inventor

BALL, WILLIAM T.

Patent Images

This patent contains figures and images illustrating the invention and its embodiment.

US10151088 Device concealing 1 US10151088 Device concealing 2 US10151088 Device concealing 3
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Abstract

A device used to conceal at least a portion of a wastewater strainer associated with a bathtub. More specifically, a plate having an opening therethrough is used to overlap a flange of the wastewater strainer wherein the opening in the plate generally coincides with an opening in the wastewater strainer so that the bathtub drain is unobstructed. The plate may include a downwardly extending lip to help facilitate orientation onto the flange of the wastewater strainer. The plate conceals the wastewater strainer, thereby facilitating reconfiguration of a bathtub as the existing wastewater strainer need not be removed and the plumbing system retested.

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Claims

1. A device adapted for concealing a flange of a wastewater strainer comprising:

a plate having an outer edge with a diameter of such a dimension that is greater than an outer diameter of the flange of the wastewater strainer, said outer edge comprising a downward extending edge; and wherein said plate is adapted to rest on top of an outer surface of the flange of the wastewater strainer that has a hub that is located directly adjacent to, 0.025 inches below, 0.05 inches below, or 0.75 inches below the flange of the wastewater strainer.

2. The device of claim 1, wherein said device is adapted to be engaged to said wastewater strainer with an adhesive or tape.

3. The device of claim 1, wherein said plate accommodates a drain stopper carrier.

4. The device of claim 1, wherein said plate is circular having an outer diameter about 2 mm to 3 mm greater than the outer diameter of the flange.

5. A method of concealing a flange of a wastewater strainer that is positioned in a fluid receptacle, comprising:

providing a plate with an outer circumference greater than an outer circumference of said flange; and interconnecting said plate to said flange of said wastewater strainer with adhesive or tape, wherein no portion of said plate is positioned within said wastewater strainer.

6. A device adapted for concealing a flange of a wastewater strainer comprising:

a plate having an outer edge with a diameter greater than an outer diameter of the flange of the wastewater strainer, said outer edge comprising a downward extending lip; and wherein said plate is adapted to rest above an outer surface of the flange of the wastewater strainer, the wastewater strainer having a hub that is located directly adjacent to, 0.025 inches below, 0.05 inches below, or 0.75 inches below the flange of the wastewater strainer.

7. The device of claim 6, wherein said plate accommodates a drain stopper carrier.

8. The device of claim 6, wherein said plate is circular, the outer edge of said plate having an outer diameter about 2 mm to 3 mm greater than the outer diameter of the flange.

9. A device adapted for concealing a portion of a wastewater strainer comprising:

a plate having an outer edge and an opening therethrough; a fluid conduit associated with said plate; at least one arm associated with at least one of said plate and said fluid conduit, said at least one arm extending into at least one of said opening and said fluid conduit; a hub interconnected to an end of said at least one arm; and a carrier.

10. The device of claim 9, wherein said outer edge of said plate comprises a downwardly extending lip, an outside circumference with a chamfered edge, or a portion extending downwardly from said plate.

11. The device of claim 9, further comprising a stopper body operatively associated with said carrier, said stopper body having a gasket configured to selectively engage said plate.

12. The device of claim 9, wherein said fluid conduit has at least one groove.

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Claim Tree

  • 1
    1. A device adapted for concealing a flange of a wastewater strainer comprising:
    • a plate having an outer edge with a diameter of such a dimension that is greater than an outer diameter of the flange of the wastewater strainer, said outer edge comprising a downward extending edge
    • and wherein said plate is adapted to rest on top of an outer surface of the flange of the wastewater strainer that has a hub that is located directly adjacent to, 0.025 inches below, 0.05 inches below, or 0.75 inches below the flange of the wastewater strainer.
    • 2. The device of claim 1, wherein
      • said device is adapted to be engaged to said wastewater strainer with an adhesive or tape.
    • 3. The device of claim 1, wherein
      • said plate accommodates a drain stopper carrier.
    • 4. The device of claim 1, wherein
      • said plate is circular having
  • 5
    5. A method of concealing a flange of a wastewater strainer that is positioned in a fluid receptacle, comprising:
    • providing a plate with an outer circumference greater than an outer circumference of said flange
    • and interconnecting said plate to said flange of said wastewater strainer with adhesive or tape, wherein no portion of said plate is positioned within said wastewater strainer.
  • 6
    6. A device adapted for concealing a flange of a wastewater strainer comprising:
    • a plate having an outer edge with a diameter greater than an outer diameter of the flange of the wastewater strainer, said outer edge comprising a downward extending lip
    • and wherein said plate is adapted to rest above an outer surface of the flange of the wastewater strainer, the wastewater strainer having a hub that is located directly adjacent to, 0.025 inches below, 0.05 inches below, or 0.75 inches below the flange of the wastewater strainer.
    • 7. The device of claim 6, wherein
      • said plate accommodates a drain stopper carrier.
    • 8. The device of claim 6, wherein
      • said plate is circular, the outer edge of said plate having
  • 9
    9. A device adapted for concealing a portion of a wastewater strainer comprising:
    • a plate having an outer edge and an opening therethrough
    • a fluid conduit associated with said plate
    • at least one arm associated with at least one of said plate and said fluid conduit, said at least one arm extending into at least one of said opening and said fluid conduit
    • a hub interconnected to an end of said at least one arm
    • and a carrier.
    • 10. The device of claim 9, wherein
      • said outer edge of said plate comprises
    • 11. The device of claim 9, further comprising
      • a stopper body operatively associated with said carrier, said stopper body having a gasket configured to selectively engage said plate.
    • 12. The device of claim 9, wherein
      • said fluid conduit has at least one groove.
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Description

FIELD OF THE INVENTION

Embodiments of the present invention are generally related to a device that alleviates the need to replace a damaged or outdated wastewater strainer. More specifically, a universal device for covering and concealing a flange of an existing waste water strainer.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

Water receptacles, such as bathtubs, generally include a drain port located at their lowermost point. The drain port is interconnected to a drain pipe and receives a strainer that prevents items from entering the drain pipe. A “strainer,” as appreciated by one of skill in the art is the threaded fitting located in the bottom of a sink, bathtub, or the like (hereinafter “bathtub”) through which wastewater flows. Commonly, strainers have an externally threaded cylindrical portion that engages corresponding threads of the drain port and/or the drain pipe. The strainer also includes a flange, which extends from the upper end of the cylindrical portion, that engages the bottom of the bathtub. The flange sometimes rests in an indentation provided in the bottom of the bathtub. Strainers usually include closure valves that selectively control the flow of water therethrough. The closure valve is often interconnected to the strainer by way of a carrier that extends upwardly from a hub located within the cylindrical portion. The distance between the flange and the hub varies depending on the type of closure valve employed.

Strainer flanges may become outdated, damaged, or marred. In addition, individuals may simply wish to change the look and feel of their bathroom by changing the plumbing fixtures. For example, one may wish to replace brushed-nickel fixtures to brass fixtures. Replacement, however, is often very difficult because the strainer must be disconnected from the drain pipe, which is difficult to access because it is often located beneath the floor to which the bathtub is interconnected. Further, the threads of the replacement strainer may not be compatible with the threads of the drain port and/or drain pipe.

Wastewater strainers are presently concealed by devices that are glued to or otherwise interconnected to the wastewater strainer. That is, instead of replacing the wastewater strainer, a concealing member of the intended finish is placed on the flange of the existing strainer. For example, attention is directed to Applicant's Nufit™ device, which is disclosed in U.S. Pat. No. 5,745,931, that employs a flange that is glued onto the strainer flange. The Nufit™ flange includes a downwardly-extending outer lip that engages the outer edge of the wastewater strainer flange that, alone or in concert with other features, helps maintain radial position of the Nufit™ device with respect to the strainer. The Nufit™ device also employs a cylindrical portion that is placed within the cylindrical member of the wastewater strainer.

Another device is described in U.S. Pat. No. 7,503,083 (the “'083 patent”) that is similar to that of the Nufit™ device wherein a flange is provided with a cylindrical portion extending therefrom. The cylindrical portion also includes at least one groove for receiving an o-ring seal that engages the cylindrical member of the wastewater strainer to maintain the position of the concealing device. The o-ring seal helps align the opening of the strainer and the concealing device. It should be noted that the device of the '083 patent contemplates a system wherein no adhesives are used. The outer edge of the '083 device may also include a downwardly extending outer lip for engaging the outer edge of the waste water flange similar to that described above.

One drawback of the prior art devices is that the downwardly-extending cylindrical portion that is often employed may interfere with internal components of the strainer, which prevent engagement of the strainer flange and the concealing device flange. More specifically, strainers usually possess spokes or cross members that accommodate the hub that holds the closure valve carrier. Further, there are a multitude of strainer manufacturers, each with different designs, sizes, features, etc. In addition, manufacturers may, over time, modify designs such that retrofitting existing systems may prove problematic. The interference between the concealing device and the strainer frustrates consumers and forces them to either alter the cylindrical portion of the concealing device, i.e. trim it, or to purchase a new one. As trivial as this may at first appear, the practical consequences of such difficulties has serious financial implications. For example, a $500 per night hotel room may remain vacant simply due to the inability to conceal a damaged bathtub fixture. The foreseeable cost caused by the failure to have a straightforward “one size fits all” solution is enormous and orders of magnitude above the cost of the product itself.

Thus, it has been a long felt but unsolved need to provide a device for concealing a wastewater strainer in lieu of replacing it that is easy to install and can accommodate various models of wastewater strainers.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

It is one aspect of the present invention to provide a device for concealing at least a portion of a wastewater strainer that is associated with a drain port of a bathtub. One embodiment of the present invention includes a plate with an aperture therethrough and an outer edge that generally coincides with an outer edge of the wastewater strainer. The plate can be any thickness and made of any material so long as it conceals at least a portion, and more preferably the majority of a flange of the wastewater strainer. One embodiment of the present invention is about 0.020 inches thick. Some plates of embodiments of the present invention possess a downwardly extending outer lip that interacts with an outer edge of the wastewater strainer flange to maintain the orientation of the plate with respect to the wastewater strainer flange.

Certain embodiments of the present invention have no portion that extends substantially into the wastewater strainer, thereby making them suitable for use with all types of wastewater strainers. Some embodiments, however, have portions that extend into the strainer to such a degree to not affect interconnection of the concealing device to the strainer. For example, a series of spaced tabs may be selectively interconnected adjacent to the inner diameter of the plate that is defined by the aperture. The tabs extend into the strainer body similar to inserts of the prior art. The tabs are spaced such that the cross members of the strainer are received in the spaces, thereby allowing the device to accommodate strainers of various sizes. One of skill in the art will appreciate that the tabs may be frangible to decrease the length thereof or completely removable from the plate. The tabs of some embodiments extend 2 centimeters from the plate, 1 cm from the plate, or 0.5 cm from the plate. The tabs may also be made to split longitudinally to decrease the width thereof and to increase the gap between adjacent tabs, if necessary.

Other embodiments enhance alignment of the concealing device with the strainer body by providing a flexible or compressible screen segment interconnected to the plate that extends into the strainer body. The screen will compress when contacting the cross members and may also include a plurality of openings that allow fluid flow through the walls thereof. The flexible material may also be cut to accommodate strainers of various sizes.

Similarly, the plate may employ additional features to enhance alignment. For example, a series of grooves or small projections may extend from the underside of the plate to help align the plate on strainer flanges of various diameters.

It is thus another aspect of the present invention to provide a device for concealing a wastewater strainer wherein substantially no portion thereof is located within the wastewater strainer. In order to accommodate a stopper, which maintains fluid within the bathtub and controls the release of fluid from the bathtub, one embodiment of the present invention includes a plurality of arms that extend into an opening of the plate. The arms terminate at a hub that accommodates a stopper-receiving carrier that extends above the plate. More specifically, lift and turn mechanisms, as taught by U.S. Pat. No. 5,758,368, Presflo™ stopper mechanism, as taught by U.S. Pat. No. 6,066,119; and push/pull stoppers as taught by U.S. Pat. No. 6,418,570, may be used with embodiments of the present invention. These patents are incorporated by reference in their entirety herein. One of skill in the art will appreciate that the arms may be omitted where, for example, the stopper is operatively interconnected to a carrier or a stopper that is associated directly with the strainer body

It is another aspect of the present invention to provide a device and method for concealing a wastewater strainer that employs an adapter that is selectively interconnectable to the plate. The adapter is interconnected to the plate, preferably to the arms thereof, and is designed to extend downwardly into the wastewater strainer. This embodiment will thus allow for greater stability between the plate and the wastewater strainer. It is contemplated that the adapter will accommodate strainers of various sizes or correspond to a specific strainer. The adapter of one embodiment of the present invention also includes at least one groove for receiving an o-ring that helps interconnect the adapter to the cylindrical wall of the wastewater strainer. It is also contemplated that the device for concealing may be sold or accompanied by with the adapter wherein if an interference between the adapter and the wastewater strainer was apparent, the adapter could be removed.

In operation of one embodiment, the plate is superimposed over the flange of a conventional wastewater strainer located in the bathtub. If present, the downwardly extending edge associated with the outer edge of the plate is used to align the plate on to the flange of the wastewater strainer. Other embodiments of the present invention have alternative physical features for contacting the outer edge of the strainer flange. Such contacting portions may be grooves, that are preferably circular, that correspond to and engage with the outer edge of the strainer flange.

An adhesive material may be placed between the plate and the strainer flange and provides one of, if not the sole means of attachment between the plate and the strainer. The bottom portion of the plate may include a roughened or otherwise non-continuous surface to help facilitate binding adhesive. The roughened surface may include text or other indicia to identify the origin of the product.

Alternatively, the plate may include adhesive and associated substrate incorporated onto its lower surface. In operation, the installer would remove a thickness of substrate and associated adhesive so that the thickness of the strainer body is accommodated, i.e., such that the concealing device does not extend too far from the bottom surface of the bathtub. The remaining portions of the adhesive and substrate remain associated with the plate and are used to bond the concealing member to the strainer flange. To facilitate bonding, the adhesive may be heat sensitive such that exposure of hot water will initiate cure and create a permanent bond between the plate and the strainer. One skilled in the art will appreciate that magnets may also be employed to interconnect the plate to the strainer body. To this end, the strainer flange may receive a ferromagnetic material that would bond with a magnet associated with the concealing device.

It is another aspect of the present invention to provide a device adapted for concealing a flange of a wastewater strainer comprising: a plate having an outer edge and an opening therethrough, said opening defining an inner edge; a first arm having a first end interconnected to said inner edge and a second end interconnected to a hub positioned in the center of said opening; a second arm having a first end interconnected to said inner edge and a second end interconnected to said hub; a carrier associated with said hub and extending from said plate; and wherein said plate is adapted to be associated with the flange of the wastewater strainer at least partially concealing the same.

It is another aspect of the present invention to provide a device adapted for concealing a portion of a wastewater strainer comprising: a plate having an outer edge and an opening therethrough; an arm associated with said plate and extending into said opening; a hub positioned within said opening and associated with said arm; and a carrier associated with said hub and extending from said plate.

It is still yet another aspect of the present invention to provide a member adapted for interconnection with a flange of a wastewater strainer for concealing the same, the wastewater strainer including a cylindrical wall extending from the flange, the cylindrical wall positioned in a drain port of a bathtub, the member comprising an outer edge that generally coincides with an outer edge of the strainer flange and having an opening that coincides with an opening in the wastewater strainer defined by the cylindrical wall thereof, the improvement comprising: a first arm associated with said member having a first end interconnected to a hub located in said opening of said member; a second arm associated with said member having a first end interconnected to said member and a second edge interconnected to said hub; a carrier associated with said hub and extending from said plate; and wherein no portion of said member said first arm, said second arm and said carrier extend below said flange of the wastewater strainer and into the cylindrical wall thereof when said member is interconnected to said wastewater strainer.

It is a further aspect of the present invention to provide in combination a fluid compartment having a bottom surface with a wastewater strainer associated with said bottom surface, said strainer having a cylindrical wall surrounding a cylindrical opening extending through said bottom surface of said fluid compartment, and a strainer flange extending outwardly from said cylindrical opening and positioned on said bottom surface of said fluid compartment, a plate having an outer diameter approximately the same as the diameter of said strainer flange and an aperture therethrough, said plate resting on said strainer flange with an adhesive material therebetween wherein said aperture and said cylindrical opening generally coincide; at least one arm associated with said plate and extending into said aperture; a hub associated with said at least one arm; and a carrier extending from said hub.

It is still yet another aspect of the present invention to provide a method of concealing a flange of a wastewater strainer that is positioned in a fluid receptacle, comprising: providing a plate with an outer edge that generally corresponds with an outer edge of said flange; and interconnecting said plate to said flange of said wastewater flange, wherein no portion of said plate is positioned within said wastewater strainer.

The Summary of the Invention is neither intended nor should it be construed as being representative of the full extent and scope of the present invention. Moreover, references made herein to “the present invention” or aspects thereof should be understood to mean certain embodiments of the present invention and should not necessarily be construed as limiting all embodiments to a particular description. The present invention is set forth in various levels of detail in the Summary of the Invention as well as in the attached drawings and the Detailed Description of the Invention and no limitation as to the scope of the present invention is intended by either the inclusion or non-inclusion of elements, components, etc. in this Summary of the Invention. Additional aspects of the present invention will become more readily apparent from the Detail Description, particularly when taken together with the drawings.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

The accompanying drawings, which are incorporated in and constitute a part of the specification, illustrate embodiments of the invention and together with the general description of the invention given above and the detailed description of the drawings given below, serve to explain the principles of these inventions.

FIG. 1 is a perspective view of a wastewater strainer positioned in a bathtub;

FIG. 2 is a perspective view of one embodiment of the present invention;

FIG. 3 is a top plan view of another embodiment of the present invention;

FIG. 4 is a top plan view of another embodiment of the present invention;

FIG. 5 is a top plan view of another embodiment of the present invention;

FIG. 6 is a top plan view of another embodiment of the present invention;

FIG. 7 is a top plan view of another embodiment of the present invention;

FIG. 8 is a top plan view of another embodiment of the present invention;

FIG. 9 is a top perspective view of another embodiment of the present invention similar to FIG. 8;

FIG. 10 is a front perspective of the embodiment shown in FIG. 9 shown in conjunction with a stopper;

FIG. 11 is a perspective view of FIG. 2 with an associated stopper;

FIG. 12 is a cross-sectional view of FIG. 11 positioned adjacent to a wastewater strainer;

FIG. 13 is a front elevation view of a waste water concealing device of another embodiment of the present invention that employs an adapter for insertion into the wastewater strainer;

FIG. 14 is a perspective view of an adhesive tape used to secure the concealing device of one embodiment of the present invention to the wastewater strainer;

FIG. 15 is a cross sectional view showing a concealing device interconnected to a wastewater strainer;

FIG. 16 shows a plate having a plurality of concentric alignment rings;

FIG. 17 is a plate of one embodiment that employs a plurality of adhesive sheets;

FIG. 18 is a plate having a plurality of removable tabs;

FIG. 19 is a plate having aligning bellows;

FIG. 20 is an exploded perspective view of a chain and stopper that is used in connection with a concealing device of one embodiment;

FIG. 21 is a perspective view of a chain and stopper of FIG. 20 shown in an open configuration;

FIG. 22 is a cross-sectional view of FIG. 21;

FIG. 23 is a cross-sectional view of FIG. 21 shown in a closed configuration;

FIG. 24 is an exploded perspective view of a push/pull stopper that is used in connection with a concealing device of one embodiment;

FIG. 25 is a perspective view of the push/pull stopper of FIG. 24 shown in an open configuration;

FIG. 26 is a cross-sectional view of FIG. 24;

FIG. 27 is a cross-sectional view of FIG. 24 shown in a closed configuration;

FIG. 28 is an exploded perspective view of a foot-actuated stopper that is used in connection with a concealing device of one embodiment;

FIG. 29 is a perspective view of a foot-actuated stopper shown in an open configuration;

FIG. 30 is a cross-sectional view of FIG. 28;

FIG. 31 is a cross-sectional view of FIG. 28 in a closed configuration;

FIG. 32 is an exploded perspective view of a foot-actuated stopper that is used in connection with a concealing device of one embodiment;

FIG. 33 is a perspective view of the foot-actuated stopper shown in an open configuration;

FIG. 34 is a cross-sectional view of FIG. 32 shown in an open configuration;

FIG. 35 is a foot-actuated drain stopper of one embodiment of the present invention that is selectively interconnected to a traditional strainer body;

FIG. 36 is a cross sectional view of the system shown in FIG. 35 shown in an open configuration;

FIG. 37 is a cross-sectional view of the system shown in FIG. 35 shown in a closed configuration;

FIG. 38 is a perspective view of the system of FIG. 35 wherein the drain stopper has been removed for clarity;

FIG. 39 is an exploded perspective view of a foot-actuated drain stopper of another embodiment of the present invention that is selectively interconnected to a traditional strainer body;

FIG. 40 is a front elevation view of one embodiment of the present invention that is interconnected to the waste water strainer by way of a connector; and

FIG. 41 is a cross section of FIG. 40.

To assist in the understanding of one embodiment of the present invention the following list of components and associated numbering found in the drawings is provided herein:


#
Component
2
Concealing device
6
Plate
10
Opening
14
Arms
18
Hub
22
Carrier
26
Stopper
30
Outer edge
34
Outer edge
38
Flange
42
Wastewater strainer
46
Bottom surface
50
Bathtub
54
Lip
62
Opening
64
Sealant
66
Stopper body
70
Gasket
74
Knob
78
Cavity
82
Adapter
86
Seal groove
90
Clip
94
Conduit
98
Tape
102
Ring
106
Adhesive sheet
110
Tabs
114
Score line
118
Bellows
122
Stopper
126
Chain
130
PEM insert
134
Centering dome
138
Carrier
142
Guide member
143
Detent
144
Guide path
146
Stopper body
150
Seal
154
Friction ring
158
Ring follower
164
Cap
168
Spring
174
Connector
178
Bolt
182
First end
186
Second end
190
Hub
194
Spokes

It should be understood that the drawings are not necessarily to scale. In certain instances, details that are not necessary for an understanding of the invention or that render other details difficult to perceive may have been omitted. It should be understood, of course, that the invention is not necessarily limited to the particular embodiments illustrated herein.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION

Referring now to FIGS. 1-12, a wastewater strainer concealing device 2 of one embodiment of the present invention is shown. The concealing device 2 is generally comprised of a plate 6 with an opening 10 therethrough. A plurality of arms 14 is associated with the plate 6 that extend into the opening 10 and terminate at a hub 18. Although two arms are shown, one of skill in the art will appreciate that one or more arms may be provided. The hub 18 in turn accommodates an upwardly extending carrier 22 that receives a drain stopper 26. The hub 18 of one embodiment of the present invention includes a threaded portion that receives a threaded end of the carrier 22. For example, the hub 18 may be comprised of internally threaded fastener that is pressed into the surrounding metal, e.g., a PEM® Nut manufactured by Penn Engineering and Manufacturing Corp. Alternatively, the required threads may be directly machined into the plate 6 or the carrier 22 may be permanently integrated onto the plate. Still further, the carrier 22 may be interconnected to the hub 18 by a nut that is received onto a portion of the carrier 22 that extends through the plate. The plate 6 is preferably circular and has an outer edge 30 that corresponds with an outer edge 34 of a flange 38 associated with the wastewater strainer 42 engaged to a bottom surface 46 of the bathtub 50. The opening 10 may be a series of openings similar to a grate. Further, the opening 10 or openings may be of any shape, such as that associated with a logo. In one embodiment of the present invention, the plate 6 is about 1/32 inch thick, has an outer diameter of about 3 inches, and has an opening having a diameter of about 1 7/16 inches.

The plate 6 of the concealing device 2 may include a downwardly extending lip 54 or a plurality of members, e.g., tabs, that engage the outer edge 34 of the strainer flange 38 to ensure that the drain opening 62 is unobstructed, as it is desirable to maintain the opening 10 of the concealing device 2 with respect to the opening 62 provided by the wastewater strainer 42.

The plate 6 of one embodiment of the invention is adapted to receive logos and laminates and be any color. The plate 6 is preferably made of a metallic material, but other materials, such as plastic may be employed. Further, temperature sensitive materials that provide a visual indication of water temperature may be employed, which is important when bathing children. The plate 6 may include temperature sensitive portions in the form of letters or logos as well.

In operation, the flange 38 of the wastewater strainer 42 and/or the underside of the plate 6 is applied with adhesive 64 or an adhesive tape. The plate 6 is then affixed to the flange 38 wherein the opening 10 of the plate is generally aligned with the opening 62 of the wastewater strainer. The stopper 26 is then associated with the carrier 22. As one of skill in the art will appreciate, the plate 6 may be interconnected to the wastewater strainer 42 without an adhesive wherein the hub 18 of the plate 6 is interconnected to the hub of the wastewater strainer 42 (not shown) by way of a connecting member, e.g., a threaded rod. The connecting member may also be integral with the carrier 22. Further, the connecting member may be capable of interconnecting to wastewater strainers of various sizes and manufacture.

Referring now to FIGS. 3-10, plates 6 of various styles are provided. As will be appreciated by those in the art, the plate 6 may include openings 10 of various sizes and configurations. Similarly, the arms 14 of any number may be employed. For example, in FIG. 3, three arms 14 are provided while in FIG. 4, four arms 14 are provided. The arms may be symmetrical or may be non-symmetrical, as shown in FIG. 6. Furthermore, the arms may include designs or openings of various shapes as contemplated by FIG. 7. Those skilled in the art will appreciate that the opening may be comprised of a grate as shown in FIGS. 8-10 wherein the hub 18 is positioned thereon.

Those skilled in the art will also appreciate that the outer edge 30 and edges associated with the openings 10 may be beveled to create a sloped interface between the top surface of the plate 6 and the bottom of the bathtub floor. The outer diameter of the outer edge 30 may be smaller, but is preferably equal to or larger than the diameter of the existing wastewater strainer flange to which it will be interconnected. Those skilled in the art will appreciate that larger diameters may be needed in order to fully conceal the drain port of a bathtub and associated strainer. The plate 6 may have various finishes as described herein. Furthermore, the arms 14 and/or hub 18 may have finishes that are different from the other portions of the plate 6.

FIGS. 11 and 12 show the carrier 22 that is adapted to receive the stopper 26. Stoppers 26 are commonly comprised of a stopper body 66 with interconnected gasket 70 that cooperates with the plate 6 to prevent fluid flow through the opening 10 in the plate and the opening 62 in the strainer flange. The stopper 26 may include a knob 74 and includes a cavity 78 for receipt of the carrier 22 such that no portion of the stopper 26 or concealing device 2 penetrates into the strainer 42. As discussed above, the stopper 26 may be lift and turn, Presflo™, push/pull, foot-actuated, solenoid actuated, or any other type of stoppers commonly employed. The stopper and associated knob may include a feature that prevents the stopper from completely separating from the carrier. Such feature is found, for example, in U.S. Pat. No. 5,758,368.

Referring now to FIG. 13, another embodiment of the present invention is shown that includes an adapter 82 that is associated with the plate 6. The adapter 82 is a cylindrical portion that includes at least one seal groove 86 for receiving an o-ring (not shown). In operation, the o-ring, plugs, a fitted seal, etc., engages the adapter to an inner wall of the strainer body to secure the concealing device 2. Thus, one of skill in the art will appreciate that this embodiment of the present invention does not necessarily require the use of adhesive between the plate 6 and the flange of the wastewater strainer. It is, however, advisable to use such adhesive to prevent fluid infiltration between the adapter 82 and the wastewater strainer. In one embodiment of the present invention, the adapter is held to the arms 14 of the concealing device by a clip 90. The adapter can be of any size and may be selectively removable if an end user does not wish to use the same. The adapter 82 does not require a seal groove and a cylindrical wall may be used to assist aligning the concealing device 2 over the strainer body. The adapter 82 includes a conduit 94 to allow fluid to flow therethrough.

One of skill in the art will appreciate that the adapter may be integral with the plate 6. For example, a frangible adapter may be associated with the plate 6 that is designed to protrude into the strainer body and that includes weakened areas to allow the adapter to be selectively shortened or completely removed. Similarly, a telescoping adapter may be provided that has the ability to be selectively increased or decreased in length to accommodate various strainer bodies. Further, at least one downwardly-extending tab may be associated with the plate 6. The tabs extend into the strainer body in such away to avoid the hub and spokes associated with the strainer body. The tabs may be frangible or hooks may be employed similar to those taught by U.S. Pat. No. 5,692,248.

FIGS. 14 and 15 show an embodiment of the present invention where double-sided tape 98 is employed to interconnect the concealing device 2 to the wastewater strainer 42. More specifically, as outlined above, the concealing device is often fixed to the strainer with an adhesive or sealant. Some silicone sealants, however, are not easy to remove after they cure. To address this issue, two-sided pressure sensitive acrylic closed cell foam tape is used to bond the concealing device 2 to the wastewater strainer 42. An example of such tape is manufactured by 3M™ and is sold as VHB™ Acrylic Foam Tape, which is resistant to cleaning chemicals, forms a permanent seal, is virtually invisible, and is conforming.

FIG. 16 shows an alternative embodiment of a plate 6 that includes a plurality of concentrically aligned rings 102. The rings 102 are designed to help align the plate 6 onto the strainer flange 38. More specifically, in most instances, the lip 54 of the plate 6 will contact the outer edge of the flange 38 to align the plate 6. However, in instances where the flange 38 has a diameter smaller than that of the plate 6, an interior ring 102 will contact the outer edge of the flange 33. As shown, the rings 102 are increased in length radially outwardly from the plate opening 62. As such, an inner ring will not interfere with the function of the outermost rings when the plate is engaged onto a small strainer flange. The spaces between each ring will receive adhesive and facilitate the bond between the plate 6 the strainer flange 38.

FIG. 17 shows a plate 6 having a plurality of adhesive sheets 106 associated with its underside. It is contemplated that this plate 6 will be more apt to accommodate strainer flanges of varying thicknesses. In operation, removal of multiple sheets and associated substrates will increase the recess provided by the lip 54 as the deeper the recess, the thicker the strainer flange that can be accommodated. Once the desired recess is achieved, no further adhesive sheets would be removed. In order to maintain the remaining adhesive sheets and associated plate to the flange, the adhesive may be heat activated such that when exposed to hot water, it cures and hardens to prevent removal.

FIG. 18 shows yet another way to align the plate 6 of one embodiment of the present invention. This plate has a plurality of tabs 110 that are designed to fit within the strainer. That is, the tabs 110 are spaced such that the crossed members of the strainer body, or spokes 194 (see FIG. 41) are accommodated between the tabs. The tabs 110 may also be frangible a weakened area such as score lines 114 to decrease their height and width. In one embodiment of the present invention, the tabs 110 are completely removable to yield a plate as shown in FIG. 2, for example. The tabs 110 may be flexible and splayed outwardly or bowed to be flexed inwardly to engage the inner surface of the strainer body to enhance engagement between the plate 6 and the strainer.

FIG. 19 shows an alternate embodiment of a plate having a bellows portion 118 extending therefrom that helps align the plate 6 onto the strainer body. The bellows portion 118 will compress when it contacts the cross members of the strainer body, thereby allowing the plate to be used on various types of strainer bodies. Once skilled in the art will appreciate that the bellows portion may be made with a plurality of openings to allow fluid flow therethrough. The bellows section may also be made of thin material such that it can be cut to a desired length or removal from the plate.

FIGS. 20-23 show a stopper 122 and chain 126 used in conjunction with a concealing device 2 of one embodiment of the present invention. As discussed above, the plate 6 of embodiments of the present invention can accommodate stoppers of various configurations. Here, the plate includes arms 14 that are slightly raised that receive a PEM insert 130. One of skill in the art will appreciate that the plate may be devoid of arms wherein the stopper rests in the opening in the plate. The PEM insert 130 receives a centering dome 134 that helps align the stopper 122 on the plate 6. As can be appreciated upon review of FIG. 23, for example, no part of the stopper 112 is positioned in the strainer body when the drain is closed. Thus, the stopper is universal and can be used in conjunction with embodiments of the present invention to accommodate any strainer body.

Referring now to FIGS. 24-27, a push/pull stopper 122 used in conjunction with embodiments of the present invention is shown. As described above, a PEM insert 130 is incorporated into the plate 6. The PEM insert 130 receives a carrier 138 that is associated with the stopper. Again, no part of the stopper 122 extends below the plate 6. A friction ring 154 is used to maintain the stopper in an open or closed configuration.

FIGS. 28-31 show a foot-actuated stopper 122 that may also be incorporated with embodiments of the present invention. Here, a guide member 142 is associated with a stopper body 146 via a ring follower 158. When a cap 164 is actuated by a user's foot or hand, the stopper body 146 will move the ring follower 158 in a guide path 144 which will rotate the guide member 142. Eventually the seal 150 will contact the plate 6 to prevent fluid flow through the strainer body. At that point, pressure on the cap 164 is released and the guide path prevents upward movement of the ring follower 158 because the detents 143 thereof are abutted against a wall of the guide path 144. That is, the interaction of the ring follower 150 with the guide path 144 will prevent separation of the seal 150 from the plate 6. The cap 164 is further depressed to open the stopper.

More specifically, forcing the ring follower 158 downwardly rotates the guide member 142 to eventually provide an obstruction-free guide path that will allow the ring follower 158 and interconnected cap to move upwardly. The cap 164 is urged upwardly by a spring 168.

FIG. 30 shows the wastewater strainer 42 wherein the plate 6 is positioned on the flange 38 thereof. Again, no portion of the plate 6 or stopper 122 substantially protrudes into the wastewater strainer 42, thereby making this combination and other stopper and plate combinations universal.

Referring now to FIGS. 32-38, another embodiment of the present invention is shown that is similar to that shown in FIGS. 28-31. More specifically, a cap 164 is interconnected to the guide member 142 having a guide path 144 that operatively receives a ring follower 158. The ring follower 158 rotates the guide path 142 as the cap is pressed towards the plate 6. In this way, the cap and associated rubber seal 150 are brought in contact with the plate 6 or removed therefrom. The spring 168 of this embodiment of the present invention rests against a screw that is interconnected to a PEM fastener. The spring and guide member 142 are thus able to rotate relative to the fixed screw when the cap is moved toward and away from the plate.

FIG. 39 shows another embodiment of the present invention that is not necessarily associated with a low profile plate as shown and described above. More specifically, this embodiment of the present invention is more aptly associated with a strainer body of the prior art. Again, a guide path is provided that is interconnected via a said screw to a stringer of the strainer body. The ring follower is also operably associated with the guide path and thus functions similar to that shown above with respect to FIGS. 33-39.

FIGS. 40 and 41 show a concealing device of one embodiment of the present invention interconnected to a strainer body 42. More specifically, a connector 174 is provided having a first end 182 and a second end 186. Both ends may be internally threaded to receive a bolt 178 that is associated with the plate 6 that conceals the flange 38 of the strainer body 42. The bolt extends through the concealing device and threads into either the internal diameter of the first end 182 or the internal diameter of the second end 186. The first end 182 and the second end 186 also include external threads for receipt within a hub 190 that is interconnected by a plurality of spokes 194 to the cylindrical portion of the strainer body 42. The internal diameter of the hub 190 will dictate which side of the connector 174 is threaded into the hub 190 and which side receives the bolt 178. In this fashion, the plate 6 is firmly engaged against the flange 38 and conceals the same.

In operation of the device as shown in FIGS. 32-41, one would press down on the cap, which would force the ring follower to travel along the guide path. As the protrusions of the ring follower travel along the guide path, the member rotates to allow the ring follower to travel the length of the member. In this way, the descent of the cap is controlled. After the cap or stopper top is placed adjacent to the plate or the flange of the strainer body, the ring follower will be positioned at a lower portion of the guide path. To disengage the cap from the steel plate or the strainer body, additional downward force is initially added to the cap, thereby rotating the guide path in such a way to expose the upper part of the path, which allows the ring follower to travel upwardly and disassociate the rubber seal from the steel plate.

While various embodiments of the present invention have been described in detail, it is apparent that modifications and alterations of those embodiments will occur to those skilled in the art. However, it is to be expressly understood that such modifications and alterations are within the scope and spirit of the present invention, as set forth in the claims provided herewith. In addition, it is to be understood that the phraseology and terminology used herein is for the purpose of description and should not be regarded as limiting. The use of “including,”“comprising,” or “having” and variations thereof herein is meant to encompass the items listed thereafter and equivalents thereof as well as additional items.

Furthermore, one of skill in the art will appreciate that the invention described herein may be used with or incorporated into any of the inventions in the patents and applications listed: U.S. Pat. No. 5,692,248, entitled “Method and Means for Covering the Flange of a Wastewater Strainer”; U.S. Pat. No. 5,745,931, entitled “Method and Means for Covering the Flange of a Wastewater Strainer”; U.S. Pat. No. 7,503,083, entitled “Method and Means for Covering the Flange of Wastewater Strainer”; U.S. Pat. No. 5,890,241, entitled “Method and Means for Installing Overflow Outlets to Bathtubs and the Like”, U.S. Pat. No. 6,066,119, entitled “Wastewater Strainer and Valve”; U.S. Pat. No. 6,148,454, entitled “A Solenoid Control for a Bathtub Wastewater Drain”; U.S. Pat. No. 6,154,898, entitled “Wastewater Drain Control for Fluid Compartments”; U.S. Pat. No. 6,173,459, entitled “A Control For a Bathtub Wastewater Drain”; U.S. Pat. No. 6,226,806, entitled “Wastewater Strainer and the Like”; U.S. Pat. No. 6,317,906, entitled “Strainer Assembly for Bathtub Drains and the Like”: U.S. Pat. No. 6,418,570, entitled “Drain Closure”; U.S. Pat. No. 6,546,573, entitled “Drain Cover Assembly”; U.S. Pat. No. 6,631,623, entitled “Condensate Drain Attachments and Method of Use Thereof”; U.S. Pat. No. 6,637,050, entitled “Overflow Assembly for Bathtubs and the Like”; U.S. Pat. No. 6,640,358, entitled “Strainer Assembly for Bathtub Drains and the Like”; U.S. Pat. No. 6,675,406, entitled “Overflow Assembly for Bathtubs and the Like”; U.S. Pat. No. 6,675,407, entitled “Solenoid Activated Bathtub Drain Closure”; U.S. Pat. No. 6,681,420, entitled “Method and Apparatus for Installing a Bathtub Assembly”; U.S. Pat. No. 6,691,411, entitled “Method of Installing a Wastewater Drain Assembly for a Bathtub”; U.S. Pat. No. 7,127,752, entitled “Overflow Assembly for Bathtubs and The Like”; U.S. Pat. No. 7,451,502, entitled “Bath Drain Closure Assembly”; and U.S. Pat. No. 7,503,083, entitled “Means for Covering the Flange of a Wastewater Strainer”; U.S. Patent Application Publication Nos. 20040117907, entitled “Method and Apparatus for Assembling and Sealing Bathtub Overflow and Wastewater Ports”; 20080047060, entitled “Control for a Bathtub Wastewater Drain”; 20070039098, entitled “Bath Drain Closure Assembly”; 20080098517, entitled “Method and Associated Apparatus for Assembling and Testing a Plumbing System”; and 20080196161 entitled “Flexible Bathtub Waste Pipe Assembly for Bathtubs and the Like”; and 20090172877, entitled “Method and Means for Covering the Flange of a Wastewater Strainer”; and 20100037392 entitled “Cable Actuated Drain”; all of which are incorporated by reference in their entirety herein.

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Citation

Patents Cited in This Cited by
Title Current Assignee Application Date Publication Date
Einsatzelement für Abflüsse von Wannen, Spülen o.dgl. FRANZ VIEGENER II GMBH & CO. KG 09 November 2001 24 April 2003
Ablauf für Spülbecken, Waschbecken o.dgl. AQUATOP PRODUKTENTWICKLUNG UND VERTRIEB VON REAKTIONSFORMTEILEN GMBH 17 January 1992 07 May 1992
Phase modulator NIPPON ELECTRIC CO 08 November 1976 26 May 1978
Schraegaufzug FOERDERANLAGEN ERNST HECKEL M 03 May 1924 30 September 1925
水質浄化方法 花岡 昭治 11 July 1991 26 January 1993
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