Title:
Plumbing fitting with two part putty groove
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A plumbing fitting has a putty groove defined between an internal insert and an external decorative shell. In one form, a terminal end of the shell also captures the insert inside the housing. This allows formation of a deep putty groove even in those circumstances where the outer shell is very thin and is flared at the bottom.



Inventors:
Mueller, Jeffrey L. (Plymouth, WI, US)
Application Number:
11/351939
Publication Date:
08/16/2007
Filing Date:
02/10/2006
Assignee:
Kohler Co.
Primary Class:
International Classes:
E03C1/04
View Patent Images:
Related US Applications:



Primary Examiner:
NGUYEN, TUAN N
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
QUARLES & BRADY LLP (ATTN: IP DOCKET 411 E. WISCONSIN AVENUE SUITE 2350, MILWAUKEE, WI, 53202-4426, US)
Claims:
What is claimed is:

1. A plumbing fitting, comprising: a housing defining an outer shell with a hollow interior; and a base that is non-integral with the housing, inserted into the interior of the housing, and connected to the housing; wherein a putty groove is formed in part by the base and in part by an end of the housing.

2. The plumbing fitting of claim 1, wherein the end of the housing defines an outer side wall of the groove.

3. The plumbing fitting of claim 2, wherein the end of the housing extends inwardly of a radially peripheral edge of the base.

4. The plumbing fitting of claim 2, wherein the base includes an annular ring at an intermediate location of the base that extends axially to define an inner side wall of the putty groove.

5. The plumbing fitting of claim 1, wherein the base is captured in the interior of the housing by the end of the housing.

6. The plumbing fitting of claim 1, wherein the base is annular and the end of the housing defines an annular outer side wall of the putty groove which has a circular configuration.

7. The plumbing fitting of claim 6, wherein the putty groove is located radially outward of an opening through the base.

8. The plumbing fitting of claim 7, wherein the putty groove is located proximate an outer periphery of the base.

9. The plumbing fitting of claim 1, wherein the housing has a flared end receiving the base and being of a radial dimension larger than an intermediate section of the housing.

10. The plumbing fitting of claim 1, wherein the housing defines an outer shell for one of a faucet, a spout and a flow control valve.

11. A plumbing fitting, comprising: a housing defining an outer shell with a hollow interior, the housing having a flared lower section with a lower end, the lower section decreasing in height in a radial outward direction, the lower end of the housing providing an outer wall of a putty groove at an underside of the fitting opening in an axially downward direction; and an annular base inserted into the interior of the housing at the lower section and decreasing in height in the radial outward direction, the base having an underside defining radially inner wall and also a back wall of the putty groove and cooperating with the lower end of the housing to define the putty groove.

12. The plumbing fitting of claim 11, wherein the lower end of the housing extends inwardly of a peripheral edge of the base at an underside of the base.

13. The plumbing fitting of claim 12, wherein an underside of the base includes an annular ring of the base that extends axially downward to define the inner wall of the putty groove.

14. The plumbing fitting of claim 13, wherein the annular ring extends axially downward further than does a relatively radially outer section of the base underside.

15. The plumbing fitting of claim 14, wherein the base is captured in the interior of the housing by the lower end of the housing.

16. The plumbing fitting of claim 14, wherein the lower end is a terminal end of the housing.

17. The plumbing fitting of claim 11, wherein the putty groove is located radially outward of an opening through the base and proximate an outer radial periphery of the base.

18. The plumbing fitting of claim 11, wherein the housing defines an outer shell for one of a faucet, a spout and a flow control valve.

19. A plumbing fitting comprising a first part and a second part, the first and second parts being separately formed and being joined thereafter to cooperate to form a putty groove at an underside of the fitting for receiving sealant, wherein the first part forms a first side wall of the putty groove, and the second part forms a side wall of the putty groove opposite the first side wall of the putty groove.

Description:

CROSS-REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATION

Not applicable.

STATEMENT OF FEDERALLY SPONSORED RESEARCH OR DEVELOPMENT

Not applicable.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

The present invention relates to plumbing fittings having a groove for accommodating a sealant at an interface between the plumbing fitting and a counter top or wall that the plumbing fitting is to be mounted against. More particularly it relates to a multi-part structure for defining such a putty groove.

Plumbing fittings such as faucets, spouts and valve control handles are well known. See eg. U.S. Pat. No. 6,345,643. It is common to mount such fittings to a horizontal counter top, or to a vertical wall, through an opening formed therein. This allows the fitting to connect to plumbing lines or other plumbing related controls.

In a bathroom or other environment water may tend to seep between the downward/inward end of the fitting and the adjacent counter top or wall, and then leak through the opening. It is therefore conventional to surround the opening by preformed gaskets or more commonly a continuous strip of sealant/putty. When using such a sealant, it is desirable to compress the fitting tightly against the surface that it is being mounted on to minimize gaps. However, this can cause the putty to ooze outward if the putty is not confined by the structures involved. This can require some extra labor to clean up the installation, and in some cases may leave the putty slightly visible.

Thus, it is conventional to provide a confined groove on the underside/innerside of the fitting to receive the putty. This is often provided in an associated putty plate that the valve housing rests on. See e.g. U.S. Pat. No. 5,960,490 where a putty plate was provided with a downwardly opening putty groove just inward of its perimeter.

Complicating matters is that conventional escutcheons for plumbing fittings are often made of relatively thin material to reduce cost and weight. Hence, providing a putty groove of sufficient depth directly in a thin shell escutcheon can be problematic. Using a separate putty plate for the putty groove helps address this concern. However, when the outer shell/escutcheon sits on the putty plate the less ornamental putty plate may be somewhat visible.

Another complication is that as the escutcheon of the plumbing fitting is made more and more flared and bell shaped (e.g. for ornamental reasons), there can be difficulties in positioning the putty groove adjacent the outer radius of the escutcheon.

Hence, a need exists to provide a plumbing fitting with improved putty groove structures, particularly where the escutcheon is bell shaped.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

The invention provides a plumbing fitting that has a housing (e.g. a decorative escutcheon) defining an outer shell with a hollow interior. There is also a base inserted into the interior of the housing which is connected to the housing. A putty groove is formed at the underside of the fitting in part by the base and in part by an end of the housing. For example, a terminal end of the housing can define an outer side wall of the groove, with a portion of the insert forming the opposed side of the groove.

While in connection with the disclosure herein the directions up and down (e.g. underside) are referred to, if the fitting is to be mounted on a vertical wall, those terms are to be instead meant to be interpreted so that the upward direction is the direction outward away from the wall, and the downward direction (e.g. underside) is the direction towards the wall.

Also, when the term “putty groove” is used putty per se does not have to be present or intended to be used. Rather, it is intended that a groove be present which is designed to receive a sealant, regardless of whether specifically putty.

In a preferred form of the first embodiment of the present invention the end of the housing extends inwardly of a peripheral edge of the base (to thereby trap it in the housing), and the base includes an annular ring that extends axially to define an inner wall of the putty groove. The putty groove is preferably circular, with its side walls being correspondingly circular.

In another preferred form the putty groove is located radially outward of an opening through the base, and the putty groove is located radially proximate an outer periphery of the base. The housing can then have a flared, generally bell-shaped end receiving the base.

These structures are most preferably incorporated into a flow control handle assembly. However, they may be incorporated into a variety of other plumbing fittings such as faucets, spouts, shower mixers, etc.

In another aspect the invention provides a plumbing fitting. There is a housing defining an outer shell with a hollow interior, the housing having a flared lower section with a lower end, the lower section decreasing in height in a radial outward direction, the lower end of the housing providing an outer wall of a putty groove at an underside of the fitting opening in an axially downward direction. There is also an annular base inserted into the interior of the housing at the lower section and decreasing in height in the radial outward direction, the base having an underside defining radially inner wall and also a back wall of the putty groove and cooperating with the lower end of the housing to define the putty groove.

In yet another aspect the invention provides a plumbing fitting having a first part and a second part. The first and second parts are separately formed and joined thereafter to cooperate to form a putty groove at an underside of the fitting for receiving sealant (e.g. putty). In any event, the first part forms a first side wall of the putty groove, and the second part forms a side wall of the putty groove opposite the first side wall of the putty groove.

It should be appreciated that the structures of the present invention allow deep putty grooves to be formed with relatively thin material. Further, they can be positioned in designs that are bell-shaped at their base. Moreover, the structure of the present invention facilitates the hiding of the putty or other sealant from view after installation.

The putty groove will normally have a closed loop configuration, for example a circle, oval, rectangle, square or other such shape. However, this is not absolutely required, albeit it is greatly preferred. Moreover, while the placement of the groove around a countertop opening or shower enclosure wall opening is preferred, the putty groove can be positioned adjacent other structures.

The housing/escutcheon/outer shell can be formed to capture the base in the interior of the housing. In particular, when the terminal end of the housing extends inwardly of a peripheral edge of the base at an underside of the base, the terminal end doubles as a both groove wall and a connector element. Thus, a solid connection is obtained without the need for separate fasteners being required to join the two components.

Other advantages of the invention will be apparent from the detailed description which follows and accompanying drawings. What follows is merely a description of preferred embodiments of the present invention. To assess the full scope of the invention the claims should be looked to as the preferred embodiments are not intended to be the only embodiments within the scope of the claims.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

FIG. 1 is a front elevational view of a first embodiment of the present invention in the form of a water control valve handle assembly;

FIG. 2 is an exploded assembly view of certain parts thereof;

FIG. 3 is a vertical sectional view taken along line 3-3 of FIG. 1 of certain parts of the assembly, with certain other parts shown therein in phantom;

FIG. 4 is an enlarged detailed sectional view of the area noted as area 4-4 of FIG. 3; and

FIG. 5 is a view similar to FIG. 4 albeit showing an analogous portion of an alternate embodiment.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENTS

FIGS. 1-4 illustrate a first preferred handle assembly 10. The assembly/plumbing fitting 10 includes a handle 12, an elbow 14, a glide washer 16, a housing shell or escutcheon 18, a coupler sleeve 20, a fastener 22 and a base insert 24. The handle 12 has a grip area and a threaded end that threads into one end of the elbow 14. The other end of the elbow 14 has a square stud (not shown) that fits into the square opening of the sleeve 20 and receives the fastener 22 in a threaded opening (not shown) in the stud.

The sleeve 20 has a splined interior that engages the splined end of a conventional valve stem 26 of a flow control valve 28 (shown in phantom in FIG. 3), which are connected to a water inlet line (not shown). The valve 28 can be any conventional valve such as a ¼ turn valve cartridge. Suitable brackets (not shown) secures the valve to the countertop 30 (see FIG. 3) and the threaded inner diameter 31 of the base insert 24 threads onto the body of the valve or the brackets to mount the fitting to the countertop 30.

As shown in FIG. 3, the escutcheon 18 forms the ornamental body of the fitting 10. It can be made of a suitable thin metal in one piece (but possibly two or more pieces). The interior of the escutcheon 18 is hollow and accommodates the sleeve 20, base insert 24 and valve structure.

In the embodiment shown in FIG. 3, the escutcheon 18 has a chess piece shape with a head 32, narrow body 34 and flared bell end 36. Like a bell, the end 36 flares radially outward. As it flares outward, the vertical height of the end 36 decreases. Like the end 36 of the escutcheon 18, the base insert 24 also flares radially outward and decreases in height so that it abuts an inside surface of the escutcheon 18 at its radially widest point.

As best shown in FIG. 4, a terminal end 38 of the escutcheon 18 wraps around the base insert 24 and extends radially inward along an underside of the base insert 24. The edge surface of the terminal end of the escutcheon 18 thus forms a circular, radially outward side wall 40 of a downwardly opening putty groove 42 extending continuously in a circle very near the radial outer periphery of the fitting.

The inner side wall 44 of the putty groove 42 is formed by a radially outward facing surface of a rib 46 of the base insert 24. The rib 46 extends axially downward further than the adjacent undersurface 48 of the base insert 24 radially outward of the rib 46, which forms the upper, back wall of the putty groove 42.

In the disclosed FIG. 4 embodiment the surface 48 extends at the same height to essentially the outer periphery of the base insert 24 (other than at the edge radius) such that the terminal end 38 of the escutcheon 18 forms the entire outer side wall of the putty groove 42. However, this is not necessary, and another downwardly extending portion of the base insert 24 could combine with the terminal end of the escutcheon to form the outer side wall.

In addition to cooperating with the base insert 24 to create the putty groove, the wrap around configuration of the terminal end 38 of the escutcheon shown in FIG. 4 captures the base insert 24 within the hollow interior of the escutcheon 18. The escutcheon 18 wraps tightly around the upper and lower surfaces of the periphery of the base insert 24 so that a tight, solid feeling connection is made between the components. Thus, no separate fasteners are required to join the two components.

As shown in FIG. 5, in an alternate construction of the fitting, the terminal end 38A does not wrap around the underside of the base insert. Instead it extends axially straight downward to create the outer side wall of the putty groove. As a result of this configuration, the putty groove is wider and extends nearer the outer periphery of the fitting. However, in this case, the base insert is not captured by the escutcheon such that an additional fastener would be required to connect the escutcheon and the base (e.g. cooperating threads; adhesive; mechanical fastening). Yet, in both cases, the escutcheon 18 can surround the periphery of the base to conceal the base and any other internal structure, and provide the fitting with a clean, finished appearance.

Because the resulting groove is quite deep, sufficient putty is available to make an effective seal. Yet, the end 36 will prevent putty from oozing out into a visible position.

While there has been shown and described what is at present considered the preferred embodiments of the invention, various changes and modifications can be made therein without departing from the scope of the invention defined by the appended claims. For example, in certain configurations the outer shell may form the outer side wall and back wall of the putty groove, with the insert forming only an inner side wall. Therefore, various alternatives and revised embodiments are contemplated as being within the scope of the following claims.

INDUSTRIAL APPLICABILITY

The invention provides a plumbing fitting with an improved putty groove to control leaking by the fitting.