Title:
MULTIPLE HEAD SHOWER KIT
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A shower manifold for installation in an existing enclosure includes one or more bifurcated conduits each having a main branch and an auxiliary branch. The main branch is in fluid communication with a bib in the enclosure, either directly or through a flexible hose. The bifurcated conduits are connected with straight conduits and attached to spacer shafts as required to extend between the walls forming the enclosure. Shower heads are mounted to the auxiliary branches, which are angularly oriented to direct the water stream within the enclosure. A cruciform conduit having two transverse branches may also be part of the manifold. Two shower heads are connected to free ends of the transverse branches. Coupling of the components to one another is effected by male and female components, the male components having both screw threads and channels to engage a female component having either lugs or compatible screw threads.



Inventors:
Shorr, Edwin M. (Lansdale, PA, US)
Shorr, Wendy E. (Lansdale, PA, US)
Shorr, Joshua (Lansdale, PA, US)
Application Number:
11/677614
Publication Date:
09/13/2007
Filing Date:
02/22/2007
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
239/282
International Classes:
A47K3/28
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
REIS, RYAN ALEXANDER
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
FOX ROTHSCHILD LLP (997 Lenox Drive, Bldg. #3, Lawrenceville, NJ, 08648, US)
Claims:
What is claimed is:

1. A shower manifold for installation in an existing enclosure having a bib connected to a source of pressurized water, said shower manifold being mountable between first and second facing walls forming said enclosure, said shower manifold comprising: a bifurcated conduit in fluid communication with said bib, said bifurcated conduit having a main branch and an auxiliary branch for conducting water therethrough, said main branch having a first end attachable to said first wall and an opposite end; a shower head mounted on said auxiliary branch for discharging water within said enclosure; and a spacer shaft having a first end attached to said opposite end of said main branch and a second end attachable to said second wall.

2. A shower manifold according to claim 1, wherein said auxiliary branch is angularly oriented with respect to said main branch.

3. A shower manifold according to claim 2, wherein said auxiliary branch has an orientation angle between about 40° and about 90° relatively to said main branch.

4. A shower manifold according to claim 1, further comprising a flexible hose extending between said bib and said main branch thereby providing fluid communication between said bib and said bifurcated conduit.

5. A shower manifold according to claim 4, further comprising first and second mounting brackets mountable on said first and second facing walls, said mounting brackets having a plurality of openings therein, said openings being positioned at a plurality of different heights within said shower stall, said mounting brackets being adapted to receive said first end of said main branch and said second end of said spacer shaft for mounting said shower manifold within said shower stall.

6. A shower manifold according to claim 1, wherein said first end of said bifurcated conduit is connectable directly to said bib.

7. A shower manifold for installation in an existing enclosure having a bib connected to a source of pressurized water, said shower manifold being mountable between first and second facing walls forming said enclosure, said shower manifold comprising: a first bifurcated conduit in fluid communication with said bib, said first bifurcated conduit having a first main branch and a first auxiliary branch for conducting water therethrough; a first shower head mounted on said first auxiliary branch for discharging water within said enclosure; a second bifurcated conduit having a second main branch and a second auxiliary branch for conducting water therethrough, said second main branch being in fluid communication with said first main branch; and a second shower head mounted on said second auxiliary branch for discharging water within said enclosure.

8. A shower manifold according to claim 7, wherein said first auxiliary branch is angularly oriented with respect to said first main branch and said second auxiliary branch is angularly oriented with respect to said second main branch.

9. A shower manifold according to claim 8, wherein said first and second auxiliary branches have an orientation angle between about 40° and about 90°.

10. A shower manifold according to claim 7, further comprising a flexible hose extending between said bib and said first main branch thereby providing fluid communication between said bib and said first bifurcated conduit.

11. A shower manifold according to claim 7, wherein said first bifurcated conduit is connectable directly to said bib.

12. A shower manifold according to claim 7, further comprising: a cruciform conduit having a first cruciform branch in fluid communication with said first and second main branches and a second cruciform branch oriented transversely to said first cruciform branch, said second cruciform branch being in fluid communication with said first cruciform branch and having oppositely disposed ends; and a third shower head mounted on one said end of said second cruciform branch and a fourth shower head mounted on another said end of said second cruciform branch, said third and fourth shower heads for discharging water within said enclosure.

13. A shower manifold according to claim 7, further comprising a spacer shaft having a first end coupled to one of said first and second bifurcated conduits and a second end mountable on one of said walls forming said enclosure.

14. A shower manifold according to claim 7, further comprising a straight conduit positioned between said first and second bifurcated conduits and providing fluid communication therebetween.

15. A shower manifold according to claim 7, further comprising a coupling for joining said first and second bifurcated conduits together, said coupling comprising: a male component extending from one of said bifurcated conduits, said male component having external threads there around and a channel cut transversely to said threads in said male component; and a female component mounted on the other of said bifurcated conduits, said female component having a lug projecting radially inwardly so as to engage said channel when said male component engages said female component.

16. A shower manifold according to claim 15, wherein said channel has a J shape.

17. A shower manifold according to claim 7, further comprising a coupling for joining said first and second bifurcated conduits together, said coupling comprising: a male component extending from one of said bifurcated conduits, said male component having external threads there around and a channel cut transversely to said threads in said male component; and a female component mounted on the other of said bifurcated conduits, said female component having internal threads compatible with said external threads of said male component when said male component engages said female component.

18. A kit for a shower manifold installable within an existing enclosure having a bib connected to a source of pressurized water, said kit comprising: a plurality of bifurcated conduits, each bifurcated conduit having a main branch and an auxiliary branch; a plurality of straight conduits connectable to said bifurcated conduits; a plurality of spacer shafts connectable to said bifurcated conduits and said straight conduits; and a plurality of shower heads attachable to said auxiliary branches.

19. A kit according to claim 18, further comprising a flexible hose connectable between said bib and one of said bifurcated conduits for providing fluid communication therebetween.

20. A kit according to claim 18, further comprising a cruciform conduit having a first cruciform branch connectable with said main branches of said bifurcated conduits and a second cruciform branch oriented transversely to said first cruciform branch, said second cruciform branch being in fluid communication with said first cruciform branch and having oppositely disposed ends, wherein said shower heads are mountable on said ends of said second cruciform branch.

Description:

CROSS REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATION

This application is based on and claims priority to U.S. Provisional Application No. 60/776,405, filed Feb. 24, 2006.

FIELD OF THE INVENTION

This invention relates to shower devices, and more particularly to shower devices having multiple discharge heads.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

Trends in plumbing practice have witnessed a movement toward shower facilities in the home having multiple discharge heads. Such facilities convey numerous advantages by delivering a full body spray that provides therapeutic as well as hygienic service. Modern shower heads surrounding the bather may be adjusted from massaging needle sprays to pulsating flows that provide a relaxing experience, maintaining the bather in a fully encompassing torrent of water at a desired temperature without the need to turn or shift to position body portions in the comforting water stream.

While it is relatively easy to outfit shower facilities in new construction with multiple discharge heads, it can be expensive and disruptive to retro-fit existing shower facilities by traditional plumbing techniques. Shower facilities in most homes are not free standing, but are an integral part of the full bathroom and use the walls of the room to form a substantial portion of the enclosure. Retro-fitting such a facility may require that the shower enclosure be substantially dismantled so that piping may be installed in the walls to supply water to the additional shower heads mounted at predetermined locations within the shower stall. Add to this the complication that there are various sizes and types of shower facilities, from single stalls to combination stall and bathtub enclosures. There is clearly a need for a universal device that will permit the easy conversion of a shower facility from single to multiple discharge heads without major construction, disruption and expense.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

In one form, the present invention provides a combination of components, such as a kit, for assembling a shower manifold for installation in an existing shower stall or tub enclosure. The components include a plurality of bifurcated conduits for mounting of shower heads, a plurality of shower heads mountable on the bifurcated conduits, at least one optional straight conduit to adapt the manifold to a particular length and to provide fluid communication between the bifurcated conduits, and a plurality of spacer shafts of various lengths to further aid in adapting the manifold to a shower stall of a particular length. Fittings and flexible tubing can be provided to provide various connection options to the water supply, namely, the existing shower bib. Also included are connecting elements in the form of seals, threaded nipples and/or quick-disconnect couplings that permit the various straight and bifurcated conduits to be connected to one another and the spacer shafts. Additional hardware in the form of bracketry and cover plates is included for added adaptability and to provide a finished appearance.

The shower manifold according to the invention is for installation in an existing enclosure having a bib connected to a source of pressurized water. The shower manifold is mountable between first and second facing walls forming the enclosure and comprises a first bifurcated conduit in fluid communication with the bib. The first bifurcated conduit has a first main branch and a first auxiliary branch for conducting water therethrough. A first shower head is mounted on the first auxiliary branch for discharging water within the enclosure. A second bifurcated conduit is formed of a second main branch and has a second auxiliary branch for conducting water therethrough. The second main branch is in fluid communication with the first main branch. A second shower head is mounted on the second auxiliary branch for discharging water within the enclosure.

The first auxiliary branch may be angularly oriented with respect to the first main branch and the second auxiliary branch may be angularly oriented with respect to the second main branch. The first and second auxiliary branches have an orientation angle between about 40° and about 90°.

In one embodiment, a flexible hose extends between the bib and the first main branch thereby providing fluid communication between the bib and the first bifurcated conduit. Alternately, the first bifurcated conduit is connectable directly to the bib.

The manifold may also include a cruciform conduit having a first cruciform branch in fluid communication with the first and second main branches and a second cruciform branch oriented transversely to the first cruciform branch. The second cruciform branch is in fluid communication with the first cruciform branch and has oppositely disposed ends. A third shower head is mounted on one the end of the second cruciform branch and a fourth shower head mounted on another the end of the second cruciform branch.

The manifold also includes a spacer shaft having a first end coupled to one of the first and second bifurcated conduits and a second end mountable on one of the walls forming the enclosure. A straight conduit may be positioned between the first and second bifurcated conduits and providing fluid communication therebetween.

The various components of the manifold may have a coupling, for example, for joining the first and second bifurcated conduits together. The coupling comprises a male component extending from one of the bifurcated conduits and having external threads there around. A channel is cut transversely to the threads in the male component. A female component is mounted on the other of the bifurcated conduits, the female component having a lug projecting radially inwardly so as to engage the channel when the male component engages the female component. The channel may have a J shape. Alternately, the female may have internal threads compatible with the external threads of the male component when the male component engages the female component.

The invention also encompasses a kit for a shower manifold installable within an existing enclosure having a bib connected to a source of pressurized water. In one embodiment, the kit comprises a plurality of bifurcated conduits, each bifurcated conduit having a main branch and an auxiliary branch. A plurality of straight conduits connectable to the bifurcated conduits may also be included, as well as a plurality of spacer shafts connectable to the bifurcated conduits and the straight conduits. A plurality of shower heads attachable to the auxiliary branches is also a part of the kit. Further items of the kit may include a flexible hose connectable between the bib and one of the bifurcated conduits for providing fluid communication therebetween as well as a cruciform conduit having a first cruciform branch connectable with the main branches of the bifurcated conduits and a second cruciform branch oriented transversely to the first cruciform branch. The second cruciform branch is in fluid communication with the first cruciform branch and has oppositely disposed ends, wherein the shower heads are mountable on the ends of the second cruciform branch.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

FIG. 1 is a perspective view of a shower stall with a manifold made from a kit according to the invention;

FIGS. 2 and 3 are longitudinal sectional views of representative manifolds made from a kit according to the invention;

FIG. 4 is a partial sectional view of a portion of a manifold made from a kit according to the invention;

FIG. 5 is a front view of a component included with the kit according to the invention;

FIG. 6 is a partial sectional side view of the component shown in FIG. 5 taken along lines 6-6 of FIG. 5;

FIG. 7 is a partial sectional view showing a portion of a manifold connected to a water supply;

FIG. 8 is a cross-sectional view taken at line 8-8 of FIG. 7;

FIG. 9 is a perspective view of a bracket for support of a manifold and included in the kit according to the invention;

FIG. 10 is a longitudinal sectional view of the bracket shown in FIG. 9;

FIG. 11 is a perspective view of a quick connect/disconnect coupling included in the kit according to the invention;

FIG. 12 is a detailed view of a portion of FIG. 1;

FIG. 13 is a partial sectional view of a portion of the manifold according to the invention;

FIG. 14 illustrates adjustability of the invention shown in FIG. 1; and

FIGS. 15-17 illustrate alternate embodiments of various forms of couplings useable with the manifold according to the invention.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE EMBODIMENTS

FIG. 1 shows a shower stall 10 comprising a walled enclosure 12 and including a tub 14. Water service to the shower stall is controlled by valves 16 in the traditional manner well known in the art. A shower manifold 18 assembled from a kit according to the invention is installed in the shower stall 10, affixed between opposing walls 20 and 22 of the enclosure.

Shower manifold 18 in this example includes a first bifurcated conduit 24 in fluid communication with the shower bib (not shown) extending from wall 20. Bifurcated conduit 24 has a main branch 26 and an auxiliary branch 28 on which a shower discharge head 30 is mounted. Although the main branch can be any reasonable length, it is found that main branches of about 15 inches are practical as described below. In the preferred embodiment shown, the auxiliary branch is angularly oriented relative to the main branch allowing the discharge from the shower head to be directed into the enclosure 12. Angles between about 40° and 90° relative to the main branch are feasible and practical. The shower head itself is also preferably angularly adjustable as well, permitting fine adjustment of the water stream direction.

The main branch 26 is connected in fluid communication with a straight conduit 32 of predetermined length sized to adapt the length of the manifold to the particular shower stall as explained further below. In the kit according to the invention, a plurality of straight conduits of various sizes, ranging, for example, from 2 to 10 inches are provided. Straight conduit 32 is connected in fluid communication with a main branch 34 of a second bifurcated conduit 36. The connection between the conduits may be reinforced using an outer sleeve 35 shown in detail in FIG. 12. The sleeve 35 has a cross sectional shape and inner dimensions that are closely matched to the shape and outer dimensions of the conduit, allowing the sleeve to slide into position at a joint, yet reinforce and align the joint.

Bifurcated conduit 36 is also preferably about 15 inches in length and has an auxiliary branch 38 oriented at a right angle to the main branch 34. Other angular orientations are also feasible. The second bifurcated conduit 36 is sealed closed after the auxiliary branch 38. A second shower head 40 is mounted on auxiliary branch 38, the second shower head 40 also being angularly adjustable. Shower heads 30 and 40 may be of any type, but are preferably adapted so that in combination they discharge water at a rate no greater than 2.5 gallons per minute in compliance with current government regulations. This flow rate may be achieved, for example, by including flow restrictors in the shower heads. It is preferred that the length of straight conduit 32 between the bifurcated conduits 24 and 36 not exceed 5 inches so that the distance between shower heads 30 and 40 is maintained between 30 to 40 inches, the preferred separation distance for conveniently directing the water flow onto a bather from two separate shower heads, with the distance of 35 inches being a particularly preferable distance.

Main branch 34 of the bifurcated conduit 36 is connected to a spacer shaft 42 sized to bridge the remaining gap between the bifurcated conduit 36 and the wall 22 and thereby position the shower head 40 at a desired location within the shower stall 10. It is preferred that the bifurcated conduits 24 and 36, straight conduit 32, and spacer shaft 42 have matching external profiles for aesthetics, one preferred profile being a rectangular design as illustrated in FIG. 8.

FIG. 2 shows another example of a shower manifold 44 in detail which could be used, for example, within a dedicated shower stall 46 that does not include a tub. Such facilities in the home tend to be smaller than a tub enclosure and, therefore, may not require the use of straight conduits or spacer bars to install the manifold 44 between the walls 48 and 50.

Manifold 44 comprises two bifurcated conduits 24 and 36 and is connected in fluid communication with the shower bib 52 in wall 48 by a threaded nipple 54. A similar nipple 54 may also be used to connect the bifurcated conduits to one another. Adjustability of the length of the manifold 44 is provided by the compression bolt 56 positioned between the wall 50 and the end of the manifold. (The manifold end is preferably sealed using an internal wall 57 within the bifurcated conduit 36.) In one form the bolt 56 can be a threaded nipple having a nut fixed to an end of the nipple. Bolt 56 preferably has a suction cup 58 that interfaces with the wall 50 to provide shear support to the manifold. Decorative end plates 60 may be used to hide the functional aspects of the manifold mounting and connection to the water supply. In another example, shown in FIG. 13, a spacer shaft 42 is attached to the conduit 36 and mounted to the wall 50 by a bracket 59. Bracket 59 is shown in longitudinal section as a simple open channel with an end wall 61. The bracket end wall is mounted to wall 50 using adhesives, bolts or other fasteners and the spacer shaft is simply dropped into place within the open channel. It is understood that the end of the conduit 36 may also be positioned within the channel if the dimensions of the enclosure are such that the spacer shaft is not needed.

FIG. 3 provides a detailed view of another manifold embodiment 62. Manifold 62 is assembled using a straight conduit 32 between the bifurcated conduits 24 and 36. The straight conduit is preferably no greater than 5 inches in length to provide a desired spacing between the shower heads as noted above. If additional extensions are required to fit the manifold to the shower stall, spacer shafts as discussed below can be added which do not increase the distance between shower heads. Nevertheless, if desired, it is also possible to include various sizes of straight conduit 32 in the kit so that other head arrangements can be effected to allow the consumer maximum adaptability in tailoring the manifold to the particular size of a shower stall. The straight conduit 32 is connected in fluid communication with the bifurcated conduits 24 and 36 using the threaded nipples 54 described above.

FIG. 4 shows another feature of the kit according to the invention that provides for added adaptability. The spacer shaft 42 is shown therein in detail. As noted in the example shown in FIG. 1, the spacer shaft may be inserted between the bifurcated conduit 36 and the wall 22 of the enclosure to complete the manifold span. As with the straight conduit, various sized spacer shafts can be included in the kit, the spacer shafts having lengths of 2 inches, 4 inches, 5 inches, 10 inches and 15 inches, for example, to enhance adaptability to various sized shower stalls, which may range between about 36 to 60 inches. As these sections do not carry water, they need not have a water conduit within. These spacer shafts can be combined with one another as needed to obtain a desired length. Significant adjustability to the length is provided by the compression bolt 56 that is compatible with the spacer shaft 42 for final adjustment of the manifold length. Rotation of the compression bolt 56 moves it in and out of the spacer shaft 42 as desired for adjustment to provide sufficient compression of the manifold between the walls to hold it in position. The suction cup 58 may also be attached to provide shear support to the manifold as described.

Additional kit components allow the manifold to be equipped with even more shower heads as desired. FIGS. 5 and 6 show an example of a cruciform conduit 64 that mounts two shower heads 30 and 40 adjacent to one another. The cruciform conduit 64 may be positioned between the bifurcated conduits 24 and 36 to provide additional spray capability. Again, the discharge rate of the shower heads will be limited, for example, by the use of appropriate flow restrictors, to no more than 2.5 gallons per minute total for all heads. This section is useable in place of the straight conduit 32 and, thus, is useable for only those shower stalls having sufficient length. One preferable length in line with the manifold is 5 inches.

With the nipples 54 in the conduit portion 66 that is oriented perpendicular to the plane of the shower heads, the cruciform conduit 64 may be connected in the manifold so that the attached shower heads direct their stream on opposite sides of the manifold. Openings in the conduit 64 not connected with the manifold can be plugged with threaded plugs 70 and capped for aesthetics with snap caps. FIG. 5 also shows the nipples 54 having seals 72, for example, elastomeric O-rings rings that are compressed within the conduits to effect a water-tight connection as necessary. The seals are used at all joints requiring water tightness, as is well known in the art.

Additional adaptability for the manifold is afforded by the use of a flexible extension hose 72 and “j” fitting 74 shown in FIGS. 7 and 8. One end of the “j” fitting 74 connects to the shower bib 52 and the other end connects to the hose 72 which extends to an inlet opening 76 on the bottom of the manifold, for example, in bifurcated conduit 24. An alternate inlet opening 76A is provided on the side. Inlets 76 and 76A are plugged closed if not used. The flexible hose permits the manifold to be positioned at a height within the shower stall different from the height of the shower bib. This feature is advantageous for comfortably accommodating taller or shorter people, or where the shower bib was set at an undesirable height. The compression bolt 56 with suction cup 58 may be used to seal the end of bifurcated conduit 24 and attach the manifold to the wall 20 near the shower bib.

An example of a manifold 18 adjustable in height within an enclosure 12 is shown in FIG. 14. Manifold 18 may be adjustably positioned at any of a number of practical heights as illustrated in both solid line and in phantom. Flexible hose 72 allows for adjustability of the manifold position in conjunction with mounting brackets 63. Brackets 63 mount to the enclosure walls 20 and 22 and provide a plurality of mounting positions defined by openings 65 at different heights capable of receiving the ends of the manifold 18. The manifold may have, for example, a spring loaded member at one end to provide easy adjustment to the manifold length to allow it to be positioned at any of the mounting positions. Other mechanisms are also feasible, for example, a threaded jackscrew to permit length adjustability, or a simple over center geometric relationship which allows the manifold to rest within openings 65 without the need for any additional length adjusting feature.

FIGS. 9 and 10 illustrate a mounting bracket 78 for supporting the manifold when there is no wall or other adjoining structure of the appropriate height. For example, if it is desired to position the manifold above a shower stall having free standing partial walls or partitions 80 the mounting bracket has a clip 82 for attachment to the partition 80. A support stanchion 84 extends upwardly from the clip to provide a support of appropriate height to position the manifold in a substantially level configuration above the shower stall. A manifold clip 86 is variably positioned on the stanchion 84, the manifold clip being sized to receive any of the manifold components such as a bifurcated conduit, a straight conduit or a spacer shaft. Manifold clip 86 has a projection 88 that engages any one of a number of holes 90 in the stanchion. The holes are arranged one above another to provide for fine adjustment of the vertical position of the clip so as to accommodate the related position of the manifold. The stanchion can include breakaway or cut lines, such as score lines 91, which allow excess length to be detached.

FIG. 11 shows a quick connect/disconnect coupling 92 for sealingly connecting conduits to one another as an alternative to the threaded nipples, and which can be formed integrally with the various manifold sections. Coupling 92 has a male component 94 fixed to one end of a conduit 96, and a mating female component 98 attached to one end of another conduit 100. The male component has a cylindrical collar 102 with a seal 104 positioned at its base. In a preferable embodiment, the female component 98 could be formed within the end of the conduit 100, not extending from the end as shown. Two “j” shaped channels 106 are positioned in collar 102. The collar is received within the female component 98 which has inwardly projecting lugs 108 that engage the channels 106. Seal 104 is sized so that when the coupling components 94 and 98 are engaged with the lugs in the terminal portions of the “j” shaped channel the seal 104 is compressed between the conduits 96 and 100 and exerts an outward biasing force that keeps the lugs engaged in the channel, preventing inadvertent rotation and subsequent decoupling of the conduits. Couplings 92 are preferably used to join conduits comprising the manifold to one another, but are not used at ends where screw threads are advantageous for adjusting the length of the manifold to best cooperate with supporting structure such as opposing walls of a shower stall as described in detail above.

FIGS. 15 and 16 show a dual mode coupling 99 wherein the male component 101 has both channels 103 for receiving lugs 108 of a female portion and threads 105 for receiving compatible threads 107 on a female portion 109 shown in FIG. 16. Neither the channels 103 nor the threads 105 interfere with one another but provide added versatility allowing the male component to engage with either type of female component having either threads or lugs.

FIG. 17 shows yet another example coupling 111 wherein O-ring seals 113 are positioned around the male component 115. The seals are received within grooves 117 positioned on the inner diameter of the counterpart female component 119. Engagement of the seals with the grooves provides both a mechanical retention feature as well as a fluid tight seal between the conduits to be joined.

The conduits and spacer shafts may be formed from various materials, with polymer materials being preferred for their light weight and resistance to corrosion. The fittings, nipples and seals are designed to be water tight to pressures as high as 200 psi. Adhesives may be used alone or in combination with the nipples and fittings to join the various components to one another to form the manifold. Depending upon the span of the manifold, dead weights up to 75 lbs may be supported without failure.

The various components described above are included in the kit according to the invention to provide maximum adaptability in a “one size fits all” approach to retrofitting shower facilities to provide the advantages of multiple shower heads in a shower stall.