Title:
Splash box
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A splash box includes a bottom base having a portion that is generally horizontal to the ground, and a sidewall that substantially surrounds and projects upwardly from the bottom base. The sidewall has an area through which fluid accumulated in the splash box will be directed out of the splash box. The splash box further includes elevation means for adjusting the splash box to a desired height.



Inventors:
Snider, Ron (Grosse Ile, MI, US)
Application Number:
11/810657
Publication Date:
12/06/2007
Filing Date:
06/06/2007
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
405/107
International Classes:
E04D13/08; E02B3/10
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
CASTELLANO, STEPHEN J
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
LATHROP GAGE LLP (2440 Junction Place Suite 300, Boulder, CO, 80301, US)
Claims:
I claim:

1. A splash box, comprising: a bottom base having a portion that is generally horizontal to the ground, and a sidewall substantially surrounding and projecting upwardly from said bottom base, said sidewall having an area through which fluid accumulated in the splash box will be directed out of the splash box; and elevation means for adjusting the splash box to a desired height.

2. The splash box of claim 1, wherein said elevation means is at least one rigid stake under said bottom base, said rigid stake having a first end secured to one of said bottom base and said sidewall, and a second end capable of being inserted into the ground or a supporting foot.

3. The splash box of claim 2, wherein said rigid stake is secured to a substantially central point on said bottom base.

4. The splash box of claim 2, wherein said elevation means comprises at least three of said rigid stakes spaced apart on an underside of said bottom base or an outside of said sidewall.

5. The splash box of claim 1, wherein said elevations means comprises at least three suspension arms above the splash box, bottom ends of each of said suspension arms being spaced apart and secured to said bottom base or said sidewall.

6. The splash box of claim 5, wherein upper ends of said suspension arms are secured to a single fixed point of adjustable height.

7. The splash box of claim 1, wherein said portion of said bottom base is generally flat.

8. The splash box of claim 1, wherein said portion of said bottom base is concave.

9. The splash box of claim 8, wherein said portion of said bottom base further includes a drainage aperture at a substantially lowest point in said concave bottom base.

10. The splash box of claim 9, wherein said drainage aperture further comprises a removable plug or adjustable opening or nozzle.

11. The splash box of claim 1, wherein said sidewall is substantially perpendicular to said ground.

12. The splash box of claim 1, wherein said sidewall is curved outward from said bottom base.

13. The splash box of claim 1, wherein said sidewall and said bottom base are integrally formed as a single piece.

14. The splash box of claim 1, wherein said area of said sidewall is a cutout portion in said sidewall.

15. The splash box of claim 14, wherein said cutout portion further includes a spout portion for directing the fluid out of the splash box.

16. The splash box of claim 1, wherein said area of said sidewall comprises an integral portion of the sidewall that is bent or formed outward from the splash box.

17. The splash box of claim 1, wherein said sidewall includes two or more of said areas through which said accumulated fluid will be directed.

18. The splash box of claim 17, wherein said two or more areas allow different rates of fluid to flow out of the splash box.

19. The splash box of claim 1, wherein when seen looking perpendicular to the ground, a shape of said splash box is round, polygonal, or irregular.

20. A fluid delivery system, comprising: a plurality of splash boxes, each of said plurality having a bowl portion for collecting fluid therein, at least one outflow area in said bowl portion through which said collected fluids will be directed outwardly from said bowl portion, and height adjusting means for adjusting a height of each of said plurality, wherein a first splash box of said plurality and a second splash box of said plurality are arranged serially, and wherein an outflow area of said first splash box is positioned above a bowl portion of said second splash box so that fluid flowing out of said outflow area of said first splash box will flow into said bowl portion of said second splash box.

Description:

FIELD OF THE INVENTION

The present invention relates to splash boxes. More particularly, the present invention relates to splash boxes which may be adjusted in height and/or serially arranged in a fluid delivery network or system.

BACKGROUND

Houses and other buildings are known to typically collect fallen rainwater, snowmelt, or the like into gutters that surround the roofs of such structures. This collected rainwater is then usually channeled into one or more downspouts attached to the gutters. Water enters a downspout at an upper end, falls through the downspout by force of gravity, and exits the downspout at a lower end.

Downspouts typically will extend all of the way to the ground outside of a structure, and fluid exiting the downspout will fall directly on the ground below the downspout, or may instead fall first into a device known as a splash box. Splash boxes can absorb the direct force of the falling or flowing water, and also channel the water away from the building structure. The direct impact of the channeled, fallen water can erode looser ground beneath the downspout, and water channeled too near a building can even enter the basement or lower levels thereof and/or weaken the building's foundation.

Conventional splash boxes are limited in that they can typically only channel water away from a downspout in a single direction from the lower end of the downspout. Conventional splash boxes generally rest entirely on the ground, and can be cumbersome if long enough to channel water a significant distance from the downspout. Plants, trees, and other greenery therefore cannot usually be successfully maintained around the immediate area of the conventional splash box. The ground on which the splash box directly rests is rendered barren by presence of the box itself, and greenery in the immediate area thereof can be seriously damaged by the large amounts of water that can flow out from the splash box in a very short period of time in a heavy rainfall.

Accordingly, an object of the present invention is to provide a splash box that can be maintained at a desired height above the ground. The ground below such a splash box would be usable for planting, and a height-adjustable splash box could be located more directly near a downspout that does not reach all the way to the ground. Another object of the present invention is to provide a splash box, or system of splash boxes, that can channel water in any desired direction, or several directions at once, and over any reasonable desired length. Still another object of the present invention is to provide a splash box that can temporarily or partially retain water flowing into the splash box, thereby providing additional utility to function as a birdbath, an accessory for a fountain or waterfall, an irrigation system for a garden, and other uses.

INVENTION SUMMARY

A splash box channels water from one location to one or more other locations. The splash box generally includes a bowl portion, or a structure that is capable of collecting water that flows into the structure. The bowl portion may have a generally flat or concave bottom base, and a sidewall that projects upwardly from, and substantially surrounds the bottom base. A cutout portion may also be included in at least one area of the sidewall, or the sidewall could be formed to have one section of the sidewall rise lower than another section, such that water will flow over the lower section first. The splash box also may include means for securing and/or adjusting the bowl portion at and/or to a desired height.

In another embodiment of the present invention, a plurality of splash boxes are networked and/or arranged together in a system to direct water collected from one of the splash boxes in the network into one or more of the other splash boxes. The network system may be arranged to direct a steady flow of water over a desired distance, or to attenuate the flow of water collected at one point in the network system as it is channeled to other points in the network system.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

FIG. 1 is a perspective exploded view of a first preferred embodiment of the present invention.

FIG. 2 is a sectional side view of a second embodiment of the present invention.

FIG. 3 is a sectional side view of the first preferred embodiment of the present invention.

FIG. 4 is a sectional side view of a third embodiment of the present invention.

FIG. 5 is a partial side view illustrating one attachment means of the present invention.

FIG. 6 is a partial side view illustrating another attachment means of the present invention.

FIG. 7 is an oblique perspective view illustrating still another attachment means of the present invention.

FIG. 8 is an oblique perspective view illustrating yet a further attachment means of the present invention.

FIG. 9 is an oblique perspective view illustrating a one embodiment of the network system of the present invention.

FIG. 10 is an oblique perspective view illustrating another embodiment of the network system of the present invention.

FIG. 11 is an oblique perspective view of an alternative embodiment of the present invention.

FIG. 12 is an oblique perspective view of another alternative embodiment of the present invention.

FIG. 13 is an oblique perspective view of yet a further alternative embodiment of the present invention.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION

Referring now to FIGS. 1-4, a splash box is generally designated 10, and includes a horizontal base portion 12 and a vertical sidewall 14 surrounding a majority of the base portion. The base portion 12 can be generally flat, but is preferably a concave bowl shape. The sidewall 14 extends upwards from the base portion 12, and preferably at an outward gradual incline or arc. The splash box 10 may be formed of any suitable rigid, durable, and non-corrosive material, such as plastic, stainless steel, aluminum, copper, hard rubber, hardened resin, rigid foam, or the like. The side wall 14 is integrally formed with the base portion 12 as either a single piece, as with injection-molded plastic or foam or stamped metal, for example, or alternatively as separate pieces secured together by any suitable means known in the art including, but not limited to waterproof adhesives, welding, sonic welding, snap-fit, or the like.

In a preferred embodiment (best seen in FIGS. 1 and 3) the base portion 12 has a concave bowl shape, which allows water to accumulate in its upper surface 16, at least temporarily. An aperture 18 may be formed through the base portion 12, and preferably centered in the base portion, or at the lowest point of the concavity of the bowl shape in order to allow water to drain therefrom, and not pool therein. Water allowed to pool for too long in the bowl shape can potentially become brackish or a breeding ground for insects. If it is desired that the splash box be used as a birdbath (best seen in FIG. 3), no aperture 18 may be desired, or the aperture may be alternatively plugged.

The sidewall 14 projects upwardly from and surrounds and joins to an outer periphery of the base portion 12. The sidewall 14 is preferably, but not necessarily, formed from the same material as is the base portion 12. In a preferred embodiment (best seen in FIGS. 1 and 3), the sidewall 14 is bowed outwardly to allow the splash box 10 to accommodate more water flowing into it.

In a more preferred embodiment, the sidewall 14 has a cutout portion 20 (best seen in FIG. 2), from which more preferably extends a spout portion 22 to better direct the flow of water out of the splash box 10 and through the cutout portion. Alternatively, the sidewall 14 does not completely surround the base portion 12, leaving at least one open section 20a between adjacent sections of the sidewall. The cutout 20 or the open section 20a may be of any shape that would enable the flow of water out of the splash box 10. In yet another alternative, the sidewall 14 is lowered, or turned outward and/or downward from the rest of the sidewall to form spout portion 22 out of a bent portion of the sidewall. The sidewall 14 can have any or all of these alternative embodiments in a single splash box, or a plurality of any one or more alternative embodiments, as is desired.

The splash box 10 further includes elevation means 24 for securing the splash box at any desired height. In a preferred embodiment, the elevation means 24 is a stake 26 having an upper end 28 and a lower end 30. The upper end 28 supports the base portion 12, and is preferably secured to an attachment portion 32. The attachment portion 32 is preferably a hollow tubular sleeve 34, which projects downwardly from a lowest point on the concavity of a bottom surface 36 of the base portion 12. The sleeve 34 can be integrally formed as a solid piece with the base portion 12, such as with injection molding or the like, or can be separately formed and attached to the base portion by any of a number of suitable methods known in the art.

The sleeve 34 should also be formed of a rigid and durable non-corrosive material, and preferably the same material as the base portion 12. The sleeve 34 may be threaded on its interior for screwing onto corresponding threads on the upper end 28 of the stake 26. In one alternative embodiment, the sleeve 34 may be either solid or hollow, and threaded on its exterior, which exterior can screw into corresponding threads on a hollow interior of the upper end 28 of the stake 26. In another alternative embodiment, the upper end 28 can simply be secured inside the sleeve 34 by a friction fit, or can be fixed to a screw 38a (FIG. 5) or a nail 38b (FIG. 6) through a hole 40 in the base portion 12.

The stake 26 may be integrally formed with the base portion 12 in still yet another alternative embodiment, or directly attached to the base portion by any of the same methods as can be attached the sleeve 34. The upper end 28 of the stake 26 may also form into at least three branches 42 (best seen in FIGS. 7 and 8), which can attach to preferably equidistant points on either the sidewall 14 or the bottom surface 36 of the base portion 12. The lower end 30 of the stake 26 is preferably rigid and pointed, so as to allow for easy insertion into the ground by pressing. Some or all of the branches 42 may alternatively themselves form into rigid stakes for direct insertion into the ground, as best seen in FIG. 7a.

In yet another embodiment of the present invention, the lower end 30 of the stake 26 can be inserted into a supporting foot 31, as best seen in FIG. 14. The supporting foot 31 preferably will include a generally flat foot base 31a, and a hollow foot sleeve portion 31b for securely accommodating the lower end 30 of the stake 26. The foot base 31a and foot sleeve portion 31b are preferably formed as a single unit, and of any of the materials discussed above, or as separate pieces attached by any of the methods discussed above. The supporting foot 31 is of particular use where all or part of the ground under the splash box 10 may be too firm to allow a stake to be inserted, or if it is desired that the box may be more easily moved to a different position.

Instead of supporting the splash box 10 from below, the branches 42 may alternatively be formed from an extension piece 44 that projects from the upper end 28 of the stake 26. In such an embodiment, the upper end 28 and the extension piece 44 should be located above the splash box 10, and the splash box will be suspended from the branches 42. The branches 42 could be formed of the same material as the stake 26, or could be any other durable and non-corrosive material, either rigid or flexible, and would preferably attach to the interior of the base portion 12 or the sidewall 14. In this embodiment, the extension piece 44 can attach to a single stake 26, or can be suspended between two or more stakes. If three or more stakes 26 are used to suspend the extension piece 44 therebetween, the lower ends 30 thereof may rest on the ground instead of being inserted.

In use, as shown in FIG. 9, the lower end 30 of the stake 26 is pressed into the ground near to the lower end 46 of a downspout 48 on a house or other structure 50. The stake 26 should be placed at a location that allows water exiting the lower end 46 of the downspout 48 to fall directly into the splash box 10. The splash box 10 should be oriented on the stake 26 to enable the cutout portion 20 or the spout portion 22 to be directed away from the structure 40, to channel most or all of the water entering the splash box 10 away from the structure 50. Any water remaining in the splash box 10 can preferably drain through the aperture 18. Height of the splash box 10 may be determined by the length of the stake 26, or simply adjusted by pressing the stake deeper into the ground.

Although the overall shape of the splash box 10 has been shown in the preferred embodiments described above to be rounded, and resembling a bowl or pie plate, those skilled in the art will understand that the splash box may be formed into any number of different shapes that will still accomplish the utility described herein, as illustrated in the examples depicted in FIGS. 11-13. The splash box 10 may further be generally elliptical, rectangular (FIG. 11), triangular (FIG. 12), or even irregular in shape (FIG. 13), according to what utilitarian and aesthetic considerations are desirable, and still be within the scope of the present invention. Similar considerations will determine how many cutout or spout portions are desirable, and the location or locations thereof on the splash box 10.

Referring now to FIGS. 9-10, several splash boxes 10 are arranged together to function as a networked system 100. A first splash box 10 is preferably located just below the lower end 46 of the downspout 48 on the structure 50. The lower end 46 of the downspout 48 should thus be elevated off of the ground enough to accommodate the number of splash boxes used in the network. Those skilled in the art will further understand that this invention will also, and may even more preferably for gardening and/or aesthetic purposes, function by locating the first splash box below a water spigot typically located on the side of the structure 50. A water fountain, an end of a secured hose, or any other water delivery means may also be substituted for the downspout 48.

Water pours into the first splash box 10, collects in the base portion 12 until reaching the level of the spout portion 22, through which the water exits the first splash box 10 and enters into an adjacent second splash box 10′. The second splash box 10′ should be located near enough to the first splash box 10 so that the sidewall 14′ of the adjacent splash box overlaps the spout 22 of the first splash box when seen vertically. The height of the sidewall 14′ of the second splash box 10′ should also be set lower than the bottom of the spout 22 on the first splash box 10. This height difference between the adjacent splash boxes can be achieved by pressing the stake 26′ of the second splash box 10′ more deeply in the ground, or by making stake 26′ shorter than the stake 26 of the first splash box 10.

A third splash box 10″ may be arranged adjacent to the second splash box 10′ in the same manner as the second splash box was arranged with the first splash box 10. The spout 2′ of the second splash box 10′ is not required to be in the same direction as the spout 22 on the first splash box 10. Similarly, the spout 22″ on the third splash box 10″ can be arranged in any direction that is desired. It will be understood by those in the field of art that almost any practical number of splash boxes can be arranged together in this manner, according to how far it is desired to channel water away from the structure 50, or aesthetic considerations, or both.

The network can be so arranged, for example, in a linear fashion (FIG. 9), or even into a curvilinear fashion to go around potentially impeding objects such as shrubs, outlying portions of the structure 50, and others. Where the network is arranged in conjunction with flowering plants, individual splash boxes can set below the height of the nearby flowers, but still significantly above the roots thereof. The network can therefore still operate to protect the roots and soil base of the flowers from being damaged by the uncontrolled flow of water, yet without blocking the flowers from sunlight.

As shown in FIG. 10, in an alternative embodiment of the network system 100, the first splash box 10 can have two spouts 22 located apart from each other to enable water to exit the first splash box in two different directions. The second splash box 10′ would be arranged adjacent one of the two spouts 22 in the same manner as the previous embodiment described above. The third splash box 10″, however, can be arranged in this embodiment to be adjacent the other of the two spouts 22, in order to channel the addition flow of water exiting the first splash box 10.

According to this embodiment, the network system 100 can channel the water away from the structure 50 in at least two different directions at the same time. Those skilled in the art will therefore understand that more than two splash boxes can be utilized with the first splash box 10 in the same manner, and that the water can be channeled away from the structure 50 in as many different directions as is desired, according to how many splash boxes are arranged together in the network, and the number of spouts on the respective splash boxes.

Those skilled in the art will further understand that the flow of water can be altered, and preferably attenuated, from one splash box to the next by diverting water from one splash box into two or more immediately adjacent splash boxes. The present inventors fully contemplate that using different sizes of splash boxes immediately adjacent to one another, or different sizes of openings in the same sidewall, can also alter the flow of water from one splash box to the next.

While particular embodiments of the present invention have been illustrated and described in detail in the drawings and the foregoing description, it will also be appreciated by those skilled in the art that still further changes and modifications may be made thereto without departing from the invention in its broader aspects.