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This invention relates generally to rain gutters and more particularly to a gutter protection system for such gutters.
Because leaves and other debris frequently clog up rain gutters, a gutter screen or other system that inhibits leaves from falling into the gutter is often installed to try to reduce the maintenance burden. However, many conventional gutter screens have so much space between the rear of the screen and the fascia board above the gutter that debris collects on or around the screen. Over time, enough debris piles up on the rear of the gutter screen to cause the screen to bow down collapse into the gutter. Obviously, the collapse of the screen aggravates the gutter clogging and maintenance problems rather than solving them.
A prior art gutter screen shown in U.S. Pat. No. 5,271,192 tries to solve this problem but requires a special, non-standard gutter hanger be installed as well. The '192 screen includes a V-shaped bend at the rear end of the gutter screen having a lower edge that mates with the non-standard gutter hanger. These special gutter hangers are expensive to manufacture and require significant time to install. Moreover, the bend in the screen must be consistently formed to mate with specific gutter hangers, thus the manufacturing tolerances must be small. This results in a more expensive system.
Another screen shown in U.S. Pat. No. 5,893,240 is an improvement over the '192 design, and is incorporated herein by reference. While the '240 design is generally satisfactory, there remains a need for a less expensive gutter protection system that is also more reliable and easy to install on various types of standard gutter hangers.
One aspect of the invention is a gutter protection system for covering a gutter of a structure and for preventing debris from falling into the gutter. The gutter includes a gutter hanger extending from a front flange of the gutter to a rear of the gutter and having a rear bend and a fastener securing the hanger and gutter to the structure at the rear of the gutter. The gutter protection system includes an elongate member sized and shaped to engage the gutter hanger. The elongate member includes, as viewed in cross-section, a rear margin having a first forwardly-opening bend, a forward extending section, a second rearwardly-opening bend and a rearward extending section terminating in an end, the end formed to engage the rear bend of the hanger.
In another aspect, the system is in combination with the gutter. The end of the elongate member engages the rear bend of the hanger and is disposed below the fastener so that the end is captured between the rear bend and the fastener. The fastener is disposed between the forward and rearward extending sections of the rear margin.
Various refinements exist of the features noted in relation to the above-mentioned aspects of the present invention. Further features may also be incorporated in the above-mentioned aspects of the present invention as well. These refinements and additional features may exist individually or in any combination. For instance, various features discussed below in relation to any of the illustrated embodiments of the present invention may be incorporated into any of the above-described aspects of the present invention, alone or in any combination.
FIG. 1 is a cross section of a gutter protection system of one embodiment as mounted on a gutter.
FIG. 2 is a cross section of only the gutter protection system of FIG. 1.
FIGS. 3-4 are perspectives of systems similar to that of FIG. 1 but showing alternative attachment configurations.
Corresponding reference characters indicate corresponding parts throughout the drawings.
Referring to FIG. 1, a conventional gutter 11 generally includes a front flange 13, a water-receiving channel 15, and a rear section 17 secured to a fascia board 19. The gutter 11 also includes a conventional gutter hanger 21 having a front portion 23 engaging the front flange 13 of the gutter, a center portion 25 extending over the channel 15 of the gutter, and a rear portion 27 bent upward from the center portion and engaging the rear section 17 of the gutter. The gutter 11 also includes a screw 29 (broadly, a fastener) through the rear portion 27 of the hanger 21 for securing the hanger and gutter to the fascia board 19. As shown in FIG. 1, the fascia board 19 extends up above the gutter 11 to a roof shingle 31.
The gutter protection system of a first embodiment (also shown in FIG. 2) includes a screen, or more broadly, an elongate member 41 that is generally adapted for covering the gutter 11 and preventing debris from falling into the gutter. The elongate member 41 has a width sufficient to extend over the gutter channel 15 and engage the gutter hanger 21. The member 41 is typically 36-48 inches long for ease of installation, though other lengths are contemplated within the scope of the invention.
Referring to FIGS. 1-2, the elongate member 41 generally includes a compound bend 43 in its rear margin 45. More particularly, the member 41 includes, as viewed in cross-section, the rear margin 45 having a first forwardly-opening bend 46, a forward extending section 47, a second rearwardly-opening bend 48 and a rearwardly extending section 49 terminating in a rearward end 50 of the member. The end 50 is formed to engage the rear bend of the gutter hanger 21 as shown in FIG. 1. Note the fastener 29 securing the gutter hanger 21 to the structure is disposed between the forward and rearward extending sections 47, 49 of the member 41.
The compound bend 43 ensures that the rear margin 45 of the member 41 straddles the screw 29 of the gutter hanger 21. In other words, the member 41 does not contact the screw 29, but the screw serves to limit the upward movement of the member 41. For example, under upward pressure from high wind, the end of the rear margin 45 will contact the screw 29 and will thus be held or captured in place by the screw. This configuration helps to hold the member 41 in place on the gutter 11.
The compound bend 43 also ensures that the space between the member 41 and the fascia board 19 is minimized so as to inhibit or prevent debris from collecting on or around the member. In one embodiment, the first bend 46 of the member 41 is within about 0.5 inches of the fascia board 19. In other embodiments, the first bend may be within about 0.125 inches. The first bend 46 may also be touching the fascia board 19. Due to its position close to or in contact with the fascia board 19, the gutter protection system will not collapse into the gutter 11, nor will it require the debris to be cleaned from the system. Rather, the debris will naturally be blown off the member 41 by the wind.
The member 41 of the first embodiment has a generally flat forward section 47 that slips under the front flange 13 of the gutter 11. In this way, the member engages a portion of the gutter and covers the gutter. However, the member can be attached to the gutter 11 in any number of ways. Some examples of alternative attachment configurations are shown in FIGS. 3-4. In FIG. 3, screws 103 secure the front of the member 141. In FIG. 4, the front of the member 241 has a stair-step bend 205 that engages the underside of the front flange of the gutter. Other alternatives not shown herein are contemplated within the scope of the invention. Some other alternatives are shown in my U.S. Pat. Nos. 6,151,837; 5,893,240; and 4,907,381; and U.S. patent application Ser. Nos. 11/105,653; 11/566,446; and 10/987,930, all of which are incorporated herein by reference. The gutter protection system may include other components, such as clips, within the scope of the invention.
The elongate members 41, 141, 241 shown herein are generally of one piece, integral construction. The member 41 is made of mesh or expanded metal, while members 141, 241 are made of sheet metal. Other materials are also contemplated within the scope of the invention.
The method of installing the elongate member 41 is quick, easy and straightforward. Note the uninstalled, unbent member 41 is shown in FIG. 2. When installing the first embodiment, the installer grasps the front margin of the member, places the rear end 50 of the member 41 against the bend of the gutter hanger 21 and pushes rearward on the member until the front edge of the member clears the front flange 13 of the gutter 11. The member 41 is pushed downward until it is fully installed as shown in FIG. 1. Note that the member 41 remains in tension (“spring tension”) as installed, which helps to keep the member in place and helps it to resist downward pressure from the debris. This spring tension concept is more fully discussed in U.S. Pat. No. 5,893,240 which is incorporated by reference. The FIG. 4 embodiment may be installed similar to the way that the first embodiment is installed.
In the FIG. 3 embodiment, the installer places the rear end of the elongate member 141 against the bend in the gutter hanger 21, and then installs screws 103 through the front margin of the member and into the front flange 13 of the gutter 11. Many other methods of installation are contemplated within the scope of the invention.
The gutter protection system of the invention can be installed over standard gutter hangers. Thus, an advantage of the system is that it will work on existing gutters without modification of the gutter or gutter hanger. Unlike the prior art screen discussed above, special gutter hangers are not required. Moreover, the system of the invention has a rear portion that is closer to the fascia board than prior art screens. This proximity inhibits debris from collecting on the system, as well as inhibiting collapse of the system.
When introducing elements of various aspects of the present invention or embodiments thereof, the articles “a”, “an”, “the” and “said” are intended to mean that there are one or more of the elements. The terms “comprising”, “including” and “having” are intended to be inclusive and mean that there may be additional elements other than the listed elements. Moreover, the use of “top” and “bottom”, “front” and “rear”, “above” and “below” and variations of these and other terms of orientation is made for convenience, but does not require any particular orientation of the components.
As various changes could be made in the above constructions, products, and methods without departing from the scope of the invention, it is intended that all matter contained in the above description or shown in the accompanying drawings shall be interpreted as illustrative and not in a limiting sense.