Title:
Spa Cleaner With Pump
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A device for selectively removing water-submerged debris is provided. The device comprises a settling chamber, a water intake tube having an inlet end terminating in an intake valve, a closure assembly, drain valve, a handle, a first filter, a pump having a pump inlet and a pump outlet, a second filter, and means for selectively powering the pump. The pump draws debris and water through the intake valve into the chamber and then pulls the water from the chamber through the second filter to exit through the pump outlet.



Inventors:
Peterson, John C. (Castaic, CA, US)
Bakken, Daniel A. (White Bear Lake, MN, US)
Application Number:
11/622337
Publication Date:
07/17/2008
Filing Date:
01/11/2007
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
210/167.1
International Classes:
E04H4/16
View Patent Images:



Primary Examiner:
KO, STEPHEN K
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
DORSEY & WHITNEY LLP;INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY DEPARTMENT (SUITE 1500, 50 SOUTH SIXTH STREET, MINNEAPOLIS, MN, 55402-1498, US)
Claims:
1. A device for selectively removing water-submerged debris, comprising: a settling chamber having an upper end and a lower end; a water intake tube having an inlet end adapted to be positioned adjacent debris to be removed, said intake tube communicating with the chamber and terminating in an intake valve for blocking liquid outflow from the tube; a closure assembly at the chamber lower end wherein the closure assembly supports the water intake tube; a drain valve adjacent the closure assembly for draining water; a handle for positioning the device with the intake tube inlet adjacent debris to be removed; a first filter interposed in an exit path leading to the drain valve for retaining debris carried into the chamber with water from the intake tube; a pump having a pump inlet communicating with the interior of the chamber, said pump inlet positioned adjacent the chamber upper end, and having a pump outlet; a second filter positioned in the settling chamber to cover the pump inlet; and means for selectively powering the pump whereby, when the intake tube is positioned adjacent the debris to be removed, the pump draws debris and water through the intake valve into the chamber and then pulls the water from the chamber through the second filter into the pump inlet to exit through the pump outlet.

2. The device of claim 1, wherein the means for selectively powering the pump comprises a battery and further comprising a control located on the handle for selectively applying the power from the battery to the pump.

3. The device of claim 1, wherein the handle comprises telescoping segments.

4. The device of claim 3, wherein the means for powering the pump is a battery contained within at least one of the telescoping segments of the handle.

5. The device of claim 1, wherein the drain valve comprises a member freely movable on the intake tube for closing the closure assembly when the chamber contains air and is submerged and opening the closure assembly when the chamber contains water and is no longer submerged.

6. The device of claim 1, wherein the pump is contained in a pump housing at the chamber upper end.

7. The device of claim 1, where the intake tube is mounted to and extends through the lower end of the chamber and the intake valve is positioned adjacent to and above the chamber lower end.

8. The device of claim 1, wherein the pump has a suction capacity effective to hold the drain valve shut when the chamber is substantially filled with water.

9. The device of claim 1, wherein the means for selectively powering the pump comprises a battery and further comprising a threaded control located on the handle for longitudinally moving the battery so that an electrical contact is made that provides electrical power to the pump.

10. The device of claim 1, wherein the settling chamber is generally cylindrical and the second filter has a cylindrical surface and is supported on a frame in the settling chamber.

11. The device of claim 10, wherein the cylindrical filter has a diameter that is at least fifty percent of an internal diameter of the settling chamber.

12. A method for removing water-submerged debris, comprising: providing a device with: a settling chamber having an upper end and a lower end; a water intake tube having an inlet end adapted to be positioned adjacent debris to be removed, said intake tube communicating with the chamber and terminating in an intake valve for blocking liquid outflow from the tube; a closure assembly at the chamber lower end wherein the closure assembly supports the water intake tube; a drain valve adjacent the closure assembly for draining water; a handle for positioning the device with the intake tube inlet adjacent debris to be removed; a first filter interposed in an exit path leading to the drain valve for retaining debris carried into the chamber with water from the intake tube; a pump having a pump inlet communicating with the interior of the chamber, said pump inlet positioned adjacent the chamber upper end, and having a pump outlet; a second filter positioned in the settling chamber to cover the pump inlet; and means for selectively powering the pump whereby, when the intake tube is positioned adjacent the debris to be removed, the pump draws debris and water through the intake valve into the chamber and then pulls the water from the chamber through the second filter to exit through the pump outlet; positioning the device in water with the intake tube and chamber submerged and allowing the chamber to fill with water; powering the pump to draw water containing submerged debris to be removed through the intake tube inlet into the chamber and displace from the pump outlet at least a portion of the water entering the chamber in the prior step; and de-powering the pump and positioning the chamber to no longer be submerged, whereby the water in the chamber drains from the chamber via the drain valve with debris captured on the first filter.

13. The method of claim 12, wherein the step of powering the pump to draw water comprises drawing water through an inlet tube mounted to and extending through the lower end of the chamber with an intake valve positioned on the inlet tube adjacent the chamber lower end.

14. The method of claim 12, wherein the step of powering the pump to draw water comprises powering a pump with a suction force effective to hold the drain valve shut when the chamber is substantially filled with water.

15. A method for removing water-submerged debris, using a device with a settling chamber having an upper end and a lower end; a water intake tube having an inlet end adapted to be positioned adjacent debris to be removed, said intake tube communicating with the chamber and terminating in an intake valve for blocking liquid outflow from the tube; a closure assembly at the chamber lower end wherein the closure assembly supports the water intake tube; a drain valve adjacent the closure assembly for draining water; a handle for positioning the device with the intake tube inlet adjacent debris to be removed; a first filter interposed in an exit path leading to the drain valve for retaining debris carried into the chamber with water from the intake tube; a pump having a pump inlet communicating with the interior of the chamber, said pump inlet positioned adjacent the chamber upper end, and having a pump outlet; a second filter positioned in the settling chamber to cover the pump inlet; and means for selectively powering the pump whereby, when the intake tube is positioned adjacent the debris to be removed, the pump draws debris and water through the intake valve into the chamber and then pulls the water from the chamber through the second filter to exit through the pump outlet, the method comprising: positioning the device in water with the intake tube and chamber submerged and allowing the chamber to fill with water; and powering the pump to draw water containing submerged debris to be removed through the intake tube inlet into the chamber and displace from the pump outlet at least a portion of the water entering the chamber in the prior step.

16. The method of claim 15, further comprising de-powering the pump and positioning the chamber to be submerged no longer and allowing the water in the chamber to drain from the chamber via the drain valve with debris captured on the first filter.

Description:

FIELD OF THE INVENTION

The invention generally pertains to cleaning devices, and more particularly to a cleaning device that may be utilized to remove debris from a liquid pool such as a swimming pool, spa, or hot tub.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

Swimming pools, spas (typically residing below ground), and hot tubs (typically residing above ground), are popular recreational features. Debris such as leaves, gravel, sand, coins, etc. can collect on the bottom or on a step or seating surface of the pools, spas and hot tubs, causing scratches, stains or generally marring their aesthetic and hygienic appearance. Some pools have a bottom cleaning system such as a manual or automatic vacuum, but these can be expensive and are at times limited in their ability to remove relatively dense debris. Spas and hot tubs have fewer large flat surfaces to be cleaned than most pools and are usually not equipped with a bottom cleaning system; therefore the removal of such debris from the various bottom, seating and step surfaces can be both troublesome and time consuming.

Small, handheld portable vacuums have been developed to remove debris from pools, spas and hot tubs, see, e.g., U.S. Pat. Nos. 4,935,980 and 5,542,142. These often rely on immersion of a chamber to develop the pressure differential for causing suction. Thus, this design requires that the user frequently stop removing debris to drain the contents of the chamber and/or to renew the suction of the vacuum. Additionally, such portable vacuums require a relatively large chamber to generate sufficient vacuum, which leads to buoyancy of the chamber and, combined with a long handle, makes it harder to place the vacuum intake at a desired location in the water. Likewise, when such a vacuum is used in shallow depths, such as on seat surfaces, the vacuum pressure tends to be low, decreasing the efficiency of the vacuum, and also short-lived. Therefore, a portable vacuum addressing these disadvantages is desired.

BRIEF SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

In one embodiment, a device for selectively removing water-submerged debris is provided. The device comprises a settling chamber, a water intake tube having an inlet end terminating in an intake valve, a closure assembly, drain valve, a handle, a first filter, a pump having a pump inlet and a pump outlet, a second filter, and means for selectively powering the pump. The pump draws debris and water through the intake valve into the chamber and then pulls the water from the chamber through the second filter to exit through the pump outlet.

In one embodiment, a method for removing water-submerged debris is provided. The method comprises providing a device with a settling chamber, a water intake tube having an inlet end terminating in an intake valve, a closure assembly, drain valve, a handle, a first filter, a pump having a pump inlet and a pump outlet, a second filter, and means for selectively powering the pump. The pump draws debris and water through the intake valve into the chamber and then pulls the water from the chamber through the second filter to exit through the pump outlet. The method also comprises positioning the device in water with the intake tube and chamber submerged and allowing the chamber to fill with water. The method further comprises powering the pump to draw water containing submerged debris to be removed through the intake tube inlet into the chamber and to displace from the pump outlet at least a portion of the water entering the chamber in the prior step; and de-powering the pump and positioning the chamber to no longer be submerged, whereby the water in the chamber drains from the chamber via the drain valve with debris captured on the first filter.

While multiple embodiments are disclosed, still other embodiments will become apparent to those skilled in the art from the following detailed description, which shows and describes illustrative embodiments of the invention. As will be realized, the design is capable of modifications in various aspects, all without departing from the spirit and scope of the invention. Accordingly, the drawings and detailed description are to be regarded as illustrative in nature and not restrictive.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

FIG. 1 is a pictorial view of a cleaning device.

FIG. 2 is an exploded assembly view of the cleaning device of FIG. 1.

FIG. 3A is one embodiment of a drain valve for the device of FIG. 2.

FIG. 3B is a cross sectional view of the drain valve taken along line A-A of FIG. 3A.

FIG. 4A is one embodiment of a closure assembly for the device of FIG. 2.

FIG. 4B is a side view of the closure assembly of FIG. 4A.

FIG. 5A is one embodiment of a filter screen for the device of FIG. 2.

FIG. 5B is a side view of the filter screen of FIG. 5A.

FIG. 6A is one embodiment of a filter pad for the device of FIG. 2.

FIG. 6B is a side view of the filter pad of FIG. 6A.

FIG. 7A is one embodiment of a filter retainer for the device of FIG. 2.

FIG. 7B is a side view of the filter retainer of FIG. 7A.

FIG. 8A is back view of one embodiment of a pump for the device of FIG. 2.

FIG. 8B is a side view of the pump of FIG. 8A.

FIG. 8C is a front view of the pump of FIG. 8A.

FIG. 9 is an enlarged view taken at area A for the device of FIG. 2.

FIG. 10 is an enlarged view taken at area B of FIG. 2, with flow lines added.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION

A device and a method for cleaning pools, spas and hot tubs are described. The device allows a user to remove submerged debris and provides a portable cleaning tool. The portable cleaning device has a water intake tube, a settling chamber and a pump. Once the chamber fills, the pump allows for continuous suction through the water intake tube into the settling chamber without the need to drain the settling chamber. The pump also generates sufficient suction power to pick up debris without the use of a large immersion chamber required to generate useful vacuum in some traditional portable vacuums. The smaller chamber used in the present device causes the portable vacuum to have less buoyancy when the chamber contains air. This makes it easier to position the vacuum in the water than some traditional portable vacuums, even with the handle extended.

Referring to the drawings, where like reference numerals refer to similar parts throughout the figures, there is shown in FIG. 1 a pictorial view of a cleaning device 2 and in FIG. 2 an exploded assembly view of cleaning device 2 for removing debris from a pool, spa or hot tub. The cleaning device 2 comprises a handle 4, at least one battery 14, an upper pump housing 13, a lower pump housing 11, an electrically powered pump 6, an intake filter 5, a settling chamber 8 having an upper end 7 and a lower end 9, an intake valve 16, a filter retainer 18, a filter pad 20, a filter screen 22, a closure assembly 3, a drain valve 24, a drain valve retainer 26, an intake tube 10 and an inlet end 12. The handle 4 is adjacent to the pump 6. In one embodiment, the handle 4 is removably connected to upper pump housing 13 via a threaded compression fitting as described with respect to U.S. Pat. No. 7,090,769, John C. Peterson et al., titled “Vacuum For Spas and Method of Use,” which is hereby incorporated by reference in its entirety. In another embodiment, the handle 4 is extendable via the use of telescoping segments as described with respect to U.S. Pat. No. 7,090,769 incorporated above.

In one embodiment, upper pump housing 13 is removably connected to lower pump housing 11, substantially enclosing pump 6. (Types of removable connections include but are not limited to snap fit design, pressure fit designs, threaded designs, groove and tab connections or other methods known to those skilled in the art.) Intake filter 5 is removably connected to the lower pump housing 11 and is adapted to be received within settling chamber 8. The settling chamber 8 has an upper end 7 and a lower end 9. Its approximate volume capacity is 2-4 cups, approximately half the volume of the chamber in common prior art devices that rely on chamber volume to generate suction. The lower pump housing 11 is adjacent to and removably connected to the upper end 7 of the settling chamber 8. The lower end 9 of the settling chamber 8 has a removably connected closure assembly 3 that supports the intake tube 10 and has a filter assembly made up of filter retainer 18, filter pad 20 and filter screen 22. The closure assembly 3 is removably connected to the intake tube 10. The intake tube 10 has an inlet end 12 adapted to be positioned adjacent debris to be removed and an intake valve 16. When the closure assembly 3 with intake tube 10 is connected to the settling chamber 8, a portion of the intake tube 10 extends into the settling chamber 8. The intake tube 10 and settling chamber 8 are substantially hollow, and when the inlet end 12 is adjacent submerged debris, the debris can be suctioned up with surrounding water and passed through the intake tube 10 into the settling chamber 8. Seals such as o-rings (not shown) may be used at the upper and lower ends 7, 9 of the chamber 8 to make its connections to the lower pump housing 11 and the closure assembly 3 substantially air-tight.

For a discussion of the cleaning device 2, reference is now made to FIGS. 2-7. FIGS. 3A and 3B are one embodiment of a drain valve 24 of FIG. 2. FIGS. 4A and 4B are one embodiment of a closure assembly 3 of FIG. 2. FIGS. 5A and 5B are one embodiment of a filter screen 22 of FIG. 2. FIGS. 6A and 6B are one embodiment of a filter pad 20 of FIG. 2. FIGS. 7A and 7B are one embodiment of a filter retainer 18 of FIG. 2.

The intake tube 10 is supported by and connected to closure assembly 3 that removably connects to the lower end 9 of settling chamber 8. Closure assembly 3 has a plurality of openings 31 through which water collected in settling chamber 8 can exit, i.e., be drained back into the pool, spa or hot tub with the debris being filtered out. A removable screen or filter assembly comprised of filter screen 22, filter pad 20 and filter retainer 18 is nested inside closure assembly 3. The filter screen 22 has an opening 32 that is adapted to fit around the intake tube 10. In one embodiment, the filter screen 22 is made of nylon mesh. The filter pad 20 also has an opening 34 adapted to fit around the intake tube 10. In one embodiment, the filter pad 20 is made of polypropylene fiber, non-woven material. The filter retainer 18 also has an opening 36 adapted to fit around the intake tube 10. In assembling cleaning device 2, the filter screen 22 is placed over intake tube 10 and slid down the length of intake tube 10 until it is within closure assembly 3 and adjacent openings 31. The filter pad 20 is placed over the intake tube 10 and slid down the length of intake tube 10 until it is within closure assembly 3 and adjacent filter screen 22. The filter retainer 18 is then placed over the intake tube 10 and slid down the length of the intake tube 10 until it is within closure assembly 3 and adjacent filter pad 20. The filter retainer 18 is removably secured (e.g., by friction fit) to the closure assembly 3 to hold the filter screen 22 and filter pad 20 in place adjacent the openings 31 of closure assembly 3. The stacked relationship of filter screen 22, filter pad 20 and filter retainer 18 allows for the easy removal of these when the filter assembly accumulates debris and needs to be cleaned.

The filter assembly in closure assembly 3 filters out the debris from the debris-laden water collected in settling chamber 8 as the water is being drained through the openings 31 located closure assembly 3. Adjacent the openings 31 of closure assembly 3 is a drain valve 24 having a disc-like shape. Valve 24 is slidably mounted on intake tube 10 between closure assembly 3 and a valve retainer 26 secured to intake tube 10.

The valve 24 and related elements define an exit or drain path for water from the chamber 8, when the pump 6 is de-powered and the device 2 and specifically intake tube 10 are removed from the water. Draining leaves the debris trapped on the filter assembly, specifically on filter pad and screen 20, 22. Drain valve 24 functions to block the openings 31 of closure assembly 3 by means of water pressure when the cleaning device 2 is immersed into the pool, spa or hot tub during its debris-collecting phase. Initially, when the chamber 8 contains air and later, when the action of pump 6 begins, the pressure differential draws the water and targeted debris through inlet end 12 of intake tube 10 into settling chamber 8 to be collected. When pump 6 stops and the cleaning device 2 is held vertically and removed from the pool, spa or hot tub or close enough to the water surface that the drain valve 24 is no longer immersed, the weight of the debris-laden water in settling chamber 8 forces drain valve 24 against valve retainer 26 to uncover the openings 31 of closure assembly 3 and enable the water in the settling chamber 8 to be drained while retaining the debris on the screen or filter assembly. The user can then detach the closure assembly 3 and remove debris accumulated on filter pad 20 by hand or under a stream of water. The disc of valve 24 has a slight curvature that aids its seal against closure assembly 3, particularly if it were to become slightly warped. The valve 24 slides on intake tube 10 between its closed position, lying against openings 31, and its open position, resting against retainer 26.

The end of intake tube 10 extends into settling chamber 8 beyond closure assembly 3 and is provided with an intake valve 16. Intake valve 16 may be one-way, to block liquid back-flow into the intake tube 10 while allowing debris-laden water to enter settling chamber 8. In one embodiment, intake valve 16 is a duckbill valve that opens when pressure on its inside is slightly greater than the pressure on its outside surfaces. In another embodiment, intake valve 16 is a flapper type check valve. The other end of intake tube 10 has an inlet end 12 that is adapted to receive debris located in a pool, spa or hot tub. In this embodiment, inlet end 12 is a separate, removable piece that attaches to intake tube 10, although fixed or integrally molded inlet ends may be used. In one embodiment, inlet end 12 is a nozzle as described in U.S. Pat. No. 7,090,769 incorporated above in its entirety.

FIGS. 8A, 8B and 8C show one embodiment of a pump 6 of FIG. 2. In this embodiment, pump 6 is located between upper pump housing 13 and lower pump housing 11. The pump 6 has a pump inlet 40 communicating with intake filter 5 and the interior of chamber 8, and a pump outlet 28. The intake filter 5 keeps debris in chamber 8 while allowing water to enter the pump inlet 40 and pump 6. The intake filter 5 is removably connected to the lower pump housing 11 on one end and the other end is received within settling chamber 8. In one embodiment, intake filter 5 is a mesh screen formed as a cylinder and supported on a frame that is removably connected to lower pump housing 11. This provides a large surface area through which water may be drawn into the pump 6. This helps avoid fouling when debris collects on portions of the intake filter 5.

FIG. 10 shows a portion of FIG. 1 to which flow lines have been added to show flow of water into the settling chamber 8 through filter 5 and into pump 6 in pump housing 11, 13. (FIG. 10 is still an exploded view. Assembled and in a vertical position, intake valve 16 would be at the lower end of chamber 8, just below the filter 5, which would be contained within chamber 8. The top of filter 5 would be mated into the bottom of motor housing 11.) As seen at flow lines 102, in-flowing water exits from intake valve 16 to flow into the lower end 9 of settling chamber 8. The in-flowing water encounters the bottom surface 5a of filter 5, which is impervious and as shown at flow lines 104 displaces the water sideways toward the outer wall of settling chamber 8, which in turn directs it to flow along the outer surface of filter 5.

As shown at 5b, filter 5 comprises a mesh cylinder (only a corner portion of the full filter mesh is shown). In one embodiment, filter 5 comprises a cylinder with an inner layer of 80 mesh screen covered by and joined by an outer layer of 20 mesh screen that provides support. Both are placed over a filter support frame with a pair of ribs 5d joined at right angles and extending between bottom surface 5a and the upper connection bracket 5e with outflow passages 5c.

As shown at flow lines 106, the suction from pump 6 draws water flowing along the exterior surface of filter 5 into its interior. Within filter 5 flow continues upward (leftward in FIG. 10) and, as shown at flow lines 108, into outflow passages 5c and into pump 6, to be impelled out pump outlet 28. Thus, flow across a large filter surface area is maintained. In one embodiment, the outer diameter of filter 5 is 2.3 inches while the inner diameter of the chamber is 3.092 inches, providing a ratio of 1:1.34 (or approximately 74% of the diameter of the chamber). In another embodiment, the same diameter ratio is 50% or greater. The filter surface area is maximized consistent with adequate vertical flow between the filter 5 and the wall of chamber 8 for at least two reasons: to permit flow to be maintained by a relatively compact motor of modest power and to provide a large surface on which debris may collect without substantial flow blockage. It should further be noted that filter 5 has only vertical mesh surfaces relative to the normal position of the device 2 when chamber 8 is allowed to drain. This facilitates removal of debris captured on the filter mesh when the water in the chamber 8 flows outward from the interior of filter 5 and downward in chamber 8 (reverse of flow lines 106, 104) to exit from drain valve 24. Here, too, the large diameter of the filter 5 assists, as the water volume within the filter 5 provides a backwash for filter mesh.

As described above, the pump inlet 40 is adjacent to and communicates with the interior of upper end 7 of the settling chamber 8. When the air-filled chamber 8 of the cleaning device 2 is submerged in a pool, spa or hot tub, by pressure differential water enters through the intake tube 10 to fill the settling chamber 8. The pump 6 may now be activated so that the pump 6 can remove a portion of the water in the settling chamber 8 through the pump inlet 40 and out of the cleaning device 2 through the pump outlet 28. When the water passes through the settling chamber 8, it travels through the intake filter 5, which passes the water but prevents the passage of water-borne debris, which is trapped in the settling chamber 8. (Consistent with the acceptable load for the pump 6, the intake filter 5 may be fine-meshed or less fine-meshed.) Through the use of the pump 6, the cleaning device 2 can operate in a continuous fashion, because the pump 6 will draw water from the settling chamber 8 at the same time as the chamber 8 is filling up with water and debris is drawn into intake tube 10. This substantially reduces the inconvenience found with conventional pumps, relying only on a pressure differential, of periodically pulling the cleaning device 2 out of the water in order to drain it and refresh suction, then reinserting it into the water again to collect additional debris. In addition, once the chamber 8 is water-filled, the device 2 can be used in relatively shallow water, as long as vanes 42 of the pump 6 remain submerged (or in contact with water flow) and water flows into the intake tube 10.

In one embodiment, the device 2 can be used to collect debris in shallow water, e.g., a depth of a few inches, when a portion of chamber 8 is out of the water. In this embodiment, the pump 6 and the drain valve 24 and the seals on the chamber 8 are selected and configured so that the device will continue to hold water in the chamber 8, draw water into the chamber 8 through intake tube 10 and expel water from the pump outlet 28 as long as the pump vanes 42 continue to encounter water, even though they are a few inches above the water surface. This is possible when the drain valve 24 seals well, e.g., because it is close fitting or is assisted by one or more sealing rings or resilient surfaces (not shown), the chamber 8 has seals at its end connections to prevent significant air from being sucked in and the pump 6 has suction power effective to hold the seal at the drain valve 24 when the pump is running and the chamber 8 is substantially filled with water. (For example, a 500 GPH, 12 VDC, 3A, pump manufactured by Johnson Pump may be used.)

The pump 6 is electrically powered by batteries 14 located in handle 14 of cleaning device 2. In one embodiment, battery 14 (consisting of multiple cells) has a battery pack case (not shown) and is substantially located within a battery pack holder (not shown). For a more detailed discussion, reference is made to FIG. 9, where FIG. 9 is an enlarged view taken at area A of FIG. 2. In this embodiment, the end of handle 4 has a rubber seal cap 64, a screw cap 66 and a threaded cap ring 68. When a user twists screw cap 66 onto threaded cap ring 68, rubber seal cap 64 is pushed inward towards battery 14. When the rubber seal cap 64 moves inwardly, it forces battery 14 in the direction of pump 6. This motion creates an electrical connection to be made between battery 14 and an electrical contact pair (not shown) that is connected to electrical wire 15. Electrical wire 15 connects the electrical contact pair to the pump 6 at a pump contact 77 supplying pump 6 power.

In one embodiment, contact spring pins (not shown) and contact springs (not shown) are used so that the contact springs compress and the contact spring pins (electrically connected to the battery 14) come into contact with contact pins that are electrically connected to wire 15 and pump 6. The amount of inward movement is substantially fixed by the mated relationship between screw cap 66 and cap ring 68 and compression of the contact spring mechanism from travel driven by the threads of cap ring 68. In one embodiment, rubber seal cap 64 has a turn indicator depicting to the user how to turn the pump 6 on and off. When the user wants to cut off power to the pump 6, the user turns the screw cap 66 in the opposite direction on the cap ring 68, so that the rubber seal cap 64 moves outwardly, causing a separation between the battery 14 and the contact connected to the wire 15. This provides the user a means to selectively power the pump 6, i.e., turn the pump electric motor on and off.

In operation, a user holds onto the cleaning device 2 (likely holding onto handle 4 with both hands, for control), and submerges the settling chamber 8 of cleaning device 2 into a pool, spa or hot tub in the area of debris. The inlet end 12 of intake tube 10 is placed adjacent the debris, and the debris and surrounding water is drawn through the inlet end 12 of intake tube 10 past the intake valve 16 into the settling chamber 8. The initial suction comes from the air-filled chamber 8 being immersed. Once chamber 8 is filled, the user twists screw cap 66 onto cap ring 68 until it stops, which activates the pump 6 by supplying power from battery 14 to the pump 6. The pump 6 draws water from settling chamber 8, through intake filter 5, and into the pump inlet 40 of pump 6. Intake filter 5 contains debris in the chamber 8 and prevents debris from entering pump 6. Pump 6 pumps out water through pump outlet 28. As long as the inlet end 12 is in water and the drain valve 24 remains closed, an equal amount of water is drawn into the chamber 8, with any entrained debris. This allows for the continuous vacuuming of debris in a pool, spa or hot tub, as the water entering through intake tube 10 eventually exits through pump outlet 28. Because intake valve 16, drain valve 24, filter assembly and intake filter 5 prevent debris from exiting settling chamber 8, debris continues to accumulate in settling chamber 8. Heavier debris will tend to settle toward the bottom, notwithstanding the upward flow caused by pump 6. Some lighter debris may accumulate on the mesh of filter 5.

When the user is done cleaning, the user deactivates the pump 6 by turning screw cap 66 on cap ring 68 so that screw cap 66 backs outward by travel on the threads of cap ring 68 and battery contact is interrupted. The user then pulls the cleaning device 2 from the pool, spa or hot tub and holds it vertically so that the remaining water in settling chamber 8 exits settling chamber 8 through the openings 31 in closure assembly 3, which are no longer blocked by drain valve 24. The filter assembly (20, 22) blocks the debris contained in settling chamber 8 from exiting cleaning device 2. The user then can dump the debris by detaching the settling chamber 8 from the lower pump housing 11 and removing the intake filter 5, or by detaching the settling chamber 8 from the closure assembly 3 or both. If desired, the user can clean the filter assembly by removing it and washing it.

Although the cleaner has been described with reference to certain embodiments, persons skilled in the art will recognize that changes may be made in form and detail without departing from the spirit and scope of the design. All directional references (e.g., lower, upper) are only used for identification purposes to aid the reader's understanding of the embodiments, and do not create limitations, particularly as to the position, orientation, or use of the design unless specifically set forth in the claims. Joinder references (e.g., attached, connected, and the like) are to be construed broadly and may include intermediate members between a connection of elements and relative movement between elements. As such, joinder references do not necessarily infer that two elements are directly connected and in fixed relation to each other.

In some instances, components are described with reference to “ends” having a particular characteristic and/or being connected to another part. However, those skilled in the art will recognize that the present design is not limited to components that terminate immediately beyond their points of connection with other parts. Thus, the term “end” should be interpreted broadly, in a manner that includes areas adjacent, rearward, forward of, or otherwise near the terminus of a particular element, link, component, member or the like. It is intended that all matter contained in the above description or shown in the accompanying drawings shall be interpreted as illustrative only and not limiting. Changes in detail or structure may be made without departing from the spirit of the invention as defined in the appended claims.