Title:
RAINWATER "REAL TIME" FLOW INDICATOR AND DEBRIS COLLECTION DEVICE FOR GUTTER DOWNSPOUT
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A rainwater flow indicator and debris collection device designed for integral installation in a gutter downspout. It comprises an enclosure that has means for monitoring the flow of rainwater through the enclosure; a debris collecting screen which is inserted into and mounted within the rainwater flow indicator and debris collection device; a first adaptor and a second adaptor, both of the adaptors configured and dimensioned to integrally connect the enclosure to the gutter downspout; and a rubber joint designed to provide mechanical support for and allow movement, of the enclosure relative to at least one of the adaptors.



Inventors:
Lamorte, Joseph (Brooklyn, NY, US)
Bordonaro, James Joseph (Bay Shore, NY, US)
Application Number:
11/689525
Publication Date:
09/25/2008
Filing Date:
03/22/2007
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
52/16
International Classes:
E04D13/00
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
IHEZIE, JOSHUA K
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
PANAGIOTA BETTY TUFARIELLO, ESQ.;INTELLECTULAW, THE LAW OFFICES OF (P.B.TUFARIELLO, P.C., 25 LITTLE HARBOR ROAD, MOUNT SINAI, NY, 11766, US)
Claims:
Accordingly, we claim:

1. A rainwater flow indicator and debris collection device for integral installation in a gutter downspout comprising an enclosure having means for monitoring the flow of rainwater through said enclosure; a debris collecting screen inserted into and mounted within the rainwater flow indicator and debris collection device; a first adaptor and a second adaptor, both said adaptors configured and dimensioned to integrally connect said enclosure to the gutter downspout; and a rubber joint designed to provide mechanical support for and allow movement of said enclosure relative to at least one of said adaptors.

2. The device according to claim 1, wherein said means for monitoring the flow of rain water comprise at least one transparent enclosure wall.

3. The device according to claim 1, wherein said debris collecting screen is an arcuately configured, convex, pyramid-like mesh like device having an apex, a base and apertures.

4. The device according to claim 2, wherein said debris collecting screen is an arcuately configured, convex, pyramid-like, non-compressible mesh like device having an apex, a base and apertures.

5. The device according to claim 1, wherein said rubber joint comprises a soft, flexible, fold-bearing, compressible, “accordion-like” tubular body,

6. The device according to claim 2, wherein said rubber joint comprises a soft, flexible, fold-bearing, compressible, “accordion-like” tubular body.

7. The device according to claim 3, wherein said rubber joint comprises a soft, flexible, fold-bearing, compressible, “accordion-like” tubular body.

8. The device according to claim 4, wherein said rubber joint comprises a soft, flexible, fold-bearing, compressible, “accordion-like” tubular body.

Description:

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

1. Field of the Invention

The present invention relates generally to a method and apparatus for use in conjunction with gutter systems used for the collection of rainwater running off buildings' roofs and clean and efficient diversion of the rainwater therefrom. More particularly, the invention relates to debris collection devices that are integrally inserted in gutter downspouts to both remove debris carried by water flowing through the gutter system and to monitor the flow of rainwater runoff through the gutter system, for the purpose of readily detecting, predicting and receiving advanced warning of a potential blockage in the flow of rainwater runoff.

2. Description of the Prior Art

Buildings are generally equipped with rainwater gutter systems. These rainwater gutter systems typically comprise horizontal gutter segments, i.e., U-shaped troughs open at their uppermost end, running along the edge or cave of the roof of the buildings, in the fluid communication with vertical downspouts. They are designed to collect rainwater which falls on the roof of the building, and thereafter to direct and divert the rainwater away from the building, thereby preventing leaks and increasing the longevity of both the roof and the building as a whole.

Most roofs on buildings are designed and built with at least a slight pitch. This slight pitch causes the rainwater that falls on the roof of a building to roll and flow down the roof, toward the edge of the building, into the rainwater gutter system. Specifically, the rainwater wilt flow first into the horizontal gutter segment of the gutter system. From the horizontal gutter segment, the rain water will then flow and travel through a connected downspout (vertical gutter segment) that in turn directs the collected rainwater into a desired spillway or drainage area away from the building, or into a sewer or cesspool.

By virtue of the location of the rainwater gutter systems along the edge or eave of the roof of a building, they are exposed to the elements and debris, such as leaves, twigs, eroded roofing material, animal excrement, the occasional tennis ball and other objects which find their way up onto the roof. Over time the debris starts to and in fact accumulate(s) in the rainwater gutter systems, particularly at bottle neck points along the gutter system, such as around the spikes or hangers, at the drop outlets to the downspouts, at bends in the gutters and/or downspouts, etc. Debris accumulation is particularly problematic in gutters under a valley in the roof (e.g., where two differing slopes intersect) because the valleys tend to collect debris and drain it into the gutter below the valley, at a much higher rate.

When the debris accumulates in the guttering system to the point that the guttering system can no longer adequately drain and direct the water away from the roof and away from the building, the water will inevitably overflow in and start to pour over the edge of the horizontal gutters and run down the sides of the building. This can cause a number of serious problems. For example, if a building has siding, the water can seep behind the siding, and leak into the building. If such seepage is coupled with a severe drop in the outside temperature, i.e., the weather gets so cold that the water freezes, it can cause the siding to break up and or separate from the house. A problem that can be resolved only through the replacement of the siding. Failure to replace the siding will cause further damage to the building. It may even increase the building owner's liability due to tailing siding. The replacement of the siding of a building is a large and expensive job which will either require an investment of a tremendous amount of time or the hiring of a carpenter or contractor.

Similarly, if the outside of a building is covered with a material such as brick or stucco, instead of siding, and water is allowed to run down the side of the brick and stucco as a result of a blocked rainwater gutter system, the water can erode the stucco or the brick much quicker than if the water is properly directed away from the building. The water can find its way into all the minute cracks and crevices, freeze with the drop of the outside temperature and expand, thereby causing the side of the building to break up. Consequently even with stucco or brick, water spilling over from the guttering system will physically erode that surface at a much higher rate than it would if the water is properly diverted.

Finally, if the rain water is not properly diverted and directed away from a building, as is the ease when gutters become blocked and overflow, puddles will begin to form adjacent to the building's foundation and water will start to seep into the ground surrounding the building. This in turn may compromise the building by leading to cracks in the building's basement walls, and/or the building's foundation, and seeping into the lower part of the building itself. Or alternatively, the water will not seep into the ground, but will stay on the surface where it can freeze and cover the whole area with a sheet of ice thereby making it very treacherous to walk anywhere in the immediate vicinity of the building. Or even still, water may start to accumulate and become trapped on certain sections of the roof. This may wear the roof down and eventually lead to a leak in the roof causing damage to the sections of the house protected by the roof.

There is much prior art that has attempted to solve the aforementioned problems, caused by debris accumulating in guttering systems. Such prior art does so by using screens, filters, debris collection devices, gutter cleaning systems or a combination of such devices which are designed strictly to prevent the blockage of the rainwater gutter system by capturing the debris flowing through the gutter system, in certain instances allowing for viewing the accumulated debris and removing of the debris accumulated. For example:

    • U.S. Pat. No. 5,452,546 prevents debris from clogging downspouts and underground drain pipes through a devices consisting of three parts a cap, screen, and base. This device totally screens and contains the water flow. The screen is easily removable by sliding the cap up over the downspout. The amount of debris accumulation can be easily observed because either the cap or base is transparent.
    • United States Letters Patent Application No. 2003/0051414 A1 prevents debris from clogging downspouts through a debris collection device for a gutter downspout which includes a transparent enclosure having an inlet and outlet that are configured to snugly insert into corresponding portions of the gutter downspout. A cylindrically configured debris collection screen is removably installed in the enclosure via a lid in a cover over a vertically positioned aperture in the enclosure. The debris collection screen is deformable and resilient to provide a debris collection member capable of “flattening” as more debris is captured by the screen thereby allowing unobstructed water flow through the enclosure. The transparent enclosure, debris collection screen and lid cooperate to allow an individual access to the screen for removing captured debris from the screen without removing the screen from the enclosure. An outlet screen is installed over the enclosure outlet to collect debris that might flow around the debris collection screen during heavy rainfall. An individual may remove debris collected by the outlet screen while the collection screen remains in the enclosure by forcibly adjusting the position of the deformable collection screen to provide hand space.
    • U.S. Pat. No. 5,709,051 prevents debris from clogging downspouts through a debris removal device which is inserted between the bottom of the downspout and the top of a ground drainpipe into which the downspout empties. The device comprises an elongate tubular housing open on both ends and having an unobstructed third opening formed transversely through the tubular wall between the ends. A partition, having apertures formed therein, extends generally transversely within the tabular housing at an inclination converging toward the third opening so as to divert debris, which enters the tubular housing through the first opening, out the third opening while enabling rainwater associated with the debris to pass through the apertures in the partition and out the second opening. Water flow guides associated with the partition divert rainwater away from the third opening to inhibit it from flowing out the third opening along with the debris. A dam is provided at the bottom of the third opening to likewise inhibit the flow of water out the third opening.
    • United States Letters Patent No. 2005/0109693 A1 prevents debris from clogging downspouts by removing pollutants, sedimentation and silt through an apparatus and method consisting of downspout filter having one or more water filtration or treatment elements directly into the flow of the fluid to be filtered or otherwise treated. Direct insertion of the downspout filter into a downspout at some point between the downspout inlet and outlet is preferable, such that all fluid passing through the downspout is forced to encounter this downspout filter. Such insertion may involve the cutting or separation of the downspout itself. This downspout filter also comprises one or more high flow bypasses to minimize the possibility of obstructions or backups, and, in addition to one or more filtration elements, may also comprises one or more additional water treatment elements, such as chitosan. Also provided is a secondary outlet and diversion valve, such that some or all passing fluid can be additionally treated to become potable or otherwise fit for personal or commercial purposes
    • U.S. Pat. No. 6,115,970 prevents debris from clogging downspouts and maintains building gutters clean through use of a gutter trap consisting of a housing divided into two chambers by a perforated wall. Thus, when runoff rainwater enters the gutter trap, it permits the rainwater to flow therethrough, while simultaneously preventing the debris from traveling therethrough
    • U.S. Pat. No. 5,985,158 prevents debris from clogging downspouts and maintains downspouts and drain tiles clean through use of a debris trap assembly which is connected to a rain gutter system. The debris trap assembly replaces the portion of the downspout from about waist height down to the drain tile connection. Rain water is carried by the downspout to the debris trap assembly where it flows through a strainer housing containing a strainer cup. The strainer cup accumulates the debris collected by the rain gutters and flushed down the downspout by the rain water. The strainer cup has a special shape that allows it to occupy nearly all the space in the housing while still being removable through an access opening to empty the debris from the cup. An indicator built into the strainer cup displays when the strainer cup needs to be emptied. To empty the strainer cup, it is first removed from the housing and then dumped in either the garbage or a compost pile. The strainer cup is then easily replaced into the strainer housing. In the event that the strainer cup is not emptied when full, a set of emergency drains conducts the rain water out of the debris trap assembly and directs it to the ground and away from the building.
    • United States Letters Patent Application No. 2005/0145560 A1 prevents the accumulation of debris at points higher above the ground, with a gutter foam filter for use in the horizontal segments of a rainwater gutter system. The gutter foam filter material placed in and extending the full length of a conventional “K” type or similar roof gutter. The foam filter elements may be inserted within the gutter below gutter spikes. The foam material is an open pore polyether foam of 10-20 cells per square inch which allows rainwater to travel through the filter while excluding leaves. The foam is generally in the form of a right triangle and so disposed in the gutter as to have one side extending along the back of the gutter and the other side of the triangle extending between the across the upper open portion of the gutter. The sloped wall defines a void in the lower front portion of the gutter for rainwater flow to a downspout. The lower corner of the element is truncated forming a lower support wall.
    • U.S. Pat. No. 5,802,775 prevents the accumulation of debris with a flexible cage attached to a base which fits in to a gutter downspout opening. A cord is attached at the top center of the flexible cage and it extends through the cage and out of the downspout. The construction of the cage is a hub and spoke system, primarily to be manufactured of plastic. The round spokes are attached to a central hub, the base is fixed and rests in the drain opening, and the legs of the cage to attached to the base. When the cage is not in its active phase, its function is passive, preventing debris from clogging the drain opening. When in operation, via the actuating cord, the design and construction of the cage, along with force applied by pulling the cord, causes the cage to compress and rotate around the drain opening. The action of the device around the drain opening loosens debris and creates openings which allow water to flow freely again. When tension is released from the cord, the strainer rotates back to its original position and shape, and returns to its passive function as a strainer.
    • U.S. Pat. No. 5,535,554 prevents the accumulation of debris through use of a gutter and drain spout guard. The guard includes a base, two end walls and a cap. The base is generally rectangular in shape, with the two end walls extending perpendicularly from its ends. The base is positioned within a gutter over the drain spout. The cap is positioned over the opening of the drain spout and is connected to the base through a loop. The loop also extends into the drain spout, biased against the walls of the drain spout, thus securely positioning the guard with respect to the drain spout. The end walls of the guard prevent debris from collecting near the drain spout opening. Once the debris has reached the height of the end walls, the debris flows closer to the opening. However, the cap prevents the debris from collecting directly in the drain spout. The cap also prevents debris, falling directly from the roof, from collecting over the opening. The base, end walls, and cap are constructed from a wire or plastic mesh and allow water and small particles to flow into the drain spout. Therefore, the base, end walls, and cap prevent debris that could clog the drain spout from collecting near the opening, thus allowing the water to continually flow within the gutter and drain spout.
    • U.S. Pat. No. 5,634,299 prevents the accumulation of debris with a flushing apparatus for collecting and removing debris from a rain gutter to permit the unobstructed flow of water through a gutter downspout. The apparatus includes a channel section forming one end of the gutter and having a pair of sidewalls, a screen member and a raised portion associated with the screen member. The raised portion is of a height sized to induce water in the gutter to drop through the screen member into the downspout. The screen member is pivotable between a normal position which prevents the debris from passing into the downspout, and a cleaning position which removes the debris from the screen member
    • U.S. Pat. No. 6,067,755 prevents the accumulation of debris at points higher above the ground with a cover arrangement for roof gutters. The cover arrangement includes a plurality of cover segments each of which includes an elongated hinge pin having a mounting plate thereon and pivotal gutter cover segment thereon.
    • U.S. Pat. No. 6,936,164 B2 prevents the accumulation of debris at points higher above the ground with a device that separates debris and other material from rainwater as it flows into a downpipe from a roof gutter. The device has a compartment for fitting to the upper end of a downpipe. The compartment has a horizontally pivoted perforated drum which rotates when rainwater and entrained debris from an overhead gutter impinges on it such that the rainwater passes through the perforations in the drum into the associated downpipe and the debris is ejected outside of the device by the rotation of the drum.
    • U.S. Pat. No. 6,397,526 B1 prevents the accumulation of debris with a gutter cleaner that comprises a float portion and a stem portion. The float portion comprises a float piece that typically has a size larger than the downspout opening of a gutter in which the gutter cleaner is installed. Accordingly, the float will not flow down of become lodged in the downspout. The float piece is made of materials or in a manner such that the float piece will be raised within the gutter when water flows there through. The stem portion typically is attached to the float portion and extends downwardly into the downspout of the gutter. As rainwater flows into the gutter and down the downspout, the water will raise the float while the stem portion will remain extending downwardly into the downspout. The flow of the water agitates the stem and the float regions of the gutter cleaner. This agitation action reduces the buildup of small twigs and pine needles at the downspout region, thereby facilitating the flow of debris and water down the downspout and out of the gutter.
    • U.S. Pat. No. 5,893,239 prevents the accumulation of debris with a gutter tilt actuator for a rain gutter system for a house, building, structure, etc., which facilitates cleaning of a gutter. The gutter tilt actuator is utilized to rotate the gutter from a water collecting position to a cleaning position and from a cleaning position to a water collecting position.
    • U.S. Pat. No. 4,183,368 prevents the accumulation of debris with an eave trough flushing system, which includes a nozzle mounting bracket for mounting a nozzle in a position to inject water into and lengthwise along an eave trough. The mounting bracket laterally spans the eave trough and is configured to engage the eave trough in a manner that permits easy installation.
    • U.S. Pat. No. 6,584,733 B2 prevents the accumulation of debris and the blockage of a rainwater guttering system with a method and apparatus for preventing the blockage of an internal corner roof gutter located at the bottom of valley gutters. An opening is formed at the intersection of the two gutters and a rainwater head with attached downpipe is fitted under the opening. The rainwater head can be designed to include an arcuate section which extends between the two faces of the gutter.
    • U.S. Pat. No. 5,799,445 provides for rainwater overflow protection for a roof gutter, after the accumulation of debris, with a method and apparatus that includes removing rainwater under the force of gravity from the gutter via a conduit connected at an opening in a substantially vertical wail at one end of the gutter. A further step includes directing the rainwater from the opening through a downward turning transition section in the conduit such that a substantially horizontal rainwater flow direction is gradually converted to a downward flow direction. A portion of the rainwater may be further directed via the conduit from the gutter to a conventional downspout connected to a bottom surface of the gutter. In this alternative, the conduit joins the conventional downspout at a location at least six inches below the bottom surface of the gutter and serves as a bypass for a plugged conventional downspout opening.
    • United States Letters Patent Application No. 2002/0073630 A1 provides for rainwater overflow protection for a roof gutter, after the accumulation of debris, with a method and apparatus that includes removing rainwater with an overflow chute for guttering, the chute comprising an elongate member having a substantially U-shaped cross-section and including a weir or barrier therein intermediate an overflow spout and an inlet adapted to engage a section of guttering. In a preferred arrangement, the inlet includes male and female coupling portions to link the chute to standard section of guttering (not shown). The inlet further includes a downpipe connector having a through-body aperture for directing rainwater into a downpipe. The aperture is protected by a leaf guard to prevent an accumulation of debris in the downpipe.

It is clear from all of the above that nothing in the aforementioned prior art attempts to solve the problems of debris-clogged rainwater gutter systems through the “real time”, easy, visual monitoring of the flow of the rainwater itself, as it is in fact rolling down the roof, into the horizontal gutter sections, down the downspouts and into the ground or rainwater removal traps leading to the sewers or cesspools. Nothing provides for an advance notice or warning that debris has started to accumulated and beginning to block the flow of rainwater, or of an impending overflow.

On the other hand, it is also clear from the above, that the aforementioned prior art attempts to solve the problems caused by debris-clogged rainwater guttering systems, by providing for easy removal of the debris after it has significantly accumulated, whether the accumulation has occurred in the downspouts, or along the horizontal segments of the gutter system running along the eaves of the roof. It does so with either complex, multi-component apparatus that is costly difficult to install, and not user-friendly; or with cuplike, concave debris collecting screen structures, or solid receptacles, that can be accessed either through doors, apertures, or openings in the side walls of the devices themselves, or through the complete disassembly thereof.

Further, it is also clear from the above that in order for the prior art to really solve the problems caused by debris-clogged rainwater guttering systems, its users must be vigilant and conscientious in their use thereof. In other words, the users should be approaching the devices in the prior art during dry weather, when rain is not pouring down on them in buckets, either by simply walking up to the downspout-installed devices, or by climbing on the roof, to check them and determine if a relatively significant amount of debris has accumulated therein. If there is, then the users must take the time to either disassemble them or activate them to remove the debris.

The realities of modern day living, with all of its daily requirements and stresses, however, dictate otherwise. Thus, generally speaking and on the most part, the only time that the users of the devices in the prior art will think of removing the debris is when the blockage actually occurs (this time from the very debris that has accumulated in the devices themselves), the rainwater backs tip, overflows over the edges of the horizontal sections of the gutter system along the eaves of the roof, and spills and gushes all over the side walls of the buildings. Repeated blockages of this sort, will cause the very problems that the prior art has been designed to avoid.

Finally, all of the prior art deals with the easy monitoring and removal of accumulated debris, when and if it happens in a section of the rainwater gutter system that is physically accessible to or has occurred within the prior art devices. None of the prior art provides for a solution to the situation that arises if debris accumulates and clogs a section of the rainwater gutter system that is not accessible, as for example when debris is trapped in the upper section of the downspout, close to the roof, high above ground level.

Accordingly, there is clearly a need for a method and apparatus that can better address the problem of rainwater gutter system overflows and damage caused as a result thereof. Such apparatus and method needs to be easily insertable into the downspouts of existing gutter systems, without great costs or tremendous expertise. Furthermore, it needs to be easily, almost instinctively monitored, practically at a glance, in “real time”, to insure its peak performance by regularly monitoring the possibility of gutter system clogs. Finally, it must provide for easy, regular, frequent and consistent maintenance that will require minimum mechanical ability and minimum time. Without such apparatus and method, buildings will continue to be exposed to the damage caused by overflowing gutter systems and occupants and insurers will continue to deal with the costs of rectifying such damage.

OBJECTS OF THE INVENTION

IT IS THEREFORE AN OBJECT of the present invention to provide an apparatus and method that is able to better prevent costly damage to a building, as a result of debris-clogged rainwater gutter systems overflowing with backed up rain water.

IT IS ANOTHER OBJECT of the present invention to provide an apparatus and method that prevents rain water gutter systems from getting clogged and overflowing, via “real time” monitoring of the flow of the rainwater through the gutter system.

IT IS YET ANOTHER OBJECT of the present invention to provide an apparatus and method for early detection of a blockage and advanced warning that the flow of water through a gutter system has obstructed, before the blockage gets to the point where the gutter system becomes completely backed up.

IT IS STILL ANOTHER OBJECT of the present invention to provide a window of opportunity for the elimination or removal of blockage causing debris, before the gutter overflows and water starts running down the side of the building.

IT IS A FURTHER OBJECT of the present invention to provide an apparatus and method that are easily installable into existing gutter systems of various constructions, without great costs or tremendous expertise, irrespective of whether said system is old, new, complete or incomplete.

IT IS ANOTHER OBJECT of the present invention to provide an apparatus and method that can act as an easily observable, visual indicator of the amount of water going through the gutter system, in “real time” and a “real time” predictor of whether there is a potential blockage upstream or downstream there from.

IT IS YET ANOTHER OBJECT of the present invention to provide an apparatus and method that can act as an easily observable, visual barometer of the condition, quality, and rainwater transporting properties of the gutter system both upstream and downstream therefrom.

IT IS STILL ANOTHER OBJECT of the present invention to provide an apparatus and method that can act as a warning generating and an instant alert system that the condition, quality and rainwater transporting properties of the gutter system either upstream or downstream therefrom have been compromised and need to be corrected immediately.

IT IS A FURTHER OBJECT of the present invention to provide an apparatus and method that better prevents the accumulation of debris in the gutter system or the gutter trap, and strongly encourages regular and frequent cleanings thereof.

IT IS STILL ANOTHER OBJECT of the present invention to provide an apparatus and method that permits that accumulation of debris in a screen or filter-like structure that is not cup-like in structure, concave, and compressible in nature.

IT IS ANOTHER OBJECT of the present invention to provide an apparatus and method that permits the removal of debris with minimum effort, cost or tools, and minimal disassembly thereof.

IT IS YET ANOTHER OBJECT of the present invention to provide an apparatus and method that permits the access and removal of debris without the need for an opening on the side wall of the apparatus.

IT IS STILL ANOTHER OBJECT of the present invention to provide a device that is easily cleaned. A feature of the device is at least one soft, compressible rubber joint. An advantage of this feature is that the entire device can be compressed upwards in one movement thereby easily removing the bottom end of the device from the downspout, articulating the bottom end thereof without tools and without removing it from the upper downspout so that the device is out of the flow path of the gutter system; and emptying the debris. Another advantage resulting from the feature is that no debris therefrom passes through and into the downspout below.

IT IS A FURTHER OBJECT of the present invention to provide a device that allows for the “real time” monitoring of the rainwater flow through and the anticipation therefrom of a possible blockage in the gutter system. A feature of the device is at least one transparent wall that allows for the visual, real time monitoring of flow of rainwater through the device during rainy weather. An advantage of the feature is that the monitoring of the flow of water through die device and the varying flow rates thereof can provide an accurate barometer of the conditions and properties of the rainwater gutter system both upstream and downstream therefrom and help predict the occurrence of a blockage before an overflow.

IT IS ANOTHER OBJECT of the present invention to provide a device that removes debris from water flowing through a gutter downspout. A feature of the device is an arcuately configured, convex, pyramid-like, non compressible screen that forces debris into the outer portion of its arcuate configuration. An advantage of the feature is that the upside down cup-like screen structure accumulates the debris at its outer perimeter leaving the center portion free of debris and able to pass water therethrough. The outer perimeter portion maintains the collected debris at a concentrated position easily accessible for cleaning.

These objects, as well as other objects and advantages will become more apparent in the description that is set forth herein below, particularly when read in conjunction with the accompanying drawings.

SUMMARY Off THE INVENTION

The illustrative embodiments of the present inventive device provide for the “real time” monitoring of the flow of rainwater therethrough and through the gutter system; the speedy, almost automatic evaluation and ascertainment of the water transporting properties of the gutter system; and the frequent cleaning and maintenance thereof before a blockage in the gutter system gets aggravated to the point that the gutter system overflows. It comprises an enclosure having an inlet, an outlet, means for monitoring the flow of rainwater through the enclosure, a debris collecting screen inserted into and mounted within said enclosure, a first adaptor and a second adaptor, both adaptors configured and dimensioned to integrally connect the enclosure to a gutter downspout and a rubber joint designed to provide mechanical support for and allow movement of the enclosure relative to at least one of the adaptors.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

While the specification concludes with claims which particularly point out and distinctly claim the present invention, it is believed that the present invention will be better understood from the following detailed description taken in conjunction with the accompanying drawings in which like numerals represent identical elements and wherein:

FIG. 1 is an upper perspective view showing a preferred embodiment of the Rain Water Flow Indicator and Debris Collection Device for a Gutter Downspout, in accordance with the present invention, installed on a rain gutter system, on the side of a building and joining the lower portion of a downspout to a drain pipe;

FIG. 2 is an upper perspective view showing a preferred embodiment of the Rain Water Flow Indicator and Debris Collection Device for a Gutter Downspout, in accordance with present invention installed on a rain gutter system, on the side of a building and joining the lower portion of a downspout to a drain pipe connected to a trap, leading either to a cesspool or a public sewer;

FIG. 3 is a perspective view of one embodiment of the Rain Water Flow Indicator and Debris Collection Device for a Gutter Downspout, in accordance with the present invention;

FIG. 4 is an exploded perspective view of the device of FIG. 3, in accordance with the present invention;

FIG. 5 is a front elevation view of the device of FIG. 3, in accordance with the present invention;

FIG. 6 is a back elevation view of the device of FIG. 3, in accordance with the present invention;

FIG. 7 is a left side elevation view of the device of FIG. 3, in accordance with the present invention;

FIG. 8 is a right side elevation view of the device of FIG. 3, in accordance with the present invention;

FIG. 9 is a top elevation view of the device of FIG. 3, in accordance with the present invention;

FIG. 10 is a bottom elevation view of the device of FIG. 3, in accordance with the present invention;

FIG. 11 is a vertical section view taken along line A-A′ of the device of FIG. 5, in accordance with the present invention;

FIG. 12 is a horizontal section view taken along line B-B′ of the device of FIG. 5, in accordance with the present invention;

FIG. 13 is a horizontal section view taken along line C-C′ of the device of FIG. 5, in accordance with the present invention;

FIG. 14 is a perspective view of another embodiment of the Rain Water Flow Indicator and Debris Collection Device for a Gutter Downspout, in accordance with the present invention;

FIG. 15 is an exploded perspective view of the device of FIG. 14, in accordance with the present invention;

FIG. 16 is a perspective view of the enclosure 20 of the Rain Water Flow Indicator and Debris Collection Device for a Gutter Downspout in FIG. 15, in accordance with the present invention;

FIG. 17 is a side elevation view of the enclosure 20 of FIG. 16, in accordance with the present invention;

FIG. 18 is a top or bottom elevation view of the enclosure 20 of FIG. 16, in accordance with the present invention;

FIG. 19 is a front elevation view of the enclosure 20 of FIG. 16, in accordance with the present invention;

FIG. 20 is a perspective view of the rubber joint 30 of the Rain Water Flow Indicator and Debris Collection Device for a Gutter Downspout in FIG. 15, in accordance with the present invention;

FIG. 21 is a side elevation view of the rubber joint 30 of FIG. 20, in accordance with the present invention;

FIG. 22 is a top or bottom elevation view of the rubber joint 30 of FIG. 20, in accordance with the present invention;

FIG. 23 is a front elevation view of the rubber joint 30 of FIG. 20, in accordance with the present invention;

FIG. 24 is a perspective view of the adaptor 40 of the Rain Water Flow Indicator and Debris Collection Device for a Gutter Downspout in FIG. 15, in accordance with the present invention;

FIG. 25 is a back elevation view of the adaptor 40 of FIG. 24, in accordance with the present invention;

FIG. 26 is a front elevation view of the adaptor 40 of FIG. 24, in accordance with the present invention;

FIG. 27 is a section view taken along line D-D′ of the device of FIG. 24, in accordance with the present invention;

FIG. 28 is a section view taken along line E-E′ of the device of FIG. 24, in accordance with the present invention;

FIG. 29 is a perspective view of the adaptor 50 of the Rain Water Flow Indicator and Debris Collection Device for a Gutter Downspout in FIG. 15, in accordance with the present invention;

FIG. 30 is a back elevation view of the adaptor 50 of FIG. 29, in accordance with the present invention;

FIG. 31 is a front elevation view of the adaptor 50 of FIG. 29, in accordance with the present invention;

FIG. 32 is a section view taken along line F-F′ of the device of FIG. 29, in accordance with the present invention;

FIG. 33 is a section view taken along line G-G′ of the device of FIG. 29, in accordance with the present invention;

FIG. 34 is a perspective view of the debris collecting screen 60 of the Rain Water Flow Indicator and Debris Collection Device for a Gutter Downspout in FIG. 15, in accordance with the present invention;

FIG. 35 is a top elevation view of the debris collecting screen 60 of FIG. 34, in accordance with the present invention;

FIG. 36 is a front elevation view of the debris collecting screen 60 of FIG. 34, in accordance with the present invention;

FIG. 37 is a bottom elevation view of the debris collecting screen 60 of FIG. 34, in accordance with the present invention;

FIG. 38 is a side elevation view of the debris collecting screen 60 of FIG. 34, in accordance with the present invention;

FIG. 39 is a perspective view of the various embodiments of enclosure 20 of the Rain Water Flow indicator and Debris Collection Device for a Gutter Downspout in FIG. 15, in accordance with the present invention;

FIG. 40 comprises three, side elevation views of the device of either FIG. 3 or FIG. 15, which set forth the steps of installing the device in line with a downspout; and

FIG. 41 comprises three, side elevation views of the device of either FIG. 3 or FIG. 15, as installed in line with a downspout and the basic steps of the process of debris collection and removal therefrom.

LIST OF ELEMENTS AND THEIR RESPECTIVE IDENTIFYING NUMERALS

NO ELEMENT

10 Rain Water Flow Indicator and Debris Collection Device for a Gutter Downspout

12 Roof of a building

13 Horizontal rainwater gutter system segment

14 Vertical rainwater gutter system segment, i.e. downspout

20 Enclosure

21 Inlet of the Enclosure

22 Outlet of the Enclosure

23 Chamber of the Enclosure

30 Rubber Joint

40 First Adaptor

42 Upper Opening of the First Adaptor

44 Lower Opening of the First Adaptor

46 Bracket

50 Second Adaptor

52 Upper Opening of Second Adaptor

54 Lower opening of Second Adaptor

56 Bracket for Second Adaptor

60 Debris Collecting Screen

62 Apex of Debris Collecting Screen

64 Base of Debris Collecting Screen

66 Appertures of Debris Collecting Screen

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION

Referring more specifically to the drawings, FIG. 1 and FIG. 2 generally depict the inventive device, The Rain Water Flow Indicator and Debris Collection Device for a Gutter Downspout (hereinafter “the Device”) at 10. It is designed to provide: (i) “real time” monitoring of the flow of rain water through said Device 10, as it courses through the rain water gutter system (hereinafter “the Gutter System”): (ii) early detection of a blockage and advanced warning that the flow of water through the Gutter System has been obstructed, before the Gutter System overflows; (iii) a window of opportunity to remove from the Gutter System, any debris that might be causing or that might cause a blockage, before the Gutter System overflows; (iv) for the removal of debris from rain water as it flows through the downspout 14 and away from the building; and (v) for the installation and use of the Device 10, without great cost or tremendous expertise, irrespective of whether the Gutter System is old or brand new.

As can be seen from FIGS. 1 and 2 roofs of buildings are generally pitched. They are equipped with gutters, which collect and divert rain water away from them. As rain falls on the roof 12 of a building, it will flow down the roof 12, in the direction of the pitch of the roof, towards the eaves of the roof. When it reaches the eaves of the roof 12, it falls off the roof and into the Gutter System. More specifically, the rain water will pour into the horizontal segments 13 of the Gutter System, which runs along the edge of the roof 12. From there, the rain water will flow downstream and into a vertical segment of the Gutter system, i.e. the downspout 14. Thereafter, it will spill out of the downspout 14, either directly onto the ground, or into a dry well, cesspool or sewer.

As can also be seen from FIGS. 1 and 2, the Device 10 is removably but sealably, integrally and coaxially inserted and fixed directly into and in line with the downspout 14. Thus, as the rain water flows into the downspout 14, it will flow from the upper segment of the downspout 14, and into the Device 10. Thereafter it will flow from the Device 10 and into the lower part of the downspout 14, to eventually spill on the ground or into a cesspool, dry well or sewer.

The flow of the rain water through the Device 10 can be observed quite readily and clearly; even from a relatively significant distance therefrom. If the rain coming down is gentle, then the observed flow of the rain water through the Device 10 will be consistent, slow and gentle. If, on the other hand, it is coming down “in buckets”, with great force and large volumes, then the observed flow of the rain water through the Device 10, will be raging and forceful. Further, with time, the observer of the rain water flow through the Device 10 will be able to distinguish rates of rain water flow and their relation to the force of the falling rain, or alternatively, to the presence or absence of a debris blockage in the Gutter System. As a result, the observer will immediately become aware of and discern that the flow of the rain water is being impeded by debris that has somehow accumulated in and is clogging the Gutter System, either because the flow of rain water has been significantly reduced to a trickle, if not to nothing at all; or alternatively, if the blockage is downstream from the device 10, the rain water will back up and fill the Device 10. All before the blockage becomes so extreme that it causes the rain water to overflow over the side of the horizontal sections 13 of the Gutter System, thereby significantly reducing the chance for damage to the building itself.

The Device 10, as can be seen in FIGS. 3 and 4, as well as in FIGS. 14 and 15, comprises an enclosure 20, a debris collecting screen 60, a rubber joint 30, a first adaptor 40 and a second adaptor 50.

The enclosure or housing 20, as shown in FIGS. 16, 17, 18, 19 and 39 is a single, unitary tubular type body with relatively thick walls (although the thickness of the walls is not critical, if the material of which it is made of is rigid and strong), an inlet 21, an outlet 22 and an inner hollow core or chamber 23, the latter three being coaxially arranged and vertically aligned.

The enclosure 20 is of a solid construction capable of withstanding the stresses of exposure to nature, while simultaneously operating efficiently as part of the downspout 14. It can be shaped in any number of ways. Thus, it can be oval, round, rectangular, triangular, tubular, or any shape at all, as long as it continues to have an inlet 21, an outlet 22 and an inner hollow core or chamber 23. Likewise, it can dimensioned in as many different ways as possible. Finally, it is provided with at least one transparent side, or at least one transparent wall, or even with at least one partially transparent window, as is shown In FIG. 39(b), to permit for the monitoring of the flow of rain water therethrough, once the Device 10 is integrally installed, in line with a Gutter System downspout.

In the preferred embodiments of the Device 10, as shown in FIGS. 3 and 4, and FIGS. 14 and 15, the entire body of the enclosure 20 is entirely transparent.

The debris collecting screen 60 is an arcuately configured, convex, pyramid-like, or cone-like, or upside down cup-like, non-compressible sieve, riddle, or other mesh-like device having an apex 62, a base 64, and apertures 66. It can be made of any material that is capable of providing rigidity and non-compressibility. As a result, it can be made of any metal or plastic. In the preferred embodiments of the Device 10, the debris collection screen 60 is made of plastic.

Due to the debris collecting screen's 60 unique shape, the dimensions and shape of the base 64 of the debris collecting screen 60 are different from the dimensions and shape of the apex 62. Specifically the width and length of the base 64 are larger than the width and length of the apex 62. Furthermore, the dimensions and shape of the base 64 mirror and are substantially similar to the dimensions and shape of the inner cavity 23 of the enclosure 20, to facilitate mounting of the debris collection screen 60 within the enclosure 20. Finally, in the preferred embodiment of the Device 10 the dimensions and shape of the base 64 and the apex 62 are such that when the debris collection screen 60 is mounted within the enclosure 20, their center points are coaxial and in line with the inlet port 21 and outlet port 22 respectively, and their entire length is entirely transverse to the flow of the rain water through the Device 10

The debris collecting screen 60 is inserted into, and hingedly or fixedly mounted on the lower surface of the walls defining the perimeter of the outlet 22 of the enclosure 20, such that the apex 62 projects into the chamber 23 and the base 64 is parallel to and flush with the lower surface of the walls of the enclosure 20 defining said outlet 22. This almost upside down, cup-like configuration of the debris; collecting screen 60 forces the debris into the outer portion of its arcuate configuration. This leaves the center portion free of debris, while simultaneously allowing water to pass therethrough. The collected debris is kept concentrated at the outer perimeter, where it remains until is is easily accesses for cleaning.

The first adaptor 40 has an upper opening 42 and a lower opening 44. It is made of hard, non-compressible, relatively strong material such as a plastic or a metal, capable of connecting and supporting the enclosure 20 to an upper portion of a gutter downspout. The upper opening 42 of the first adaptor 40 is configured and dimensioned so that the lower end of the upper portion of the gutter downspout 14 can be inserted, and frictionally become snugly and sealably fitted therein. On the other hand, the dimensions and configuration of the lower opening 44 of the first adaptor 40 do not permit its insertion into the enclosure 20 or the insertion for the enclosure into the lower opening 44 of the adaptor 40. Rather, its configuration and dimensions are very similar to and mirror the dimensions and configuration of the inlet 21 of the enclosure 20, such that when they are positioned adjacently to each other they can only make contact with each other; not become coupled to each other.

Optionally, the first adaptor 40 can be provided with a bracket 46 that can be used to secure the first adaptor 40 on the wall of the building on which the gutter is located, thereby providing more support to the Device 10, when it is integrally inserted in line with a gutter downspout. As can be seen from FIGS. 3 and 4, and FIGS. 14 and 15, the bracket 46 can either be horizontal or vertical and therefore can be fastened or fixed on the wall either horizontally or vertically.

The rubber joint 30 is constructed of soft, flexible, compressible material designed to hold the lower opening 44 of the first adaptor 40 adjacent to the inlet 21 of the enclosure 20, but spaced therefrom, for the purpose of allowing movement of and providing mechanical support for the enclosure 20 relative to the first adaptor 40. In other words, it allows the enclosure 20 to articulate relative to the first adaptor 40. If comprises a soft, tubular body having a proximate opening and a distal opening. Both openings are configured and dimensioned to be only slightly larger than the dimensions of the outer perimeter of the inlet 21 of the enclosure 20 and the lower opening 44 of the adaptor 40 respectively. As a result, the distal opening acts as a female fitting to receive, frictionally enclose, and snugly and sealably, but removably connect and couple with the lower opening 44 of the first adaptor 40. The distal opening of the rubber joint in essence forms a form-fitting, snug, friction sealed sleeve around the lower opening 44 of the first adaptor 40. The proximate opening in turn, also acts as a female fitting to receive, frictionally enclose, and snugly and sealably, but removably connect and unite with the inlet 21 of the enclosure 20. In essence, the proximate opening of the rubber joint forms a form-fitting, snug, friction sealed sleeve around the inlet 21 of the enclosure 20.

In the preferred embodiments of the Device 10, the rubber joint comprises a soft, flexible, fold-bearing, expandable, compressible, “accordion like”, tubular body having a distal and a proximate opening. See FIGS. 20-23.

The adaptor 50 also has an upper opening 52 and a lower opening 54. It too is made of hard, non-compressible, relatively strong material, such as a plastic or a metal, capable of connecting and supporting the enclosure 20 to a lower portion of a gutter downspout. The upper opening 52 of the adaptor 50 is configured and dimensioned so that it can act as a female fitting for the outlet 22 of the enclosure 20. The outlet 22 is snugly inserted, and frictionally and sealably fitted thereinto. On the other hand, the dimensions and configuration of the lower opening 54 of the adaptor 50 are such that they permit the lower opening 54 of the adaptor 50 to act as a male fitting. Specifically, the lower opening 54 is snugly inserted and frictionally and sealably fitted into the upper end of the lower section of the downspout 14 when the Device 10 is installed therein.

Optionally, the adaptor 50 can be provided with a bracket 56 that can be used to secure the adaptor 50 on the wall of the building on which the gutter is located, thereby providing more support to the Device 10, when it is integrally inserted in line with a gutter downspout. As can be seen from FIGS. 3 and 4, and FIGS. 14 and 15, the bracket 56 can either be horizontal or vertical and therefore can be fastened or fixed on the wall either horizontally or vertically.

In an alternate embodiment of the Device 10, the dimensions and shape of the base 64 of the debris collecting screen 60 mirror and are substantially similar to the dimensions and shape of the upper opening 52 of the adaptor 50, to facilitate mounting of the debris collection screen 60 within the adaptor 50. The debris collecting screen 60 is inserted into, and hingedly or fixedly mounted within the upper opening 52 of the adaptor 50 so that when the outlet 22 of the enclosure 20 is inserted into the adaptor 50, the apex 62 projects into the chamber 23 of the enclosure 20 and the base 64 is parallel to and flush with narrowest inner diameter of the adaptor 50. See FIG. 41.

In yet another embodiment of the Device 10 both the inlet 21 and outlet 22 of said enclosure 20 have tapered edges to facilitate insertion and attachment to the first and second adaptors and the rubber joint.

In still another embodiment of the Device 10, the soft, flexible, fold-bearing, expandable, compressible, “accordion like”, tubular body of the rubber joint 30, having a distal and a proximate opening is fixedly, permanently and integrally connected to the lower end of the first adaptor 40, as for example, by fusing its distal end to the lower end 42. Alternatively, through the proper technology the tubular body and the adaptor could be molded as a single unitary piece.

FIG. 40 depicts the process by removably inserting the Device 10 into art existing gutter downspout 14 adjacent to a building wall, such as the one shown in FIGS. 1-2. Such process comprises the steps of;

(a) cutting the existing gutter downspout 14 in two locations parallel to each other, but distanced from each other a length equivalent to the total length of the enclosure 20 when full assembled with both first and second adaptors;

(b) Creating an upper portion of the downspout and a lower portion of the downspout, by removing the cut downspout piece;

(c) Replacing the cut downspout piece with the Device 10, by first inserting and frictionally and sealably fitting the lower end of the upper portion of the downspout into the upper opening 42 of the first adaptor 40, and optionally affixing said first adaptor 40 via its optionally provided bracket 46 on the building wall;

(d) Thereafter, inserting and frictionally and sealably fitting the lower end 52 of the second adaptor 50 into the upper end of the lower portion of the downspout and optionally affixing said second adaptor 50 via its optionally provided bracket 56 on the building wall; and

(e) Inserting and frictionally and sealably fitting the outlet 22 of the enclosure 20 of the Device 10 into the upper opening 52 of the second adaptor 50, such that the rainwater flowing through the Device 10 will flow into the lower downspout.

FIG. 41 in turn, depicts the process of using and cleaning the Device 10 after it is installed in a gutter downspout 14. Such process comprises the steps of:

    • Observing the flow of rainwater through the enclosure 20 both during severe and mild rain events, in “real time” particularly when the Device 10 is first installed, to calibrate said rainwater flows when there are no blockages anywhere in the gutter system;
    • Developing a strong sense of the conditions, quality and rainwater transporting properties of the gutter system via habitual and consistent checking of the Device 10, even during weather that is dry, and even from afar;
    • Removing any debris blockages that might occur and that might be determined as a result of observing the flow of rainwater slow down in a manner that is not consistent with normal rain water flow observations, before the gutter system overflows;
    • Insuring the proper performance of the Device 10 by frequently and periodically removing the debris accumulating and collecting in the outer perimeter of the debris collection screen 60 of the Device 10 by: a) holding the enclosure 20 with at least one hand; b) gently but firmly lifting the enclosure 20 upwards, away from the lower downspout section 14 and towards the upper downspout section 14, thereby compressing and shrinking the rubber joint while simultaneously sliding the outlet 22 of the enclosure 20 out of the second adaptor 50; c) articulating the enclosure 20 relative to the first adaptor 40 away from the building wall and the second adaptor 50, out of the path of the rain water flow in the lower downspout and pointing same towards the ground; d) releasing one side of and pivoting the debris collecting screen 60 on its hinged connection with the enclosure 20, away from the chamber 23 of the enclosure 20, thereby emptying the debris therefrom; e) returning and securing the debris collecting screen back to its original position within the enclosure 20; f) articulating the enclosure 20 back to its original position, in line with and coaxially placed with both the upper and lower downspouts; g) pulling the enclosure 20 downwards thereby stretching and decompressing the rubber joint 30 and allowing the outlet 22 of the enclosure 20 to be re-inserted into the upper opening 52 of the second adaptor 50 and fixedly and sealably fitted therein.

It is clear then from all of the above, that the Device 10 achieves all of the objectives set forth herein above including providing a means for a building owner or occupant to monitor the flow of rain water through the gutter system and a means for early detection and advanced warning that debris is obstructing the flow and that an overflow may be imminent. It prevents costly damage to a building. It is easily installable into an existing gutter downspout, without great cost, tremendous expertise or strenuous or dangerous activity. It gives the owners, occupants, or maintenance engineers a clear advantage in connection with the maintenance of both their gutters system and by extension, their buildings. Finally, it prevents buildings from being exposed to the damage caused by overflowing rain water and helps manage rain water flow blockages in a gutter system in a manner that will minimize both building maintenance costs and insurance fees.

While particular embodiments of the invention have been illustrated and described in detail herein, they are provided by way of illustration only and should not be construed to limit the invention. Since certain changes may be made without departing from the scope of the present invention, it is intended that ail matter contained in the above description, or shown in the accompanying drawings be interpreted as illustrative and not in a literal sense. Practitioners of the art will realize that the sequence of steps and the embodiments depicted in the figures can be altered without departing from the scope of the present invention and that the illustrations contained herein are singular examples of a multitude of possible depictions of the present invention.