Title:
Pool skimmer debris gate
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
The invention provides a shield for attachment to a swimming pool skimmer to prevent debris in the pool water from entering the skimmer. The skimmer shield has a closure member in the form of a door that can be opened or closed to allow unrestricted flow into the skimmer when necessary. The shield mounts in the skimmer opening using a pair of tapered flanges and releasable lock in the form of a screw.



Inventors:
Szymczak, John D. (US)
Szymczak, Jackie (US)
Application Number:
11/688081
Publication Date:
09/25/2008
Filing Date:
03/19/2007
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
4/490
International Classes:
E04H4/16
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
PRINCE JR, FREDDIE GARY
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
LYNN E BARBER (645 G St., Ste 100-688, Anchorage, AK, 99501, US)
Claims:
What is claimed is:

1. A shield for use with and for spanning the opening of a pool water skimmer, comprising: a. a body for positioning adjacent to and spanning the opening of a pool skimmer; b. an opening in the body the opening having a cross-sectional area at least as large as twenty five percent of cross-sectional area of the pool skimmer opening the to permit water and debris to flow into the skimmer; and c. a closure member movable between open and closed positions for selectively opening and closing the opening, a plurality of openings in the closure member the openings being of a size to permit pool water to flow into the skimmer opening.

2. The skimmer shield according to claim 1 wherein the closure comprises at least one door movable between an open and a closed position.

3. The skimmer shield according to claim 2 where in the at least one door is mounted on the body to slide between the open and closed position.

4. The skimmer shield according to claim 3 wherein the at least one door is mounted on the body between opposed tracks.

5. The skimmer shield according to claim 4 wherein the at least one door comprises two doors.

6. The skimmer shield according to claim 1 where in the body is formed at least in part from transparent plastic material.

7. A skimmer shield according to claim 1 wherein the body comprises a central portion; a pair of side flanges extending from opposed side edges of central portion.

8. The skimmer shield according to claim 7 wherein the side flanges extend at an angle to the plane of the central portion.

9. The skimmer shield according to claim 8 wherein each of the side flanges extend at an angle of about 5 to 25 degrees from the plane of the central portion.

10. The skimmer shield according to claim 7 additionally comprising a plurality of openings in each of the side flanges, the openings being of a size to permit pool water flow into the skimmer opening.

11. The skimmer shield according to claim 1 the body comprises a central portion and a upper and lower flanges extending from opposed side edges of central portion.

12. The skimmer shield according to claim 11 wherein the upper and lower flanges extend transverse to the central portion.

13. The skimmer shield according to claim 11 wherein the upper and lower flanges have tapered side walls as the flanges extend away from the central portion.

14. The skimmer shield according to claim 11 comprising a plurality of openings in at least one of said upper or lower flanges, the openings being of a size to permit pool water flow into the skimmer opening.

15. The skimmer shield according to claim 11 further comprising a retaining device in at least one of the upper or lower flanges.

16. The skimmer shield according to claim 15 wherein the retaining device is mounted on the upper flange.

17. The skimmer shield according to claim 15 wherein the retaining device comprises a nut and bold assembly.

18. A method of using a shield for an opening to a swimming pool skimmer comprising the steps of; installing a skimmer shield having a body spanning the opening of a swimming pool skimmer opening and having a passageway with a closure member movable between an open allowing unrestricted flow through the passageway and a closed position spanning the passageway and with the closure member having a plurality of openings therein of a size to pass pool water by prevent passage of debris; and opening and closing the closure member to selectively prevent the passage of debris into the skimmer.

19. The method of claim 18 wherein the opening and closing step comprising moving a sliding door across and out or the passageway.

20. The method of claim 18 wherein the installation step comprises inserting flanges into the skimmer opening wherein the flanges are extend transverse from the body.

Description:

CROSS-REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATIONS

None

STATEMENT REGARDING FEDERALLY SPONSORED RESEARCH OR DEVELOPMENT

Not Applicable

REFERENCE TO A MICROFICHE APPENDIX

Not applicable

BACKGROUND

The invention generally relates to an apparatus used for swimming pool water filter and recirculation circuits. More specifically, the invention relates to mounting a shield on the entrance of a pool skimmer to prevent debris from entering the skimmer and clogging flow through the pool filter. Further, the invention relates to a skimmer shield that can be selectively opened and closed without demounting the shield.

Swimming pools and hot tubs utilize fluid recirculation circuits to filter and regulate chemical balance in the water. Typically, water enters the circuit through a skimmer located in the side of the pool. Once in the skimmer, water flows through a filter and then to the suction of a recirculation pump. The pump typically returns the water to the pool through jets.

A variety of sizes and shapes of skimmers are available for new pool construction and are in use in existing pools. The skimmer pool water opening is typically rectangular and is located in the side of the pool at the normal water level in the pool. Some simmers have floating weir-type doors. Skimmer filters typically consist of a hidden removable basket which must be emptied of leaves, twigs, animals, insects and other debris. If the filter becomes clogged, flow through the filter is blocked resulting in potential damage to the recirculation pump. Accordingly, the filter must be monitored to prevent costly damage to the recirculation system.

Debris collecting in the filter can vary with the seasons of the year. For example, deciduous trees and bushes tend to shed leaves and seed pods on a seasonal basis. Winds depositing debris in the pool can be seasonal. During portions of the year, the filter must be examined and emptied daily. Accordingly, the need and effectiveness of skimmer shields is seasonal. During these periods, absent pool owners must either turn off the recirculation pump or utilize skimmer shields to prevent debris from entering the skimmer filter system. Skimmer shields typically consist of screens or other flow-through devices mounted at the skimmer opening that block debris from entering the skimmer. Installation and operation of existing skimmer shields are undesirable.

For example, prior art skimmer shields proposed to block debris from entering the skimmer include U.S. Pat. No. 4,140,634 to Harry which discloses a removable shield which attaches to the pool by threading bolts into the side of the pool or using suction cups. Drilling holes into the side of pool or face of the skimmer is not recommended, and suction cups can fail leaving the skimmer unprotected.

In U.S. Pat. No. 5,935,450 to Benedict, a screen type shield is mounted with retention flanges extending into the sides of the skimmer. This is an example of a skimmer mounting configuration that must be designed to fit a particular size skimmer. This device is quite unattractive and can and must me removed when not needed.

U.S. Pat. No. 5,937,453 to Hodak, et al. discloses a skimmer shield whose mounting configuration requires a specially described skimmer face plate to mate with the skimmer shield. Like the Benedict patent this configuration requires a different design for each different skimmer shape.

In U.S. Pat. No. 6,770,193 to Foley, the skimmer screen has a rectangular portion designed to fit into a particular shaped skimmer opening.

The skimmer shield in U.S. Pat. No. 6,989,094 to Knapp, et al. uses magnetic disks glued to the pool side to mount a removable screen filter.

The removable skimmer closure device in the U.S. Pat. No. 6,578,208 to Bruce mounts using undesirable screws threaded into the face plate of a skimmer.

The skimmer guard of U.S. Pat. No. 6,817,041 to Evans, et al. is size dependent and uses spring loaded tabs to fit into the opening of a skimmer.

Snap hooks spaced to fit in the skimmer opening are used to mount a skimmer guard in U.S. Pat. No. 7,052,602 to Boggs, et al.

Therefore, it is desirable to provide a shield that can be mounted in a variety of sizes and shapes of skimmers and can be used as needed.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

In one embodiment, the invention provides a shield that can be mounted in a variety of shapes and sizes of pool skimmers.

In another embodiment of the present invention, the skimmer shield, once installed, can be selectively changed to block or permit debris to enter the skimmer and filter therein.

In a further embodiment of the present invention the skimmer shield has a closure means that can be opened and closed to permit or block debris from entering the skimmer.

In one embodiment, the invention uses sliding perforated doors to selectively prevent debris from entering the skimmer with the pool water.

These and other aspects of the invention will be apparent to one skilled in the art upon reading the following detailed description. While the invention is susceptible to various modifications and alternative forms, specific embodiments thereof will be described in detail and shown by way of example. It should be understood, however, that it is not intended to limit the invention to the particular forms disclosed, but, on the contrary, the invention is to cover all modifications and alternatives falling within the spirit and scope of the invention as expressed in the appended claims.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

FIG. 1 is a perspective view of a skimmer shield according to the present invention;

FIG. 2A is a front elevation view to the skimmer shield of FIG. 1 with the closure member shown in the closed position;

FIG. 2B is a front elevation view of the skimmer shield of FIG. 1 with the closure member shown in the open position;

FIG. 3 is a left side elevation view of the skimmer shield of FIG. 1;

FIG. 4 is a section view of the skimmer shield of FIG. 2A taken on line 4-4 looking in the direction of the arrows; and

FIG. 5 is a top plan view of the skimmer shield of FIG. 1, with the closure member shown in the closed position.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION

Referring now to the figures wherein reference numerals are used to refer to like or corresponding parts through the several views, there is shown in FIGS. 1-5 one example embodiment of the present invention. In these FIGURES, a skimmer shield assembly referenced generally by reference numeral 10 is illustrated for use as an attachment to a pool skimmer. In FIG. 1, an example skimmer opening 14 is shown in phantom lines with the skimmer spaced away from it before mounting. The skimmer opening 14 is also illustrated in phantom lines in FIGS. 4 and 5.

For ascetic purposes, the shield 10 is constructed from clear or transparent material, preferably a plastic material. In this embodiment, the shield 10 comprises a body 20 having a generally planar central portion 22. In the illustrated embodiment, portion 22 is generally rectangular and is selected to be of a size to accommodate and cover the pool opening 14 on commonly-available skimmers.

As viewed in the FIGURES, portion 22 has upper and lower flanges 24 and 26, respectively. In the illustrated embodiment, flanges 24 and 26 are for ease in fabrication integrally formed with the portion 22 and extend transverse thereto. Flanges are generally trapezoid shaped narrowing in the top plan view away from the portion 22.

Left and right side flanges 28 also extend from the portion 22. For ease of fabrication, these flanges 28 are integrally formed front portion 22. As shown in FIG. 5, these flanges 28 are not parallel to portion 22 and extend rearward about 5 degrees to 25 degrees, preferably 15 degrees. Portion 22 and flanges 26 and 28 have a plurality of openings 30 formed therethrough to permit pool water to flow therethrough. Openings 30 are selected to be of a size to permit flow of pool water from the pool into the skimmer opening. Openings 30 are small enough to prevent most debris from passing therethrough. Openings 30 are illustrated as simple drilled holes, however, slots or other shapes could be used. Alternatively, larger openings could be provided covered by a screening material or the like to eliminate debris passage.

As is illustrated, a passageway 32 large enough to permit most debris to flow therethrough (larger than the openings 30) is formed in the portion 22. In the illustrated embodiment, the passageway 32 is generally rectangular to correspond to the shape of most skimmer openings. The passageway is selected to have a cross-sectional area at least about 25 percent of the cross-sectional area of the skimmer opening and can have a cross-sectional area larger than the skimmer opening. The passageway 32 is centrally located so that, when the shield 10 is installed, it will align with a portion of the skimmer opening 14. In the illustrated embodiment, passageway 32 is equipped with closure member that can be selectively opened or closed. In the closed position illustrated in FIG. 2A, debris in the pool water is prevented from entering the skimmer opening with the pool water. In the open position illustrated in FIG. 2B, pool water and debris flows through the opening 32 and into the skimmer filter.

In the illustrated embodiment, the closure member comprises a pair of sliding flow-through door-like structures 40. Structures 40 are mounted in upper and lower opposed U-shaped tracts 42 and 44, respectively. Openings 46 are formed in structures 40 to flow pool water therethrough when in the closed position (see FIG. 2A). Stops 48 are formed on the inside of the structures to limit movement and to maintain the structures 40 in the tracks 42 and 44. While the sliding configuration has benefits, it is envisioned the pivots or even removal structures could be used in place of the sliding configuration shown.

As is illustrated in FIG. 3, a retaining device 50 is mounted in the upper flange 24. In the disclosed embodiment, device 50 comprises a bolt and a pair of nuts extending through a bore in the flange 24. The retaining device 50, when extended into contact with the upper wall 52 of the skimmer opening, functions to hold shield assembly 10 in place.

Device 50, of course, could be located in the bottom flange 26 and press the upper flange against wall 52. Indeed, more than one device 50 could be used, one in each flange or multiples in one or more flanges. In the present embodiment, the flanges 24 and 26 extend from the portion 22 and act as springs to hold the shield in place. It is also envisioned that the device 50 could be in the form of a compressible member or the like such as a leaf or coil spring mounted on one of the flanges. In another embodiment, the device 50 could be in the form of a spreader forcing or deflecting the flanges 24 and 26 outward into contact with the walls of the skimmer opening.

If multiple devices 50 are used with at lease one in each of the upper and lower flanges, the relative height of the mounted shield can be adjusted to a particular pool water level. This allows the shield to be installed at an ideal operating height in a variety of skimmer sizes.

To install and use the skimmer shield 10, upper and lower trapezoid shaped tapered flanges 24 and 26 are inserted into the skimmer opening 14 until the side flanges 28 contact the pool wall 60 as shown in FIGS. 4 and 5. The taper of flanges 24 and 26 permits the skimmer shield to be mounted in a variety of widths. Typically, the pool water level intersects the skimmer opening to collect (or skim) floating debris in the skimmer filter.

According to a feature of the present invention, contact between side flanges 28 and the pool side wall position the portion 22 in a spaced-away relationship with pool wall. This mounting configuration allows the openings 30, located below the water surface in the lower flange 26, to come into use when floating debris collected on the shield restricts flow through openings at water level.

The closure structure 40 is opened gaining access to the mounting bolt and nut assembly 50. The bolt is extended to contact the upper wall of the skimmer opening 14 (as shown) and is set in place by tightening the nuts. Once installed, the shield can be opened and closed as desired. When needed, such as when the pool owner is out of town, the shield can be closed to prevent the accumulation of debris in the skimmer filter and resulting damage to the pump. When not required, the shield closure is left open allowing the debris to accumulate in the filter and be removed as required.

The foregoing descriptions of specific embodiments of the present invention have been presented for purposes of illustration and description. They are not intended to be exhaustive or to limit the invention to the precise forms disclosed, and obviously many modifications and variations are possible in light of the above teaching. The embodiments were chosen and described in order to best explain the principles of the invention and its practical application, to thereby enable others skilled in the art to best utilize the invention and various embodiments with various modifications as are suited to the particular use contemplated. It is intended that the scope of the invention be defined by the claims and their equivalents appended hereto.





 
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