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1. Field of the Present Disclosure
This disclosure relates generally to protective valve covers and, in particular, to a removable valve cover which is placed over an under-sink supply valve to protect the valve from damaging contact by the movement of items stored in the same space.
2. Description of Related Art Including Information Disclosed Under 37 CFR 1.97 and 1.98
Woebbeking, US 2768766, discloses a cover for the free end of a faucet comprising a cylindrical cap having a sidewall and an end wall, said end wall having an inward side and outer end, a resilient strip secured to and extending across said inward side of the end wall and across said inner end of the sidewall, said strip terminating at its ends and outside of said sidewall in resilient fingers extending in a direction away from said end wall, said sidewall having openings registered with said fingers, said fingers having portions reaching through said openings for engagement with a faucet within said cap, and protective housings on said sidewall and projecting outwardly therefrom and severally enclosing the fingers and said openings.
Helmsderfer, U.S. Pat. No. 5,649,566, discloses a cover assembly and methods for covering under-sink piping that includes insulative cover pieces placed over respective pipe sections such that their ends are adjacent at pipe junctures. Collars are slidable over or inside the cover pieces to be moved to cover the junctures. An alternative cover structure may be wrapped around the pipe juncture to form a generally continuous insulative cover, or alternatively, the fastening structures are insulated such that when the pipe sections are assembled together, the cover pieces and insulating fastening structures form a continuous insulative cover. In an alternative embodiment, one of the cover pieces is dimensioned to slide upwardly and downwardly on a pipe section and a collar structure is placed over the exposed pipe section to provide a continuous cover piece. In another alternative embodiment, pipe sections such as a trap pipe or offset grid drain are insulated by a unique insulative method to produce a generally continuous insulative cover layer on the pipe section which is free of slits or openings to prevent contaminants and bacteria from accumulating on the pipe. A still further embodiment utilizes a cover piece for a trap pipe which includes a projection and closure structure for covering the drain opening of the trap pipe but allowing access to the drain opening without requiring removal of the cover piece or disassembly of the P-trap piping assembly.
Hertz, U.S. Pat. No. 6,807,691, discloses a plumbing valve cover for use in conjunction with under-sink plumbing to avoid interference with the operation of a flexible spray nozzle hose used in conjunction with a spray nozzle. The plumbing valve cover may be coupled to the under-sink plumbing or cabinet wall. The plumbing valve cover may partially cover the under-sink plumbing and include clearances for multiple plumbing lines which may exit a supply valve. The plumbing valve cover may include markings to aid in sizing the cover to variations in the length of a supply line. The preferred embodiment would be a single piece, injection molded plastic apparatus which includes structural ribs and C-shaped mounting clips which mechanically couple the plumbing valve cover to the supply valve.
Gremillion III, U.S. Pat. No. 7,178,546, discloses a valve cover having a valve cover body, preferably of two sections. These sections are placed on either side of a valve. When joined, the sections enclose the valve, but form line apertures around the lines leading to and from the valve. Once the sections are in place, a cap is placed over the sections. The cap is sized to fit the sections tightly and will prevent the sections from separating. The cap may be provided with a tongue in groove mechanism to prevent accidental removal of the cap and to help secure the cap to the valve cover body. The cap and the valve cover body are also preferably provided with locking apertures. When these locking apertures are aligned, the cap may be secured to the valve cover body with a lock. With the valve cover locked in place around a valve, access to the valve is denied.
The related art described above discloses protective coverings for various under-sink plumbing components, including valves. However, the related art fails to disclose a protective cover for a valve, where the cover is configured for removable engagement with a wide range of pipe lengths and diameters. The present disclosure distinguishes over the prior art providing heretofore unknown advantages as described in the following summary.
This disclosure teaches certain benefits in construction and use which give rise to the objectives described below.
Utility supply lines, such as those for water, air, natural gas, etc., typically enter a living space, such as under a lavatory, through a wall or floor, and are coupled with a valve for controlling fluid flow in a delivery line. The valve generally has a valve stem terminating with a handle. The valve handle is usually exposed and unprotected, thereby subjecting it, the valve stem and the valve, to potential damaging contact. The related art, such as Hertz, discloses inventions that partially conceal and protect the valve handle. However, such inventions fail to completely conceal and/or protect the valve handle. Additionally, the related art inventions rely on a particular spacing between fittings at the valve inlet and outlet lines in order to secure the device to the valve. Thus, such covers are not able to be applied universally, but are limited in their applications.
The present invention solves these problems by providing a protective cover apparatus for a control valve that is able to be engaged around a very wide range of valves. The protective cover includes a pair of cylinders, each having a closed end and an open end. An inner one of the cylinders has a cut-away portion in its side wall which extends between its open end and its closed end, and its closed end is also cut-away wherein these cutaway portions are contiguous. The outer cylinder has a slot in its side wall which extends from its open end to a medial point on its side wall. The inner cylinder, by virtue of its cut-away portions, is easily slid over a supply pipe extending from a wall or floor surface so that the axes of the inner cylinder and the supply pipe are congruent. The closed end of the inner cylinder is preferably screwed to the wall or floor surface.
Normally, a valve, of the type referred to here, is joined to the terminal end of the supply pipe, which, as mentioned, extends through the wall. Typically, the valve has a fitting such that a second pipe, a delivery pipe, may be engaged with the valve in a position at right angles with the supply pipe. The delivery pipe therefore extends from the valve in parallel with the wall. The outer cylinder is fitted over the valve and the outer cylinder's open end is slidingly and frictionally engaged with the outer surface of the inner cylinder. The outer cylinder may be long enough and have a slot that is likewise long enough to accommodate a wide range of plumbing configurations and lengths. Clearly, the outer and inners are joined coaxially. This is possible when the slot in the side wall of the outer cylinder is aligned with the delivery pipe. When the outer cylinder is in place, the supply pipe and the valve, including its valve stem and valve handle are hidden from view while the delivery pipe can be seen immerging from the present apparatus. The present invention provides a low-cost, efficient means for protectively covering a valve.
A primary objective inherent in the above described apparatus and method of use is to provide advantages not taught by the prior art.
Another objective is to provide a valve cover apparatus that is configured for removable engagement with a wide range of pipe lengths and diameters.
A further objective is to provide such an apparatus that is a low cost and efficient means for protecting a valve from unintentional interferences.
A still further objective is to provide such an apparatus that is easily installed over an existing plumbing fixture
Other features and advantages of the present invention will become apparent from the following more detailed description, taken in conjunction with the accompanying drawings, which illustrate, by way of example, the principles of the presently described apparatus and method of its use.
Illustrated in the accompanying drawings is at least one of the best mode embodiments of the present invention. In such drawings:
FIG. 1 is a perspective view of a first embodiment of the presently described apparatus;
FIG. 2 is a cross-sectional side view thereof, showing the apparatus engaged with a wall and covering a valve;
FIG. 3 is a perspective view of a further embodiment of the presently described apparatus; and
FIG. 4 is a cross-sectional side view thereof, showing the apparatus engaged with and covering a valve.
The above described drawing figures illustrate the described apparatus and its method of use in at least one of its preferred embodiment, which is further defined in detail in the following description. Those having ordinary skill in the art may be able to make alterations and modifications to what is described herein without departing from its spirit and scope. Therefore, it should be understood that what is illustrated is set forth only for the purposes of example and should not be taken as a limitation on the scope of the present apparatus and its method of use.
A valve 2 is mounted proximally on an inlet pipe 4 extending from a distal wall surface 10 along a longitudinal axis 11, as shown in FIGS. 1 and 3 in two related embodiments. A protective cover apparatus for the valve 2 is shown in FIGS. 1-4.
In a first embodiment shown in FIGS. 1 and 2, the apparatus provides a base cylinder wall 14 aligned with the longitudinal axis 11 and terminating distally with an integral base end wall 16. The base cylinder wall 14 has a base slot 18 extensive longitudinally therethrough. The slot 18 is contiguous through the base end wall 16 radially to a medial position 16M in the base end wall 16. This is clearly shown in FIG. 1.
A cover cylinder wall 28 is aligned with the longitudinal axis 11 and frictionally engaged with the base cylinder wall 16 as shown in FIG. 2. The cover cylinder wall 28 has a cover slot 30 extensive longitudinally therethrough from a distal end 32 of the cover cylinder wall 28 to a medial position 28M therein. The cover cylinder wall 28 preferably has a proximal cover end wall 36 integral with the cover cylinder wall 28 as shown in FIGS. 1 and 2, but the end wall 36 may be omitted as shown in FIGS. 3 and 4.
The base end wall 16 preferably has a means for mounting it to the wall surface 10 such as an adhesive 12, the adhesive covering at least a portion of an exterior surface 16A of the base end wall 16. Alternately, the base end wall 16 may have one or more mounting holes 22 for securing the end wall 16 to the wall surface 10. Other fastening means may alternately be used as is known in the art.
In a second embodiment of the present invention, shown in FIGS. 3 and 4, the base cylinder wall 14 and base end wall 16 are replaced by a base block 140. The base block 140 has an outer surface 142 and an opposing concave inner surface 144, wherein the outer and inner surfaces 142 and 144 are longitudinally extensive between a distal 146 and a proximal 148 planar surfaces. The base block 140 has the shape of an inverted “U” as is clearly shown in FIG. 3.
The same cover cylinder wall 28 as described in the first embodiment above is also used here in the second embodiment. The cover cylinder wall 28 is aligned with the longitudinal axis, as before, and is frictionally engaged with the outer surface 142 of the base block 140. The adhesive 12 may be applied to base block surface 146 to mount the base block 140 to wall surface 10 as above. Alternately, the base block may have mounting holes therethrough, extensive between the distal 146 and proximal 148 planar surfaces.
The enablements described in detail above are considered novel over the prior art of record and are considered critical to the operation of at least one aspect of the apparatus and its method of use and to the achievement of the above described objectives. The words used in this specification to describe the instant embodiments are to be understood not only in the sense of their commonly defined meanings, but to include by special definition in this specification: structure, material or acts beyond the scope of the commonly defined meanings. Thus if an element can be understood in the context of this specification as including more than one meaning, then its use must be understood as being generic to all possible meanings supported by the specification and by the word or words describing the element.
The definitions of the words or drawing elements described herein are meant to include not only the combination of elements which are literally set forth, but all equivalent structure, material or acts for performing substantially the same function in substantially the same way to obtain substantially the same result. In this sense it is therefore contemplated that an equivalent substitution of two or more elements may be made for any one of the elements described and its various embodiments or that a single element may be substituted for two or more elements in a claim.
Changes from the claimed subject matter as viewed by a person with ordinary skill in the art, now known or later devised, are expressly contemplated as being equivalents within the scope intended and its various embodiments. Therefore, obvious substitutions now or later known to one with ordinary skill in the art are defined to be within the scope of the defined elements. This disclosure is thus meant to be understood to include what is specifically illustrated and described above, what is conceptually equivalent, what can be obviously substituted, and also what incorporates the essential ideas.
The scope of this description is to be interpreted only in conjunction with the appended claims and it is made clear, here, that each named inventor believes that the claimed subject matter is what is intended to be patented.