Title:
THRESHOLD ASSEMBLY FOR BARRIER FREE SHOWER UNITS
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A threshold assembly for mounting to a barrier free access shower, the threshold assembly having a primary barrier having a top face and opposing side faces and a secondary barrier having a flat portion and a vertical portion. The secondary barrier is mounted to a barrier free side of a barrier free access shower pan and the primary barrier being engaged with the barrier free side of the barrier free access shower pan so that the primary barrier substantially encloses the secondary barrier when the primary barrier is fully engaging the barrier free side, and, at least a portion of the primary barrier may be moved to expose the secondary barrier and the barrier free side of the barrier free access shower pan.



Inventors:
Serina, Joseph (Wayne, IL, US)
Kincaid, Callie J. (LaGrange, IL, US)
Factor, Jody L. (Naperville, IL, US)
Application Number:
13/760491
Publication Date:
09/19/2013
Filing Date:
02/06/2013
Assignee:
LUXURY BATH LINERS, INC. (Glendale Heights, IL, US)
Primary Class:
International Classes:
A47K3/40
View Patent Images:
Related US Applications:
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20080052816Shower shelf and storageMarch, 2008Gillis
20090300835Air flush systemDecember, 2009Belpasso
20080092287Device for Active Temperature Equilisation in a Sauna RoomApril, 2008Salomonsson
20080289091ACTUATING DEVICE FOR A DRAIN FITTING AND DRAIN FITTING WITH SUCH AN ACTUATING DEVICE AND METHOD OF MOUNTING SUCH A DRAIN FITTINGNovember, 2008Mahler
20080244823Scalp washing deviceOctober, 2008Fujikawa
20070180609Bathing aidAugust, 2007Hogan et al.
20080134423BIDET WITH DUAL SOURCE WATER SUPPLYJune, 2008Ding



Primary Examiner:
NGUYEN, TUAN N
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
FACTOR INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY LAW GROUP, LTD. (1327 W. WASHINGTON BLVD. SUITE 5G/H, CHICAGO, IL, 60607, US)
Claims:
We claim:

1. A threshold assembly for mounting to a barrier free access shower, the threshold assembly comprising: a primary barrier having a top face and opposing side faces; a secondary barrier having a flat portion and a vertical portion; wherein the secondary barrier is mounted to a barrier free side of a barrier free access shower pan and the primary barrier being engaged with the barrier free side of the barrier free access shower pan so that the primary barrier substantially encloses the secondary barrier when the primary barrier is fully engaging the barrier free side, and, at least a portion of the primary barrier may be moved to expose the secondary barrier and the barrier free side of the barrier free access shower pan.

2. The threshold assembly of claim 1 wherein the primary barrier is at least partially hollow.

3. The threshold assembly of claim 1 wherein the primary barrier includes at least one pivot point, the at least one pivot point allowing at least a portion of the primary barrier to be pivoted to expose the secondary barrier and the barrier free side.

4. The threshold assembly of claim 3 wherein the at least one pivot point may allow the at least a portion of the primary barrier which is movable to be lifted to expose the secondary barrier and the barrier free side.

5. The threshold assembly of claim 4 wherein the at least a portion of the primary barrier which is movable includes a fastener on the top face.

6. The threshold assembly of claim 5 wherein the fastener is a magnet.

7. The threshold assembly of claim 5 wherein the fastener is a hook.

8. The threshold assembly of claim 3 wherein the primary barrier includes at least two pivot points, the at least two pivot points allowing at least two portions of the primary barrier to be moved to expose the secondary barrier and barrier free edge.

9. The threshold assembly of claim 8 wherein each of the at least two portions of the primary barrier which may be moved to expose the secondary barrier and barrier free edge may be moved independent of any other movable portion.

10. The threshold assembly of claim 1 wherein a portion of the primary threshold is fixedly engaged with a portion of the barrier free side of the barrier free access shower.

11. The threshold assembly of claim 10 wherein the top face of the fixed portion of the primary barrier includes apertures for attaching one or more of a shower door and a shower panel.

12. The threshold assembly of claim 10 wherein the fixed portion of the primary barrier is connected to the movable portion of the primary barrier using a hinge.

13. The threshold assembly of claim 10 wherein the movable portion of the primary barrier and the fixed portion of the primary barrier are formed as distinct bodies.

14. A shower pan for a barrier free shower assembly comprising: at least one fixed threshold for preventing water from escaping the shower pan; at least one movable threshold having at least a portion capable of engaging and disengaging a base of the shower pan to selectively provide a barrier and allow barrier free access to the shower pan.

15. The shower pan of claim 14 wherein the movable threshold attaches to the shower pan using matching geometry.

16. The shower pan of claim 15 wherein the movable threshold can be completely removed from the shower pan.

17. The shower pan of claim 14 wherein the movable threshold is anchored and movable about at least one pivot point.

18. The shower pan of claim 17 wherein the at least one pivot point is a hinge.

19. The shower pan of claim 17 wherein at least a portion of the movable threshold is movable in a vertical direction.

20. The shower pan of claim 19 wherein an attachment member is located proximate an end of the movable threshold.

21. The shower pan of claim 20 wherein a cooperating structure is provided on one of the shower and a wall proximate the shower for attaching to the attachment member.

22. The shower pan of claim 17 wherein the movable threshold is movable in a horizontal direction.

23. The shower pan of claim 17 wherein the movable threshold is anchored and movable about at least two pivot points.

24. The shower pan of claim 23 wherein the anchor and pivot points are located proximate opposite ends of the movable threshold.

25. The shower pan of claim 14 wherein the at least one movable threshold is attached to a shower door, the shower door including at least one slot or guide to guide the movement of the threshold.

26. The shower pan of claim 25 wherein at least one handle or extension is provided, the at least one handle or extension being attached at one end to the threshold and at the other end extending through the at least one slot or guide to allow a user to engage the handle or extension to move the threshold while the user is located in the shower.

27. The shower pan of claim 14 wherein a portion of the movable threshold is fixed to the shower pan.

28. The shower pan of claim 14 further comprising a dam strip, the dam strip being fixedly engaged with the base shower pan and being substantially surrounded by the movable threshold when the movable threshold is engaged with the shower pan.

Description:

RELATED APPLICATIONS

This application claims priority to U.S. Provisional Application Ser. No. 61/595,392 entitled “Dual Threshold Assembly For Barrier Free Shower Units” filed Feb. 6, 2012, the contents of which are fully incorporated herein by reference.

FIELD OF THE INVENTION

The present invention relates to an assisted care shower assembly, and more particularly to a threshold assembly having a movable threshold or primary barrier adapted for use with an assisted care shower assembly.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

Assisted care barrier free showers are typically constructed of fiberglass or acrylic and are designed to permit access for persons in wheelchairs or other individuals who have difficulty entering a conventional shower. The entry side of the barrier free shower structure is typically open, leading to a shower floor that is flat and flush, or nearly flat and flush, with the existing floor level. The purpose of such structures is to create a substantially continuous floor to permit easy entry into the shower. Frequently, barrier free showers also include a shower pan having a base or floor which as slight slope towards the drain area to assist in water drainage and water retention within the shower. However, because the entry side is typically open and flat and flush with the surrounding floor, existing barrier free showers struggle to retain water in the shower area, which results in the spraying and the pooling or collection of water on the floor outside the shower area.

In order to combat this, various shower assemblies have included a barrier or threshold which may be fixed to the shower pan or floor proximate the barrier free entry side of the shower pan, however each such assemblies have had significant drawbacks.

For example, one known assembly requires machined screw inserts to be drilled into the shower, surrounding walls and/or floor and the use of screws to hold the barrier or threshold in place. Once installed, sealant or caulk may be applied along the outer edges of the barrier or threshold, where it contacts the shower assembly in order to further seal the edge and better retain water within the shower assembly. In order to return the shower to a barrier free entry state, the barrier or threshold may be unscrewed and removed, leaving the screw inserts in the structure of the shower, creating a hazard and multiple areas which will collect dirt and debris. Screwing and unscrewing the threshold every time a special care user has to use the shower substantially increases the amount of time and effort required to fix and remove the barrier or threshold. Such configurations may substantially prevent a special care user from having a shower which has both a barrier free access side and a barrier or threshold in place over the barrier free access side when the special care user is using the shower.

Additionally, when sealant or caulk is used, the hardened sealant or caulk may have to be removed to create a substantially flush barrier into which a special care user may enter. If the barrier or threshold is re-attached, new caulk or sealant may then have to be applied to seal the barrier or threshold. In order to avoid having to spend great time and effort, the barrier or threshold may be left on or off at all times—leaving the shower inaccessible to some special care individuals or allowing water to escape the shower while it is being used. However, because the barrier or threshold must be screwed and unscrewed, and perhaps sealed and cleaned, every time the threshold the barrier is removed and put back in place, both using and not using the barrier interchangeably is substantially difficult, effectively creating a completely barrier free shower (when removed) or a standard, barrier type shower (when fixed in place).

Another design known in the art requires attaching an upright clip to the surface of the shower and allowing a barrier or threshold to snap into place. The barrier threshold may be lowered over or proximate the clip, and the clip may hold the barrier or threshold in place. In order to remove the barrier or threshold, the barrier or threshold may be lifted and unclipped, however the clip attached to the shower will remain in place, at least partially blocking the entrance to the shower and potentially creating a hazard with an upright clip extending from the shower floor. Like in assemblies where screws are used, sealant or caulk may also be used to seal the edges where the barrier or threshold meets the shower base. The sealant or caulk may have to be cleaned or replaced every time the threshold is removed and replaced.

An additional problem that exists in shower assemblies which utilize known movable thresholds is the use of shower doors. For example, standard bypass shower doors require at least partial attachment to the primary or entry barrier threshold of the shower. When the barrier or threshold is removed, the shower door must in turn be removed as there is no surface left for the door to attach to. Removal of the shower door creates apertures in the shower walls, and creates additional area where water may splash and escape the shower making the bathroom floor wet, or, entering the apertures used to attach the door to the shower walls. Having to remove the door may also create a situation where a special care user must always use a shower which does not have a shower door, potentially creating a safety and privacy issue while exacerbating the escape of water from the shower and the pooling of water on the floor outside the shower area.

Often, assisted care facilities require that all showers be designed to comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), and barrier free showers are provided regardless of the requirements of the resident. Many residents, however, are not restricted in movement, and do not require a full barrier free shower. Accordingly, there exists a need for a movable threshold that will allow better water retention in the shower but can be easily moved or repositioned if the resident's requirements change over time, or if a new resident having different requirements moves into the dwelling. In homes where both a special care user and a non-special care user uses a single shower, having a shower which has an easily movable and replaceable barrier or threshold which does not require the removal of any screws or leaves any clips and/or caulk or sealant which may at least partially block the shower opening and create a hazard would be advantageous.

It would also be advantageous to have a shower having a barrier or threshold capable of being moved or removed and replaced by a special care user to permit access to the shower and prevent water from escaping the shower while the special care user uses the shower.

It would be further advantageous if the barrier or threshold and shower assembly were capable of providing a barrier free entrance while also allowing for a shower door or the like to remain attached to the shower when the threshold is moved or removed and replaced.

The present invention is provided to solve these and other issues.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

Accordingly, the present invention is directed to an assembly for use with a barrier free access shower to aid in retention of water in the pan. The assembly can be easily moved/removed and/or replaced as the needs of the resident change over time or to provide a barrier after a special care user has entered a barrier free shower. The present invention also allows for both primary and secondary water barriers to be incorporated into the shower, thus increasing assurance of water retention. The movable threshold or primary barrier is easily removable and upon removal will reveal a second barrier specifically designed for wheelchair access. Should the requirements of the resident change once again, or if a different resident has no need for wheelchair access, the movable threshold or primary barrier can be easily replaced. The movable threshold or primary barrier may be completely removable from the pan or shower, or alternatively may have a just portion or part which may be moved or displaced to create a barrier free opening through which a resident may pass.

According to one aspect of the invention, the assembly for use with a barrier free shower may be a threshold assembly for mounting to a barrier free access shower. The threshold assembly includes a primary barrier and a secondary barrier. The primary barrier may have a top face and opposing side faces, while the secondary barrier may include a flat portion and a vertical portion. The secondary barrier may be permanently or removeably mounted to a barrier free side of a new or existing barrier free access shower pan. The primary barrier may be engaged with the barrier free side of the barrier free access shower pan in a manner which allows the primary barrier to substantially enclose the secondary barrier when the primary barrier is fully engaged with the barrier free side, and, at least a portion of the primary barrier may be moved or removed to expose the secondary barrier and the barrier free side of the barrier free access shower pan to allow barrier free access.

According to another aspect of the invention the primary barrier may be at least partially hollow.

According to another aspect of the invention, the primary barrier may include at least one pivot point which may allow at least a portion of the primary barrier to be pivoted to expose the secondary barrier and the barrier free side of the shower pan. The at least one pivot point may allow at least a portion of the primary barrier to be lifted to expose the secondary barrier and the barrier free side. Alternatively, the pivot point may allow at least a portion of the barrier free side to be horizontally rotated or opened to expose the secondary barrier and barrier free side of the shower pan.

According to another aspect of the invention, the primary barrier may include a fastener or attachment member on one or more of the top face or opposing side faces. The fastener or attachment member may be a magnet, a hook, a clip, a receptacle or protrusion, or any other member capable of maintaining the position of the movable portion of the primary barrier when in the opened, displaced, moved, or removed position.

According to another aspect of the invention, the primary barrier may include at least two pivot points. The at least two pivot points allow at least two portions of the primary barrier to be moved to expose the secondary barrier and barrier free edge. Each of the at least two movable portions of the primary barrier may be moved to expose the secondary barrier and barrier free edge independently of any other movable portion.

According to another aspect of the invention, a portion of the primary barrier may be fixedly engaged with a portion of the barrier free side of the barrier free access shower to substantially prevent movement or removal of a portion of the primary barrier. The top face of the fixed portion of the primary barrier may include apertures for attaching one or more of a shower door and a shower panel thereto. The fixed or fixedly engaged portion of the primary barrier may be connected to the movable portion of the primary barrier using a pivot point. The movable portion of the primary barrier and the fixed portion of the primary barrier may also be formed as distinct bodies which are attached to the shower separately, or alternatively may be a jointed or hinged single barrier attached to the shower as one piece.

According to one aspect of the invention, the assembly may be a shower pan for a barrier free shower assembly. The shower pan may include at least one fixed threshold for preventing water from escaping the shower pan, and at least one movable threshold having at least a portion which is capable of engaging and disengaging a base or floor of the shower pan to selectively provide a shower pan threshold and allow barrier free access to the shower pan. The movable threshold may attach to and engage the shower pan using matching geometry. The movable threshold may be completely removable from the shower pan or only partially removable.

According to another aspect of the invention, the movable threshold may be anchored and movable about at least one pivot point. The at least one pivot point may be a hinge which may allow at least a portion of the movable threshold to move in a vertical and/or horizontal direction.

According to another aspect of the invention, an attachment member may be located proximate one end of the movable threshold. A cooperating structure may be provided on one of the shower and a wall proximate the shower for attaching to the attachment member to hold the movable threshold in the moved position.

According to another aspect of the invention, the movable threshold may be anchored and movable about at least two pivot points. The anchor and pivot points may be located proximate opposite ends of the movable edge.

According to another aspect of the invention, the at least one movable threshold may be attached to a shower door, the shower door including at least one slot or guide to guide the movement of the threshold. At least one handle or extension may be provided, and attached at one end to the threshold and at the other end extending through the at least one slot or guide to allow a user to engage the handle or extension to move the threshold while the user is located in the shower.

According to another aspect of the invention, a portion of the movable threshold is fixed to the shower pan.

According to another aspect of the invention, the shower pan assembly may include a dam strip, the dam strip being fixedly engaged with the floor or base of the shower pan. The dam strip may be substantially surrounded by the movable threshold when the movable threshold is engaged with the shower pan.

Other advantages and aspects of the present invention will become apparent upon reading the following description of the drawings and detailed description of the invention.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

FIG. 1 shows an embodiment of a barrier free shower pan, movable primary threshold or barrier, and secondary barrier or dam as contemplated by the invention;

FIG. 2 shows a top view of the barrier free shower pan of FIG. 1 having the movable primary threshold or barrier of FIG. 1 engaged therewith;

FIG. 3 shows a cross-section view along the line H-H in FIG. 2;

FIG. 4 shows a close up view of the portion J of FIG. 3;

FIG. 5A shows a perspective view of an embodiment of a barrier shower pan having a movable primary threshold or barrier engaged therewith as contemplated by the invention;

FIG. 5B shows a perspective view of an embodiment of a barrier shower pan having a movable primary threshold or barrier removed therefrom as contemplated by the invention;

FIG. 6A shows a perspective view of a shower assembly having the threshold assembly and shower pan as described herein;

FIG. 6B shows a perspective view of a shower assembly having the threshold assembly and shower pan as described herein;

FIG. 7 shows a top view of an embodiment of a barrier free shower pan having a movable primary threshold or barrier engaged therewith as contemplated by the invention;

FIG. 8 shows a front view of the assembly of FIG. 7 having the movable primary threshold or barrier being lifted;

FIG. 9 shows a top view of an embodiment of a barrier free shower pan having a movable primary threshold or barrier engaged therewith as contemplated by the invention;

FIG. 10 shows a front view of the assembly of FIG. 9 having the movable primary threshold or barrier being lifted;

FIG. 11 shows a top view of an embodiment of a barrier free shower pan having a movable primary threshold or barrier engaged therewith as contemplated by the invention;

FIG. 12 shows a front view of the assembly of FIG. 11 having the movable primary threshold or barrier being lifted;

FIG. 13 shows an exemplary fastener cooperation as contemplated by the invention;

FIG. 14 shows an exemplary fastener cooperation as contemplated by the invention;

FIG. 15 shows a top view of an embodiment of a barrier free shower pan having a movable primary threshold or barrier engaged therewith as contemplated by the invention;

FIG. 16 shows a top view of the assembly of FIG. 15 having the movable primary threshold or barrier being rotated outwards;

FIG. 17 shows a top view of an embodiment of a barrier free shower pan having a movable primary threshold or barrier engaged therewith as contemplated by the invention; and,

FIG. 18 shows a front view of the assembly of FIG. 17 having the movable primary threshold or barrier being lifted upwards.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE PRESENT INVENTION

While this invention is susceptible to embodiments in many different forms, there is described in detail herein, preferred embodiments of the invention with the understanding that the present disclosures are to be considered as exemplifications of the principles of the invention and are not intended to limit the broad aspects of the invention to the embodiments illustrated.

Though shower pans and removable threshold assemblies shown in the FIGs. are generally shown out of an entire shower assembly, it should be appreciated that any of the shower pans shown herein may be incorporated into any barrier free shower.

Additionally, though shown and at times described together, it should be appreciated that any of the threshold assemblies may be incorporated into existing barrier free access showers. The threshold assemblies, which includes any movable thresholds or primary barriers and secondary barriers or dam strips may be fixed or engaged with existing barrier free access shower assemblies and shower pans in order to provide the benefits discussed herein. Alternatively, it is contemplated that shower pan assemblies having the movable threshold or primary barrier and any secondary barrier or dam strip may be constructed and formed as a single installable assembly.

FIG. 1 shows a perspective view of an embodiment of a barrier free shower pan, a primary barrier or threshold, and a secondary barrier or threshold or dam as contemplated by the invention. As seen in FIG. 1, barrier free shower pan 10 may include fixed barriers or thresholds 12, 14, 16, barrier free side 18, all surrounding a shower floor 20 having drain 22. Shower pan 10 may be a new or uninstalled barrier free shower pan, or may be an already installed shower pan in an existing barrier free access shower assembly.

A threshold assembly having a primary barrier or movable threshold 24 may be provided for engagement with barrier free side 18 to allow for easy and efficient modification from a barrier free shower to a standard shower and vice versa. The threshold assembly may include a secondary barrier or dam 26 to provide a water barrier or dam when the primary threshold is disengaged and removed from shower pan 10.

FIG. 2 shows a top view of the shower pan of FIG. 1 having the movable threshold or primary barrier also shown in FIG. 1 engaged therewith. As seen in FIG. 2, shower pan 10 includes fixed barriers or thresholds 12, 14, 16 at least partially surrounding shower floor 20 and drain 22. Movable threshold or primary barrier 24 engages shower pan 10 so as to provide a barrier for barrier free side 18 of shower pan 10. When engaged with shower pan 10, movable threshold or primary barrier 24 prevents water from escaping shower floor 20 onto any surrounding floor outside the shower pan and shower assembly.

FIG. 3 shows a cross-section of the shower pan and engaged movable primary threshold or barrier from FIG. 2 along line H-H in FIG. 2 while FIG. 4 shows a close up of section J of the cross-sectional view of FIG. 3. As seen in FIGS. 3 and 4, movable threshold or primary barrier 24 may be at least partially hollow so as to house any secondary barrier or dam 26 fixed to shower pan 10 along barrier free edge 18 when movable threshold or primary barrier 24 is engaged with shower pan 10.

Though shown in FIGS. 3 and 4 as being substantially hollow, movable threshold or primary barrier 24 may be partially or substantially solid in order to provide more weight and better balance and hold the movable threshold or primary barrier in place. In embodiments where secondary barrier or dam 26 is used, movable threshold or primary barrier 24 must be at least partially hollow to accommodate the secondary barrier or dam therein when the movable threshold or primary barrier is engaged with the shower pan and shower assembly. Having an at least partially hollow movable threshold or primary barrier will also enable easier movement of the movable threshold or primary barrier than if solid, so as to facilitate engagement and disengagement with the shower pan.

However, in embodiments where no secondary barrier or dam is used in the threshold assembly, movable threshold or primary barrier 24 may be substantially solid. While making movable threshold or primary barrier 24 substantially solid will increase the weight and effort required to remove the movable threshold or primary barrier, the added weight will prevent the barrier from being tipped over or accidentally moved when it is engaged with the shower pan.

As shown in FIGS. 1-4, movable threshold or primary barrier 24 may be completely removable from shower pan 10 in order to fully expose barrier free side 18 of shower pan 10, as well as any enclosed secondary barrier or dam 26, and allow barrier free access to shower pan 10 and any shower assembly associated therewith. While movable threshold or primary barrier 24 may be set and balanced on shower pan 10 and/or any floor located proximate the shower pan when engaged with the shower pan, in order to prevent movable threshold or primary barrier 24 from moving, a click-fit and/or matching geometry between the movable threshold or primary barrier and shower pan may be utilized. As is best shown in FIG. 4, movable threshold or primary barrier 24 may include receptacle 28 that hooks or locks around protrusion 30 extending from shower pan 10. It is contemplated by the invention that any matching geometric formation may be used to lock and hold the fourth edge or threshold into place. For example, a tongue and groove formation may be used, a receptacle or protrusion as shown in FIG. 4, a press or snap fit, a clip or other fastener, a magnetic connection, or any combination thereof.

Secondary barrier or dam 26 may be included as part of a shower pan and/or threshold assembly and fixed to shower pan 10 proximate barrier free side 18 in order to further seal against the seepage of water and/or provide some barrier to water escaping should the moveable threshold or barrier be moved and not replaced prior to shower usage. When utilized, dam strip 26 may be permanently mounted or removably affixed to shower pan 10. Secondary barrier or dam strip 26 may include a flat portion 32, which primarily provides a contact area for engaging the shower pan or floor, and a vertical portion 34 which primarily provides a barrier against water from exiting the shower pan and shower floor when the movable threshold or primary barrier are disengaged.

Secondary barrier or dam strip 26 may be made of a resilient, yet flexible material that is impermeable to water so as to allow a movable edge and/or a special care individual to deform the secondary barrier or dam to allow access to or enter the shower overtop the barrier or dam. The material should maintain enough resiliency and rigidity to remain in, or return to, an upright position when left alone, yet be flexible enough to bend or flex when a force is applied to the vertical component. Examples of material that may be used include, but are not limited to, flexible plastics or polymers or rubber. In order to achieve the desired flexibility the thickness of the vertical component may also be adjusted to insure that the vertical component will flex when necessary but otherwise still maintain a vertical orientation.

Rather than, or in addition to, utilizing a resilient, flexible material, in some assemblies, it may be desirable to simply adjust the height of the vertical component of the dam strip in order to allow special care users to pass over or better block water from exiting the shower pan. For example, utilizing a shorter vertical height may allow special care individuals to pass over the barrier without issue, while at the same time providing some (albeit less than a taller vertical height) barrier against escaping water.

In order to affix a door, panel, or other blocking structure proximate the barrier free edge and side of the shower pan and utilize the completely movable threshold or primary barrier, the door, panel or other blocking structure may have to be offset from the edge of the shower pan to anchor part or all of the structure to the shower pan. Preferably any structures requiring anchoring may be located inside the movable threshold or barrier to allow access to a special care user without having to open and maneuver around the shower door. While such a door or other barrier will provide the requisite privacy to the shower user and assist to prevent water from escaping the shower assembly, it will necessarily shrink the size of the shower and may provide some obstacles when retrofitting to existing shower assemblies. In order to prevent this, a portion of the movable threshold or primary barrier may be fixed to the shower pan independently of the remainder of the movable threshold or primary barrier.

FIGS. 5A and 5B show a perspective view of another embodiment of the shower pan and threshold assembly shown in FIGS. 1-4 wherein a portion of the movable threshold or primary barrier is fixed to the shower pan while the remainder is still movable. As seen in FIG. 5A, shower pan 110 includes fixed barriers or thresholds 112, 114, 116 which each partially surround shower floor 120 having drain 122. Movable threshold or primary barrier 124 may engage shower pan 110 to enclose the fourth side of the shower pan, to completely surround shower floor 120 and prevent water from escaping therefrom.

As seen in FIG. 5B, a portion of the removable threshold or primary barrier may remain fixed to the shower pan when a portion of the removable threshold or primary barrier is removed. Fixed portion 124A may be permanently anchored to shower pan 110 (or other surrounding structures like a shower or bathroom wall), or may also be removable, independently of movable portion 124B. As seen in FIG. 5B, when portion 124B is removed, the barrier free side of shower pan 110, as well as any secondary barrier or dam 126, is exposed to allow barrier free entry into the shower. Fixing or independently engaging portion 124A allows it to remain in place when portion 124B is removed to allow access, allowing for a door, panel, or other structure to remain permanently attached to portion 124A along the barrier free side of the shower pan and assembly.

FIGS. 6A and 6B show an example of a shower pan and/or threshold assembly having a movable threshold having a fixed or independently removable portion for anchoring a portion of a door or other blocking structure proximate the barrier free edge. As seen in FIG. 6A, portion 124A may be utilized to anchor blocking structure 136 which may provide a complete barricade with door 138 when door 138 is fully closed. As seen in FIG. 6B, when the shower door is opened, portion 124B of the movable threshold or primary barrier may be removed, exposing a barrier free access side to shower pan 110, as well as any secondary barrier or dam 126. Once in the shower, the special care user may replace the movable portion 124A over secondary barrier or dam 126 prior to closing the door and activating the shower, or, especially where secondary barrier or dam 126 is used in the shower pan and threshold assembly, activate the shower without replacing the primary barrier or movable portion of the threshold.

When having a partially fixed/partially movable threshold or primary barrier, the structure of the removable portion of the threshold or primary barrier may be substantially identical to the fully removable threshold or barrier. As with the fully removable threshold or barrier, where a secondary barrier or dam is used (as shown in FIGS. 5B and 6B), at least a portion of the interior of the removable portion of the threshold or barrier may be hollow to accommodate any vertical portion of the secondary barrier or dam.

While having a fully removable barrier allows for maximum entry exposure of a barrier free side of a barrier free access shower pan, in order to better facilitate the replacement of the movable threshold or primary barrier once a special care user has entered the shower, and in order to make it easier for a special care user to move the threshold or barrier without assistance, it may be beneficial provide a pivot point along the movable threshold or primary barrier to facilitate movement.

As seen in FIGS. 7-10, the movable portion 224B of movable threshold 224 may be attached to fixed portion 224A by pivot point 240 or a similar structure. As seen in FIGS. 7 and 8, the pivot point may be located proximate one end of the moveable threshold or primary barrier, creating a shorter fixed portion 124A and greater access to the barrier free entry side of shower pan 210. Alternatively, as seen in FIGS. 9 and 10, the pivot point may be located proximate a center area of the moveable threshold or primary barrier. When located proximate a center point, it is contemplated by the invention that either one, or both, sides of the primary threshold or barrier may be lifted and pivoted off the shower pan to allow a special care user to access the shower. Having a shorter movable portion 224B will make it easier for a special care user to lift the movable portion to gain access to the shower independent of any other individuals. Having a pivot point also allows for a special care user to better replace the barrier once they have entered the shower, as the special care user is only required to pivot or lower the movable portion of the movable threshold or primary barrier. When installing a threshold assembly having at least a partially movable primary barrier which uses a pivot point and potentially a secondary barrier in an existing barrier free access shower assembly, or designing or installing a shower pan assembly having at least one fixed threshold and at least one movable threshold, the size of the movable portion of the primary barrier or movable threshold may be custom designed to meet the access requirements and lifting capabilities of the special care user.

As a further alternative and as shown in FIGS. 11 and 12, both ends of movable threshold 324 may be rotatable or movable about a pivot point 340A, 340B, creating a threshold or primary barrier which may be accessed from either side. In embodiments where both ends of movable threshold or primary barrier 324 are movable, the edge or threshold may be divided into two substantially equal sized portions or may be sized different as desired. Pivoting at each end and splitting in the middle has the advantage of having to move a smaller portion of the edge or threshold at once, while also allowing access to one side or the other should an object be blocking a portion of the barrier free side.

In order to pivot some or substantially all of movable thresholds or primary barriers 224, 324, pivot points 240, 340A, 340B may include any rotatable or pivoting structures known in the art, including but not limited to hinges, springs, ball joints, cam structures, or flexible joints—so long as the rotating or hinging aspect is capable of keeping one end of the movable portion of the edge anchored while allowing the opposite end to rotate upwards, away from the shower pan and floor.

In embodiments where at least a portion of the movable threshold or primary barrier is rotated or pivoted vertically about a point, fastener or attachment member 242, 342A, 342B may be provided along the top face of the movable portion of the movable threshold or primary barrier. The fastener or other attachment member may engage a cooperating structure on a panel, shower door, wall or other structure to prevent it from falling as a person enters, exits, or uses the shower. The attachment member and cooperating structure may include, for example, a pair of magnets allowing for magnetic attachment of the edge to the wall (see for example 242, 243 in FIG. 13), a hook and catch (see for example 242, 243 in FIG. 14), a mating geometry, a rope, pulley, and cleat configuration, or a suction device and a substantially flat surface. The attachment member may also be configured to be housed within movable threshold or primary barrier 224, 324 when not in use in order to create a substantially flat surface to prevent injuries to any shower users when the threshold is placed in position on the shower pan.

Rather than use an attachment member and cooperating structure, the movable portion of movable threshold or primary barrier 224, 324 may be spring biased or the like proximate the pivot point to automatically move to, and hold in, an opened or closed position once a movement threshold position is reached. For example, once the movable portion of the movable threshold or edge has been lifted to a particular height, a spring or the like may snap the movable portion to the fully lifted position and hold it there until the user moves it towards the closed position. When moving to the closed position, the same or a different spring or other structure may snap the movable portion to the fully closed or fixed position in contact with the shower pan and hold it there until the user lifts it again.

As a further alternative, in order to facilitate movement, a handle, rope, or other elevated grasping member may be attached proximate the lifting side of movable threshold or primary barrier in order to provide easy movement for users. When not in use, only a portion of the handle or rope may extend outside of the movable edge or threshold. When in use, the handle or rope may extend from the interior of the edge or threshold to move, or may telescope or otherwise extend to give the user a larger radius of handle to maneuver the edge.

In embodiments where the movable edge is configured to rotate or pivot upwards, it is contemplate by the invention that at least the movable portion of the edge or threshold may be offset from any shower barrier, like for example a shower door or curtain, to allow for free and easy rotation of the edge and full usage of the shower barrier. For example, the movable edge or threshold may be positioned inside or outside any shower barrier relative to the interior of the shower pan to allow the edge to be lifted out of the way without hitting the barrier, or the barrier interfering with movement of the edge or threshold.

Alternatively, a portion of the door, a panel, or other barrier or blocking structure may be permanently fixed to the anchored or fixed portion 224A of the movable threshold or primary barrier. As shown in FIGS. 6A and 6B, a portion of the door or other blocking structure may be fixed to the fixed portion of the movable threshold or primary barrier. Any cooperating fastener or attachment elements may then be located on the edge of the door, panel, or other barrier or structure to facilitate attachment to any fastener or attachment member located on the top face of the movable threshold or primary barrier.

As shown in FIGS. 15 and 16, rather than rotate upwards, it is further contemplated by the invention that at least a portion of movable threshold or primary barrier 424 may rotate or pivot horizontally inwards towards the shower pan or outwards away from the shower pan. In such embodiments, one or both ends of the movable edge may be rotatable (or pivotable), and each rotation point may be inwards, outwards, or both directions.

In order to rotate any movable portion of threshold or primary barrier 424, pivot points 440A, 440B may be provided, as shown, to one or both ends of the movable edge. Pivot points 440A, 440B may be configured in the manner described for pivot points 440A, 440B herein and attached such that the movable barrier will rotate inwards and outwards.

In embodiments where horizontal rotation (displacement) is used, no offset from any shower barrier may be required as both a door panel and the movable portion of the movable edge or threshold may be moved without interference from the other. In embodiments where a swinging shower door is used, it may be advantageous to attach the movable portion of movable threshold or primary barrier 424 to the shower door so that a single swinging action will open and close both the movable edge and shower door.

As with any vertically pivoted portions of a movable threshold or primary barrier, the outside and/or inside face of the movable portions of movable threshold or primary barrier 424 may be provided with fastener or attachment member 442A, 442B which may cooperate with a structure located on a wall or other structure proximate the shower door. Any of the aforementioned attachment member may similarly be used with horizontal moving movable thresholds or primary barriers and all may engage and cooperate in substantially the same manner. Horizontal moving movable thresholds or primary barriers may likewise be spring loaded or otherwise geared to open, close and maintain an open position in a similar manner as vertically lifting movable thresholds or primary barriers.

As yet a further alternative, rather than geometrically or snap-fit into place, or pivot vertically or horizontal, the movable threshold or primary barrier may slide vertically along a track or tracks located in one or both of the wall or shower door. As seen in FIGS. 17 and 18, movable threshold or primary barrier 524 engaged with or forming part of shower pan 510 may be connected to shower doors 538A, 538B. In order to accommodate vertical movement of the edge or threshold, one or more guide slots or tracks 544A, 544B may be provided in one or both of the shower door or any walls (shown as walls W) located proximate the shower entrance.

In order to enable a user to move the edge or threshold while in the shower in embodiments where the threshold or barrier is located outside the shower door, a handle or extensions 546A, 546B may extend into the interior of the shower. The handle or extension will allow a user inside the shower to lift and move the edge or threshold to allow the shower door(s) to open. Alternatively, if the threshold or edge is located inside the shower, the handle or edge may extend outwards through the slot or guide, to the outside of the shower, allowing a user who is not yet in the shower to raise and lower an interior edge or threshold before entering the shower.

Rather than use a handle or extension configuration it is also contemplated by the invention that a lift/lower mechanism be located below the shower door to allow a user inside the shower to raise and lower the threshold. In such embodiments a handle or extension may extend outwards into the shower, or a button or other actuator capable of triggering movement of the threshold may be accessible.

While the edge or threshold may slide vertically any distance, it is preferable that it slide vertically at least high enough to clear any sealing strips, or as discussed in further detail herein, the vertical portion of any dam strips housed within the movable edge or threshold when the edge or threshold is in the set position. Once raised, in order to insure that the threshold remains raised while the shower door is open, handle or extensions 546A, 546B may be provided with a locking mechanism or slot or track offset to keep the edge or threshold in place.

Though shown and discussed as generally a 4-sided or rectangular structure, it is contemplated that the present invention may be used in conjunction with any shaped shower pan or shower. For example, the shower and shower pan may be triangular, pentagonal, or circular in shape. In any sided, i.e. non-circular, configuration, any one or multiple sides may be configured to be moved in any manner and in any combination as discussed herein. For example, in a pentagonal shaped shower, three thresholds or barriers may be configured to be moved with the outside barriers being rotatable upwards about a pivot point and the interior edge or barrier being geometrically fit and completely removable from the shower pan. In circular embodiments, a portion of the outside of the circular barrier surrounding the shower pan may be configured to be moved to allow access to a special care user.

Regardless of how the moveable threshold or barrier is attached to the shower pan, in order to better insure a seal between the edge and pan, a seal or gasket may be used to prevent any water from trickling through any openings or gaps which may exist between the edge and the pan. As shown in FIGS. 3 and 4, for example, seal or gasket 48 may be attached to one or both of the pan and movable threshold or primary barrier, or in any potential areas where water may escape the pan and flow under or through the barrier. In FIG. 2, for example, a seal may be attached to the pan in a manner that abuts against the movable threshold or edge. Alternatively, or additionally, in some embodiments and configurations it may be advantageous to place a gasket or seal on a lower edge of the edge or threshold to seal in a gap or receptacle in the pan.

While in the foregoing there has been set forth preferred embodiments of the invention, it is to be understood that the present invention may be embodied in other specific forms without departing from the spirit or central characteristics thereof. The present embodiments, therefore, are to be considered in all respects as illustrative and not restrictive, and the invention is not to be limited to the details given herein. While specific embodiments have been illustrated and described, numerous modifications come to mind without significantly departing from the characteristics of the invention and the scope of protection is only limited by the scope of the accompanying Claims.