Title:
Replaceable shower device
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A replaceable first device for shower or bathtub plumbing is disclosed. A first device is provided which may be comprised of a first tube, a second tube, a third tube, and a fourth tube which are connected together at a junction. The first device can be inserted into a housing so that the first tube becomes aligned with a first water source tube, such as a hot water source tube, the second tube becomes aligned with a first water outlet tube, such as a shower tube, the third tube becomes aligned with a second water source tube, such as a cold water source tube, and the fourth tube becomes aligned with a second water outlet tube, such as a bathtub spout tube. The first device may include first, second, third, and fourth couplers, for joining the first tube and the first water source tube, the second tube and the first water outlet tube, the third tube and the second water source tube, and the fourth tube and the second water outlet tube, respectively.



Inventors:
Gabriele, Arthur (Woodhaven, NY, US)
Application Number:
10/382046
Publication Date:
07/31/2003
Filing Date:
03/05/2003
Assignee:
GABRIELE ARTHUR
Primary Class:
International Classes:
E03C1/02; E03C1/04; (IPC1-7): A47K1/00; E03C1/00
View Patent Images:
Related US Applications:
20090019635PORTABLE SAUNA ROOM ASSEMBLYJanuary, 2009Chen
20090113619Dual spout-type faucet with controllable conventional-flow and mister-flow ratesMay, 2009Tichenor et al.
20080060122Low flow hygienic apparatus and methodsMarch, 2008Andreiu
20070192949SELF-LIFTING TOILET SEATAugust, 2007Pan et al.
20080066220Odor removal system and overflow safety system for toiletsMarch, 2008Shaul
20090133185TOILET SEAT CLEANING SYSTEMMay, 2009Fisseha
20080164336Sanitary Fitting With an Illuminated Outlet Consisting of Transparent MaterialJuly, 2008Kunkel
20060037129Bidet attachment for toiletsFebruary, 2006Bhatnagar
20050172394Cushion system for a washing/bathing tubAugust, 2005Ciechanowski et al.
20080168598Toilet seat with foldable containerJuly, 2008Cheng
20080168601SHOWER INSTALLATIONJuly, 2008Glunk



Primary Examiner:
DUNWOODY, AARON M
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
Mr. Walter J. Tencza Jr. (Metuchen, NJ, US)
Claims:

I claim:



1. An apparatus comprising: a first device comprised of a first tube and a second tube which are connected together at a junction; and wherein the first device can be inserted into a housing so that the first tube becomes aligned with a first water source tube and the second tube becomes aligned with a first water outlet tube.

2. The apparatus of claim 1 wherein the first device is further comprised of a third tube which is connected together with the first and second tubes at the junction; and wherein the first water source tube is a hot water source tube; and wherein the first device can be inserted into the housing so that the first tube becomes aligned with the first water source tube, the second tube becomes aligned with the first water outlet tube, and the third tube becomes aligned with a cold-water source tube.

3. The apparatus of claim 1 wherein the first water outlet tube is a shower tube.

4. The apparatus of claim 1 wherein the first water outlet tube is a bathtub spout tube.

5. The apparatus of claim 1 wherein the first device includes first and second couplers, which are adapted so that the first coupler can be used to join the first tube and the first water source tube and the second coupler can be used to join the second tube and the first water outlet tube.

6. The apparatus of claim 2 wherein the first device includes first, second, and third couplers which are adapted so that the first coupler can be used to join the first tube and the first water source tube and the second coupler can be used to join the second tube and the first water outlet tube, and the third coupler can be used to join the third tube and the cold water source tube.

7. The apparatus of claim 2 wherein the first device is further comprised of a fourth tube which is connected together with the first, second, and third tubes at the junction; and and wherein the first device can be inserted into the housing so that the first tube becomes aligned with the first water source tube, the second tube becomes aligned with the first water outlet tube, the third tube becomes aligned with a cold water source tube, and the fourth tube becomes aligned with a second water outlet tube.

8. The apparatus of claim 7 further wherein the first water outlet tube is a shower tube; and the second water outlet tube is a bathtub spout tube.

9. The apparatus of claim 1 wherein the first device includes a first valve stem channel; wherein the first valve stem channel is connected to the first tube, so that a first valve stem placed inside the first valve stem channel can affect the flow of water through the first tube.

10. The apparatus of claim 2 wherein the first device includes a first valve stem channel, and a second valve stem channel; wherein the first valve stem channel is connected to the first tube, so that a first valve stem placed inside the first valve stem channel can affect the flow of water through the first tube; and wherein the second valve stem channel is connected to the third tube, so that a second valve stem placed inside the second valve stem channel can affect the flow of water through the third tube.

11. A method comprising the step of inserting a first device into a housing so that a first tube of the first device becomes aligned a first water source tube and a second tube of the first device becomes aligned with a first water outlet tube; and wherein the first tube and the second tube are connected at a junction.

12. The method of claim 11 wherein the first device is further comprised of a third tube which is connected together with the first and second tubes at the junction; and wherein the first water source tube is a hot water source tube; and further comprising inserting the first device into the housing so that the first tube becomes aligned with the first water source tube, the second tube becomes aligned with the first water outlet tube, and the third tube becomes aligned with a cold-water source tube.

13. The method of claim 11 wherein the first water outlet tube is a shower tube.

14. The method of claim 11 wherein the first water outlet tube is a bathtub spout tube.

15. The method of claim 11 wherein joining the first tube and the first water source tube with a first coupler; and joining the second tube and the first water outlet tube with a second coupler.

16. The method of claim 12 wherein joining the first tube and the first water source tube with a first coupler; joining the second tube and the first water outlet tube with a second coupler; and joining the third tube and the cold water source tube with a third coupler.

17. The method of claim 12 wherein the first device is further comprised of a fourth tube which is connected together with the first, second, and third tubes at the junction; and further comprising inserting the first device into the housing so that the first tube becomes aligned with the first water source tube, the second tube becomes aligned with the first water outlet tube, the third tube becomes aligned with a cold water source tube, and the fourth tube becomes aligned with a second water outlet tube.

18. The method of claim 17 wherein the first water outlet tube is a shower tube; and the second water outlet tube is a bathtub spout tube.

19. The method of claim 11 wherein the first device includes a first valve stem channel; wherein the first valve stem channel is connected to the first tube, so that a first valve stem placed inside the first valve stem channel can affect the flow of water through the first tube.

20. The method of claim 12 wherein the first device includes a first valve stem channel, and a second valve stem channel; wherein the first valve stem channel is connected to the first tube, so that a first valve stem placed inside the first valve stem channel can affect the flow of water through the first tube; and wherein the second valve stem channel is connected to the third tube, so that a second valve stem placed inside the second valve stem channel can affect the flow of water through the third tube.

Description:

FIELD OF THE INVENTION

[0001] This invention relates to methods and apparatus concerning accessing shower or bathtub plumbing for the purpose of making repairs.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

[0002] If one needs to fix or replace piping relating to a bathtub or shower, one normally needs to break the tile or other waterproof surface to replace or repair the piping. There is a need for better ways of repairing and accessing piping relating to a shower or bathtub.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

[0003] The present invention in one or more embodiments provides a first device which may be comprised of a first tube, a second tube, a third tube, and a fourth tube which are connected together at a junction. The first device can be inserted into a housing so that the first tube becomes aligned with a first water source tube, such as a hot water source tube, the second tube becomes aligned with a first water outlet tube, such as a shower tube, the third tube becomes aligned with a second water source tube, such as a cold water source tube, and the fourth tube becomes aligned with a second water outlet tube, such as a bathtub spout tube.

[0004] The first device may include first, second, third, and fourth couplers. The first coupler can be used to join the first tube and the first water source tube. The second coupler can be used to join the second tube and the first water outlet tube. The third coupler can be used to join the third tube and the second water source tube. The fourth coupler can be used to join the fourth tube and the second water outlet tube.

[0005] The first device may include a first and a second valve stem channel. The first or second valve stem channels may be connected to a tube so that a first valve stem placed inside the first or second valve stem channel can affect the flow of water through the tube.

[0006] The present invention in one or more embodiments also includes a method comprising the step of inserting a first device into a housing so that a first tube of the first device becomes aligned a first water source tube, a second tube of the first device becomes aligned with a first water outlet tube, a third tube of the first device becomes aligned with a second water source tube, and a fourth tube of the first device becomes aligned with a second water outlet tube.

[0007] The present invention in one or more embodiments, comprises a first device, which once installed can be replaced without breaking through tile or other waterproof covering. The first device may be in the form of or may be termed a cartridge.

[0008] The first device may also include first, second, third, and fourth couplers. The first coupler may be used to couple the first tube of the first device with the shower tube. The second coupler may be used to coupler the second tube of the first device with the hot water tube. The third coupler may be used to coupler the third tube of the first device with the bathtub spout tube. The fourth coupler may be used to couple the fourth tube of the first device with the cold-water tube.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

[0009] FIG. 1 shows a cross sectional view of a first device for use in accordance with a first embodiment of the present invention;

[0010] FIG. 2 shows a cross sectional view of a second device for use with the first device in accordance with the first embodiment of the present invention along with dashed lines showing locations of a shower head and a bathtub spout;

[0011] FIG. 3 shows a cross sectional view of the first device of FIG. 1 placed inside the second device of FIG. 2, with the first device shown in a first state along with dashed lines showing the locations of the shower head, the bathtub spout, and valve stems for hot and cold valves;

[0012] FIG. 4 shows a cross sectional view of the first device of FIG. 1 placed inside the second device of FIG. 2, with the first device shown in a second state along with dashed lines showing the locations of the shower head, the bathtub spout, and the valve stems for hot and cold valves;

[0013] FIG. 5 shows a front view of the second device of FIG. 2 and a cover or plate, after the plate has been placed over the first device of FIG. 1;

[0014] FIG. 6 shows a perspective view of part of the first device of FIG. 1 and part of the second device of FIG. 2;

[0015] FIG. 7A shows a bottom view of part of the first device of FIG. 1;

[0016] FIG. 7B shows a rear view of the first device of FIG. 1;

[0017] FIG. 8A shows a first side view of the first device of FIG. 1;

[0018] FIG. 8B shows a second side view of the first device of FIG. 1; and

[0019] FIGS. 9A, 9B, and 9C show a front, top, and bottom view of a coupling for use with the first device of FIG. 1.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

[0020] FIG. 1 shows a cross sectional view of a first device 10 for use in accordance with a first embodiment of the present invention. The first device 10 includes tubes 14, 16, 18, 22, 24, and 26. The tubes 14, 16, 22, and 24 come together at a junction 20. The first device 10 also includes couplers 30, 32, 34, and 36. Each of the couplers 30, 32, 34, and 36 may be a compression coupler. Each of the couplers 30, 32, 34, and 36 may be the same type of coupler having a top hex nut 30a, a tube 30b, and a bottom hex nut 30c. The first device 10 also includes a housing 40, which includes recesses 42, 44, 46, 48, 50, and 52. The couplers 30, 32, 34, and 36 can partially lie in the recesses 46, 48, 50, and 52, respectively.

[0021] FIG. 2 shows a cross sectional view of a second device 100 for use with the first device 10 in accordance with the first embodiment of the present invention along with dashed lines showing locations of a shower head 200 and a bathtub spout 202. The second device 100 includes a panel or wall 102, a housing 104, rails or guide means 106 and 108, and tubes 110, 112, 114, and 116. The second device 100 also includes panels or walls 120 and 122.

[0022] FIG. 3 shows a cross sectional view of the first device 10 of FIG. 1 placed inside the second device 100 of FIG. 2, with the first device 10 shown in a first state along with dashed lines showing the locations of the shower head 200, the bathtub spout 202, and valve stems 204 and 206 for hot and cold valves, respectively. In FIG. 3 the couplers 30, 32, 34, and 36 are located on the tubes 14, 18, 22, and 26 of the first device 10. The couplers 30, 32, 34, and 36, in the first state of FIG. 3, do not surround the tubes 110, 112, 114, and 116 of the second device 100. The first device 10 can thus be inserted into the housing 104.

[0023] The length of the first device 10, shown as L1 in FIG. 1, is slightly less than the length L2, shown in FIG. 2, for the housing 104 of the second device 100. In addition, a height H1, from a top of the tube 14 to the bottom of the tube 22, shown in FIG. 1, is slightly less than a height H2, from the bottom of the tube 110 to the top of the tube 114, shown in FIG. 2. These dimensions permit the first device 10 to slide into the housing 104, with the recesses 42 and 44 sliding along the rails 106 and 108, so that the rails 106 and 108 fit snugly within the recesses 42 and 44, respectively. In addition, the tubes 110, 112, 114, and 116 of the second device 100 become aligned with the tubes 14, 18, 22, and 26, respectively of the first device 10. The tubes 110, 112, 114, 116, 14, 18, 22, and 26 may each have the same diameter.

[0024] FIG. 4 shows a cross sectional view of the first device 10 of FIG. 1 placed inside the second device 100 of FIG. 2, with the first device 10 shown in a second state along with dashed lines showing the locations of the shower head 200, the bathtub spout 202, and the valve stems 204 and 206, for hot and cold valves, respectively. In FIG. 4, the couplers 30, 32, 34, and 36 have been moved into a different position from that shown in FIG. 3. In FIG. 4, the coupler 30 now joins tube 14 from the first device 10 to tube 110 of the second device 100. A hex nut 30a on the coupler 30 may be turned by a wrench to tighten and secure the coupler 30 onto the tube 110 of the second device 100. A hex nut 30b on the coupler 30 may be turned by a wrench to tighten and secure the coupler 30 onto the tube 14 of the first device 10. The coupler 30 provides a tight seal so that water can flow from tube 14 into tube 110 without water leaking out of the location where the tubes 110 and 14 meet.

[0025] Similarly, in FIG. 4, the coupler 32 now joins tube 18 from the first device 10 to tube 112 of the second device 100. A hex nut 32b on the coupler 32 may be turned by a wrench to tighten and secure the coupler 32 onto the tube 112 of the second device 100. A hex nut 32a on the coupler 32 may be turned by a wrench to tighten and secure the coupler 32 onto the tube 18 of the first device 10. The coupler 32 provides a tight seal so that water can flow from tube 112 (which may be a hot water source tube) into tube 18 without water leaking out of the location where the tubes 112 and 18 meet.

[0026] Similarly, in FIG. 4, the coupler 34 now joins tube 22 from the first device 10 to tube 114 of the second device 100. A hex nut 34b on the coupler 34 may be turned by a wrench to tighten and secure the coupler 34 onto the tube 114 of the second device 100. A hex nut 34a on the coupler 34 may be turned by a wrench to tighten and secure the coupler 34 onto the tube 22 of the first device 10. The coupler 34 provides a tight seal so that water can flow from the tube 22 into tube 114 without water leaking out of the location where the tubes 22 and 114 meet. The water from tube 114 may flow through a bathtub spout, whose location is shown by 202.

[0027] Similarly, in FIG. 4, the coupler 36 now joins tube 26 from the first device 10 to tube 116 of the second device 100. A hex nut 36b on the coupler 36 may be turned by a wrench to tighten and secure the coupler 36 onto the tube 116 of the second device 100. A hex nut 36a on the coupler 36 may be turned by a wrench to tighten and secure the coupler 36 onto the tube 26 of the first device 10. The coupler 36 provides a tight seal so that water can flow from the tube 116 (which may be a cold water source tube) into the tube 26 without water leaking out of the location where the tubes 26 and 116 meet.

[0028] FIG. 5 shows a front view of the second device 100, and a plate 130, after the plate 130 has been placed over the first device 10. FIG. 5 also shows the locations of the valve stems and the bathtub spout 202. In FIG. 5 the first device 10 cannot be seen because it is covered by the plate 130. The plate 130 has a surface 130a, which is typically not opaque.

[0029] The first device 10 can be screwed into or other secured to the housing 104 of the second device 100. After the first device 10 has been properly placed and secured to the housing 104, the cover or plate 130, shown in FIG. 5, can be placed over the first device 10. The cover 170 can be secured by plates 172 and 174 through which can be inserted screws 182 and 184, respectively. The screws 182 and 184 may be screwed in and may wedge against valve stems 130a and 132a, respectively, to secure the cover 130 over the first device 10. FIG. 5 shows the location of faucet handles 192 and 194, which may be connected to valve stems 130a, and 132a to allow or prevent the flow of hot and cold water, respectively.

[0030] FIG. 6 shows a perspective view of part of the first device 10 and part of the second device 100. The first device 10 is shown without the couplers 30, 32, 34, and 36 in FIG. 6 to simplify description. The second device 100 is shown with only part of tubes 110, 112, 114, and 116. FIG. 6 shows the locations of valve stem channels 140 and 142. The valve stem channel 140 leads to tube 18. The valve stem channel 142 leads to tube 26. The depth, D2, of the first device 10, as shown by FIG. 6 is less than the depth D1 of the housing 104 of the second device 100. The depth D2 of the device 10 should be sufficiently less than the depth D1 of the housing 104 so that the device 10 can be completely inserted into the housing 104.

[0031] FIG. 7A shows a bottom view of part of the first device 10 of FIG. 1. In FIG. 1, the couplers 32, 34, and 36 have been omitted to simplify description.

[0032] FIG. 7B shows a rear view of the first device 10 of FIG. 1.

[0033] FIG. 8A shows a first side view of the first device 10 of FIG. 1 with locations for a first valve stem channel 140 shown in dashed lines and locations of tubes 14 and 28 shown in dashed lines.

[0034] FIG. 8B shows a second side view of the first device 19 of FIG. 1 with locations for a second valve stem channel 142 shown in dashed lines and locations of tubes 14 and 26 shown in dashed lines.

[0035] FIGS. 9A, 9B, and 9C show a front, top, and bottom view of a compression coupling 30 for use with the first device 10 of FIG. 1.

[0036] The rails 106 and 108 of the second device 100 in conjunction with the recesses 42 and 44 of the first device 10 allow the first device 10 to slide into the second device 100, and helps to properly align the tubes 14, 18, 22, and 26 of the first device 10 with the tubes 110, 112, 114, and 116, respectively, of the second device 100. The rails 106 and 108 and/or the recesses 42 and 44 may be considered to be means for guiding the first device 10 to properly position the first device 10 with respect to the housing 104 of the second device 100. The housing 104 of the second device 100, as shown by FIG. 6, includes top 104a, sides 104b and 104d, bottom 104c and backing 104e. The housing 104 may be substantially in the shape of an open box with an opening 104f into which the first device 10 or cartridge can be inserted. The tube 110 may be located substantially centrally in the top 104a. The tube 114 may be located substantially centrally in the bottom 104c. The tubes 112 and 116 may be located to the left and to the right of the tube 114.

[0037] The first device 10 includes top 10a, sides 10b, 10c, and 10d, bottom 10e, and rear 10f as shown by FIG. 6. The first device 10 can be basically a solid rectangular three-dimensional block with the exception of openings, tubes, recesses, or channels that have been or will be described. After the housing 104 of the second device 100 has been inserted and fixed to a wall portion 103, as shown in FIG. 2, the first device 10 or cartridge, is inserted into the housing 104 of the second device 100. The first device 10 of FIG. 1 is slid into the housing 104 by placing and sliding the recesses or channels 42 and 44 over the tracks or rails 106 and 108, respectively. The first device 10 is slid into the housing 104 until the tubes 14, 18, 22, and 26 of the first device 10 of FIG. 1, become aligned with the tubes 110, 112, 114, and 116 of the second device 100. The first device 10 can then be fixed to the housing 104 by, for example, alien head screws or in any other manner.

[0038] The openings 140 and 142 in the first device 10, shown by FIG. 6, allow for insertion of valve stems 130a and 132a, respectively, whose location is shown by dashed lines in FIG. 5. The opening 140 leads to the channel 140a and the opening 142 leads to the channel 142a as shown by FIGS. 8A and 8B respectively. The channels 140a and 142a are connected to the tubes 18 and 26 respectively. The valve stems 130a and 132a are thus able to block the flow of water in hot water tube 18 and cold water tube 26, respectively.

[0039] In operation, referring to FIG. 4, hot water flows through hot water tube 112 up from an end 112a through coupler 32 and into tube 18. The hot water next flows into tube 16, then into tube 14, then through coupler 30, then into tube 110, and finally out the shower head 200 (if the spout 202 is closed). Similarly, cold water flows through cold-water tube 116 up from an end 116a, through coupler 36, through tube 26 through tube 24, through tube 14, through coupler 30, through tube 110 and out showerhead 200 (if the spout 202 is closed). If the spout 202 is open, water from the hot and cold-water tubes 112 and 116 will flow into tube 22, through coupler 34, through tube 114 and out the spout 202.

[0040] The flow of hot and cold water can be increased or cut off by valves at locations 204 and 206 shown in FIG. 4. For example, the valve stem 130a, whose location is shown by FIG. 5, can be inserted into the channel 140a, shown in FIG. 8A, to increase, decrease, or block the flow of hot water through the tube 18. Similarly, the valve stem 132a, whose location is shown by FIG. 5, can be inserted into the channel 142a, shown in FIG. 8B to increase, decrease, or block the flow of cold water through the tube 26.

[0041] The spout 202 may include a valve which when closed causes water to flow to the showerhead 200.

[0042] The surfaces of wall portions 102, 120, 122, or the plate 130 shown by FIG. 5, each may have a tiled or otherwise waterproof surface such as waterproof surface 130a for the cover or plate 130. The present invention in one or more embodiments allows the cover or plate 130 and the device or cartridge 10 to be easily replaced or removed, without breaking any tiled or otherwise waterproof surface.

[0043] Although the invention has been described by reference to particular illustrative embodiments thereof, many changes and modifications of the invention may become apparent to those skilled in the art without departing from the spirit and scope of the invention. It is therefore intended to include within this patent all such changes and modifications as may reasonably and properly be included within the scope of the present invention's contribution to the art.