Title:
Gutter and precast panel incorporating the same
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A gutter embedded into a structure to collect moisture that forms on the surface of the structure. The gutter forms a substantially flush engagement with the surface of the structure, and includes a fluid redirecting surface that coaxes the fluid angularly toward a reservoir for capture and collection of the fluid. One or more anchoring portions may be included to extend away from the gutter to further promote a secure connection between the gutter and the structure. The gutter may be made from a one piece elongate body of extruded material, and may further include a planar face portion to facilitate engagement with the surface of the structure. In one form, the gutter can be formed into a wall or related panel.



Inventors:
Hartsfield, Marvin (Springboro, OH, US)
Cummings, Gerald L. (Springboro, OH, US)
Application Number:
10/795712
Publication Date:
09/02/2004
Filing Date:
03/08/2004
Assignee:
HARTSFIELD MARVIN
CUMMINGS GERALD L.
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
52/61
International Classes:
E04B1/70; E04F17/00; E04D13/04; E04D13/14; (IPC1-7): E04D13/00; E04B1/70; E04D13/14
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
GILBERT, WILLIAM V
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
DINSMORE & SHOHL LLP (DAYTON, OH, US)
Claims:

What is claimed is:



1. A gutter configured to fit substantially within a wall, said gutter comprising: an upper gutter portion and a lower gutter portion, each configured to form a substantially flush fit with a generally planar surface of said wall; a reservoir configured to fit within said wall behind a plane defined by said upper and lower gutter portions; and a fluid redirecting surface disposed between said upper gutter portion and said reservoir such that moisture accumulating on at least one of said upper gutter portion or a portion of said surface of said wall situated above said upper gutter portion is coaxed into said reservoir along said fluid redirecting surface.

2. The gutter of claim 1, wherein said fluid redirecting surface is cooperative with at least one of said upper gutter portion or said surface of said wall situated above said upper gutter portion to define a Coanda surface.

3. The gutter of claim 1, wherein said fluid redirecting surface is cooperative with at least one of said upper gutter portion or said surface of said wall situated above said upper gutter portion to define a faceted surface relative thereto.

4. The gutter of claim 1, further comprising an anchoring portion extending from at least one of said upper gutter portion, lower gutter portion, reservoir or fluid redirecting surface.

5. The gutter of claim 4, wherein said anchoring portion extends away from said generally planar surface of said wall.

6. The gutter of claim 1, wherein said gutter comprises a plastic material.

7. The gutter of claim 1, wherein said gutter defines an extrudable cross-sectional profile.

8. The gutter of claim 1, wherein said gutter is of unitary construction.

9. The gutter of claim 1, further comprising a drain port disposed in said reservoir.

10. The gutter of claim 9, further comprising a tube in fluid communication with said reservoir through said drain port.

11. The gutter of claim 1, wherein said upper gutter portion comprises a substantially planar face portion extending from said fluid redirecting surface.

12. The gutter of claim 11, wherein said lower gutter portion further comprises a substantially planar face portion extending from said reservoir.

13. The gutter of claim 12, further comprising an anchoring portion extending from each of said substantially planar face portions.

14. The gutter of claim 1, wherein a depthwise dimension of said reservoir is less than one inch.

15. The gutter of claim 14, wherein a depthwise dimension of said reservoir is approximately three-fourths of an inch.

16. The gutter of claim 14, wherein a heightwise dimension of said reservoir is less than one inch.

17. The gutter of claim 16, wherein a heightwise dimension of said reservoir is approximately one-half of an inch.

18. The gutter of claim 1, wherein said fluid redirecting surface is angled relative to said generally planar surface of said wall.

19. The gutter of claim 18, wherein said angle is between approximately 30° and 75°.

20. The gutter of claim 1, further comprising a plug configured to be disposed along at least one end of said reservoir to define a closure thereto.

21. A gutter configured to be integrally formed into a precast panel such that upon curing of said panel and placement of same into a generally upright position, said gutter defines a portion of an outer surface of said generally upright panel to enable moisture forming on at least a portion of the surface thereof to be collected in said gutter, said gutter defining a unitary structure comprising a substantially planar face portion, a reservoir fluidly coupled to said face portion, and a fluid redirecting surface disposed between said face portion and said reservoir.

22. A wall assembly comprising: a panel defined by an outward-facing surface and an inward-facing surface; and at least one gutter formed into at least one of said surfaces of said panel, said gutter comprising: an upper gutter portion configured to form a substantially flush fit with a generally planar surface of said wall; a reservoir configured to fit within said wall behind a plane defined by said upper gutter portion and said surface of said wall; and a fluid redirecting surface disposed between said upper gutter portion and said reservoir such that moisture accumulating on at least one of said wall-engaging portion or a portion of said surface of said wall situated above said upper gutter portion is coaxed into said reservoir along said fluid redirecting surface.

23. The wall assembly of claim 22, wherein said at least one gutter comprises a plurality of gutters.

24. The wall assembly of claim 23, wherein at least two of said plurality of gutters are in fluid communication with one another.

25. The wall assembly of claim 24, further comprising a tube coupled to said plurality of gutters to establish said fluid communication therebetween.

26. The wall assembly of claim 22, wherein said at least one gutter is placed in said panel such that when said panel is placed in a generally upright position, said gutter slopes along its substantial longitudinal dimension.

27. The wall assembly of claim 22, further comprising a plug disposed along at least one end of said reservoir.

28. A gutter comprising an extrudable cross-sectional profile, said extrudable cross-section profile defining: an upper gutter portion and a lower gutter portion that together defining a face plane of said gutter; a fluid containing reservoir; and a fluid redirecting surface extending from said upper gutter portion, away from said face plane of said gutter, to said fluid containing reservoir, wherein said fluid redirecting surface is configured such that upon orientation of said face plane of said gutter in a substantially vertical position, fluid present at said upper gutter portion is coaxed into said reservoir along said fluid redirecting surface.

29. A method of removing moisture from a precast panel, said method comprising: configuring said precast panel to comprise: a substantially planar layer defined by an outward-facing surface and an inward-facing surface; and at least one gutter formed into at least one of said surfaces of said panel, said gutter comprising: an upper gutter portion configured to form a substantially flush fit with a generally planar surface of said wall; a reservoir configured to fit within said wall behind a plane defined by said upper gutter portion and said surface of said wall; and a fluid redirecting surface disposed between said upper gutter portion and said reservoir such that moisture accumulating on at least one of said upper gutter portion or a portion of said surface of said wall situated above said upper gutter portion is coaxed into said reservoir along said fluid redirecting surface; placing said precast panel in a substantially upright position; exposing said precast panel to a source of moisture such that moisture forms on said at least one of said surfaces of said panel that includes said gutter; and collecting at least a portion of said formed moisture into said reservoir.

30. The method according to claim 29, further comprising providing a drain port in said reservoir such that said collected moisture may be drained therefrom.

31. The method according to claim 30, further comprising fluidly connecting a tube to said drain port.

32. The method according to claim 31, further comprising configuring said panel to comprise a plurality of said gutters.

33. The method according to claim 32, wherein at least two of said plurality of said gutters are in fluid communication with one another through said tube.

Description:

CROSS-REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATIONS

[0001] This application is a continuation-in-part of U.S. patent application Ser. No. 10/771,179, filed Feb. 3, 2004 (FUU 0030 PA), which application claims the benefit of U.S. Provisional Application Serial No. 60/444,478 filed Feb. 3, 2003.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

[0002] The present invention relates to a fluid drainage gutter, the fabrication of precast or tilt-up panels or other cast-in-place structures incorporating fluid drainage gutters, and structures incorporating such elements.

[0003] Many residential and commercial construction methods involve the use of concrete structures. Precast panels, for example, are integral to construction processes where a concrete wall (or panel) is cast in place within a structure or where the panel is cast on a horizontal slab or related panel-forming surface and tilted-up into place. In the tilt-up approach, concrete forms are arranged on a flat casting surface in the shape and dimension of the desired tilt-up panel, then filled with concrete. When the concrete cures, the panel and the form are separated and the panel is tilted up into a preferred, typically vertical, orientation, where it can be joined to structural frames or other panels. In other approaches, precast panels are cast in a manufacturing facility and shipped to the job site, or the concrete wall is cast in place.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

[0004] The present inventors have recognized a need for improvements in pre-cast panel forming systems and in various components of concrete wall systems. For example, the present inventors have recognized a need for addressing drainage issues associated with precast panels. While the improvements introduced by the present invention have particular applicability in the tilt-up construction process, pre-cast construction process or cast-in-place concrete structures, the inventors also envision the improved drainage enabled by the present invention to be suitable to other wall types.

[0005] The present invention provides a gutter that can be formed into the surface of a panel (such as a wall panel) such that excess moisture (including rain, condensation or the like) is directed to a reservoir within the gutter. According to a first aspect of the present invention, a gutter configured to fit substantially within a wall is disclosed. The gutter includes an upper and lower gutter portion configured to form a substantially flush fit with a generally planar surface of the wall, a reservoir configured to fit within the wall behind a plane defined by the upper and lower gutter portions, and a fluid redirecting surface disposed between the upper gutter portion and the reservoir such that moisture accumulating on at least one of the wall-engaging portion or a portion of the surface of the wall situated above the gutter is coaxed into the reservoir along the fluid redirecting surface. In the present context, the term “substantially” is utilized to represent the inherent degree of uncertainty that may be attributed to any quantitative comparison, value, measurement, or other representation. As such, it refers to an arrangement of elements or features that, while in theory would be expected to exhibit exact correspondence or behavior, may in practice embody something slightly less than exact. The term also represents the degree by which a quantitative representation may vary from a stated reference without resulting in a change in the basic function of the subject matter at issue.

[0006] Optionally, the fluid redirecting surface is shaped to define a Coanda surface such that fluid traveling down the fluid redirecting surface from the upper gutter portion (or from the wall above the upper gutter portion when the wall is placed in a substantially upright, vertical position) clings to the fluid redirecting surface for a considerable distance, even though that surface departs from a generally vertical direction formed by the surface of the wall. By clinging to the fluid redirecting surface under the Coanda effect, the fluid is more likely to collect in the reservoir when it does eventually separate from the surface. In an alternative shape, the fluid redirecting surface can form a faceted interface with the upper gutter portion such that a more abrupt change in fluid flowpath along the gutter's cross-sectional profile is formed. The gutter may further include an anchoring portion extending from one or more of the upper gutter portion, lower gutter portion, reservoir or fluid redirecting surface. In one form, the anchoring portion extends away from the generally planar surface of the wall.

[0007] While the gutter may be made from an easily-formable material, in a preferred embodiment, it is made from a plastic material, such as polyvinyl chloride (PVC), high density polyethylene (HDPE) or the like. In addition, the cross-sectional profile of the gutter is such that the gutter can be formed from an extrusion process. Moreover, the gutter can be of unitary (i.e., one-piece) construction, such as those formed by the aforementioned extrusion process. In another option, the gutter further includes a drain port disposed in the reservoir, while additionally, a tube can be connected to the drain port to convey the fluid accumulating in the reservoir to another location. In one form, the upper gutter portion extends to include a face portion extending from the fluid redirecting surface, while the lower gutter portion extends to include a face portion extending from the reservoir. In this way, the gutter can be placed within the wall so that the face portions formed by the extensions of the upper and lower gutters can form a substantially flush fit with the outer surface of the wall, although it will be appreciated that even without the extending face portions, the upper and lower gutter can form a substantially flush fit with the wall outer surface. The aforementioned anchoring portion can be made to extend each of the face portions. While the gutter can be formed into any size (depending on the desired use), a few particular dimensions have been found to be especially appropriate for conventional-sized walls. For example, the depthwise dimension of the gutter's reservoir is preferably less than one inch, and more preferably approximately three-fourths of an inch. Similarly, the heightwise dimension of the reservoir is preferably less than one inch, and more preferably approximately one-half of an inch. The fluid redirecting surface is angled relative to the generally planar surface of the wall, where the angle formed is approximately between 30° and 75° as measured clockwise from the plane of the wall outer surface. The gutter may further include a plug that can be used close off the end of the reservoir. In this, as well as the remainder of the disclosure, it is noted that terms like “preferably,” “preferred,”, “commonly,” and “typically” or the like are not utilized herein to limit the scope of the claimed invention or to imply that certain features are critical, essential, or even important to the structure or function of the claimed invention. Rather, these terms are merely intended to highlight alternative or additional features that may or may not be utilized in a particular embodiment of the present invention.

[0008] According to another aspect of the invention, a gutter configured to be integrally formed into a precast panel is disclosed. The gutter is configured such that upon curing of the panel and its placement into a generally upright position, the gutter defines a portion of an outer surface of the generally upright panel to enable moisture forming on at least a portion of the surface thereof to be collected in the gutter. As previously discussed, the gutter defines a unitary structure comprising a substantially planar face portion, a reservoir fluidly coupled to the face portion, and a fluid redirecting surface disposed between the face portion and the reservoir.

[0009] According to yet another aspect of the invention, a wall assembly made up of at least a panel (i.e., wall) and one or more gutters formed into the panel is disclosed. The panel is defined by an outward-facing surface and an inward-facing surface, with the one or more gutters formed into at least one of the panel surfaces. The configuration of the gutter is similar to those previously discussed, including at least the aforementioned upper gutter portion, reservoir and fluid redirecting surface. In situations where two or more gutters are included in the panel, the gutters are arranged to be in fluid communication with one another, such as through the use of a tube as previously discussed. The gutter (or gutters) placed in the panel can be oriented such that when the panel is placed in a generally upright position, the gutter slopes along its substantial longitudinal dimension. The reservoir can be configured to include a drain port disposed adjacent a lower end of the sloped gutter to facilitate draining.

[0010] According to still another aspect of the invention, a gutter comprising an extrudable cross-sectional profile is disclosed. The extrudable cross-section profile defines an upper and gutter portion, a fluid containing reservoir and a fluid redirecting surface extending from the upper gutter portion. The fluid redirecting surface is configured such that when the gutter is arranged in a generally upright position so that the upper gutter portion is above the lower gutter portion, fluid present at the upper gutter portion is coaxed into the reservoir along the fluid redirecting surface. The upper and lower gutter portions together define a face plane of the gutter, where such face plane can be subsequently formed into a wall or panel to be substantially co-planar the wall's outer surface.

[0011] According to another aspect of the invention, a method of removing moisture from a precast panel is disclosed. The method includes configuring the precast panel as previously discussed with a panel into which a gutter (with at least one of the aforementioned upper gutter portion, lower gutter portion, reservoir and fluid redirecting surface) may be placed, placing the precast panel in a substantially upright position, exposing the precast panel to a source of moisture such that moisture forms at least on the surface of the panel that includes the gutter, and collecting at least a portion of the formed moisture into the reservoir. Optionally, a drain port can be disposed in the reservoir such that the collected moisture may be drained therefrom, while a tube may be included to convey the collected fluid. In another option, the panel may include a plurality of the gutters, where at least two of the gutters may be placed in fluid communication with one another through the tube.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE SEVERAL VIEWS OF THE DRAWINGS

[0012] The following detailed description of specific embodiments of the present invention can be best understood when read in conjunction with the following drawings, where like structure is indicated with like reference numerals and in which:

[0013] FIG. 1 is an illustration of the cross sectional profile of a fluid drainage gutter according to one embodiment of the present invention;

[0014] FIG. 2 is an illustration of the cross sectional profile of a fluid drainage gutter according to an alternative embodiment of the present invention;

[0015] FIG. 3 is an illustration of a precast structure incorporating a fluid drainage gutter according to one embodiment of the present invention; and

[0016] FIG. 4 is an illustration of an end portion of a fluid drainage gutter according to one embodiment of the present invention.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION

[0017] Referring initially to FIGS. 1 and 2, examples of two suitable cross sectional profiles of a fluid drainage gutter 10 according to the present invention are illustrated. Specifically, the gutter 10 includes an upper gutter portion 12 and a lower gutter portion 14 (each with a substantially planar face portion 20), a fluid redirecting surface 30, a fluid collection and transfer reservoir 40, and one or more anchoring portions 50. The gutter 10 is illustrated as installed along a face surface 60 (also referred to as face) of a precast structure 70 (also referred to as a wall or panel). As can be seen from the figure, gutter 10 and face surface 60 of precast structure 70 are generally co-planar with one another along plane 65, such that a substantially flush fit is formed between them. Even though upper and lower gutter portions 12, 14 are shown as including face portion 20, it will be appreciated that the upper gutter portion 12 need not include the face portion 20 to promote a secure connection between the gutter 10 and the precast structure 70. Similarly, lower gutter portion 14 need not include the part of the face portion 20 that extends below the bottom of reservoir 40. For example, even in a configuration (not shown) where there is no face portion 20 substantially beyond the uppermost part of the fluid redirecting surface 30, the upper gutter portion 12 still forms an interface between the gutter 10 and precast structure 70. Moreover, in the case of precast and related tilt-up panels, the upper and lower gutter portions 12, 14 (which includes face portion 20 when such is present, as described above) define upper and lower slab contacting portions (where the slab is the casting surface upon which a panel or wall is formed). Together, the upper and lower gutter portions 12, 14 define a face plane of the gutter 10 that is configured to be substantially co-planar with the face surface 60 of precast structure 70, as shown along plane 65.

[0018] Referring with particularity to FIG. 1, the generally curvilinear nature of fluid redirecting surface 30 is such that the fluid 80 forming on the upper gutter portion 12 or the face 60 above gutter 10 will exhibit the Coanda effect by clinging to the fluid redirecting surface 30 at least long enough so that when the fluid 80 does separate (if at all) from the surface of the gutter 10, the placement of the reservoir 40 is such that it will capture any separating fluid 80. Referring with particularity to FIG. 2, the more faceted shape of fluid redirecting surface 30 would promote separation of fluid 80 from planar face portion 20 of upper gutter portion 12 earlier than the more curved surface of the embodiment of FIG. 1, but still configured such that the fluid 80 forming on the upper gutter portion 12 or the face 60 above gutter 10 drops into reservoir 40. When the precast structure 70 is placed in a generally vertical orientation (or has at least a significant vertical component to such orientation), water or another fluid 80 on the face 60 of the precast structure 70 tends to move downwardly under the effect of gravity along the face 60 and upper gutter portion 12, as indicated generally by the directional flow indicator 90. The presence of the gutter 10 at a suitable location along the face 60 aids in collection and diversion of the fluid 80. Specifically, fluid 80 moving down the planar face portion 20 of upper gutter portion 12 and face 60 of the precast structure 70 tends to follow the profile of the fluid redirecting surface 30, passing into the reservoir 40 of the gutter 10.

[0019] As will be appreciated by those practicing the present invention, the profile of the fluid redirecting surface 30, the size of the fluid transfer reservoir 40, and other dimensions of the gutter 10 will depend upon the particular fluid drainage demands at hand. For example, the gutter 10 illustrated in FIGS. 1 and 2, where the height dimension of the entire gutter 10 is about 2.75 inches (7 cm) and the remaining components are illustrated to scale, represents a design suitable for fluid flow rates associated with relatively heavy condensation of water on the face 60. Indeed, the present invention is well suited for use where condensation is likely to be prevalent on the interior walls of a structure, e.g., where high humidity levels are present in the enclosed interior of the structure.

[0020] The gutter 10 is cast into the structure 70, along the face 60, by positioning the gutter within a conventional casting form (not shown) with the planar face portion 20 of the upper and lower gutter portions 12, 14 engaging the forming surface against which the structure 70 is cast. For example, in the tilt-up context, the gutter 10 would be positioned within a panel form such that the face portion 20 engages the panel-forming slab upon which the panel 70 is cast. Of course, provision is made for sealing the ends of the gutter to prevent the passage of casting material into the reservoir 40.

[0021] FIGS. 3 and 4 illustrate suitable positioning of a plurality of gutters 10 in a precast structure 70 according to one embodiment of the present invention. As is illustrated, a plurality of gutters 10 may be positioned along a common vertical projection on the face 60. The position and number of gutters 10 in the structure 70 will again depend upon the specific fluid drainage demands at issue. While the present embodiment shows gutters 10 deployed in both upper and lower segments of face 60, it will be appreciated that the precise gutter number and location can be made to vary, and that all such configurations are within the scope of the present invention. The gutters 10 can be oriented to slope along the gutter's longitudinal dimension, and relative to the vertical dimension of the structure 70. This has the effect of encouraging transfer of the fluid from a remote end of the gutter 10 and toward an opposing (vertically lower) end, thereby promoting the passage of fluid that collects in the reservoir 40 into a tube 100 that can either drain excess fluid away from structure 70, or connect numerous gutters 10 together as shown. In either configuration, tube 100 extends to a location suitable for the disposal of fluid. For example, where the structure 70 comprises a panel, the tube 100 may extend between adjacent panels 70 to the exterior of the structure formed by the panels. Drain plugs 102 may be included and formed of any material designed to maintain structural integrity with prolonged exposure to water or the particular fluid at issue. The plugs 102 are disposed at the low end of the gutter 10, and should also be configured to conform to the dimensions of the reservoir 40, as well as form a tight seal at the end of the fluid reservoir 40 and form a drain port through which the drainage tube 100 passes. Foamed materials, e.g., a foamed cylindrical plug, are often suitable for such plug functions. Referring with particularity to FIG. 3, the use of fluid drainage tubes 100 in transferring fluid from one gutter 10 to another is depicted. In many instances, for example where an obstruction exists in the precast structure 70, it may be necessary to interrupt gutters 10 along a substantially horizontal dimension of a structure 70 and connect the gutters 10 with a drainage tube 100. In another configuration, the gutters 10 can be made to partially overlap, as shown in the upper part of the structure 70 in FIG. 3. As shown, the tubes 100 can fluidly connect the adjacent gutters 10 together. This configuration works especially well when the gutters 10 are sloped such that the tube 100 connects lowermost portion of the vertically higher gutter 10 to the uppermost portion of the vertically lower gutter 10. In a variation (not shown) of the overlap configuration depicted in the figure, the tubes 100 need not be used to fluidly connect the overlapping gutters 10. In this situation, overflow from reservoir 40 from the uppermost gutter 10 can spill over lower gutter portion 14 and the face 60 of structure 70 until it encounters the overlapped segment of upper gutter portion 12 of the adjacent gutter 10.

[0022] The gutter 10 and its various components may be formed from any of variety of suitable materials including, but not limited to, plastics, metals, resins, fibrous composites, and combinations thereof. The gutter 10 may be fabricated in any suitable manner, through (for example) extrusion, injection molding, thermoforming or the like. In one form, the gutter 10 may be formed through a conventional extrusion process and, as such, defines an extrudable cross sectional profile. For the purposes of defining and describing the present invention, it is noted that a structural member defines an extrudable cross sectional profile if respective cross sections of the member, taken along a lengthwise or widthwise axis of the member, each define substantially identical dimensions. In which case, the member defining the extrudable profile may be produced by an extrusion process where a semi-soft material (such as the aforementioned plastic) is forced through the orifice of an extrusion die to produce a continuously formed piece having a cross-sectional shape defined by the orifice or related shaping members downstream of the orifice. A structural member having an extrudable cross-sectional profile may also include portions along its axis that are subject to post extrusion cutting, drilling, bending, deforming or similar post-extrusion operations.

[0023] Having described the invention in detail and by reference to specific embodiments thereof, it will be apparent that modifications and variations are possible without departing from the scope of the invention defined in the appended claims. More specifically, although some aspects of the present invention are identified herein as preferred or particularly advantageous, it is contemplated that the present invention is not necessarily limited to these preferred aspects of the invention.