Title:
Downspout extension retaining device
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A device for releasably retaining a downspout extension includes an elongate structural member of uniform width and thickness, selectively shaped to provide a medial top section and a pair of laterally spaced apart legs that depend downwardly from the top section. The top section can be curved, or linear with the retainer further including curved sections joining the top section and legs. The legs diverge slightly in the downward direction, and are provided with slots or other features to enhance anchoring of the retainer when the legs are inserted into the ground. The retainer is designed to overlie the downspout extension near its free end and secure the extension against the ground with its legs on opposite sides of the extension, thus to firmly secure the extension against lateral and vertical displacement.



Inventors:
Riese, Frederick C. (Chanhassan, MN, US)
Application Number:
10/898126
Publication Date:
01/26/2006
Filing Date:
07/23/2004
Primary Class:
International Classes:
E04D13/08
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
MAI, LANNA
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
LARKIN HOFFMAN DALY & LINDGREN, LTD. (Minneapolis, MN, US)
Claims:
What is claimed is:

1. A device for anchoring a ground-supported downspout extension, including: an elongate, substantially rigid structural member having a length, a width less than the length, and a thickness less than the width, selectively shaped about axes substantially parallel to said width to provide substantially straight first and second legs at opposite ends of the structural member, and a medial region disposed between the legs and maintaining the legs in laterally spaced apart relation; wherein the structural member is positionable about a ground-supported downspout extension, with the first and second legs upright and disposed on opposite sides of the downspout extension, with the legs further extending lengthwise into the ground to prevent any substantial lateral movement of the downspout extension, and with the medial region overlying the downspout extension to prevent any substantial upward movement thereof.

2. The device of claim 1 wherein: each of the legs has two opposite substantially parallel edges spaced apart from one another in the direction of said width, and two opposite substantially parallel side surfaces, spaced apart in the direction of said thickness.

3. The device of claim 2 wherein: each of the first and second legs comprises an anchoring section including a free end of the leg adapted to be disposed beneath the ground when in use, and an upper section adapted to be above the ground when in use.

4. The device of claim 3 wherein: the first and second legs have smooth, blunt, and rounded free ends.

5. The device of claim 3 further including: a plurality of slots formed in each of the anchoring sections, each slot being open at one of the edges of its associated anchoring section.

6. The device of claim 5 wherein: each slot is inclined downwardly in a direction inward from its associated edge.

7. The device of claim 6 wherein: each of the slots is oriented at an angle of about 45 degrees relative to a lengthwise extension of its associated leg.

8. The device of claim 5 wherein: said slots comprise first and second rows of slots, one row extended inwardly from each of the edges of the associated anchoring section.

9. The device of claim 8 wherein: the slots of said first and second rows are staggered.

10. The device of claim 5 wherein: each of the slots extends lengthwise into its associated anchoring section by a distance of about one-quarter inch, and has a slot width in the range of from one-sixteenth of an inch to one-eighth of an inch.

11. The device of claim 1 wherein: the structural member has a substantially uniform profile perpendicular to said length.

12. The device of claim 11 wherein: said thickness is at least about one-eighth of an inch (3.2 mm).

13. The device of claim 1 wherein: the medial region comprises first and second arcuate sections adjacent said first and second legs, respectively, and a substantially straight medial section between the arcuate sections.

14. The device of claim 13 wherein: each of the arcuate sections has a first radius of curvature, and the structural member is adapted to anchor a downspout extension having a generally rectangular profile incorporating curved segments between adjacent straight segments, with said curved segments having a second radius of curvature longer than the first radius of curvature.

15. The device of claim 1 wherein: the medial region includes an arcuate section between the first and second legs.

16. The device of claim 16 wherein: the structural member is adapted to anchor a downspout extension having a generally annular profile, and said arcuate region has a first radius of curvature longer than a radius of said downspout extension.

17. The device of claim 1 wherein: the legs diverge in a direction away from the medial region, whereby a lateral spacing between the legs increases in the direction away from the medial region.

18. The device of claim 1 further including a protective coating applied to the structural member.

19. The device of claim 1 further including: a liner secured to the structural member at least along the medial region and disposed for positioning between the structural member and a downspout extension secured by the structural member, wherein the liner is formed of a liner material having a hardness less than that of the structural member.

20. The device of claim 1 further including: first and second spaced apart receiving members mounted substantially permanently relative to the ground, and a plurality of fasteners for releasably securing the first and second legs to the first and second receiving members, respectively.

21. A system for anchoring a ground-supported downspout extension, including the device of claim 1 surrounding the downspout extension near a first end thereof and inserted into ground beneath said extension; a downspout, and support structure for positionally fixing the downspout; and a coupling component for connecting a second end of the downspout extension to the downspout.

22. An apparatus for retaining a downspout extension at a selected above-grade location, including: a retaining member adapted for overlying surface contact with a top wall of a ground-supported downspout extension; a substantially rigid first leg integral with the retaining member and extending downwardly away from the retaining member, including a first upper section proximate the retaining member and a first lower section below the first upper section and including a free end of the first leg remote from the retaining member; a substantially rigid second leg integral with the retaining member and extending downwardly away from the retaining member in substantially parallel, laterally spaced apart relation to the first leg, said second leg including a second upper section proximate the retaining member and a second lower section below the second upper section and including a free end of the second leg remote from the retaining member; wherein the first and second lower sections are removably insertable into the ground beneath a ground-supported downspout extension to position the first and second upper sections on opposite sides of and adjacent opposed side walls of the downspout extension, and further to position the retaining member in said overlying contact with the top wall, thus to removably secure the downspout extension above grade.

23. The apparatus of claim 22 wherein: the retaining member, first leg and second leg are parts of a unitary structural member having a length, a width less than the length, and a thickness less than the width, and selectively shaped about axes extending in a direction of said width.

24. The apparatus of claim 23 wherein: the width and thickness are substantially uniform along the length of the structural member.

25. The apparatus of claim 24 wherein: the thickness is at least about one-eighth of an inch (3.2 mm).

26. The apparatus of claim 22 further including: a plurality of slots formed in the first and second lower sections, each slot being directed inwardly from a vertical edge of its associated lower section.

27. The apparatus of claim 26 wherein: each of the slots is inclined downwardly in a direction inward from its associated edge.

28. The apparatus of claim 27 wherein: each of the slots is oriented at an angle of about 45 degrees relative to a lengthwise extension of its associated lower section.

29. The apparatus of claim 26 wherein: the slots of each lower section are arranged in first and second rows of slots extended inwardly from first and second opposite edges, respectively.

30. The apparatus of claim 29 wherein: the slots of said first and second rows are staggered.

31. The apparatus of claim 26 wherein: each of the slots extends lengthwise into its associated anchoring section by a distance of about one-quarter inch (6.4 mm), and has a slot width in the range of from one-sixteenth of an inch to one-eighth of an inch (1.6-3.2 mm).

32. The apparatus of claim 22 wherein: the retaining member is arcuate.

33. The apparatus of claim 22 wherein: the retaining member comprises first and second arcuate sections adjacent the first and second legs, respectively, and a substantially horizontal medial section between the curved sections.

34. The apparatus of claim 22 wherein: the first and second legs diverge in the downward direction away from the retaining member, whereby a lateral spacing between the legs increases in the downward direction.

35. A system for retaining a downspout extension at a selected above-grade location, including the apparatus of claim 22 surrounding the downspout extension near a first end thereof, in combination with: a downspout, and support structure for positionally fixing the downspout; and a coupling component for connecting a second end of the downspout extension to the downspout.

36. The system of claim 35 wherein: the coupling component comprises an elbow forming an arc of less than 90 degrees.

Description:

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

The present invention relates to eaves trough and gutter systems, and more particularly to apparatus for positioning and securing downspout extensions.

For many years, eaves trough and gutter systems have been employed to collect rainwater from the roofs of houses and other buildings, to prevent the rainwater from falling to the ground directly below the edges of the roof. The major components of earlier systems included the troughs or gutters along the roof edges, and downspouts at low points of the troughs or gutters for receiving the collected rainwater. The downspouts typically are vertically disposed and fastened adjacent the building. A variety of devices for securing downspouts have been proposed, e.g. as described in U.S. Pat. No. 1,711,240 (Merryweather), U.S. Pat. No. 2,701,115 (Rachlin), and U.S. Pat. Nos. 4,601,450 and 5,573,209 (both to Lundquist).

A problem with these arrangements is the concentration of water exiting the downspout at a location near the foundation of the building. This has led to proposals for channeling water from the downspout to locations farther away from the building, for example splash blocks as disclosed in U.S. Pat. No. 2,334,779 (Luff).

Nowadays, eaves trough and gutter systems frequently include downspout extensions in the form of conduits substantially the same as the downspout conduits, each coupled to the bottom end of a downspout and extending away from the house or other structure substantially horizontally, but preferably tilted downwardly in the direction away from the building. The extension typically is coupled to the downspout through an elbow having an arc of curvature slightly less than 90 degrees.

Downspout extensions vary in length, typically from a few feet to several yards. In any event, they convey water from the downspout to the ground at a desired distance away from the building, to prevent a hard rain from washing away topsoil or otherwise damaging landscaping near the foundation, or causing more serious harm such as basement flooding.

One prominent disadvantage is that the downspout extensions are prone to be dislodged from the downspouts during heavy winds, or through kicking or other inadvertent contact by individuals or by pets or other animals. To counteract this disadvantage, several devices have been proposed to support downspout extensions above the ground. These devices frequently are somewhat Y-shaped and incorporate a single leg as in U.S. Design Pat. No. Des. 342,016 (Ziegelmann), or U.S. Pat. No. 4,844,121 (Duke) which shows a sewage line support. Devices with two support legs are shown in U.S. Pat. No. 3,021,102 (Kuempel), and U.S. Pat. No. 6,012,682 (Tredennick). While these devices are capable of partially securing downspout retainers, all of them position the entire extension, including its exit end, separated from the ground. This leaves the downspout extension vulnerable to displacement, damage, or complete decoupling from the downspout through a kick or other contact that applies a vertical or lateral force to the free end of the downspout extension. Further, these devices either require setting their height before placement of the downspout extension, or fail to allow any height adjustment.

Therefore, it is an object of the present invention to provide a downspout extension retaining system that positively secures the downspout retainer against lateral and vertical displacement.

Another object is to provide an anchor capable of holding the exit end of a downspout retainer in contact with the ground, so that the ground contributes to securing the extension.

A further object is to provide a downspout extension retaining device adapted to be installed after the downspout extension is placed in its intended position, avoiding the need to position the retaining device based on an estimate of the downspout extension position, followed by realignment if the estimate was not accurate.

Yet another object is to provide a downspout extension retaining device that is safe, and relatively easy to manufacture and use.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

To achieve these and other objects, there is provided a device for anchoring a ground-supported downspout extension. The device includes an elongate, substantially rigid structural member having a length, a width less than the length, and a thickness less than the width. The structural member is selectively shaped about axes substantially parallel to the width, to provide substantially straight first and second legs at opposite ends of the structural member, and a medial region disposed between the legs and maintaining the legs in laterally spaced apart relation. The structural member is positionable about a ground-supported downspout extension, with the first and second legs upright and disposed on opposite sides of the downspout extension. The legs further extend lengthwise into the ground to prevent any substantial lateral movement of the downspout extension. The medial region overlies the downspout extension to prevent any substantial upward movement of extension.

Preferably, each of the legs comprises an anchoring section, including a free end of the leg, adapted to be disposed beneath the ground when in use. Upper sections of the legs remain above the ground, and cooperate with the medial region to surround the downspout extension along its top and opposite sides. The bottom of the downspout extension, particularly at its exit end, is supported by the ground. With the lateral spacing between the legs preferably only slightly greater than the width of the downspout extension, the structural member is pushed (or pounded, if necessary) into the ground a distance sufficient to bring the medial region into engagement with the top of the downspout extension. Thus, the structural member and the ground cooperate to secure the extension against vertical and lateral (horizontal) movement.

This provides considerably improved retention, compared to the aforementioned devices that maintain downspout extensions at an elevation above the ground. First, the present device eliminates the exposed vertical (or nearly vertical) leg portions extending between the ground and the downspout extension. These portions are bendable, rotatable, or in one case slidable to allow unwanted lateral displacement. Further, the elevated position at which these devices support the downspout extensions expose the extensions to upward forces that cause vertical displacement. Devices constructed according to the present invention virtually eliminate both of these problems.

One advantageous form of the device includes a plurality of slots formed in the anchoring sections. These slots are open to the vertical edges of the anchoring sections, with each slot inclined downwardly in a direction inward from its associated edge. In a particularly preferred version, the slots are arranged in two staggered rows. These slots are formed by removing the structural member material, rather than simply by bending it, so that there are no sharp protrusions or edges associated with the slots.

The preferred structural member has a uniform thickness of at least one-eighth of an inch, and a uniform width of about one-half inch to nine-sixteenths of an inch. The preferred material is galvanized steel, for its favorable combination of strength and resistance to corrosion. The structural member is smooth and free of burrs, sharp edges or other pointed features. The free ends of the legs are smooth, blunt, and rounded. Due to the material and the minimum thickness, the legs are sufficiently strong to be pushed or driven into the ground, without the need for sharp leading bottom edges, a factor that enhances the safety of the device.

In one version of the device, the medial region is 3½ to 4 inches long (7.5 to 10.2 cm), with two arcuate sections and a substantially straight horizontal medial section between the arcuate sections. The legs depend downwardly from the arcuate sections, a distance of about 9-10 inches (23-25 cm). In a similar version, the medial region is 4½-5 inches (11.5-12.7 cm) long. These versions are used with generally rectangular downspout extensions.

In another version of the device, an arcuate medial section maintains opposed upper ends of the legs spaced apart laterally by about 2 2/2 inches (5.1-6.4 cm). The legs diverge downwardly, so that their bottom or free ends are spaced apart laterally by a distance of 3½-4 inches (7.5-10.2 cm). This version is designed for use with downspout extensions having curved or angled profiles.

Several additional features are intended to extend the life of the device and the downspout extensions secured by the device. One of these is a protective coating of enamel or Teflon (brand name) paint. The coating not only protects the structural member, but also prevents or minimizes scratching of the downspout extension during installation and removal of the device.

Another enhancement is a liner disposed along the medial region and optionally along the upper portions of the legs on the inside of the structural member, so as to be disposed between the structural member and downspout extension when in use. This feature prevents chaffing or metal fatigue of the downspout extension during use, and prevents metal-to-metal chattering noise during windy conditions.

The present device is particularly easy to use. The downspout extension is first connected to a downspout supported vertically along the house or other building, and its free end is placed on the ground to locate the extension as desired. Then, the device is positioned above the extension, about six inches from the free end with its legs on opposite sides of the extension. At this point, the device is simply pushed downwardly, or driven with a hammer if necessary, until the medial region is brought into contact with the top of the downspout extension. As the anchoring sections are pushed or driven into the ground, loose soil enters the slots and tends to fill them. This firmly secures the legs in the ground, enhancing the retention of the downspout extension. Another hold-enhancing feature is that while the legs are substantially parallel, they exhibit a slight divergence in the downward direction. More particularly, over the length of the legs, the lateral spacing between them gradually increases, by an amount as little as one-eighth of an inch to as much as an inch or more (from 3.2 mm to over 25 mm), depending on the version of the device involved. This downward divergence enhances the hold, as compared to a structure with parallel, vertical legs.

Another aspect of the present invention is an apparatus for retaining a downspout extension at a selected above-grade location. The apparatus includes a retaining member adapted for overlying surface contact with a top wall of a ground-supported downspout extension. A substantially rigid first leg is integral with the retaining member and extends downwardly away from the retaining member. The first leg comprises a first upper section proximate the retaining member, and a first lower section below the first upper section which includes a free end of the first leg remote from the retaining member. A substantially rigid second leg is integral with the retaining member and extends downwardly away from the retaining member in substantially parallel, laterally spaced apart relation to the first leg. The second leg comprises a second upper section proximate the retaining member, and a second lower section below the second upper section and including a free end of the second leg remote from the retaining member. The first and second lower sections are removably insertable into the ground beneath a ground-supported downspout extension to position the first and second upper sections on opposite sides of and adjacent opposed side walls of the downspout extension, and further to position the retaining member in said overlying contact with the top wall, thus to removably secure the downspout extension above grade.

Thus, in accordance with the present invention, a single retaining device, with ground-inserted legs on opposite sides of a ground-supported downspout extension, positively retains the extension against unwanted lateral and vertical displacement. The device cooperates with the ground to support the downspout extension on all sides, with the exit end of the downspout extension advantageously contiguous with the ground. Because the device surrounds the extension from above rather than supporting it from below, its installation can follow, rather than precede, placement of the downspout extension in the desired location. The anchoring of the device is made more secure by the slots or notches formed in the legs, and also by a divergence of the legs, laterally away from one another in the downward direction. Finally, the smooth, rounded and blunt features of the device provide for safer handling, reducing the risk of injury to children and others coming into contact with the device.

IN THE DRAWINGS

For a further understanding of the above and other features and advantages, reference is made to the following detailed description, and to the drawings, in which:

FIG. 1 is an elevational view showing a rainwater conveyance system with a downspout extension retainer constructed in accordance with the present invention;

FIG. 2 is a forward elevation of the downspout extension retainer;

FIG. 3 is an enlarged side elevation of the retainer;

FIG. 4 is a sectional view taken along the line 4-4 in FIG. 3;

FIGS. 5-7 illustrate several stages in manufacturing the retainer of FIG. 2;

FIG. 8 is a frontal elevation of an alternative embodiment downspout retainer;

FIG. 9 is a partial forward elevation of another alternative embodiment downspout extension retainer;

FIG. 10 is a forward elevation showing part of a further alternative embodiment downspout extension retainer;

FIG. 11 is a side view of the retainer of FIG. 10; and

FIG. 12 is a forward elevation of yet another alternative embodiment downspout extension retainer.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENTS

Turning now to the drawings, there is shown in FIG. 1 an eaves trough or gutter system 16 mounted to a house or other building 18 having a gable roof 20. The system includes a gutter or trough 22 that runs lengthwise along the building, just beneath an edge 24 of the roof, to collect rainwater running off the roof.

At a low point along gutter 22, preferably near one end, a downspout assembly is coupled to the gutter to receive the collected rainwater. Downspout assembly components include 90-degree elbows 26 and 28, a vertical downspout 30, and a bottom elbow 32 formed into an arc of less than 90 degrees, e.g. 75 degrees. Straps 34 and 36 mount downspout 30 to the building.

A downspout extension 38 is coupled to downspout 30 through elbow 32. The coupling to the elbow orients the downspout extension at a slight incline, e.g. 15 degrees relative to the ground. An end 40 of the downspout extension is coupled to the elbow. An exit end or free end 42 of the extension lies on the ground and is supported by the ground.

Free end 42 of extension 38 is retained against the ground by a downspout extension retainer 44 that surrounds the downspout extension along the top and opposite sides, extending into the ground to provide the required anchoring force. Retainer 44 preferably is positioned about six inches inward from free end 42 of the extension, or to the right of end 42 as viewed in the figure. Opposite end 40 is coupled to elbow 32 as noted above. Consequently, unwanted lateral movement of downspout extension 38 usually begins as pivotal motion about a vertical axis coincident with downspout 30, and in severe cases can dislodge downspout extension 38 from the downspout. Similarly, unwanted upward movement of downspout extension 38 typically begins as pivotal motion, in this case about a horizontal axis at the junction of extension 38 and elbow 32 or at the junction of elbow 32 and downspout 30. Again, in severe cases the downspout extension can become dislodged. When installed near free end 42, retainer 44 is particularly well placed to prevent upward and lateral pivoting.

FIG. 2 shows downspout extension retainer 44 in greater detail. The retainer is formed from an elongate structural member having a uniform width, and a uniform thickness less than the width. In one preferred version, the length of the structural member is about 25 inches (64 cm), the width is nine-sixteenths of an inch (14 mm), and the thickness is one-eighth of an inch (3.2 mm). The structural member is selectively shaped, i.e. bent about axes extending in the width direction (normal to the plane of FIG. 2), to form a linear top section 46, opposite laterally spaced apart and downwardly extending legs 48 and 50, and arcuate sections 52 and 54 between the legs and top section. The retainer has a forward edge 56, a rearward edge not visible in FIG. 2, and parallel inside and outside surfaces 58 and 60 which appear as lines in the figure.

Leg 48 includes an upper section 62, a lower section 64, and a blunt, rounded free end or tip 66. When retainer 44 is in use, lower section 64 is beneath the ground, while upper section 62 is above the ground. The division between the upper and lower sections is not fixed, because the extent of retainer insertion into the ground can vary with the width of the downspout extension, the angle of the downspout extension with respect to the ground, and the spacing of the retainer from free end 42.

Leg 50 has an upper section 68, a lower section 70 and a tip 72 similar to their counterparts in leg 48.

Near tips 66 and 72, legs 48 and 50 are laterally spaced apart by a distance that exceeds the spacing between the legs near the top, for example by about one-eighth of an inch (3.2 mm). Because of this downward divergence, the ground can exert at least a slight vertically downward force that resists an upward pulling of retainer 44 once it is installed. Thus, retainer 44 is anchored more securely, as compared to a substantially similar structure with parallel vertical legs.

A plurality of notches or slots 74 are formed along lower sections 64 and 70. As best seen in FIG. 3, the slots along lower section 64 of leg 48 are arranged in two rows: one row along and open to forward edge 56, and the other row open to and along a rearward edge 74 of the retainer. Each slot extends inwardly from its associated edge about one-quarter inch (6.4 mm), inclined downwardly at an angle of about 45 degrees relative to the associated edge. The slots are about one-sixteenth to one-eighth of an inch (1.6-3.2 mm) wide, and span the thickness of leg 48. The rows of slots are staggered, to avoid an undesirable narrowing of the structural member width between two aligned slots, which would unnecessarily reduce the strength of the leg.

Although leg 50 is not shown in the same detail, the slots in leg 50 are the same size, and are similarly arranged.

As seen in FIG. 4, retainer 44 includes a core 78 of galvanized steel, and a protective coating 80 that surrounds the core. Coating 80 can be a paint, e.g. an enamel paint or polytetrafluoroethylene sold under the brand name Teflon. Coating 80 is thin, e.g. several thousandths of an inch. While coating 80 affords some protection to the core, its primary purpose is to protect the downspout extension anchored by retainer 44, in preventing scratching of the downspout extension during installation or removal of the retainer.

Another factor that protects the downspout extensions, and more generally provides for greater safety in handling the retainer, is a construction that features smooth surfaces, and rounded or blunt edges. Inside surface 58 and outside surface 60 are smooth and flat. Edges 56 and 76 are smooth and rounded. Tips 66 and 72 (FIG. 3) are smooth, blunt, and rounded. Further, slots 64 are formed by removing material rather than by bending it, to avoid creating any sharp protrusions or other features. As a result, retainer 44 as compared to previous devices can be handled with less risk of injury, which is a benefit not only to the installer, but to others, especially children, who may come into contact with the retainer.

Returning to FIG. 2, broken lines at 38 show the location of the downspout extension when secured by retainer 44. Top section 46 overlies a top wall 82 of the downspout extension, and is contiguous with the top wall. Legs 48 and 50, at least along their respective upper portions, are laterally spaced apart a distance slightly greater than the extension width, i.e. the distance between side walls 84 and 86 of the extension. Each leg is close to its associated side wall, although not necessarily contiguous. A bottom wall 88 of the extension is shown above ground level, represented by a broken line 90. The above-ground spacing is a result of the upward incline of downspout extension 38 from its free end, which contacts the ground during use of the retainer.

Several features of retainer 44 cooperate to provide a secure anchoring of the downspout extension. Legs 48 and 50 are insertable into the ground, to a depth that brings top section 46 into its overlying, contacting relation to downspout extension 44, specifically top wall 82. Depending on the nature of the soil, the legs may be inserted by pushing retainer 44, or by pounding the retainer over each leg with a hammer or other suitable tool. For installations in concrete or asphalt (as in a driveway), it may be necessary to drill holes for the legs. Then, with the legs in place, the holes are filled with hot asphalt or cement to surround and secure the legs. Given their structure, the legs are well suited for this form of installation.

In any event, as legs 48 and 50 move downwardly into the ground, soil enters slots 74 and experiences compaction in the slots, resulting in a surprisingly firm hold as compared to that attainable from similarly sized legs without the slots. The previously described downward divergence of legs 48 and 50 also enhances the anchoring of retainer 44. As a result, any attempted upward movement of downspout extension 38, particularly near free end 42, is counteracted with a considerable force exerted primarily through top section 46. Further, although the primary factor limiting lateral movement of the extension is the close fit of legs 48 and 50, contact of the retainer top section with the downspout extension creates a frictional force that resists lateral movement.

Another factor contributing to the secure retention, is the extent to which the ground itself is employed. Top section 46 of the retainer, through its overlying contact with top wall 82 of the downspout extension, presses the bottom wall of the extension against the ground, particularly at and near free end 42. Thus, friction between the bottom wall and ground resists lateral movement of the downspout extension. As compared to prior devices with legs extending above the ground yet terminating beneath the downspout extension, stability is enhanced simply by lowering the center of mass of the downspout extension. The lower elevation also results in less exposure of the downspout extension to inadvertent contact that might lift the extension, e.g. accidental kicking.

Another advantage of retainer 44 relative to the prior devices, is its simplicity and ease of use. The devices that support downspout extensions with legs or other members beneath the extensions must be installed first, followed by placement of the downspout extension onto the device. There may be a need to reposition the device if the downspout extension is not supported at the desired height or orientation. In contrast, retainer 44 is not installed until the downspout extension is already in the desired position, at the desired orientation. Retainer 44 is simply aligned with the downspout extension, then pushed (or driven) into place.

The manufacture of retainer 44 is illustrated in FIGS. 5-7. In a first stage (FIG. 5), a straight core piece 92 is cut to the desired length, and finished to provide blunt, rounded ends. Then, the core piece is cut along its opposite edges to provide slots 74.

Next, the core piece is selectively shaped by bending it about forms 94 and 96 to provide the legs, arcuate sections and top section. Typically, the arcuate sections are formed by cold working the core material. Finally, the shaped core piece is sprayed with the protective coating material, as seen in FIG. 7.

As noted previously, the preferred core material is galvanized steel. Other metals may be used, provided that they exhibit the required combination of strength and corrosion resistance. Polymeric materials also may be employed, the primary concern being durability to withstand pounding if the retainer needs to be driven into the soil. Polymeric retainers are preferably formed by injection molding.

When a 25-inch (64 cm) core is shaped as described, the length of legs 48 and 50 is about nine inches (22.9 cm), top section 46 is about three inches (7.6 cm), and each of arcuate sections 52 and 54 has a radius of curvature of one inch (2.5 cm).

In an alternative version retainer designed for use with a smaller downspout extension, the legs are about eight inches (20.3 cm) long, the top section is about two and one-half inches (6.4 cm) long, and the arcuate sections again have a one-inch radius of curvature. The legs again diverge downwardly, to provide a lateral spacing between the legs that increases by about one-eighth of an inch over the length of the legs.

FIG. 8 illustrates an alternative embodiment downspout extension retainer 100 for use with downspout extensions having annular profiles. A structural member 102, having a uniform width and thickness of nine-sixteenths of an inch (14 mm) and one-eighth of an inch (3.2 mm), respectively, is selectively shaped by bending about width-direction axes to form legs 104 and 106, and an arcuate top section 108 between the legs. Preferably, top section 108 has a radius of curvature larger than the radius of the downspout extension. As compared to the legs of previous embodiments, legs 104 and 106 exhibit a more pronounced downward divergence, in that the lateral spacing between the legs increases from about two and one-half inches (6.4 cm) near the top section, to about three and one-half inches (8.9 cm) near the free ends or tips 110, 112 of the legs. As before, slots 114 are formed in staggered rows along the lower edge portions of the legs, to enhance anchoring when the legs are inserted into the ground. Because of the single bend radius of top section 108, the legs diverge more in this version as compared to previous embodiments. This is useful for accommodating downspout retainers with angled profiles.

FIG. 9 illustrates the top portion of another alternative embodiment retainer 116 with a top section 118, laterally spaced apart downwardly depending legs 120 and 122, and arcuate sections 124 and 126 between the top section and legs. A liner 128 is mounted to an inside surface of retainer 116, along the top section and arcuate sections, and preferably along at least the upper portions of legs 120 and 122. Liner 128 can be secured with an adhesive, or with countersunk (flush) rivets or other suitable fasteners, one of which is indicated at 130.

Liner 128 preferably is formed of rubber, or a rubber-like polymeric material. The function of the liner is to prevent chafing or metal fatigue in the downspout extension during normal use of the retainer, and to prevent metal-to-metal chattering during windy conditions. Further, to the extent that an elastically compressible liner is disposed between the downspout extension and legs while slightly compressed, it provides an improved fit and retention against lateral displacement.

FIGS. 10 and 11 illustrate a further alternative embodiment retainer 132, in which portions of legs 134 and 136 are cut away and bent outwardly to provide upwardly directed tabs 138. Tabs 138 provide a more secure anchoring of the retainer, by resisting an upward pulling of the retainer once the legs are inserted into the ground.

FIG. 12 shows another alternative embodiment downspout extension retaining assembly 140 including a retainer 142 with downwardly depending legs 144 and 146, and a pair of leg receiving members 148 and 150 mounted substantially permanently in the ground and extending upwardly for a releasable coupling to legs 144 and 146 using fasteners 152. Each leg has a series of apertures formed through it, to allow for selective adjustment of the retainer height. Each fastener 152 can be a double (as shown) or single expandable latch pointed pin. The double pin configuration prevents any lateral movement of retainer 142. The upper portions of receiving members 148 and 150 preferably protrude above the ground as shown, or may remain below grade. This arrangement is advantageously employed to retain downspout extensions over patios, driveways, and other hard surfaces.

Thus in accordance with the present invention, a retaining device cooperates with the ground to surround a downspout extension, securing the same against unwanted lateral and vertical displacement. The retainer overlies the downspout extension with its legs inserted into the ground on opposite sides of the extension. Slots or other features along the beneath-ground sections of the legs, and a divergence of the legs in the downward direction, cooperate to more securely anchor the retainer. To accommodate a variety of downspout extension designs, the retainers can be selectively shaped with either linear or curved top sections of differing lengths and radii of curvature.