Title:
Couplers and method of use
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
For use with foundation drainage systems, improved drainage mat couplers that contain at least one barrier preventing two ends of received drainage mat from touching are described. A flow enhancing gap is produced between the ends of drainage mat. Included are improved between-couplers, improved communicating-couplers, and a method of using communicating-couplers as away-couplers facilitated by use of a dam.



Inventors:
Le Blanc, Donald F. (Linden, MI, US)
Application Number:
10/925089
Publication Date:
03/16/2006
Filing Date:
08/24/2004
Primary Class:
International Classes:
E02D19/00
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
BARTOSIK, ANTHONY N
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
MCLAUGHLIN & MCLAUGHLIN (LENNON, MI, US)
Claims:
I claim:

1. A flow enhancing drainage mat coupling (used with a fluid drainage system using drainage mats that are essentially flush with a foundation that is cast by placing concrete between an outside-form-wall and an inside-form-wall) that couples two ends of drainage mat, comprising: a pair of receiving sleeves that each receive one of the two ends of drainage mat; and at least one barrier within said sleeves that prevents the two ends of drainage mat from touching, whereby a gap between the two ends is effected.

2. A coupling of claim 1 wherein said barrier consists of at least one shelf.

3. A coupling of claim 1 wherein said barrier consists of at least one boss.

4. A coupling of claim 1 wherein each of said sleeves receives a drainage mat's end snugly.

5. A coupling of claim 1 further comprising a communicating-port that communicates with said gap for importing or exporting fluid.

6. A coupling of claim 1 wherein said sleeves have an included angle of essentially 90 degrees.

7. A flow enhancing drainage mat coupling (used with a foundation fluid drainage system using drainage mats that are essentially flush with a foundation that is cast by placing concrete between an outside-form-wall and an inside-form-wall) including a three-port communicating-coupling that has an orifice (with sides) and two drainage-mat-receiving sleeves that couple two ends of drainage mat, wherein the improvement comprises: A barrier within the communicating-coupling that prevents the two ends of drainage mat touching, whereby a gap between the two ends is effected.

8. A coupling of claim 7 wherein said barrier consists of at least one shelf.

9. A coupling of claim 7 wherein said barrier consists of at least one boss.

10. A coupling of claim 7 wherein said barrier consists of at least one boss on each of the sides of the communicating-coupling's orifice.

11. A coupling of claim 7 wherein said gap communicates with the orifice.

12. A coupling of claim 7 wherein the improvement further includes placing said barrier near the orifice.

13. A coupling of claim 7 wherein the improvement further includes a thin dam placed between the communicating-coupling and form-wall.

14. A coupling of claim 13 wherein said dam extends to essentially the top of form-wall.

15. A coupling of claim 7 wherein the improvement further includes at least one small retention-tab extending upward from the top of the communicating-coupling.

16. A method of communicating fluid outside of a foundation with drainage mats that are essentially flush with a foundation that is cast by placing concrete within a volume between an outside-form-wall and an inside-form-wall using a communicating-coupling that has an orifice and two sleeves that are receiving drainage mats, comprising the steps of: providing a gap in a form-wall able to accommodate the communicating-coupling's orifice; placing the orifice within said gap communicating away from the volume between outside-form-wall and inside-form-wall; procuring a thin dam that is larger than the extent of space between the top of the communicating-coupling and the height of form-wall; mounting said dam between the communicating-coupling and form-wall so as to prevent concrete flowing over the top of the coupling; placing concrete between the outside-form-wall and the inside-form-wall; allowing said concrete reasonably to cure, whereby the foundation results; removing the outside-form-wall and the inside-form-wall, whereby the orifice is exposed; and facilitating the communication of fluid with the exposed orifice.

Description:

TECHNICAL FIELD

The present invention is concerned with couplings used with conduit-like structures that communicate fluids or gas. Those couplings include couplings between conduit-like structures and couplings that allow communication of fluids or gas into or out of conduit-like structures. More particularly, the field of the present invention involves conduit-like structures that contain a porous medium or conduit-like structures that include a porous medium. The couplings of the present invention have particular utility when used in the practice of the foundation drainage system of U.S. Pat. No. 6,669,404 and when used in the improved foundation drainage system disclosed herein.

DEFINITIONS

Herein, references to porous medium include drainage mats, and vice versa. The preferred drainage mat to be used with the present invention has a nominal height of 7.2 inches and a nominal width of about one inch.

The couplings described herein all include at least one sleeve. A sleeve is a port that snugly receives the associated drainage mat.

A between-coupling has two ports. The two ports may have any included angle and are expected to receive drainage mat. Thus the two ports are both sleeves. A between-coupling for use in a corner is shown on FIG. 2.

A communicating-coupling has three ports. Two ports are essentially in line (and are sleeves expected to receive drainage mat) and the third port is essentially normal to the other two ports. The third port may be described as a communicating-coupling's orifice or outlet or inlet. A communicating-coupling is shown on FIG. 1.

A boss as used herein includes both small and large projections within a coupling.

A tab as used herein in conjunction with a coupling is a small projection on the outside of a coupling.

The apparatus of the present invention, and method of use of the present invention, is advantageously used to effect the drainage of a foundation. A foundation extends vertically from the ground, follows the perimeter of a structure, and is expected to react the load of the structure into the ground. It is vital to drain water away from a foundation. Emphatically, a foundation is not a basement nor is it a floor. References herein to outside a foundation refer to outside a foundation whether or not the foundation's concrete has been poured. “Outside” is the opposite of “within.” The communicating-couplings of the present invention are able to be used, alternatively, to communicate within a foundation (orifice pointing into foundation) or communicate outside of a foundation (orifice pointing away from foundation).

Herein, references to the communicating of fluids, or the like, will include the possibility of such fluids moving in either direction as gravity or applied pressure shall determine.

Additional definitions are present herein.

BACKGROUND

Needed Improvements

In practicing the inventor's earlier invention of a foundation drain system (U.S. Pat. No. 6,669,404; incorporated herein by reference) a need for improved couplers was found. Needed improvements include: enhanced fluid flow associated with couplings, better following of porous medium along other-than-straight foundation contours, more robust couplers, improved retention of couplers in foundation concrete, and ability to use one communicating-coupling at all four foundation interfaces.

The communicating-coupling of the '404 patent allowed the porous medium to be opposite the communicating-coupling's outlet, which somewhat impeded fluid flow in the communicating-coupling's outlet. It was discovered that having a gap in the porous medium opposite a communicating-coupling's outlet desirably enhances fluid flow, especially during periods of heavy flow.

When the porous medium used in the practice of the '404 patent makes a sharp turn, such as at a corner, there is a tendency for fluid flow to be impeded and a tendency for the porous medium not to follow the desired contour. It was discovered that a between-coupling that provides a gap in the porous medium at the sharp turn enhances fluid flow and insures that the porous medium follows the desired contour. Between-couplings were not disclosed in the '404 patent.

The practice of the '404 patent is so straightforward that it may be, and usually is, carried out by workmen of little skill. The system of the '404 patent is inherently robust and resistant to damage. However, it was found desirable to have a more rugged communicating-coupling and one that is better retained by the foundation concrete. It is also desirable to have between-couplings that are rugged.

The communicating-couplings of the '404 patent, in addition to the discovered limitations just discussed, have outlets that extend towards, and into, their associated foundation. It was found desirable to be able to use a communicating-coupling with its outlet pointing away from its associated foundation. This new use of a communicating-coupling requires new structure that will be disclosed later. When used on the outside of a foundation, such an outward communicating communicating-coupling facilitates the draining associated with a window well, or the like. When used on the inside of a foundation, such an outward communicating communicating-coupling facilitates communicating fluid flow towards a sump, or the like. It is desirable, in order to save cost and reduce complexity, to have only one new and improved communicating-coupling no matter where it is used. In order to need only one improved communicating-coupling, it was found necessary to augment the improved communicating-coupling with a dam when using a communicating-coupling with its outlet pointing away from its associated foundation.

Better retention of a communicating-coupling within foundation concrete is effected by providing retention tabs at the top of a communicating-coupling that penetrate into the foundation concrete. Such retention tabs are manufactured as part of a communicating-coupling with no additional cost.

The use of the improved type of coupling of the present invention with the system of the '404 patent causes the installation of the system to be almost fool proof and to result in a system having improved flow characteristics.

The Efforts of Others

Prior to the use of the drain system of the '404 patent, the need for providing the previously noted improvements to a foundation drainage system was not known.

Objectives of the Invention

The primary objective of the present invention is to improve fluid flow associated with couplings. A secondary objective is to be able to use one communicating-coupling at all four foundation interfaces. A tertiary objective is to improve the rigidity and ruggedness of couplings. Clearly, the accomplishment of these objectives will improve the capability of the associated drainage system, and do so with minimum cost and complexity.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

The present invention improves between-couplings and communicating-couplings with new structure that improves fluid flow, and that structure also causes the improved couplings to be more rugged. The present invention also improves communicating-couplings with structure that facilitates the use of communicating-couplings at all four interfaces. While the present invention is applicable to a large set of couplings, it is anticipated that couplings that couple between drainage mats (between-couplings) or couplings that facilitate communication with drainage mats (communicating-couplings) will be especially favored by the present invention. Preferably, the drainage mats to be used with the present invention have a nominal height of 7.2 inches and a nominal width of about one inch.

The preferred new structure that is used to effect the primary objective of the present invention takes advantage of the topology differences between between-couplings and communicating-couplings. In doing so, a more rugged and less expensive coupling results.

Between-couplings that are essentially straight, and that effect a splice between pieces of drainage mats, may use bosses that extend from one side of the inside of a coupling to the other inside surface of a coupling. Even one such boss can preclude the passage of a piece of drainage mat past the boss. In the preferred embodiment, several bosses are placed such that a volume of the coupling can not contain drainage mat. In use, the end of one drainage mat enters one end of a coupling (a sleeve) and the end of another drainage mat enters the other end of the same coupling (a sleeve). Such bosses ease the fabricating of the coupler and significantly improve the coupler's resistance to injury. Since drainage mat is supplied in lengths that are very long, between-couplings that are essentially straight are expected rarely to be used.

Between-couplings that are L shaped so as to effect a splice around a corner (such a between-coupling might be called a corner flange) may use one or more bosses (as just described) to effect the primary objective, however the preferred scheme to effect the objectives of the present invention is to place one or more shelves within the coupling. A shelf, for that is what it looks like, prevents the passage of drainage mat beyond the shelf. The preferred shelf extends parallel to the expected fluid flow, offers a minimal resistance to flow, and significantly strengthens the coupling. The best, and most preferred, shelf arrangement uses two equally spaced shelves that are slightly larger than the corner area of the L shaped between-coupling.

Between-couplings with an included angle of essentially 180 degrees (effecting a straight splice) and essentially 90 degrees (effecting a corner splice) have been discussed. Clearly, between-couplings with any included angle, and using bosses or shelves, are also contemplated by the present invention.

Communicating-couplers usually have essentially a T shape to effect a splice between two pieces of drainage mat and to provide a communicating orifice to be connected to a pipe, or the like. In the present invention, these communicating-couplers use at least one boss that extends from one side of the inside of a coupling to the other inside surface of a coupling such that a drainage matt (or the like) is stopped from passage through the coupling. Preferably, the bosses are essentially straight, extend along the inside surface of the communicating orifice, across the inside of the coupler, and terminate on the inside wall of the coupler that is opposite the communicating orifice. The preferred placement of the bosses (with bosses along each side of the inside of the communicating orifice) accomplishes the primary objective of the present invention by preventing the placement of drainage mats in front of the communicating orifice and thus enhancing the flow associated with the communicating orifice. Additionally, having the bosses along the inside surface of the communicating orifice usefully strengthens and stiffens that part of the coupling. The best, and most preferred, arrangement uses three bosses on each side of a communicating-coupling's orifice.

Communicating-couplers exists that allow a singe piece of drainage mat to pass through the coupler. Such a communicating-coupler is shown as element 20 on the figures of the '404 patent. Such a coupler does not effect a splice between two ends of drainage mat and, more importantly, does not accomplish the primary objective of the present invention. Indeed, the desirability of the improved communicating-coupling of the present invention was discovered when practicing the '404 patent.

The essence of the present invention is the use of barriers within couplings that prevent the ends of drainage mats from touching when the associated mats are changing direction (between-couplings) or when it is desired to communicate fluid (or the like) into or out of the associated mats (communicating-couplings). Preventing the drainage mats from touching in these cases effects a gap between the ends of the associated drainage mats that facilitates fluid flow. In the absence of the present invention, a drainage mat used in these cases (whether continuous or discontinuous) has an undesirable propensity to impede the flow of fluid.

Thus it can be seen in each of the coupler shapes that the use of bosses or shelves effects a useful gap between the two ends of the associated drainage mats that are spliced and effects all of the objectives of the present invention. Additionally, the use of the present invention results in a foundation drainage system having enhanced fluid flow and a system that can be successfully implemented by persons of little skill.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

FIG. 1: A communicating-coupling of the present invention is shown in an isometric view with portions of the coupling removed to show the preferred internal structure.

FIG. 2: A between-coupling of the present invention that is expected to be used to splice drainage mats in a corner is shown in an isometric view with portions of the coupling removed to show the preferred internal structure.

FIG. 3: The use of the communicating-coupling of the present invention at four interfaces is shown in a top view. Visible are a sump, a window well, two corner between-couplings of the present invention, and communicating-couplings of the present invention being used as both into-couplings and as away-couplers.

FIG. 4 A communicating-coupling of the present invention used as an away-coupler is seen from the outside prior to concrete pouring. The dam of the present invention is shown above the away-coupler as the dam is being inserted between the coupler and the form.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION

The present invention includes both new improved couplings and a new method of using the improved couplings. The new improved couplings are described in detail and then the new method is described along with structure needed to implement the method. For convenience, a preferred improved communicating-coupling is described separately from a description of a preferred improved between-coupling. The invention is the same for both.

Improved Communicating-Coupling

The improved communicating-coupling of the present invention may advantageously be seen and understood with reference to FIG. 1. FIG. 1 illustrates the most common use of communicating-coupler 80. In that use, drainage mat 10 is placed against outside-form-wall 40 (earth being present on the other side of outside-form-wall 40) along the whole length of outside-form-wall 40. Where it is desired to insert a communicating-coupling, a short section of drainage mat 10 is removed and the resulting two ends of drainage mat 10 are inserted into communicating-coupler 80. The two ends of drainage mat 10 are prevented from occupying the volume within the coupler that is directly opposite orifice 84 by bosses 82.

As an alternative to removing a short section of drainage mat 10, one may sever drainage mat 10 as it is being placed against outside-form-wall 40 at the place where it is desired to insert communicating-coupler 80, and proceed as just described. The end result of both schemes is communicating-coupler 80 inserted between ends of drainage mat 10 with those ends not touching. A preference for the use of one scheme over the other will be suggested by the flow of work.

The primary objective of the present invention is to improve fluid flow associated with couplings. The communicating-coupler 80 of the present invention effects the primary objective by placing obstructions (barriers) to its associated porous medium (here, drainage mat 10) within the coupling such that porous medium is not present opposite orifice 84. Enhanced fluid flow into or out of communicating-coupler 80 is effected by such obstructions. In other words, one or more barriers are placed near orifice 84 so as to effect a gap (in drainage mats 10) that communicates with orifice 84.

The preferred and best way to effect such obstructions (barriers) is the use of three bosses 82 on the inside of each side of orifice 84 (a total of six bosses 82), as shown on FIG. 1. Such preferred bosses 82 extend from essentially the beginning of orifice 84 to the opposite inside wall of communicating-coupler 80. Preferably, the bosses 82 are approximately circular in cross section. While the preferred and best way to effect such obstructions has been disclosed, the use of one boss 82 on each side of orifice 84 (a total of two bosses 82) would effect the primary objective of the present invention. The use of three bosses 82 on each side of orifice 84 effects the advantageous tertiary objective of increasing the rigidity and ruggedness of communicating-coupler 80.

Advantageously, enhanced retention of communicating-coupler 80 within the foundation concrete is effected in the present invention by providing one or more retention-tabs 86 on the top of communicating-coupler 80. The preferred and best way to effect such retention-tabs 86 is to place two retention-tabs 86 approximately equally spaced along the top front face of communicating-coupler 80. The preferred and best tabs are essentially rectangular, about 60 millimeters long, one or two millimeters wide, and extend upward about two millimeters from the surface of the top of communicating-coupler 80. Many other upward extending, short extensions from the top surface of communicating-coupler 80 would effect the same task of enhancing retention of communicating-coupler 80 within the foundation concrete.

The preferred and best inside height of the sides of communicating-coupler 80 (sleeves) is nominally seven and one quarter inches to mate with drainage mat 10 of a compatible size. The preferred and best outside diameter of orifice 84 is nominally three and seven eights inches.

Improved Between-Coupling

The corner version of the improved between-coupling of the present invention (corner between-coupler 90) may advantageously be seen, and be understood, by use of FIG. 2. FIG. 2 shows an alternate to the bosses 82 of communicating-coupler 80 that are used to effect the primary objective of the present invention with communicating-coupler 80. The alternatives are appropriately called shelves 92 and they prevent the passage of drainage mat beyond the shelf. The preferred shelf extends parallel to the expected fluid flow, offers a minimal resistance to flow, and significantly strengthens the coupling. The best, and most preferred, shelf arrangement uses two equally spaced shelves that are slightly larger than the corner area of the L shaped corner between-coupler 90. Thus an essentially empty volume exists in the corner of corner between-coupler 90 where no mat could exist. The presence of such a volume facilitates the flow of fluid (or the like) from the open end of one mat to the open end of the other mat. In the absence of the preferred corner between-coupler 90, it is possible for a mat placed into a corner to bind or crimp or buckle such that the flow of fluid (or the like) is significantly impeded.

FIG. 3 shows two corner between-couplers 90 in use. One is used in an outside corner and the other is used in an inside corner.

A corner version of the improved between-coupling of the present invention (shown on FIG. 2) is expected to be the most useful between-coupling. However, the present invention encompasses between-couplings with included angles of other than about 90 degrees. As an example, if a foundation were to be in the form of a regular pentagon, the included angle would be about 108 degrees and the present invention envisions a between-coupling (looking like corner between-coupler 90 except for the included angle) being used with such a foundation. The preferred and best inside height of the sides of corner between-coupler 90 (sleeves) is nominally seven and one quarter inches to mate with drainage mat 10 of a compatible size.

New Method of Using Improved Communicating-Coupling

The '404 patent described two uses of a communicating-coupling. Specifically, the '404 patent described using the communicating-coupling of the '404 patent to facilitate the communication of fluid, or the like, from a band of drainage mat on the outside perimeter of a foundation through the foundation. Also mentioned in the '404 patent was the possibility of using the communicating-coupling of the '404 patent to facilitate the communication of fluid, or the like, from a band of drainage mat on the inside perimeter of a foundation through the foundation.

While practicing the '404 patent, it was found desirable to be able to communicate fluid, or the like, from a window well that is on the outside of a foundation into a band of drainage mat and desirable to be able to communicate fluid out of a band of drainage mat towards a sump. The present invention's communicating-coupling (communicating-coupler 80), with the addition of facilitating structure, is able to perform the just described additional two desirable functions.

FIG. 3 illustrates the new method of using communicating-coupler 80. The two communicating-couplers 80 (on the left side of FIG. 3) that are connected to communicating-conduit 102 that runs through the foundation illustrate the methods described in the '404 patent for using a communicating-coupling. Attention is drawn, on FIG. 3, to the communicating-coupler 80 that communicates between drainage mat 10 and window-well 104 that is outside of foundation, and to the communicating-coupler 80 that communicates between drainage mat 10 and sump 100 that is inside foundation.

The later two communicating-couplers 80 provide a new function to foundation drainage systems. However, they must be used in a different manner than the previously disclosed communicating-couplings that communicate into the associated foundation (into-couplings). This new use involves communicating-couplings that communicate away from the associated foundation and they will be called away-couplers.

Away-couplers require additional steps (not required for the use of into-couplings) in order that they may performed as desired. Drainage mat 10 is coupled to a communicating-coupler 80 as previously described. Orifice 84 is pointed away from the associated foundation. A gap must be cut in the (usually wooden) outside-form-wall 40 or inside-form-wall 42 that has an extent at least equal to the outside diameter of orifice 84. If one were to stop at this point and pour concrete into the space between the two form walls, one would have a very bad mess. Concrete would flow over the top of the away-couplers because the foundation concrete is poured to a depth that is higher than the height of the coupler and, as previously described, the form-wall has a gap to accommodate orifice 84. These relationships may be seen on FIG. 4.

The method of using the communicating-coupler 80 of the present invention as an away-coupler involves not only some steps not needed for the use of into-couplings, but also uses new structure to eliminate the overflow of concrete just described. As indicated on FIG. 3, FIG. 4 shows an away-coupler as seen from the outside prior to concrete pouring. The view of FIG. 4 would be the same if one were to look towards inside-form-wall 42 from the region of sump 100 instead of towards outside-form-wall 40 from window-well 104. The preferred and best cure to the overflow problem is the use of dam 110.

Dam 110 is preferably and best an essentially flat, thin, rectangular piece of resilient material with something like a semicircle removed from its bottom center. The diameter of the semicircle is somewhat larger than the outside diameter of orifice 84. The width of dam 110 is greater than the gap in outside-form-wall 40 (or inside-form-wall 42). The height of dam 110 is sufficient to have the top of dam 110 be above the top of the expected level of concrete when dam 110 is in use. In the method of using the communicating-coupler 80 of the present invention as an away-coupler, one places dam 110 between outside-form-wall 40 (or inside-form-wall 42) and the face of communicating-coupler 80 so that the semicircle cutout of dam 110 is astride the outside of orifice 84 and so that the top of dam 110 is above the top of the expected level of concrete. FIG. 4 illustrates the preferred arrangement. So placed, dam 110 prevents the overflow of concrete. After the foundation's concrete has hardened, and outside-form-wall 40 and inside-form-wall 42 have been removed, dam 110 may be left in place or removed.

Clearly, dam 110 could take forms other than that of the preferred shape and still effect the present invention's method of using the communicating-coupler 80 of the present invention as an away-coupler. A substitute dam could be wider or taller. A substitute dam could have a taller and wider bottom cutout. A substitute dam need not touch orifice 84 as long as it bridges the gap above communicating-coupler 80 and the top of the expected level of concrete in an effective manner so that concrete does not flow out of the gap in outside-form-wall 40 (or inside-form-wall 42).

Preferred and best implementations of the present invention have been disclosed with reasonable specificity. Equivalents to the disclosed implementations are also included in the present invention