Title:
Cover for rain gutter
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A method and material for preventing the accumulation of debris in a rain gutter, the rain gutter having an open top, a bottom surface, and a pair of sidewalls, the bottom surface and sidewalls defining a channel having a width and a depth. A first layer of non-woven fibers may be secured to a second scrim layer. A hinge may extend along the length of the cover. The cover defines a top portion having a first width and a base portion having a second width, the cover configured and dimensioned to allow flexion of the top portion relative to the base portion. The cover is configured and dimensioned to fit securely and remain in place in the rain gutter. Adjacent ends of adjacent sections of cover may be joined by using mating projections and apertures formed at adjacent ends of adjacent sections of cover.



Inventors:
Kurple, William M. (St. Charles, MO, US)
Griswold, Lee (East Norwalk, CT, US)
Mathieu, David (Colchester, CT, US)
Jenkins, Christopher (Harlem, GA, US)
Application Number:
11/005656
Publication Date:
06/08/2006
Filing Date:
12/07/2004
Primary Class:
International Classes:
E04D13/00
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
FIGUEROA, LUZ ADRIANA
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
Thompson Coburn LLP (St. Louis, MO, US)
Claims:
What is claimed is:

1. A cover for preventing the accumulation of debris in a rain gutter, the rain gutter having an open top, a bottom surface, and a pair of sidewalls, the bottom surface and sidewalls defining a channel having a width and a depth, the cover comprising: a first water permeable layer including a plurality of fibers, the first layer having a thickness and a length, the plurality of fibers being one of non-woven and loosely woven; a top portion of the first water permeable layer having a first width and a base portion of the first water permeable layer having a second width, the first water permeable layer being configured and dimensioned to allow flexion of the top portion relative to the base portion, whereby the cover is configured and dimensioned to fit securely and remain in place in the rain gutter.

2. The cover according to claim 1, further comprising a second water permeable layer secured to the first layer.

3. The cover according to claim 2, wherein the second water permeable layer is a scrim.

4. The cover according to claim 2, wherein the plurality of fibers is a first plurality of fibers, the second water permeable layer includes a second plurality of fibers, the second plurality of fibers being one of non-woven or looslely woven.

5. The cover according to claim 4, wherein the density of the second plurality of fibers is greater than the density of the first plurality of fibers.

6. The cover according to claim 1, further comprising a hinge extending along the length of the first layer and defining the top portion and the base portion.

7. The cover according to claim 1, wherein the base portion is a first base portion, the cover further comprising a second base portion of the first layer.

8. The cover according to claim 7, further comprising a first and a second hinge, the first hinge defining the first base portion, the second hinge defining the second base portion, and the first and second hinges defining the top portion, whereby the cover is substantially “U” shaped when it is in place in the gutter.

9. The cover according to claim 1, wherein the top portion defining a recess, whereby the top portion may fit over a mechanical fastener associated with the gutter.

10. The cover according to claim 1, wherein the base portion defines a slot, whereby the base portion may fit around a mechanical fastener associated with the gutter.

11. The cover according to claim 1, wherein the base portion defines a cutout, whereby the overall weight of the cover is reduced.

12. The cover according to claim 1, wherein the cover includes a first end that defines an aperture and a second end including a projection, the aperture and the projection to correspond in shape to one another, whereby adjacent covers may be joined together.

13. A method for preventing debris from entering and clogging a rain gutter, the rain gutter having an open top, a bottom surface, a first sidewall and a second sidewall, the bottom surface and sidewalls defining a channel having a width and a depth, the method comprising the steps of: measuring a length of a cover for placement in the gutter, the cover including a first water permeable layer includes a plurality of non-woven fibers, the first layer having a thickness and a length; a top portion having a first width and a base portion having a second width, the cover configured and dimensioned to allow flexion of the top portion relative to the base portion; and installing the cover in the rain gutter by aligning the base portion of the cover along the first gutter sidewall and flexing the top portion with respect to the base portion so that a free end of the top portion extends to the second gutter sidewall.

14. The method according to claim 13, further comprising inserting the free end of the cover in a lip of the gutter.

15. The method according to claim 13, further comprising flexing a hinge extending along the length of the first layer and defining the top portion and the base portion.

16. The method according to claim 13, further comprising fitting the top portion over a mechanical fastener associated with the gutter.

17. The method according to claim 13, further comprising fitting the base portion around a mechanical fastener associated with the gutter.

18. The method according to claim 13, further comprising joining the cover to another cover using an aperture defined by an end of one of the covers and a projection defined by an end of the other cover, the aperture and the projection to correspond in shape to one another.

19. A cover for preventing the accumulation of debris in a rain gutter, the rain gutter having an open top, a bottom surface, and a pair of sidewalls, the bottom surface and sidewalls defining a channel having a width and a depth, the cover comprising: a first water permeable layer including a plurality of non-woven fibers, the first layer having a thickness and a length; a second water permeable layer secured to the first layer, the second layer having a thickness and a length; and a hinge extending along the length of the combined first and second layers, the hinge defining a top portion having a first width and a base portion having a second width, the hinge configured and dimensioned to allow flexion of the top portion relative to the base portion wherein the cover is configured and dimensioned to fit securely and remain in place in the rain gutter.

20. The cover of claim 19, wherein the hinge provides a restoring force that biases the top portion of the cover toward a substantially co-planar relationship with the base portion.

21. The cover of claim 19, wherein the hinge is defined by a notch extending along the length of the first layer.

22. The cover of claim 21, wherein the notch has a depth less than the thickness of the first layer.

23. The cover of claim 21, wherein the notch is one of substantially rectangular, substantially triangular, or substantially semicircular.

24. The cover of claim 19, wherein the second width of the base portion is substantially equal to the depth of the channel.

25. The cover of claim 19, wherein the first width of the top portion is greater than the width of the gutter channel.

26. The cover of claim 19, wherein a free side of the top portion to fit in a lip formed on one of the sidewalls of the rain gutter.

27. The cover of claim 19, wherein the base portion includes at least one cutout, whereby the cutout reduces the overall weight of the cover.

28. The cover of claim 19, wherein the thickness of the first layer is greater than the thickness of the second layer.

29. The cover of claim 19, wherein the thickness of the first layer is between 0.25 inches and 0.75 inches.

30. The cover of claim 19, wherein the first layer includes randomly aligned fibers.

31. The cover of claim 19, wherein the first layer is includes synthetic fibers.

32. The cover of claim 31, wherein the first layer is includes polyester fibers.

33. The cover of claim 19, wherein the second layer is a resilient scrim.

34. The cover of claim 19, wherein the second layer includes synthetic fibers.

35. The cover of claim 34, wherein the second layer includes nylon.

36. The cover of claim 19, wherein the second layer has a top surface that is substantially smooth.

37. The cover of claim 19, wherein the second layer has a ribbed surface.

38. The cover of claim 19, wherein the first layer is attached to the second layer by one of bonding, an adhesive, or needlepunching.

39. The cover of claim 19, the top portion further comprising at least one channel formed in the first layer, and the base portion further comprising at least one slot extending through first layer.

40. The cover of claim 19, further comprising at least one projection formed at an end of a length of cover, the projection configured and adapted to mate with a corresponding aperture formed at an end of another section, whereby two sections of cover may be joined together.

41. A method for preventing debris from entering and clogging a rain gutter, the rain gutter having an open top, a bottom surface, a first sidewall and a second sidewall, the bottom surface and sidewalls defining a channel having a width and a depth, the method comprising the steps of: measuring a length of a water permeable cover for placement in the gutter, the cover including a first water permeable layer includes a plurality of non-woven fibers, the first layer having a thickness and a length; a second water permeable layer secured to the first layer, the second layer having a thickness and a length; and a hinge extending along the length of the combined first and second layers, the hinge defining a top portion having a first width and a base portion having a second width, the hinge configured and dimensioned to allow flexion of the top portion relative to the base portion; and installing the cover in the rain gutter by aligning the base portion of the cover along the first gutter sidewall and flexing the top portion with respect to the base portion so that a free end of the top portion extends to the second gutter sidewall.

42. The method of claim 41, further comprising installing modified sections of the cover at portions of the rain gutter containing fasteners used to secure the rain gutter to a supporting structure, the modified sections of the cover having a top portion that includes at least one channel formed in the first layer, and a base portion that includes at least one slot extending completely through the combined first and second layers, the channel and the slot configured and adapted to allow the modified section to fit in the rain gutter despite the presence of fasteners.

43. The method of claim 41, further comprising cutting a length of cover to fit in the rain gutter.

44. The method of claim 41, further comprising attaching adjacent ends of adjacent sections of cover together with mating projections and apertures formed at adjacent ends of adjacent sections of cover.

45. A system for preventing the accumulation of debris in a rain gutter comprising: at least one length of a first section of a cover for installation in the rain gutter, the first section of cover comprising a first water permeable layer includes a plurality of non-woven fibers; a second water permeable layer secured to the first layer; and a hinge extending along the length of the combined first and second layers, the hinge defining a top portion having a first width and a base portion having a second width, the hinge configured and dimensioned to allow flexion of the top portion relative to the base portion; and at least one length of a second section of a cover for installation in the rain gutter, the second section of cover comprising a first water permeable layer includes a plurality of non-woven fibers; a second water permeable layer secured to the first layer; and a hinge extending along the length of the combined first and second layers, the hinge defining a top portion having a first width and a base portion having a second width, the hinge configured and dimensioned to allow flexion of the top portion relative to the base portion, wherein the top portion of the second section of cover includes at least one channel formed in the first layer, and the base portion of the second section of cover includes at least one slot extending through the combined first and second layers; Wherein both the first and second sections of cover are configured and dimensioned to fit securely and remain in place in the rain gutter.

46. The system of claim 45, further comprising a cutting tool.

47. The system of claim 45, wherein the cutting tool is a scissor.

48. The system of claim 45, wherein the first section of cover has at least one projection formed at an end of a length of the first section of cover, the projection configured and adapted to mate with a corresponding aperture formed at an end of another section of cover to join two adjacent sections of cover together.

49. A cover for preventing the accumulation of debris in a rain gutter, the cover comprising: a first water permeable layer includes a plurality of non-woven fibers, the first layer having a thickness and a length; a second water permeable layer secured to the first layer, the second layer having a thickness and a length; and at least one projection formed at an end of a length of cover wherein the projection is configured and adapted to mate with a corresponding aperture formed at an end of another length of cover to join two adjacent lengths of cover together and the cover is configured and dimensioned to fit securely and remain in place in the rain gutter.

50. The cover of claim 49, further comprising a hinge extending along the length of the combined first and second layers, the hinge defining a top portion having a first width and a base portion having a second width, the hinge configured and dimensioned to allow flexion of the top portion relative to the base portion.

51. A cover for preventing the accumulation of debris in a rain gutter, the rain gutter having an open top, a bottom surface, and a pair of sidewalls, the bottom surface and sidewalls defining a channel having a width and a depth, the cover comprising: a first water permeable layer includes a plurality of non-woven fibers, the first layer having a thickness and a length; and a second, substantially smooth, water permeable layer secured to the first layer, the second layer configured and adapted to prevent the accumulation of debris on the cover and having a thickness less than the thickness of the first layer; wherein the cover is configured and dimensioned to fit securely and remain in place in the rain gutter.

52. The cover of claim 51, wherein the total thickness of the combined first and second layers is substantially equal to the depth of the gutter channel.

53. A cover for preventing the accumulation of debris in a rain gutter, the rain gutter having an open top, a bottom surface, and a pair of sidewalls, the bottom surface and sidewalls defining a channel having a width and a depth, the gutter being adjacent a roof having a plurality of shingles covering a deck, the cover comprising: a first water permeable layer including a plurality of fibers, the first layer having a thickness and a length, the plurality of fibers being one of non-woven and loosely woven, the first water permeable layer having a back edge; a second water permeable layer secured to the first water permeable layer and extending beyond the back edge of the first water permeable layer, whereby the second water permeable layer is configured and dimensioned to fit securely and remain in place between the shingles and the deck of the roof.

54. The cover according to claim 53 wherein the first water permeable layer is a non-woven, air-laid fabric containing one-hundred (100) denier polyester fiber weighing on the order of 8.0 ounces per square yard and resistant to direct sun and weather exposure, and wherein the second water permeable layer is a knit polyester of 13 wales by 15 course count weighing approximately 2.5 ounces per square yard.

55. A cover for preventing the accumulation of debris in a rain gutter, the rain gutter having an open top, a bottom surface, and a pair of sidewalls, the bottom surface and sidewalls defining a channel having a width and a depth, the gutter being adjacent a roof having a plurality of shingles covering a deck, the cover comprising: a first water permeable layer including a plurality of fibers, the first layer having a thickness and a length, the plurality of fibers being one of non-woven and loosely woven; a front portion of the first water permeable layer being adapted to cover the open top of the cover; and a back portion of the first water permeable layer being adjacent to the front portion and being adapted to extend between the shingles and the deck of the roof.

Description:

FIELD OF THE INVENTION

The present invention relates to the field of rain gutter shields/devices used to prevent debris from entering and/or clogging rain gutters used on buildings. More particularly, the present invention relates to a gutter cover/filter formed of a two-layer mat composed of non-woven fibers that may be quickly and easily installed in rain gutters without the need for additional fastening elements, such as screws, nails or adhesives.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

Rain gutters are a component of almost every house and most buildings, and are typically installed around the perimeter of a roof to collect rainwater runoff so that it may be discharged through downspouts at selected locations. This prevents damage to underlying areas around the building structure, such as the pitting or trenching of lawns and water damage to the structure's foundation. As shown in FIG. 1, a typical rain gutter is an open channel that is fastened to the side of a building immediately below the edge of the roof. Because of its open top, the gutter may collect unwanted leaves, branches, or other debris. This debris may seriously hamper the effectiveness of the gutters, as the gutters and/or downspouts may be clogged by the debris, preventing the water that has been collected from being discharged. Gutters must therefore be routinely cleaned to remove accumulated debris, which is a time consuming and dirty job.

It is well known that some form of shield may be added to the top of the gutter to prevent debris from entering while allowing water to pass through into the gutter channel. Such a device must be sufficiently water permeable to allow water to flow into the gutter channel, while still being able to keep leaves, twigs, pine needles and roofing shingle particles from entering. Also, it is desirable for the cover to be strong enough to support the weight of debris, ice or snow which may accumulate on the cover. The cover should not occlude a large portion of the channel, which may impede the flow of water through the gutters into the downspouts. Also, the cover needs to be securely fastened or attached to the gutter, to prevent it from detaching in the presence of high winds.

A variety of rain gutter covers, such as wire meshes formed into a variety of configurations, exist in the prior art. However, these wire meshes typically require the use of fasteners and/or a variety of tools to install them. Modification of the wire mesh to fit the gutter by cutting the mesh is also a difficult and potentially dangerous task. Additional designs, formed of plastic and other materials, have also been proposed, but also require significant time and effort to install and may cause other leakage problems. For example, some products are designed to be partially inserted underneath existing shingles or other roofing material, which, in many cases, may be brittle and subject to breakage. Even minor damage to shingles may result in a leaky roof.

Thus, there exists a need for a rain gutter cover that is inexpensive, easy to install, strong, durable and safe. Such a cover would permit homeowners to quickly and easily shield their gutters from accumulated debris without the need for fastening elements and tools.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

The present invention addresses these problems by providing a rain gutter cover that is safe, effective and easy to install.

In a first preferred embodiment, the present invention provides a cover for preventing the accumulation of debris in a rain gutter, the rain gutter having an open top, a bottom surface, and a pair of sidewalls, the bottom surface and sidewalls defining a channel having a width and a depth. The cover includes a first water permeable layer, a top portion of the first layer and a base portion of the first layer. The first water permeable layer includes a plurality of fibers that are either non-woven or loosely woven and has a thickness and a length. The first water permeable layer is configured and dimensioned to allow flexion of the top portion relative to the base portion so that the cover fits securely, and remains in place in the rain gutter.

In a second preferred embodiment the invention relates to a method for preventing debris from entering and clogging a rain gutter. The method includes measuring a length of a cover for placement within the gutter. The cover includes a first water permeable layer including a plurality of non-woven fibers. The first layer has a thickness, a length, a top portion having a first width, and a base portion having a second width. The cover is configured and dimensioned to allow flexion of the top portion relative to the base portion. The method also includes installing the cover within the rain gutter by aligning the base portion of the cover along the first gutter sidewall and flexing the top portion with respect to the base portion so that a free end of the top portion extends to the second gutter sidewall.

In a third preferred embodiment, the present invention relates to a cover for preventing the accumulation of debris in a rain gutter, the rain gutter having an open top, a bottom surface, and a pair of sidewalls, the bottom surface and sidewalls defining a channel having a width and a depth. The cover of the current embodiment is formed of two water permeable layers: (1) a first layer formed of a plurality of non-woven fibers, where the first layer has a thickness and a length, and (2) a second layer of resilient scrim secured to the first layer. The second layer may be secured to the first layer by bonding, needlepunching, or by applying adhesive to the abutting surfaces of the two layers. Both the top portion and base portion are configured to be resiliently flexible. The cover includes a hinge extending along the length of the combined first and second layers. The hinge defines a top portion having a first width and a base portion having a second width, the hinge configured and dimensioned to allow flexion of the top portion relative to the base portion. The hinge exerts a restoring force that biases the top portion of the cover toward a substantially co-planar arrangement with the base portion. The base portion of the cover is aligned with a first sidewall of the gutter adjacent the building structure and may be substantially equal to the depth of the gutter channel. The base portion may also include one or more cutouts to reduce overall weight and save material. The free end of the top portion may be configured to fit securely against the opposite sidewall and, in some applications, beneath a lip formed on one of the sidewalls of the rain gutter. The top portion may be greater than or equal to the width of the gutter channel such that it prevents debris from entering the gutter channel. If the top portion is slightly wider than the gutter channel, an additional retaining force is provided to hold the cover in place between the sidewalls of the gutter. While in a preferred aspect, the cover is securely held in place without additional fastening elements, in some configurations mechanical fasteners, such as clips, could be used to secure the cover to the sidewalls of the gutter.

The hinge may be formed by a notch extending along the length of the first layer, where the notch has a depth less than the thickness of the first layer. The notch may be substantially rectangular, square, triangular, semicircular or any other suitable geometric shape, and may be formed by removing material from the first layer after the first layer is formed. The first layer of the cover may be formed of a web of randomly aligned, synthetic or natural fibers, such as polyester, and the second layer may be formed of a synthetic fiber, such as polyester or nylon. The second layer has a top surface that is substantially smooth to prevent debris from accumulating on the cover. The smooth surface of the second layer may also include ribs to provide added strength and/or achieve a higher flow rate through the cover.

The top portion of the cover may include at least one channel formed in the first layer, and the base portion of the cover may include at least one slot extending through first layer. In addition, the cover may further comprise at least one projection formed at the end of a length of cover, the projection configured and adapted to mate with a corresponding aperture formed at an end of another section of cover to join two sections of cover together. In addition to the top portion and base portion, the cover may include a second base portion and a second hinge. The second base portion and hinge are similar to the first base portion and hinge but are formed on the opposite side of the top portion as the first base portion and hinge. Thus, the cover forms an inverted “U” shape when installed in the gutter.

In another preferred embodiment, the present invention relates to a cover for preventing the accumulation of debris in a rain gutter comprising a first water permeable layer formed of a plurality of non-woven fibers, the first layer having a thickness and a length, and a second water permeable layer secured to the first layer, the second layer also having a thickness and a length. At least one projection is formed at an end of a first length of cover, and the projection is configured and adapted to mate with a corresponding aperture formed at an end of another length of cover to join two adjacent lengths of cover together during installation within a gutter. The thickness of the first layer may be greater than the thickness of the second layer, and the cover may further comprise a hinge extending along the length of the combined first and second layers, the hinge defining a top portion having a first width and a base portion having a second width, and configured and dimensioned to allow flexion of the top portion relative to the base portion.

In still another preferred embodiment, the present invention relates to a cover for preventing the accumulation of debris in a rain gutter, the rain gutter having an open top, a bottom surface, and a pair of sidewalls, the bottom surface and sidewalls defining a channel having a width and a depth. The cover includes a first water permeable layer formed of a plurality of non-woven fibers, the first layer having a thickness and a length secured to a second, substantially smooth, water permeable layer. The second layer is configured and adapted to prevent the accumulation of debris on the cover and has a thickness less than the thickness of the first layer. In a preferred aspect, the total thickness of the combined first and second layers is substantially equal to the depth of the gutter channel.

In yet another preferred embodiment, the present invention relates to a method for preventing debris from entering and clogging a rain gutter, the rain gutter having an open top, a bottom surface, and a pair of sidewalls, the bottom surface and sidewalls defining a channel having a width and a depth, and (for some gutters) a lip formed on the first sidewall. A length of a resilient, water permeable cover is measured for placement within the gutter, the cover including a first water permeable layer formed of a plurality of non-woven fibers, the first layer having a thickness and a length; a second water permeable layer of resilient scrim secured to the first layer; and a hinge extending along the length of the combined first and second layers, the hinge defining a top portion having a first width and a base portion having a second width, the hinge being configured and dimensioned to allow flexion of the top portion relative to the base portion. The length of cover may be easily cut by a user using a scissor or other cutting tool.

The cover may be installed within the rain gutter by aligning the base portion of the cover along the first gutter sidewall adjacent the building structure and flexing the top portion with respect to the base portion so that a free end of the top portion fits against the opposite sidewall. Modified sections of the cover may be installed in portions of the rain gutter containing fasteners used to secure the rain gutter to a supporting structure, the modified sections of the cover having a top portion that includes at least one channel formed in the first layer, and a base portion that includes at least one slot extending completely through first layer, the channel and the slot configured and adapted to allow the modified section to fit within the rain gutter despite the presence of fasteners. In one application, adjacent ends of adjacent sections of cover may be attached together by using mating projections and apertures formed at adjacent ends of adjacent sections of cover.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

FIG. 1 is a partial perspective view of a typical prior art rain gutter;

FIG. 2 is a perspective view of a cover for a rain gutter according to a preferred embodiment of the present invention;

FIG. 3 is a detail perspective view of a portion of the cover labeled Detail 3 shown in FIG. 2;

FIG. 4A is a cross-section of a preferred embodiment of the cover shown in FIG. 2 taken along line 4-4 showing a substantially triangular notch;

FIG. 4B is a cross-section of another preferred embodiment of the cover shown in FIG. 2 taken along line 4-4 showing a substantially rectangular notch;

FIG. 5 is a perspective view of the cover shown in FIG. 2 in a partially flexed position;

FIG. 6 is a perspective view of the cover shown in FIG. 5 installed in a typical rain gutter;

FIG. 7 is a bottom view of two adjacent sections of cover according to a preferred embodiment of the present invention;

FIG. 8 is a perspective view of a modified section of cover according to a preferred embodiment of the present invention;

FIG. 9 is a perspective view of the cover shown in FIG. 5 being cut by a scissors-like tool;

FIG. 10 is a perspective view of a cover for a rain gutter according to another preferred embodiment of the present invention;

FIG. 11 is a perspective view of a cover for a rain gutter according to yet another preferred embodiment of the present invention; and

FIG. 12 is a perspective view of still another preferred embodiment of the present invention.

DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENTS

As known in the prior art and shown in FIG. 1, a typical rain gutter 10 has an open top 12, a bottom surface 14, and rear and front sidewalls 16, 18, respectively. Gutter 10 may also include a lip 20 formed at the upper portion of the front sidewall 18. The bottom surface and sidewalls form a channel having a depth D and a width W. Mechanical fasteners 22 that extend across the width W are typically used to secure the gutter to a home or building.

Reference is now made to FIG. 2, which is a perspective view of a cover 30 for a rain gutter according to a preferred embodiment of the present invention. The cover 30 is formed of a first water permeable layer 32 of a plurality of non-woven, or loosely woven, fibers, and preferably a second, water permeable scrim layer 34 (shown best in FIG. 3), which is secured to the top of first layer 32.

Fibers of this type used in the first layer 32 have been employed in cleaning pads, for example the Scotchbrite® scouring sponge manufactured by the 3M Corporation. A living hinge 36 is formed along the length of the first layer 32. The living hinge may be formed by a notch 38 cut along the length of the first layer 32. As shown in FIGS. 4A and 4B, which are cross-sections taken along line 4-4 in FIG. 2, notch 38 may be substantially rectangular or triangular, but is not limited to these shapes and may also be square, semicircular or any other suitable geometry. The depth of the notch is preferably less than the thickness of the first layer (see FIGS. 4A and 4B). In one specific configuration, the thickness T of the combined first and second layer may range from approximately 0.25 inches to approximately 1.0 inches.

Notch 38 divides these cover 30 into a top portion 40 having a width W1 and a base portion 42 having a width W2. First layer 32 may be formed of a coarse, non-woven or loosely woven web of natural or synthetic fibers, such as polyester. First layer 32 is preferably an air-laid fabric, but may also be formed by other methods known in the art, e.g., carded, garnetted, wet-laid, or melt-blown.

Thinner scrim layer 34, which is preferably formed of nylon or other suitable synthetic material, provides a substantially smooth top surface to the cover 30. In the alternative, the scrim layer 34 can also be formed from lossely woven (or non woven) fibers with a preferred density being sufficient to prevent leaves, twigs, and leave stems from becoming trapped between the fibers. In another alternative embodiment, the scrim layer 34 may be omitted without departing from the scope of the present invention. Scrim layer 34 may also be ribbed to provide added strength and/or increase the flow rate through the material.

In one specific configuration, the first layer 32 is a non-woven, air-laid fabric containing one-hundred (100) denier polyester fiber weighing on the order of 8.0 ounces per square yard and resistant to direct sun and weather exposure, and second scrim layer 34 is a knit polyester of 13 wales by 15 course count weighing approximately 2.5 ounces per square yard. Scrim layer 34 may be attached to first layer 32 by needlepunching using a Hunter Model 15 tacker loom. The composite material is then sprayed with a synthetic resin and cured such that the total resulting cover weight is on the order of 30 ounces per square yard. The resulting cover 30 is resilient and flexible enough to allow it to be bent by hand but stiff enough to resist bowing under the weight of debris. As discussed in more detail below, the resiliency of the material and the configuration of the cover allows it to be securely and easily installed in a gutter. Removal from the gutter is similarly facilitated.

As shown in FIG. 5, in a preferred embodiment, the hinge 36 not labeled in FIG. 5 formed by the notch 38 provides a restoring force F that tends to bias top portion 40 toward a substantially coplanar position with base portion 42. As shown in FIG. 6, when installed in gutter 10, base portion 42 of cover 30 is positioned against back wall 16 of gutter 10. Base portion 42 provides support for cover 30 within gutter 10, and is configured to resist buckling while supporting top portion 40 and potential debris, e.g., branches, that might fall on top portion 40. The width, W2 of base portion 42 is preferably equal to the depth D of the gutter 10. As shown in FIG. 10, base portion 42 may be formed with one or more perforations, cutouts, or notches 44, which allows for a savings in total material weight with minimal loss in material strength. Cutouts 44 may form a sawtooth configuration or any other slotted or scalloped configuration that will allow for material and weight savings. In addition, as discussed in more detail below, cutouts 44 may facilitate installation of cover 30 over gutter fastening and bracing elements.

Notch 38 allows top portion 40 to be flexed with respect to base portion 42 while providing a restoring force F. Top portion 40 preferably has a width W1 greater than or equal to the width W of the gutter to prevent debris from accumulating in the gutter 10 while allowing water to flow through. The free end of top portion 40 is biased by restoring force F away from base portion 42 and, in a preferred embodiment, fits within or under a lip 20 of gutter 10 such that the cover 30 is secured within gutter 10 and will not be dislodged by wind or other potentially disturbing forces. Width W1 may also be sized greater than gutter width W to provide an additional securing force when cover 30 is placed within gutter 10. Top portion 40 is configured to resist bending moments, such as those caused by debris resting on top portion 40, encountered during use.

Preferably, additional fastening elements, such as nails, screws or adhesives are not required to maintain cover 30 within gutter 10. However, in some configuration, additional fastening elements, such as clips, may be used to secure cover 30.

The cover 30 may be dispensed in predetermined lengths or on rolls. As shown in FIG. 9, in either case, cover 30 can be easily cut using conventional scissors 70, utility knifes, or other simple cutting tools to fit a specific gutter. Specialized cutting implements are not necessarily required. For example, should the width of base portion W2 be too great for a given gutter, an appropriate length may be trimmed from the free end of base portion 42 to allow it to fit comfortably within gutter 10. Similarly, top portion 40 may also be trimmed to have a diagonal edge to allow for cover 30 to be used in corners. In alternate preferred embodiments, cover 30 may also be configured in different sizes so that the base portion 42 and top portion 40 fit different standard gutter sizes. In addition, in different climate zones, cover 30 can be configured to resist higher or lower wind velocities by modifying the density and/or volume of first layer 32. For example, in areas susceptible to high wind conditions, the first layer may be configured with greater density than would be necessary in areas with lower wind conditions.

As shown in FIG. 7, multiple sections 50, 52 of cover may be attached to one another by mating projections 54 and apertures 56 formed integrally (or cut by the user) at the ends of cover sections 50, 52. In alternate embodiment, adjacent edges of adjoining cover sections may be attached to each other using mechanical means, such as clips, adhesive or other fasteners well known in the art. In addition, because many gutters employ support struts that run across the top of the open channel or nails that run across the top and through the back wall of the gutter to attach the gutter to a home or building, modified cover sections 60 (shown in FIG. 8) may be installed over a portion of the gutter that has a support strut or fastener. As shown in FIG. 8, modified section 60 may have a recess or channel 62 formed along the length of top portion 40 to accommodate a support rail or fastener and/or an aperture or slot 64 extending from the bottom of base portion 42 toward top portion 40. Aperture 64 allows section 60 to be installed within a gutter over fasteners connecting the gutter to a house or building. A plurality of modified sections 60 may be used in conjunction with regular cover sections 30 to cover the entire length of a gutter. Of course, the channel 62 and slot 64 may be cut from an unmodified cover section 30 by the user to create a modified cover section 60. As shown in FIG. 7, both regular and modified cover sections may include mating projections 54 and apertures 56 so that modified sections 60 can be easily joined to adjacent regular sections 30.

In still another preferred embodiment, shown in FIG. 11, cover 70 may be formed of a first water permeable layer 72 of a plurality of non-woven fibers, and a second, water permeable scrim layer 74, which is secured to the top of first layer 72. As shown, the thickness of the combined first and second layers is approximately equal to the depth of the gutter channel. Top second layer 74 provides a substantially smooth surface configured and adapted to prevent the accumulation of debris on the cover. Because the cover 70 substantially fills the gutter channel, it may be securely maintained within the gutter channel without cumbersome fastening elements. As with prior embodiments, first layer 72 may be formed of a coarse, non-woven or loosely woven web of natural or synthetic fibers, such as polyester, and thinner scrim layer 34 may be formed of polyester, nylon or other suitable synthetic material.

In yet another preferred embodiment, the present invention provides a substantially “U” shaped cover 80 as illustrated by FIG. 12. The “U” shaped cover 80 includes a top portion 40 and two base portions 42A and 42B extending from the top portion 40 on either side of the top portion 40. Because the base portions 42A and 42B provide support for the top portion 40 on each side of the cover 80, the current embodiment is well suited for bearing ice and snow loads frequently encountered in cooler climates. The cover 80 can also include a pair of notches that define a pair of hinges so that the base portions 42A and 42B can be folded down to form the “U” shape with an open channel 82 running along the length of the cover 80. More particularly, the cover 80 may be configured such that the base portions 42A and 42B can be folded down from the top portion 40 without requiring hinges.

Moreover, whereas the cover 80 may be formed from a first layer of loosely woven fibers and a second layer of scrim, the cover 80 may only include a first layer of dense fibers. Thus, it is not necessary to include a scrim on the covers provided by the present invention. Rather, the layer of fibers may be dense enough to prevent leaves, twigs, and leave stems from becoming trapped between the fibers. In the alternative, the second layer can be another layer of loosely woven (or non woven) fibers that is thinner than the first layer and dense enough to prevent debris from becoming trapped by the fibers of this second layer of fibers.

In still another preferred embodiment, the present invention provides a cover for a gutter which again includes a first and a second permeable layer as in some of the other embodiments. However, the present embodiment does not include a hinge and the first layer only extends from the front edge of the cover to about half way across the width of the cover. Thus, the scrim (or second layer) extends from the first layer and can be inserted between the shingles on the roof and the plywood deck. Preferably, the scrim extends from the first layer by about 1 to 2 inches with the combined first and second layer covering the open top of the gutter and either abutting the front side of the gutter or being inserted in the lip of the gutter. In the alternative, the first layer may be omitted without departing from the scope of the present invention.

While the present invention has been described with reference to the preferred embodiments, those skilled in the art will recognize that numerous variations and modifications may be made without departing from the scope of the present invention. Accordingly, it should be clearly understood that the embodiments of the invention described above are not intended as limitations on the scope of the invention, which is defined only by the following claims.