Title:
Filtered power ventilator
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A filtered power ventilator includes modular constructed components allowing the device to be easily assembled, disassembled, and transported. Connection of the components is achieved without the requirement of fasteners or straps. The modular construction allows the components to be assembled in different arrangements to best suit the particular use of the device. Vacuum power can be increased by serial or parallel arrangement of motor units. One or more hose sections can be used to specifically direct a flow of air from the area to be treated to a desired exhaust location. Various filter elements can be incorporated to treat the airflow generated.



Inventors:
Lundquist, William L. (Littleton, CO, US)
Application Number:
11/034980
Publication Date:
08/03/2006
Filing Date:
01/12/2005
Primary Class:
International Classes:
F24F7/00
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
KOSANOVIC, HELENA
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
Sheridan Ross PC (Denver, CO, US)
Claims:
What is claimed is:

1. A filtered power ventilator comprising: a motor unit including a housing, an inlet, an outlet, a motor mounted in said housing, and a blower wheel operatively connected to said motor to produce a controlled flow of air through said motor unit when said motor is energized; a pre-filter unit connected to said motor unit, said pre-filter unit having an inlet, an outlet, and a filter element mounted in said housing of said pre-filter unit, said outlet of said pre-filter unit connected to said inlet of said motor unit; and a hose unit having a housing, first and second open ends thereby forming a passageway through said housing of said hose unit, a length of flexible hose having a first end secured in said housing of said hose unit, and said length of flexible hose having a second end selectively extendable away from said second end of said hose unit housing.

2. A ventilator, as claimed in claim 1, wherein: said pre-filter unit is stacked on top of said motor unit and said hose unit is stacked on top of said pre-filter unit.

3. A ventilator, as claimed in claim 1, wherein: said inlet of said motor unit includes a ring extending from a surface of said housing, said outlet of said motor unit includes an outlet ring extending from a surface of said housing on which said outlet is formed; said inlet of said pre-filter unit includes an inlet ring, said outlet of said pre-filter unit includes an outlet ring; said first end of said length of flexible hose includes a house coupler attached thereto; wherein said hose coupler of said length of flexible hose makes mating connection with said inlet ring of said pre-filter unit, said outlet ring of said pre-filter unit makes mating connection with said inlet ring of said motor unit.

4. A ventilator, as claimed in claim 3, wherein: one of said inlet ring and outlet ring of said motor unit extends away from said housing, and the other of said inlet ring of said outlet ring extends within said housing; one of said inlet ring and said outlet ring of said pre-filter unit extends away from said housing, and the other of said inlet ring and said outlet ring extend within said housing.

5. A ventilator, as claimed in claim 1, wherein: said pre-filter unit further includes a plurality of rails mounted to the interior surface of said housing for slidably receiving said pre-filter element thereby positioning said pre-filter element with respect to said inlet and said outlet of said pre-filter unit.

6. A ventilator, as claimed in claim 1, wherein: said pre-filter unit includes a removable panel forming one side of said housing, said removable panel including means for selectively securing said panel to said housing.

7. A ventilator, as claimed in claim 1, wherein: said motor unit includes at least one handle attached to said housing.

8. A ventilator, as claimed in claim 1, wherein: said pre-filter unit includes at least one handle attached to said housing.

9. A ventilator, as claimed in claim 1, wherein: said hose unit includes at least one handle attached to said housing thereof.

10. A ventilator, as claimed in claim 1, wherein: said motor unit further includes a power cord incorporated therein and extending away from said housing, and an on/off switch wired to said motor for selective operation of said motor unit.

11. A ventilator, as claimed in claim 1, wherein: said inlet and said outlet each have a safety grill mounted thereover.

12. A ventilator, as claimed in claim 1, further including: a second section of hose connected to said outlet of said motor unit.

13. A filtered power ventilator comprising: a first motor unit having a housing, an inlet, an outlet, a motor mounted in the housing, a blower wheel operatively connected to the motor to produce a flow of air through said first motor unit; a second motor unit having a housing, an inlet, an outlet, a motor mounted in the housing, a blower wheel operatively connected to the motor to produce a flow of air through said second motor unit; a first pre-filter unit having an inlet, an outlet, and a filter element mounted therein, said outlet of said pre-filter unit connected to said inlet of said first motor unit; a second pre-filter unit having an inlet, an outlet, and a filter element mounted therein, said outlet of said second pre-filter unit connected to said inlet of said second motor unit; a manifold having a housing, an inlet, and a pair of outlets, one of said outlets connected to said inlet of said first motor unit, and the other of said outlets connected to said inlet of said second motor unit; and a house unit having a housing, first and second open ends, a length of flexible hose secured in said housing, said length of flexible hose having an end selectively extendable away from said hose unit housing.

14. A ventilator, as claimed in claim 1, further including: a main filter unit having a housing, an inlet, an outlet, and a main filter element mounted therein said main filter unit being mounted between said motor unit and said pre-filter unit.

15. A ventilator, as claimed in claim 14, wherein: said main filter element is a HEPA filter.

16. A ventilator, as claimed in claim 14, wherein: said main filter unit includes a removable lid forming one side of said housing, said removable lid including means for selectively securing said lid to said housing.

17. A ventilator, as claimed in claim 14, wherein: said main filter unit includes a plurality of spacer extensions extending from said lid to selectively position said main filter element within said housing.

18. A method of producing a forced flow of air to ventilate an air space or to remove contaminants from an object being cleaned, said method comprising the steps of: providing a plurality of modular constructed ventilator elements including a motor unit, a pre-filter unit, and a hose unit; transporting said ventilator components to a job site; positioning the motor unit; securing an inlet of the motor unit to an outlet of the pre-filter unit; securing an outlet of the hose unit to an inlet of the pre-filter unit; extending a section of flexible hose from said hose unit and placing an inlet of the flexible hose at a location to receive air from the targeted area/object; and energizing the motor unit to produce a flow of air through said hose unit, said pre-filter unit, and through said motor unit and to direct the flow of air to a desired location away from the job site.

Description:

FIELD OF THE INVENTION

The present invention relates to portable vacuum and ventilation devices, and more particularly, to a filtered power ventilator device of modular construction having separable components that are easily assembled and disassembled.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

There are a wide variety of vacuum, ventilation, and blower devices that provide a controlled flow of air from one location to another. Common uses for vacuum collection devices or industrial vacuums are to clean air ducts, air handling units, air conditioning and heating units, as well as to ventilate an area during remodeling or hazardous waste abatement projects.

Some portable vacuum devices exist that allow a user to place the vacuum device at a selected location within a building to clean a targeted object. The well-known household vacuum cleaner is but one example of a vacuum collection device that can be used in the home. However for industrial uses, the household vacuum obviously does not provide the required amount of vacuum force to effectively clean objects such as air ducts, and air conditioning and heating units. Thus larger, higher powered portable vacuum devices exist for handling these larger job requirements. Existing portable vacuum/filtration devices draw air through the unit with a hose, and once the air enters the unit, the air is filtered by one or more pre-filters and a final filter. Once the air passes through the final filter, the air is exhausted through the bottom of the device or around the perimeter of the machine. Many of these existing devices are mounted to a two-wheel dolly or cart enabling the user to more easily transport the unit. Some of the units have separable components; however, the components must be buckled, bolted, or otherwise attached by fasteners before the machine can be operated.

One example of a prior art device is that shown in the U.S. Pat. No. 5,433,763. This reference discloses a portable vacuum and air filtration unit including a plurality of separately transportable modules, a mechanism for locking the modules together during use, an air inlet located in one of the modules, a debris screen, and a mechanism for receiving debris stopped by the screen located at one of the modules. The units further include an electrostatic filter, a bag filter, a HEPA filter, and a mechanism for drawing a substantial volume of air through the inlet, screen, electrostatic filter, bag filter and HEPA filter.

Another example of a prior art device includes the invention disclosed in the U.S. Pat. No. 5,637,124. This reference discloses a modular air cleaning apparatus for treatment of contaminated air. A plurality of modular units are cooperatively interconnected, and at least one separator unit is used in conjunction with at least one filtration unit. Each modular unit is formed of a rectangular shape and is secured by four corner posts. Each post includes at least one exposed, outwardly facing surface with a side margin parallel to a long dimension of the post. The posts aid both in establishing and maintaining a mechanical connection between the modular units.

Yet another example of a prior art device includes the invention shown in the U.S. Pat. No. 5,853,441. This reference specifically discloses a portable, modular vacuum collection apparatus having a pre-filter unit, a vacuum generator unit, and a final HEPA filter unit that are releasably secured together. The pre-filter unit is provided with a plurality of similar tubular flexible filters, and the vacuum generator is powered by a variable frequency driven motor for optimizing performance of the system. The apparatus is portable by mounting the apparatus to casters.

Yet another example of a prior art device includes the invention shown in the U.S. Pat. No. 5,593,470. This reference specifically shows a modular filtration system for cleaning HVAC ductwork, the system including first and second modular assemblies housing a plurality of filters. The modular assemblies are preferably vertically stacked, and the system is wheel-mounted making the system portable.

One significant drawback to these prior art machines is that although they are touted as being “portable”, they are very difficult to transport and operate in confined spaces, and the additional weight of the cart/dolly makes them even more unusable in many homes where an elevator is not present for gaining access to various floor levels. These cart mounted machines are also more difficult to transport in a vehicle since the components are not designed to be normally separated, and separation of the components for travel is time consuming and inefficient. Also because the machines are typically cart/dolly mounted, the frame of the cart/dolly as well as the wheels become quite dirty over time, and the overall cart mounted machine is more difficult to clean between use. Particularly for cleaning ducts within a home, the cart/dolly itself can introduce dirt/contaminants in the area to be cleaned. Additionally, machines of this type are not designed to operate without filters. Therefore, the devices are not optimized for ventilating an area. In other words, these machines are built strictly for purposes of cleaning air ducts or HVAC components. If increased power is required for these existing machines, then an entire additional machine must be used to provide the additional power, and there is no acceptable means to supplement power without introducing an entire new machine. Additional drawbacks to these prior art machines include cumbersome and difficult hose hook-ups, generally poor vacuum performance by use of underpowered motors and inefficient fan blade arrangements, no capability to attach exhaust hoses to direct exhaust well away from the workspace, and use of inefficient pre-filters that allow excess contaminants to pass into the final filter, which is typically a HEPA filter, thus requiring frequent replacement of the more expensive HEPA filter.

Therefore, there is a need for a power vacuum device or ventilator can be easily transported from storage to the work site, can be easily assembled, disassembled, and cleaned, and provides the user with the capability to direct the vacuum inlet and exhaust to specific locations. There is also a need to provide an inexpensive, durable, and sufficiently powered vacuum device or ventilation.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

In accordance with the present invention, a filtered power ventilator or vacuum device is provided with components having modular or separated construction. In a first preferred embodiment, the invention includes three primary components, namely, a motor unit, a pre-filter unit, and a hose unit. Each of the units is contained within their own separate housings. The motor unit includes a source of power in the form of an electric motor, and a blower wheel that attaches to the working shaft of the motor in order to provide a controlled flow of air through the motor unit. The motor is preferably centered within the housing, and the blower wheel communicates with an inlet formed in the housing allowing air to be drawn through the inlet, and out through an outlet formed in the housing. The motor unit is preferably box shaped with sides or panels that enclose the motor and blower wheel. For safety purposes, grills or screens are placed over the inlets and outlets to prevent articles from being caught in the blades of the blower wheel. One panel of the motor housing includes a power cord and an on/off switch enabling the user to selectively energize the motor. Conceptually, the motor unit is simply a power blower wheel mounted within a box to create a controlled flow of air stream through the box.

The pre-filter unit is also preferably box-shaped and includes an inlet and outlet formed on opposite sides of the pre-filter housing. One or more filter elements are placed within the pre-filter unit and are oriented transversely with respect to the direction of airflow through the pre-filter unit. The pre-filter unit includes a removable panel that allows an operator to remove or clean the filter elements. Alternatively, depending upon the type of filter elements chosen, the user may clean the filter elements while still installed by simply applying a vacuum at the inlets and outlets of the filter housing.

The hose unit includes a housing that is also preferably box-shaped, the housing also having two open ends that allow a section of flexible hose to be mounted within the hose unit housing. One end of the flexible section of hose remains fixed within the hose unit housing, and the opposite end of the section of hose may be pulled away from the housing and placed at the desired location. The primary purpose of the hose unit housing is to retain excess lengths of the hose section in a compact manner thereby preventing an excess number of turns or twists in the hose section that otherwise increases frictional line losses and thereby reduces overall vacuum power. Thus, only the selected length of hose is extracted from the hose unit housing and any excess remaining amount of hose remains linearly aligned with the inlet of the pre-filter unit.

Each of the units may include one or more handles secured to the respective housings thereby enabling a user to easily carry the units from one location to another. The inlets and outlets of both the pre-filter unit and motor unit may include attachment rings that stabilize the connection between the units during use. The outlet end of the hose unit may include a hose coupler that acts as a rigid connection point for receiving the inlet attachment ring of the pre-filter unit.

In operation, the units may be vertically stacked upon one another, or may be placed side by side with one another. The diameters of the inlet and outlet rings may be chosen to provide enough frictional resistance so that the units remain attached during use, but may be easily separated from one another after use. For example, the inlet ring of the motor unit may have a diameter that is slightly less than the outlet ring of the pre-filter unit so that a snug fit is achieved when the pre-filter unit is placed over the motor unit. Similarly, the diameter of the pre-filter inlet ring may be slightly smaller than the diameter of the hose coupler on the hose unit thereby enabling a snug fit when the hose unit is connected to the pre-filter unit. Most preferably, the units are assembled in the vertical stacked arrangement so that the respective weights of the units in addition to the arrangement of the inlet and outlet rings ensure that the device remains assembled during use.

One or more additional filter units may be provided to filter air flowing through the device. One example of an additional filter unit would include a HEPA filter unit having its own housing, inlet, outlet, and inlet and outlet rings facilitating connection to the other units. The HEPA filter unit further includes a removable lid or panel to gain access to the housing for replacement or removal of the HEPA filter element.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

FIG. 1 is a perspective view of the filtered power ventilator of the present invention illustrating three primary components, namely, a motor unit, a pre-filter unit, and a hose unit;

FIG. 2 is a fragmentary elevation view of the hose unit illustrating interior details thereof;

FIG. 3 is a perspective view of the pre-filter unit;

FIG. 4 is an exploded perspective view of the pre-filter unit;

FIG. 5 is a partial elevation view of the invention illustrating connection of the basic components;

FIG. 6 is a perspective view of the motor unit;

FIG. 7 is a vertical section taken along line 7-7 of FIG. 6 illustrating interior details of the motor unit;

FIG. 8 is a top plan view of the motor with the top cover/panel of the motor unit housing removed;

FIG. 9 is a bottom plan view of the motor unit with the bottom cover/panel removed;

FIG. 10 is an enlarged perspective view of the blower wheel that attaches to the working shaft of the motor;

FIG. 11 is an elevation view of the motor and the blower wheel connected to the motor;

FIG. 12 is a perspective view illustrating the manner in which a user may easily transport components;

FIG. 13 is an elevation view of the present invention and an additional section of hose attached to the outlet of the motor unit;

FIG. 14 is an enlarged fragmentary perspective view of the connection between the outlet of the motor unit and the extra hose extension;

FIG. 15 is another elevation view illustrating the invention as shown in FIG. 13, but further including another motor unit attached to the free end of the extra hose extension thereby boosting/supplementing vacuum power in a series arrangement;

FIG. 16 is a fragmentary perspective view of a manifold;

FIG. 17 is a perspective view of a pair of motor units arranged in parallel, a pair of pre-filter units mounted to the motor units, and a manifold interconnecting the pair of pre-filter units with a hose unit;

FIG. 18 is a fragmentary perspective and exploded view of a main filter unit;

FIG. 19 is a fully exploded perspective view of the main filter unit;

FIG. 20 is an elevation view illustrating the main filter unit exploded and the main filter unit housing connected to the inlet of the motor unit; and

FIG. 21 is a perspective view illustrating the invention including the main filter unit positioned between the pre-filter unit and the inlet of the motor unit.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION

FIG. 1 illustrates the filtered power ventilator 10 of the present invention. The present invention may also be referred to as a vacuum device, references to the invention as a vacuum device or ventilator not being limiting to use of the invention. The three main or major components of the invention include a motor unit 12, a pre-filter unit 14, and a hose unit 16. Preferably, the pre-filter unit 14 is stacked on the motor unit, and the hose unit 16 is stacked on the pre-filter unit 14. Although this stacked arrangement is illustrated, it shall also be understood that the present invention works equally as well when the units are placed side by side with one another. Therefore, it is also contemplated that the particular size and shape of the units may be modified so that if it is desired to place them in the horizontal stacked arrangement, each unit would have a lower surface flush with the ground. Thus, while the motor unit and hose unit are shown to have approximately the same box-like size, the size/shape of the pre-filter unit 14 could be modified so that when each of the units are placed in a horizontal stack relationship, each would include the lower surface flush with the ground.

FIG. 2 illustrates interior details of the hose unit 16. Specifically, the hose unit 16 includes a box shaped housing 20, an inlet 22 defined by inlet ring 22, a section of hose 28 having one end secured within the housing 20, and having a free-end that can extend away from the housing 20. A faceplate 24 can be used to fill gaps between the inlet ring 22 and the housing 20. A hose coupler 26 may be used to secure one end of the hose section 28 within the housing 20. More specifically, hose coupler 26 is attached to the end of the hose section 28, and the outer circumferential surface of the hose coupler 26 is secured to the internal surface of the housing 20 as by screws or other known fasteners. The free or extendable end 30 of the hose section 28 is extended or retracted as desired to place the targeted airspace or targeted object in communication with the vacuum force generated by the motor unit. Conveniently, a strap 32 secured by strap retainers 34 to the housing 20 enable a user to transport the hose unit. A retaining ring 38 may also be secured to the exterior surface of the housing 20. The retaining ring 38 may be used in conjunction with a strap 39 connected to the opposite side of the housing in order to retain the hose section during storage or transport. The strap 39 is routed over the top open end of the housing and through the retaining ring.

Referring now to FIG. 3, the pre-filter unit 14 is illustrated in further detail wherein phantom lines illustrate the hidden surface/details. The pre-filter unit 14 is a box-shaped structure defined by a housing 40, an inlet ring 42, and an outlet ring 44. The inlet ring 42 is illustrated as extending away from the housing 40, while the outlet ring 44 is illustrated as extending into the open space within the housing 40. However, it shall be understood that the rings 42 and 44 may be either extending or protruding depending upon the particular arrangement of the inlet and outlet rings/connections of the adjacent components.

Referring to FIG. 4, the pre-filter unit 14 further includes a removable front panel or lid enabling the user to access the interior of the pre-filter unit for removing and replacing the filter element 54 mounted therein. One or more handles 45 may be mounted to the exterior surface of the housing 40 also allowing a user to conveniently carry the pre-filter unit. A plurality of screws 46 and locking tabs 48 are secured to the panel 41, and rotation of the screws to the locked position causes the ends of the tabs 48 to displace behind the upper and lower flanges 50 thereby securing the panel 41 in place. By simply rotating the screws approximately one-quarter turn, the panel 41 can be removed. Two pairs of spaced rails 52 are attached to the interior opposite sides of the housing 40 thereby creating a channel for securing the filter element 54. The filter element 54 can be any desired filter element that provides a desired amount of filtration for air traveling through the pre-filter unit. Depending upon how the invention is used, it may be desirable to change the type of filter element 54 being used, or to completely remove the filter element 54 if the invention is simply used as a ventilator to reduce pressure in a confined space.

Referring to FIG. 5, it is seen that the lower surface of the hose unit 16 (the faceplate 24) rests against the upper surface of the pre-filter unit. The inlet ring 42 or the outlet ring 22 may be of a smaller diameter allowing the rings 22 and 42 to matingly engage. The tolerance between the rings 22 and 42 can be adjusted as necessary to provide the necessary frictional fit, or a small gap can exist between the two rings. By providing at least some frictional contact between the rings 22 and 42, a better seal is achieved between the hose unit and pre-filter unit. Additionally, the faceplate 24 as well as the upper surface of the pre-filter unit housing may have a gasket type material applied thereto thereby further achieving a seal between the hose unit and pre-filter unit. In testing, it has been found that there is no requirement to have a tight frictional fit between the rings 22 and 42, and that the weight of the hose unit against the pre-filter unit, and the flat contact surfaces therebetween provide an adequate seal between the two units.

FIG. 5 also illustrates the connection between the motor unit and the outlet ring of the pre-filter unit. As shown, the diameter of the inlet ring 62 is somewhat larger than the diameter of the outlet ring 44; therefore, the pre-filter unit 14 rests on the inlet ring 62. However, it shall also be understood that the diameter of the inlet ring 62 could be reduced so that it fits within the outlet ring 44 so that the lower surface of the pre-filter unit 14 rests on the upper surface of the motor unit.

FIG. 6 illustrates further details of the motor unit 12, the motor unit further including a box-like housing 60, an inlet ring 62, an outlet ring 64, connection rings 65, protective screens or grilles 66 placed over the openings, and one or more carrying handles 68 attached to the housing 60. A power switch 70 and power cord 72 may also be incorporated on the housing 60 enabling a user to easily connect/disconnect the motor unit to a source of power, as well as shutting the motor unit on and off. Other conventional controls can be added to include a motor speed control which would affect the operating speed of the motor.

FIGS. 7-11 illustrate further details of the motor unit to include a motor 74 and a blower wheel 76 attached to the operating shaft of the motor. The motor 74 is mounted within the motor unit. The motor unit includes a mounting plate 75 that is secured to a mounting bracket 78 disposed on the inner sidewall of the housing 60. The mounting bracket 78 may include two l-shaped components that attach to the interior wall of the housing, and a u-shaped element that spans between the l-shaped elements. The mounting plate 75 of the motor is then mounted flush to the exposed surface of the u-shaped element. Those skilled in the art can envision any number of different ways in which the motor 74 can be securely mounted within the housing 60.

FIG. 10 illustrates one preferred construction for the blower wheel 76. The blower wheel may include a plurality of reverse inclined blades 79 which are secured at one end by a continuous upper shroud 82, and secured at their opposite ends by a circular shaped base 80. The base 80 includes an opening formed therethrough for receiving the shaft 81 of the motor.

Preferably, the motor and blower wheel are centered within the housing, and a minimal gap exists between the blades 79 and the interior surface of the housing 60. Accordingly, a very small passage is created within the motor unit which minimizes frictional losses and other undesirable fluid dynamic issues which would otherwise prevent efficient air travel through the motor unit.

FIG. 12 illustrates a user U who may conveniently carry the motor unit 12 and the pre-filter unit 14 by their respective handles 45 and 68.

FIG. 13 illustrates the invention along with an additional section of flexible hose 90 that can be used to direct the exhaust air flowing through outlet end 92.

FIG. 14 illustrates one way in which the additional hose section 90 may be attached to the motor unit. The inlet end 94 of the hose 90 may include a hose coupler that fits over the exhaust/outlet ring 64 of the motor unit. A hook and pile type strap 96 may be attached to the hose 90 as by one or more rivets/fasteners 98. The strap 96 is routed through retention ring 65. The strap is then secured by pressing the two sides of the strap together.

FIG. 15 illustrates another embodiment of the invention wherein an additional motor unit 12′ is connected to the exhaust end 92 of the additional hose section 90. The additional motor unit 12′ provides additional power to draw air through the device to include boosting vacuum power through the additional hose section 90. One or more additional hose sections as well as motor units may be further combined in series to transport air from one location to another. The modular construction of the present invention is ideally suited for such a series arrangement of motor units and hose sections.

FIGS. 16 and 17 illustrate yet another embodiment of the present invention wherein two motor units 12 and 12′ are shown being connected in parallel accommodated by incorporation of a manifold 100. As shown, the manifold includes an inlet ring 108, and a pair of outlet rings 106. The outlet rings 106 matingly engage the respective inlet rings of the pre-filter units 14 and 14′. The inlet ring 108 is then engaged with the outlet ring 22 of the hose unit 16. As illustrated, the manifold is preferably box-shaped and adequate sealing between the pre-filter units and the hose unit 16 is achieved by a desired frictional fit between the inlet and outlet rings, as well as the surface contact between the upper and lower surfaces of the units when placed in the stacked arrangement. Although only two outlet rings 106 are illustrated, it is also contemplated that the manifold 100 could include additional outlet rings 106 which would therefore accommodate connection of additional motor units thereby further increasing the vacuum power of the device. Furthermore, it is also contemplated that a single outlet ring 106 be used with two or more inlet rings 108 which would therefore accommodate multiple hose units being connected to a single motor unit. This arrangement may be desirable if the required vacuum force for a particular cleaning task or ventilating project required less power.

FIGS. 18-21 illustrate yet an additional embodiment of the present invention that contemplate the use of a main filter unit 110 which provides further filtering capability. This main filter unit 110 could include the use of a HEPA filter element 120 or any other type of desired filter unit which supplements the pre-filter element. Particularly in abatement projects where hazardous materials are present, HEPA filtration may be required to prevent the broadcast of contaminants into the environment.

Referring to FIG. 18, the main filter unit 110 is characterized by a housing 112, a lid 114 which fits snugly over the open panel of the housing 112, an inlet ring 116, and an outlet ring 118. The filter element 120 is placed within the housing 112, and may rest upon a flange or ledge 122 that is spaced above the lower surface of the filter unit. The housing 112 can be sized to accommodate the particular type of filter elements chosen, as such filter elements may require a small gap between the inner surface of the housing and the outer surface of the filter element. Also, it may be necessary for the filter element to be tightly secured within the housing 112; therefore, one or more spacers 124 may protrude from the lid 114 to compress/position the filter element at the desired orientation within the housing. As shown in FIG. 19, the spacers 124 would contact the upper peripheral edge of the filter element 120 thereby tightly securing the filter element within the housing.

Referring to FIG. 20, the main filter unit 110 is also illustrated along with the pair of sealing gaskets 126 that may be positioned to seal the filter unit with respect to the housing. Blow-by is undesirable for the main filter unit, thus the sealing gaskets help to ensure that air is directed solely through the filter element 120. As also shown in FIG. 20, the outlet ring 118 matingly engages the inlet ring of the motor unit 12. As discussed above with respect to the pre-filter unit, the size of the outlet ring 118 could also be sized so that the inlet ring of the motor unit may be inserted within the outlet ring weight 118 thereby causing the lower surface of the filter unit 110 to rest upon the upper surface of the motor unit.

FIG. 21 illustrates the fully assembled vacuum device incorporating the main filter unit 110. The inlet ring 116 of the main filter unit 110 matingly engages the outlet ring of the pre-filter unit 14 so that the lower surface of the pre-filter unit rests against the upper surface of the main filter unit.

There are a number of materials that can be used to construct the housings of the various components. Plastic or metal are preferable choices since these materials can be easily formed into the panels making up the housings. It is also preferable to choose plastic or metal which are non-reactive with exposure to chemicals, as well as being rust-proof.

The advantages of the present invention are numerous. The invention is lightweight and portable, thus easily transported and stored by one person. The stackable components eliminate the need for bolts, buckles, or other hardware normally associated with securing components within other systems. Access to each of the interiors of the components is made simple by a removable panel or lid. Thus, the filter elements may be easily cleaned or replaced without having to disassemble the entire device. The inlet and outlet rings incorporated on the components allow the components to be connected in various different arrangements to best handle the cleaning or remediation project. Increased vacuum power can be achieved through either a series or parallel arrangement of additional motor units, and use of a manifold can also allow multiple hose units to be used with one or more motor units.

Each of the units are also easily cleaned and stored. The modular construction also enables separate cleaning and maintenance as required, as each of the components may have different cleaning or maintenance requirements. The use of one or more hose sections allows the user to precisely direct both the vacuum suction as well as the exhaust. The motor units can be run independently without connection to any filtration thereby making the invention also adaptable for ventilation projects.

While the above description and drawings disclose and illustrate embodiments of the present invention, it should be understood that the invention is not limited to these embodiments. Those skilled in the art may make other modifications and other changes employing the principles of the present invention, particularly considering the foregoing teachings. Therefore, by the appended claims, the applicant intends to cover such modifications and other embodiments.