Title:
Hot bath facility
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
The present invention provides a hot bath facility where partitioned men's and women's changing rooms 12 and 13 are communicated with an enclosed bathroom 1 through dedicated windbreak rooms 2,2; on the opposite side, the enclosed bathroom 1 is communicated with a cool-down area 14; floor-heating pipes 4 and 41 are laid in the enclosed bathroom 1; portions extending from the floor-heating pipes 4 are laid in the windbreak rooms 2, making turns in regular cycles; the floor-heating pipes are completely covered by a protective concrete layer 43; a natural-stone-containing concrete layer 5 is formed on the protective concrete layer to generate nurturing wave energy; and hot water is supplied to the floor-heating pipes 4 and 41.



Inventors:
Nunokawa, Toshihiro (Yonezawa, JP)
Application Number:
11/355028
Publication Date:
08/24/2006
Filing Date:
02/15/2006
Primary Class:
International Classes:
E04H6/00
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Related US Applications:



Primary Examiner:
NGUYEN, TUAN N
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
HAMMER & ASSOCIATES, P.C. (CHARLOTTE, NC, US)
Claims:
1. A hot bath facility wherein: partitioned men's and women's changing rooms are communicated with a common enclosed bathroom through dedicated windbreak rooms; on the side opposite to the dedicated windbreak rooms, the enclosed bathroom is communicated with a cool-down area through a cool-down gate windbreak room common to men and women or separate cool-down gate windbreak rooms; floor-heating pipes are laid in one or few blocks on concrete slab-on-grade of the enclosed bathroom, meandering at predetermined intervals and making turns in regular cycles; portions extending from the floor-heating pipes or separate floor-heating pipes are similarly laid on concrete slab-on-grade of the windbreak rooms adjacent to the enclosed bathroom; the floor-heating pipes are completely covered by a protective concrete layer; a natural stone layer for generating nurturing wave energy or a concrete layer containing natural stone is formed as a layer or part of the layer above the protective concrete layer; and hot water which can be regulated to a predetermined temperature is supplied to the floor-heating pipes.

2. A hot bath facility wherein: partitioned men's and women's changing rooms are communicated with a common enclosed bathroom through dedicated windbreak rooms; on the side opposite to the dedicated windbreak rooms, the enclosed bathroom is communicated with a cool-down area through a cool-down gate windbreak room common to men and women or separate cool-down gate windbreak rooms; floor-heating pipes are laid in one or few blocks on concrete slab-on-grade of the enclosed bathroom, meandering at predetermined intervals and making turns in regular cycles; portions extending from the floor-heating pipes or separate floor-heating pipes are similarly laid on concrete slab-on-grade of the windbreak rooms adjacent to the enclosed bathroom; the floor-heating pipes are completely covered by a protective concrete layer; a natural stone layer for generating nurturing wave energy or a concrete layer containing natural stone is formed almost flush in at least appropriate sections on a top face of the protective concrete layer in the enclosed bathroom; and hot water which can be regulated to a predetermined temperature is supplied to the floor-heating pipes.

3. A hot bath facility wherein: partitioned men's and women's changing rooms are communicated with a common enclosed bathroom through dedicated windbreak rooms; on the side opposite to the dedicated windbreak rooms, the enclosed bathroom is communicated with a cool-down area through a cool-down gate windbreak room common to men and women or separate cool-down gate windbreak rooms; floor-heating pipes are laid in one or few blocks on concrete slab-on-grade of the enclosed bathroom, meandering at predetermined intervals and making turns in regular cycles; portions extending from the floor-heating pipes or separate floor-heating pipes are similarly laid on concrete slab-on-grade of the windbreak rooms adjacent to the enclosed bathroom; the floor-heating pipes are completely covered by a protective concrete layer; natural stone for generating nurturing wave energy, i.e., a raw stone slab of a size suitable for a recumbent human body is buried almost flush in at least appropriate sections on a top face of the protective concrete layer in the enclosed bathroom; and hot water which can be regulated to a predetermined temperature is supplied to the floor-heating pipes.

4. A hot bath facility wherein: partitioned men's and women's changing rooms are communicated with a common enclosed bathroom through dedicated windbreak rooms; on the side opposite to the dedicated windbreak rooms, the enclosed bathroom is communicated with a cool-down area through a cool-down gate windbreak room common to men and women or separate cool-down gate windbreak rooms; floor-heating pipes are laid in one or few blocks on concrete slab-on-grade of the enclosed bathroom, meandering at predetermined intervals and making turns in regular cycles; portions extending from the floor-heating pipes or separate floor-heating pipes are similarly laid on concrete slab-on-grade of the windbreak rooms adjacent to the enclosed bathroom; the floor-heating pipes are completely covered by a protective concrete layer; natural stone for generating nurturing wave energy, i.e., a raw stone slab of a size suitable for a recumbent human body is buried almost flush in at least appropriate sections on a top face of the protective concrete layer in the enclosed bathroom; hot water which can be regulated to a predetermined temperature is supplied to the floor-heating pipes; and a slatted corridor connecting the windbreak rooms with each other is placed at appropriate locations on top of the protective concrete layer in the enclosed bathroom except the appropriate sections where the natural stone layer for generating nurturing wave energy or the concrete layer containing natural stone is formed.

5. The hot bath facility according to claim 1, wherein: of the floor-heating pipes in the various rooms, at least the pipes in the enclosed bathroom are installed in multiple tiers.

6. The hot bath facility according to claim 1, wherein: of the floor-heating pipes, the pipes in the enclosed bathroom are installed in multiple tiers; and the multi-tiered pipes in the enclosed bathroom are extended as they are into the windbreak rooms adjacent to the enclosed bathroom, meandering at larger intervals than in the enclosed bathroom.

7. The hot bath facility according to claim 1, wherein: of the floor-heating pipes, the pipes in the enclosed bathroom are installed in multiple tiers; and only an upper or lower tier of the multi-tiered pipes in the enclosed bathroom is extended into the windbreak rooms adjacent to the enclosed bathroom.

8. The hot bath facility according to claim 1, wherein: each windbreak room has an open/close mechanism installed at a doorway to the men's changing room, the women's changing room, or the cool-down area and at a doorway to the enclosed bathroom; the open/close mechanism at least at the doorway to the enclosed bathroom has an airtight seal as well as a lock/unlock mechanism which can be temporarily locked closed and can be opened and closed in a simple manner.

9. The hot bath facility according to claim 2, wherein: of the floor-heating pipes in the various rooms, at least the pipes in the enclosed bathroom are installed in multiple tiers.

10. The hot bath facility according to claim 3, wherein: of the floor-heating pipes in the various rooms, at least the pipes in the enclosed bathroom are installed in multiple tiers.

11. The hot bath facility according to claim 4, wherein: of the floor-heating pipes in the various rooms, at least the pipes in the enclosed bathroom are installed in multiple tiers.

12. The hot bath facility according to claim 2, wherein: of the floor-heating pipes, the pipes in the enclosed bathroom are installed in multiple tiers; and the multi-tiered pipes in the enclosed bathroom are extended as they are into the windbreak rooms adjacent to the enclosed bathroom, meandering at larger intervals than in the enclosed bathroom.

13. The hot bath facility according to claim 3, wherein: of the floor-heating pipes, the pipes in the enclosed bathroom are installed in multiple tiers; and the multi-tiered pipes in the enclosed bathroom are extended as they are into the windbreak rooms adjacent to the enclosed bathroom, meandering at larger intervals than in the enclosed bathroom.

14. The hot bath facility according to claim 4, wherein: of the floor-heating pipes, the pipes in the enclosed bathroom are installed in multiple tiers; and the multi-tiered pipes in the enclosed bathroom are extended as they are into the windbreak rooms adjacent to the enclosed bathroom, meandering at larger intervals than in the enclosed bathroom.

15. The hot bath facility according to claim 2, wherein: of the floor-heating pipes, the pipes in the enclosed bathroom are installed in multiple tiers; and only an upper or lower tier of the multi-tiered pipes in the enclosed bathroom is extended into the windbreak rooms adjacent to the enclosed bathroom.

16. The hot bath facility according to claim 3, wherein: of the floor-heating pipes, the pipes in the enclosed bathroom are installed in multiple tiers; and only an upper or lower tier of the multi-tiered pipes in the enclosed bathroom is extended into the windbreak rooms adjacent to the enclosed bathroom.

17. The hot bath facility according to claim 4, wherein: of the floor-heating pipes, the pipes in the enclosed bathroom are installed in multiple tiers; and only an upper or lower tier of the multi-tiered pipes in the enclosed bathroom is extended into the windbreak rooms adjacent to the enclosed bathroom.

18. The hot bath facility according claim 2, wherein: each windbreak room has an open/close mechanism installed at a doorway to the men's changing room, the women's changing room, or the cool-down area and at a doorway to the enclosed bathroom; the open/close mechanism at least at the doorway to the enclosed bathroom has an airtight seal as well as a lock/unlock mechanism which can be temporarily locked closed and can be opened and closed in a simple manner.

19. The hot bath facility according claim 3, wherein: each windbreak room has an open/close mechanism installed at a doorway to the men's changing room, the women's changing room, or the cool-down area and at a doorway to the enclosed bathroom; the open/close mechanism at least at the doorway to the enclosed bathroom has an airtight seal as well as a lock/unlock mechanism which can be temporarily locked closed and can be opened and closed in a simple manner.

20. The hot bath facility according claim 4, wherein: each windbreak room has an open/close mechanism installed at a doorway to the men's changing room, the women's changing room, or the cool-down area and at a doorway to the enclosed bathroom; the open/close mechanism at least at the doorway to the enclosed bathroom has an airtight seal as well as a lock/unlock mechanism which can be temporarily locked closed and can be opened and closed in a simple manner.

Description:

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION AND RELATED ART STATEMENT

1. Field of the Invention

The present invention relates to all fields relevant to hot bath facilities, including not only building and construction fields concerned with constructing facilities, but also fields concerned with manufacturing and selling equipment and instrumentation needed in the facilities, especially equipment and instrumentation related to hot baths; fields concerned with supplying the manufacturing fields with materials and parts such as wood, concrete, natural rock, metals, and plastics; fields concerned with providing machines and tools needed to process the materials and parts; fields concerned with providing wood, plywood, plastics, various metal materials, and other materials needed for the machines and parts; fields of electronic parts to be incorporated into the machines and control devices made up of the electronic parts; fields of various measuring instruments; fields of prime movers which drive the equipment; fields of electric power, oil, and other energy sources used to power the equipment; all the fields collectively called the industrial equipment field; fields concerned with testing, studying, exhibiting, selling, exporting/importing, or utilizing the equipment and instrumentation; collection and transport fields concerned with collecting and carrying garbage produced as a result of equipment operation; recycling fields concerned with recycling the garbage effectively; and other new fields inconceivable at present. It is not too much to say that there is no field that would be irrelevant.

2. Description of Related Art

(Point at Issue)

It has been recognized that bedrock bathing which consists of spreading out a rush mat, towel, or the like on a rock heated by terrestrial heat and warming one's body by lying on it is highly effective in promoting health and improving physical condition as bodily waste, toxins, etc. are excreted effectively together with profuse sweat out of the body warmed by the heat transmitted from the bedrock. However, natural rock masses kept at a temperature suitable for bedrock bathing and effective for promotion of health can be found only at very limited locations in Japan. To use hot springs with such benefits, reservations must be made a few months in advance. Even if a reservation is made, it is often troublesome to visit the location from a great distance on the day of the reservation. Thus, the actual situation is that bedrock baths are not used on a casual basis although the great benefits of bedrock bathing are well understood.

(Prior Art)

Techniques intended to implement facilities which allow casual use of bedrock bathing known to be very effective for restoration and promotion of health have surely been developed and proposed, for example, in Japanese Patent Laid-Open No. 2001-95889 titled “Stone Bath Apparatus” and Japanese Patent Laid-Open No. 8-12406 titled “Far-Infrared Ray Emitting Concrete Body” although they are small in number. They are based on an almost common technical idea of burying heating piping under the floor of a room, laying a concrete body containing natural stone or similar material which emits far-infrared rays, gravel, sand, or the like on the floor surface, and heating the piping with a boiler. It has been demonstrated that these conventional structures and facilities provide benefits similar to hot baths which utilize natural rock masses available in hot spring areas.

(Problems to be Solved)

However, conventional artificial hot bath facilities which have been developed for the above purposes and put to practical use depend on hot-water supply from a boiler for temperature adjustment in the bathroom. This causes the hot water flowing by a regular route through the heating piping laid under the floor to differ greatly in temperature between the feed end and discharge end, and the temperature can be too high or too low depending on where the user lies down. Consequently, it is difficult to heat a wide bathroom uniformly by a hot water supply system which uses underfloor piping and it is very difficult to keep the entire bathroom at an optimum temperature. Thus, for uniform and effective control needed to maintain rock surface temperature, room temperature, and room humidity suitable for bedrock bathing, the administrator must constantly make subtle adjustments with the utmost care. Furthermore, considering the health of facility users, it is preferable to avoid abrupt temperature changes between the changing room and bathroom whenever possible and it is necessary to minimize the difference between air conditioner temperature of the men's/women's changing room and temperature of the bathroom, but elaborate temperature control in the facilities greatly adds to the burden on maintenance workers and efforts to achieve the best results can reduce profitability and hamper business. Consequently, businesses are still forced to make every effort to achieve a balance between human welfare and profitability. It is urgent to solve this problem.

OBJECT AND SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

(Object of the Invention)

Thus, the applicant undertook research and development to discover whether it was possible to exercise efficient control to minimize the difference between the temperature of a bathroom and temperature around its entrance and exit. After years of trial and error, a lot of prototyping, and repeated experimentation, the applicant has finally succeeded in implementing a hot bath facility of a novel structure. A representative embodiment of the present invention shown in the drawings as well as its organization will be described in detail below.

(Organization of the Invention)

As can be seen clearly from the representative embodiment of the present invention shown in the drawings, a hot bath facility included in the present invention basically has the following configuration.

Namely, the present invention provides a hot bath facility wherein: partitioned men's and women's changing rooms are communicated with a common enclosed bathroom through dedicated windbreak rooms; on the side opposite to the dedicated windbreak rooms, the enclosed bathroom is communicated with a cool-down area through a cool-down gate windbreak room common to men and women or separate cool-down gate windbreak rooms; floor-heating pipes are laid in one or few blocks on concrete slab-on-grade of the enclosed bathroom, meandering at predetermined intervals and making turns in regular cycles; portions extending from the floor-heating pipes or separate floor-heating pipes are similarly laid on concrete slab-on-grade of the windbreak rooms adjacent to the enclosed bathroom; the floor-heating pipes are completely covered by a protective concrete layer; a natural stone layer for generating nurturing wave energy or a concrete layer containing natural stone is formed as a layer or part of the layer above the protective concrete layer; and hot water which can be regulated to a predetermined temperature is supplied to the floor-heating pipes.

In a more specific form, the present invention provides a hot bath facility wherein: partitioned men's and women's changing rooms are communicated with a common enclosed bathroom through dedicated windbreak rooms; on the side opposite to the dedicated windbreak rooms, the enclosed bathroom is communicated with a cool-down area through a cool-down gate windbreak room common to men and women or separate cool-down gate windbreak rooms; floor-heating pipes are laid in one or few blocks on concrete slab-on-grade of the enclosed bathroom, meandering at predetermined intervals and making turns in regular cycles; portions extending from the floor-heating pipes or separate floor-heating pipes are similarly laid on concrete slab-on-grade of the windbreak rooms adjacent to the enclosed bathroom; the floor-heating pipes are completely covered by a protective concrete layer; a natural stone layer for generating nurturing wave energy or a concrete layer containing natural stone is formed almost flush in at least appropriate sections on a top face of the protective concrete layer in the enclosed bathroom; and hot water which can be regulated to a predetermined temperature is supplied to the floor-heating pipes.

In a still more specific form, the present invention provides a hot bath facility wherein: partitioned men's and women's changing rooms are communicated with a common enclosed bathroom through dedicated windbreak rooms; on the side opposite to the dedicated windbreak rooms, the enclosed bathroom is communicated with a cool-down area through a cool-down gate windbreak room common to men and women or separate cool-down gate windbreak rooms; floor-heating pipes are laid in one or few blocks on concrete slab-on-grade of the enclosed bathroom, meandering at predetermined intervals and making turns in regular cycles; portions extending from the floor-heating pipes or separate floor-heating pipes are similarly laid on concrete slab-on-grade of the windbreak rooms adjacent to the enclosed bathroom; the floor-heating pipes are completely covered by a protective concrete layer; natural stone for generating nurturing wave energy, i.e., a raw stone slab of a size suitable for a recumbent human body is buried almost flush in at least appropriate sections on a top face of the protective concrete layer in the enclosed bathroom; and hot water which can be regulated to a predetermined temperature is supplied to the floor-heating pipes.

Also, the present invention provides a hot bath facility wherein: partitioned men's and women's changing rooms are communicated with a common enclosed bathroom through dedicated windbreak rooms; on the side opposite to the dedicated windbreak rooms, the enclosed bathroom is communicated with a cool-down area through a cool-down gate windbreak room common to men and women or separate cool-down gate windbreak rooms; floor-heating pipes are laid in one or few blocks on concrete slab-on-grade of the enclosed bathroom, meandering at predetermined intervals and making turns in regular cycles; portions extending from the floor-heating pipes or separate floor-heating pipes are similarly laid on concrete slab-on-grade of the windbreak rooms adjacent to the enclosed bathroom; the floor-heating pipes are completely covered by a protective concrete layer; a natural stone layer for generating nurturing wave energy or a concrete layer containing natural stone is formed almost flush in at least appropriate sections on a top face of the protective concrete layer in the enclosed bathroom; hot water which can be regulated to a predetermined temperature is supplied to the floor-heating pipes; and a slatted corridor connecting the windbreak rooms with each other is placed at appropriate locations on top of the protective concrete layer in the enclosed bathroom except the appropriate sections where the natural stone layer for generating nurturing wave energy or the concrete layer containing natural stone is formed.

As described above, in the hot bath facility according to the present invention, almost the same floor-heating pipes as that of the enclosed bathroom are laid under the floor of the windbreak rooms which are installed between the men's/women's changing rooms and the enclosed bathroom as well as between the cool-down area and the enclosed bathroom. This makes it possible to generate heat from the floor surface of almost the same type as that of the enclosed bathroom and adjust room temperature, thereby greatly reducing body strain caused by temperature differences when users go in and out of the enclosed bathroom and minimizing body strain caused by temperature differences when the users go in and out of the other rooms. Consequently, effective nurturing wave energy generated by the natural stone layer for generating nurturing wave energy or concrete layer containing natural stone acts on the body without loss. Thus, the hot bath facility according to the present invention has an excellent feature of being able to further promote health and improve physical condition.

In the hot bath facility according to the present invention, if floor-heating pipes are buried in multiple tiers in the floor structure rather than in a single tier, even if hot water of the same temperature is supplied, it is possible to reduce temperature nonuniformities over the thickness of the protective concrete layer, uniformly heating the entire floor surfaces in the enclosed bathroom and windbreak rooms accordingly and thereby stabilizing the floor temperature as well as to increase heat capacity thereby decreasing heat released outdoors and reducing susceptibility to variations in outside air temperature due to seasonal changes or daily meteorological changes. This makes it possible to constantly maintain stable floor temperature, and thus provide the user a hot bath environment with less temperature changes. In the case where a slatted corridor connecting the windbreak rooms with each other is placed at appropriate locations on top of the protective concrete layer except where the natural stone layer for generating nurturing wave energy or concrete layer containing natural stone is formed, measures are taken to avoid a situation in which heat removal due to frequent passage of people would result in nonuniform heating of the nurturing-wave-energy-generating natural stone layer or natural-stone-containing concrete layer placed near the pathway and consequently in impairing the effect of the hot bath. Furthermore, thanks also to heating of the windbreak rooms, it is possible to greatly reduce fuel consumption of an air-conditioning system of the men's and women's changing rooms as well as fuel consumption of a hot-water supply system. Thus, the present invention has the advantage of being able to provide a hot bath facility which is economical as a whole, relatively compact in structure, and friendly to the environment.

Moreover, if the floor-heating pipes in the enclosed bathroom are extended into the windbreak rooms, there is no need to install separate systems and it is possible to avoid temperature drop in the hot bath room caused by cool air entering the hot bath room during entry and exit into/from the cool-down area.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

The drawings show an embodiment which embodies the technical idea of the hot bath facility according to the present invention.

FIG. 1 is a plan view showing part of floor-heating piping of a hot bath facility;

FIG. 2 is a plan view showing indoor structure of the hot bath facility; and

FIG. 3 is a side view showing a cross section of the floor-heating piping.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF PREFERRED EMBODIMENTS

Description will be given of the best or a preferred mode for carrying out the present invention configured as described above.

An enclosed bathroom should be able to keep itself enclosed and regulate its temperature and humidity suitably while allowing the user to go in and out freely. It should have an enclosed structure to ensure heat-retaining properties by increasing heat-insulating properties and maintain humidity. Entrance doors and windows should have a sealed structure to keep themselves airtight and have a knob or handle which can be locked in a simple manner. A windbreak room should be attached to each doorway to prevent abrupt temperature changes when users go in and out. Preferably, air-conditioning fans for use to agitate indoor air and ventilation fans for use to take in outside air and discharge indoor air are installed at appropriate locations, and the fans are controlled either automatically or by an administrator to keep the room at an optimum temperature and humidity.

Men's and women's changing rooms should be separated from each other and each of them should have access to the common enclosed bathroom. The men's and women's changing rooms should have dedicated windbreak rooms before respective doorways to the enclosed bathroom. They must have enough space for a large number of users to dress and undress and at least standard changing-room equipment. They should be equipped with rockers, washstands, etc. corresponding in number to the scale of hot bath facility. Shower rooms, toilets, and other facilities may be added as required.

The windbreak rooms attached to the men's and women's changing rooms connect the men's and women's changing rooms with the respective doorways to the common enclosed bathroom. They protect the users who enter and exit the enclosed bathroom from abrupt temperature changes and prevent the temperature and humidity of the enclosed bathroom from changing greatly when the users enter and exit the enclosed bathroom. They are smaller than the changing rooms. Swinging doors, sliding doors, or other open/close mechanisms which block inflow and outflow of air must be installed at doorways to the changing rooms and enclosed bathroom. Especially at the doorways to the enclosed bathroom, the doors should have a sealing structure as well as a door-knob, lever, or other open/close mechanism which can be locked and unlocked by the user in a simple manner. Shower rooms, toilets, and other facilities may be added as required.

A cool-down area provides a space for users who have warmed up and sweated in the enclosed bathroom to rest and cool themselves down by getting out of the enclosed bathroom and being exposed to outside air. The cool-down area should be located approximately on the opposite side of the enclosed bathroom from the men's and women's changing rooms and connected with the enclosed bathroom via a dedicated windbreak room. It should be visually cut off from the outside world to some extent by partitions, trees, etc. while giving the users a sense of spaciousness and eliminating walls to such an extent as to allow an adequate amount of outside air to flow in. Preferably, duckboards or wooden decks are placed on the floor, as required, so that bare feet of the users will not come into direct contact with outdoor concrete surfaces which are hot in summer and cold in winter. Also, it is preferable to install a roof to shut out direct sunlight and keep out the rain.

The windbreak room attached to the cool-down area protects the users coming and going between the enclosed bathroom and cool-down area from abrupt temperature changes and prevents dry cold outside air from entering through the doorway of the cool-down area, lowering and destabilizing the temperature and humidity of the enclosed bathroom. The doorways to the enclosed bathroom must have a sealing structure as well as open/close mechanisms which are equipped with a door-knob, lever, or the like which can be locked and unlocked by the user in a simple manner. Furthermore, the doorway to the cool-down area should have a similar sealing structure and open/close mechanism to ensure the heat-retaining properties of the windbreak room itself.

Concrete slab-on-grade supports underfloor structures of at least the enclosed bathroom and windbreak rooms from below, firming up the foundation for the entire floor, increasing heat-retaining properties and heat-insulating properties, and decreasing heat release to the ground or lower floors. Preferably, a waterproof mud-floor sheet, heat-insulating material, or the like is put between the concrete slab-on-grade and a protective concrete layer to improve moisture resistance and heat-insulating properties. When installing the enclosed bathroom on the first floor or basement floor, it is preferable to lay crushed stone under the concrete slab-on-grade and in direct contact with the ground or underground, with a moisture-proof sheet inserted in-between and without any underfloor space, thereby increasing heat-retaining property. As is the case with the protective concrete layer, the concrete slab-on-grade may be made of concrete containing natural stone which generates nurturing wave energy, its granules, its powder, or the like.

Floor-heating pipes are buried under the floors of the enclosed bathroom and windbreak rooms and supplied with hot water to heat the floor and raise the temperature in the enclosed bathroom. Floor-heating pipes should be laid in one or few blocks under the floor of the enclosed bathroom, meandering at predetermined intervals and making turns in regular cycles. Also, meandering floor-heating pipes should be laid under the floors of the windbreak rooms. They may be laid in a single tier meandering at approximately the same intervals as in the enclosed bathroom. Alternatively, they may be laid in two or more tiers as required, meandering at larger intervals than in the enclosed bathroom and being connected to separate boilers. In that case, the upper and lower piping or the upper, middle and lower piping should be buried in the protective concrete layer in combination with lath material such as wire mesh and integrated with the concrete slab-on-grade below. Preferably, their total strength is increased to prevent cracks, subsidence, and deformation.

The protective concrete layer secures the floor-heating pipes laid at predetermined intervals in place on the concrete slab-on-grade, transfers heat efficiently to a natural stone layer for generating nurturing wave energy or concrete layer containing natural stone, and of course serves as a load-bearing floor which bears loads acting on the floor of the enclosed bathroom. At the same time, it protects the buried pipes from being pressed and deformed inadvertently. It must have strength approximately equal to typical concrete. It must be combined with lath material such as wire mesh to ensure adequate strength and integrated with the concrete slab-on-grade. The protective concrete layer may be made of concrete mixed and kneaded with nurturing-wave-energy-generating natural stone, crushed natural stone, or the like as well as with typical aggregate.

The natural stone receives heat energy when heated and emits at least far-infrared rays with wavelengths of 3 μm to 25 μm by itself. Among others, the natural stone must have a wavelength range of 4 μm to 14 μm and have the property of generating nurturing wave energy which is effective in promotion of health such as activating body cells and facilitating the flow of blood. In other words, the natural stone must emit very weak vibrational energy or weak magnetic energy and thereby stimulate body cells to help promote health and overcome fatigue. Also, the natural stone must be effective at producing beautiful skin, losing weight, relieving chronic fatigue, back pain, and stiff shoulders, improving skin condition, and preventing colds. Concrete examples of natural stone include amphibole (produced in Iwate Prefecture), Heaven stone (produced in Miyazaki Prefecture), tourmaline (produced in Brazil), amethyst (produced in Brazil), and quartz (produced in Brazil). Such stone may be spread to a predetermined thickness over a predetermined area in the form of pebbles, cut from natural stone and laid in the form of slabs with a predetermined area and a predetermined thickness, or installed by using a combination of the two methods depending on conditions. Preferably, however, natural stone is provided as a raw stone slab (or maybe more than one slab) large enough for a single person to lie on in a recumbent position from the viewpoint of striking a balance between hygiene and economics considering the fact that users lie down and sweat on it repeatedly.

The natural-stone-containing concrete layer is formed by mixing an appropriate amount of the natural stone crushed to an appropriate grain size into typical or special (light-weight, high-early-strength, heavy-weight, or the like) concrete as exclusively an additive or as one of aggregates. It emits nurturing wave energy effective in enhancing the metabolism of the user's body. The natural-stone-containing concrete layer may be formed on the floor of the enclosed bathroom at least in its limited part where the user bathe in a recumbent position, in a wider area, i.e., on almost the entire floor of the enclosed bathroom in some cases, or on almost the entire floor of the enclosed bathroom and floors of the windbreak rooms. The undersurface of the natural stone or raw stone slab buried in the space where the user lies in a supine position may be formed in the natural-stone-containing concrete layer (nurturing-wave-energy-generating concrete layer) or in contact with the top face of the protective concrete layer.

The representative embodiment of the present invention shown in the drawings as well as its structure will be described in detail below.

Embodiment

A plan view in FIG. 1 showing lower floor-heating piping of a hot bath facility, a plan view in FIG. 2 showing indoor structure of the hot bath facility, and a side view in FIG. 3 showing a cross section of the floor-heating piping provide a representative embodiment of a hot bath facility included in the present invention, where partitioned men's and women's changing rooms 12 and 13 are communicated with a common enclosed bathroom 1 through dedicated windbreak rooms 2,2; on the side opposite to the dedicated windbreak rooms 2,2, the enclosed bathroom 1 is communicated with a cool-down area 14 through a cool-down gate windbreak room 2 common to men and women or separate cool-down gate windbreak rooms 2; floor-heating pipes 4 and 41 are laid in one or few blocks on concrete slab-on-grade 3 of the enclosed bathroom 1, meandering at predetermined intervals and making turns in regular cycles; portions extending from the floor-heating pipes 4 is laid on concrete slab-on-grade 3 of the windbreak rooms 2,2,2 adjacent to the enclosed bathroom 1; the floor-heating pipes are completely covered by a protective concrete layer 43; a natural-stone-containing concrete layer 5 for generating nurturing wave energy is formed on part or all of a top face of the protective concrete layer; and hot water which can be regulated to a predetermined temperature is supplied to the floor-heating pipes 4 and 41.

The men's and women's changing rooms 12 and 13 are provided on both side of an entrance 11 to the hot bath facility. They are raised above the entrance 11 and the user enters them by taking off his/her shoes. The men's and women's changing rooms 12 and 13 are communicated with the adjacent enclosed bathroom 1 through the dedicated windbreak rooms 2,2. On the opposite side, the enclosed bathroom 1 is communicated with the open-air cool-down area 14 through a windbreak room 2. Both men's and women's changing rooms 12 and 13 are equipped with rockers 15,15, washstands 16,16 and a toilet 17,17. Their temperature is adjusted to be comfortable for the users by a heating/cooling air-conditioning system (such as an air conditioner), air blower, or the like (not shown). Each of the windbreak rooms 2,2 attached to the men's and women's changing rooms 12 and 13 has a pair of shower rooms 18 adjacent to each other.

The cool-down area 14 has a wooden deck floor and is enclosed by a wooden fence with large see-through windows or by a simple wall with openable glass windows or the like. Trees are planted as a screen on the outdoor side, as required. The cool-down area 14 has no roof or some type of roof which either passes or shuts out sunlight.

The enclosed bathroom 1 has a rectangular shape approximately 12 m in width and approximately 5.5 m in depth. Its floor-to-ceiling height is approximately 3 m. The windbreak rooms 2 adjacent to the enclosed bathroom 1 are square in shape, measuring approximately 2 m on each side. As shown in FIG. 3, underfloor structure of the enclosed bathroom 1 and windbreak rooms 2 consists of crushed stone laid to a height of approximately 120 mm from the ground, a waterproof mud-floor sheet, concrete slab-on-grade 3 approximately 120 mm thick, a waterproof sheet 31, heat-insulating material 32 approximately 50 mm thick, wire mesh 42 which is a lath material, lower heating pipes 4 approximately 20 mm in outside diameter and approximately 16 mm in inside diameter, and wire mesh 42, all stacked in this order, where the lower heating pipes 4 meander at intervals of approximately 150 mm in each of blocks obtained by dividing the floor area of the enclosed bathroom 1 into four approximately equal parts and the lower pipe 4 in each block is extended into the adjacent windbreak room 2,2,2.

In the enclosed bathroom 1, upper pipes 41 of the same dimensions as the lower pipes 4 are laid in a meandering fashion on the wire mesh 42 on the lower pipes 4 at intervals of approximately 150 mm so that the lower pipes 4 and upper pipes 41 alternate at intervals of approximately 75 mm. Then the protective concrete layer 43 approximately 110 mm in thickness is formed on the concrete slab-on-grade 3 by pouring cement in such a way as to bury the upper and lower wire mesh 42,42 as well as the upper and lower pipes 4 and 41. Only the lower pipes 4 are laid in the windbreak rooms 2,2,2. The lower pipes 4 with wire mesh 42 laid above and below them are buried by cement to form the protective concrete layer 43 approximately 110 mm in thickness on the concrete slab-on-grade 3. Amphibole (granite produced in Iwate Prefecture) powder which generates nurturing wave energy is mixed and kneaded with cement at a rate of approximately 15 kg per square meter to form a mortar layer approximately 90 mm in thickness as the natural-stone-containing concrete layer (nurturing-wave-energy-generating concrete layer) 5 on the protective concrete layer 43 of each room.

The two-tiered pipes 4 and 41 are buried under the floor of the enclosed bathroom 1 as shown in FIG. 3. The lower pipes 4 laid in the enclosed bathroom 1 and windbreak rooms 2,2,2 are connected to a boiler 44 dedicated to the lower pipes as shown in FIG. 1 while the upper pipes 41 shown in FIG. 3 are connected to a boiler 45 dedicated to the upper pipes shown in FIG. 1. The use of separate, dedicated boilers makes it possible to supply the adjacent upper and lower pipes 4 and 41 with hot water regulated to a predetermined temperature in opposite directions.

As shown in FIGS. 2 and 3, in the approximate center in the front-to-back direction of the enclosed bathroom 1, a spray lane 6 approximately 900 mm in width and approximately 150 mm in depth is installed with a gently falling gradient extending from one end to the other end across the width of the enclosed bathroom 1. On both sides of the spray lane 6, rows of raw-stone-slab compartments 51,51 are installed in areas clear of the entrances to the windbreak rooms 2. Each raw-stone-slab compartment 51,51 is approximately 1,800 mm long and approximately 900 mm wide so that the user can lie in a supine position with his/her head away from the spray lane 6 and with his/her legs toward the spray lane 6. Around the center of each raw-stone-slab compartment 51,51, a raw stone slab 52 approximately 1,400 mm long, approximately 350 mm wide, and approximately 20 mm to 100 mm thick is buried flush to support the chest, waist, and legs of the user who lies in a supine position or three raw stone slabs 52 approximately 470 mm long, approximately 350 mm wide, and approximately 20 mm to 100 mm thick each are buried flush, being arranged in an area which corresponds to the chest to legs. The raw stone slabs are cut from amphibole, i.e., a natural stone which generates nurturing wave energy.

On both sides of each raw-stone-slab compartment 51,51, feedwater grooves 61,61 approximately 200 mm long and 100 mm deep are cut with a gently falling gradient extending from a wall surface of the enclosed bathroom 1 to the spray lane 6. Multiple spray nozzles are installed on the wall surface at the opposite end of the feedwater grooves 61,61 from the spray lane 6. They are operable with an on-off valve (not shown) provided at an appropriate location inside or outside the enclosed bathroom 1. As shown in FIG. 2, floors flush with the raw-stone-slab compartments 51,51 are installed on passages between the spray lane 6 and feedwater grooves 61,61 as well as between the spray lane 6 and windbreak rooms 2,2,2 and wooden duckboards 63 are placed on the floors in such a way that they will not obstruct the flow of water supplied to the spray lane 6 and feedwater grooves 61.

Each of the windbreak rooms 2,2 attached to the men's and women's changing rooms 12 and 13 has a sliding door 21 installed at the doorway to the changing room 12 or 13, and an airtight door 22 installed at the doorway to the enclosed bathroom 1, where the airtight door 22 is equipped with a sealing structure around all its edges as well as with a lock/unlock mechanism which allows the door 22 to be locked airtight and unlocked in a simple manner with an open/close lever. Also, the windbreak room 2 attached to the cool-down area 14 has an airtight door 22 installed both at the doorway to the enclosed bathroom 1 and the doorway to the cool-down area 14, where the door 22 is also equipped with a sealing structure and lock/unlock mechanism.

(Operation of the Embodiment)

When starting to heat the enclosed bathroom 1, the hot bath facility according to the present invention configured as described above starts up the dedicated boilers 44 and 45 shown in FIGS. 1 and 2 to supply hot water separately to the upper and lower pipes 4 and 41 shown in FIGS. 1 and 3. It gradually heats the entire floor almost uniformly in a few days to a week and makes the temperature of exposed surfaces of the raw-stone-slab compartments 51 stabilize at around 50 degrees C. The dedicated boilers 44 and 45 continue to supply hot water nonstop around the clock to regulate the temperature of the exposed surfaces of the raw-stone-slab compartments 51 to around 50 degrees C.

When the temperature of the enclosed bathroom 1 reaches 42 degrees C by rising gradually, water is sprayed little by little from the spray nozzles (not shown) simultaneously. The water is allowed to flow down slowly along the feedwater grooves 61,61, discharge to the spray lane 6, form a film of flowing water, evaporate by heat from the floor surface to raise the humidity in the room to around 90%. When the temperature in the room exceeds 45 degrees C., water is sprayed similarly to remove the heat of vaporization from the floor surface, thereby lowering the temperature in the room to around 42 degrees C. and keeping the humidity in the bathroom at around 90%.

At the same time, the floor surface of the windbreak rooms 2,2,2 are heated to approximately 30 to 40 degrees C. by the lower pipes 4 extended from the enclosed bathroom 1, heating gradually the closed windbreak rooms 2,2,2 and keeping them at an approximately constant temperature, to protect the users coming and going between the men's or women's changing rooms 12 or 13 and the enclosed bathroom as well as between the enclosed bathroom 1 and cool-down area 14 from abrupt temperature changes. Moreover, by extending the lower pipes 4 from the enclosed bathroom 1, it is possible to reduce fuel consumption or power consumption compared to when separate air-conditioning systems are installed in the windbreak rooms 2,2,2.

If upper and lower pipes 4 and 41 are laid under the floor of the windbreak rooms 2,2,2 at larger intervals (approximately 200 mm) than in the enclosed bathroom 1, an approximately similar heating function is available. To minimize leakage of air and inflow of outside air resulting from entry and exit of users, each windbreak room 2,2,2 has an airtight door 22 installed at the doorway to the enclosed bathroom 1, sliding doors 21,21 installed at the doorway to the men's and women's changing rooms 12 and 13, and an airtight door 22 installed at the doorway to the cool-down area 14, where the airtight doors 22 are equipped with a sealing structure and a lock/unlock mechanism.

(Advantages of the Embodiment)

In addition to the features described at the end of “OBJECT AND SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION,” the hot bath facility according to the embodiment configured as described above has the following advantages. Namely, the hot bath facility can be used by a large number of users because the raw-stone-slab compartments 51,51 are arranged on both sides of the spray lane 6 which runs through the approximate center of the enclosed bathroom 1. In the case where airtight doors 22,22,22 equipped with a lock/unlock mechanism are installed at the doorways between the windbreak rooms 2,2,2 and enclosed bathroom 1, drop in the temperature and humidity of the enclosed bathroom 1 can be avoided even when a large number of users go in and out of the enclosed bathroom 1.

Furthermore, in the case where upper and lower pipes 4 and 41 are laid under the floor as shown in FIG. 3, since the raw-stone-slab compartments 51,51 are heated uniformly to obtain uniform heat distribution in the thickness direction of the protective concrete layer whenever possible by means of appropriate heating and thermal storage and the surrounding area is kept clean and sanitary with proper humidity by discharging and spraying water to the spray lane 6 through the feedwater grooves 61,61 on both sides of each raw-stone-slab compartment 51,51, all the users who use the raw-stone-slab compartments 51,51 can enjoy the effects and benefits of hot bath under almost equal conditions.

(Conclusion)

As described above, the hot bath facility according to the present invention can accomplish its intended object with its novel configuration. Also, since heating pipes shared by, or separate from, the enclosed bathroom are installed in the windbreak rooms, which are not humidified, the users can adapt their bodies to the temperature of the bathroom quickly when entering the bathroom and can feel refreshed by cooling their heads quickly with their bodies kept warm from below when they go out of the bathroom. In this way, since heat is transmitted from below without heating the head directly, optimum conditions can be maintained at the doorways to the enclosed bathroom where the temperature and humidity become relatively high. In addition, sufficient heating effect can be achieved without installing separate air-conditioning systems in the windbreak rooms, the efficiency of temperature/humidity adjustment and maintenance operation of the various rooms can be increased greatly, and the workload of the maintenance operation can be reduced, resulting in reliable cost reduction and thereby achieving great cost efficiency. Thus, the hot bath facility according to the present invention is expected to win high praise from managers, operators, etc. of hot bath facilities who provide hot bath services in addition to allowing health-conscious users to greatly enjoy the effect of hot bath. Also, it is expected that the hot bath facility will enjoy widespread use.