Title:
Support structure for gutter cover
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A structure for mounting a gutter cover on a new rain gutter or an existing rain gutter, wherein the gutter cover prevents debris from entering the gutter. The cover support structure is comprised of a lifting strut that supports the leading hooked frontal edge of a gutter cover, two stabilizing struts that interlock with the hooked edge of a frontal rim of a gutter trough, a connecting strut that connects the lifting strut to the stabilizing struts, and a junction where the lifting strut and stabilizing struts converge.



Inventors:
Richard, Thomas Roy (Hickory, NC, US)
Richard, Deborah (Hickory, NC, US)
Application Number:
11/369785
Publication Date:
09/14/2006
Filing Date:
03/07/2006
Primary Class:
International Classes:
E04D13/00
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
KWIECINSKI, RYAN D
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
H. Hunter Jr (Denver, NC, US)
Claims:
We claim:

1. A support structure for mounting a gutter cover to a gutter, said support structure comprising: a junction for at least three struts; a lifting strut having a distal end that can support a frontal edge of said gutter cover and having a proximal end that is integral with said junction; at least two stabilizing struts having distally hooked ends that can interlock with a folded edge of a front rim of said gutter and having proximal ends that are integral with said junction; and at least one connecting strut that connects said lifting strut to said stabilizing struts.

2. The support structure of claim 1, wherein said lifting strut has at least one aperture and said at least one connecting strut has at least one aperture, said apertures allowing passage of a spike and ferrule.

3. The support structure of claim 2, wherein said support structure can rest on top of a hidden hanger mounting system or on top of a spike and ferrule mounting system.

4. The support structure of claim 1, wherein said support structure can rest on top of a hidden hanger mounting system or on top of a spike and ferrule mounting system.

5. The support structure of claim 1, wherein said support structure can be retrofitted to an existing rain gutter.

6. The support structure of claim 1, wherein said support structure can be fitted to a new rain gutter.

7. The support structure of claim 1, wherein said support structure is made of plastic.

8. The support structure of claim 1, wherein said support structure is made of composites of plastic.

9. The support structure of claim 1, wherein said support structure is made of metal.

10. The support structure of claim 1, wherein said support structure is made of composites of metal.

11. The support structure of claim 1, wherein said distal end of said lifting strut has a curvature that is comparable to the curvature of a frontal curved portion of said gutter cover, thereby creating a partially interlocking attachment to the frontal curved portion of said gutter cover.

12. The support structure of claim 1, wherein said support structure is formed by plastic injection molding.

13. The support structure of claim 1, wherein said support structure is formed by continuous extrusion.

14. The support structure of claim 1, wherein said support structure is formed by a casting process.

15. A method of providing support along the width of a cross sectional length of a gutter cover, comprising the steps of: obtaining a rain gutter; obtaining a hidden hanger mounting system for said rain gutter; obtaining a gutter cover suitable for fitting new rain gutters or retrofitting existing rain gutters; obtaining a fastening means for securing said gutter cover to a roof; obtaining multiple support structures for a gutter cover, wherein each said support structure is comprised of a junction for at least three struts, a lifting strut having a distal end that can support a frontal edge of said gutter cover and having a proximal end that is integral with said junction, at least two stabilizing struts having distally hooked ends that can interlock with a folded edge of a front rim of said gutter and having proximal ends that are integral with said junction, and at least one connecting strut that connects said lifting strut to said stabilizing struts; attaching said gutter to a house with said hidden hanger mounting system; positioning at least two said support structures on top of said hidden hanger mounting system along a trough of said gutter at intervals sufficient to provide support for said gutter cover, by interlocking said hooked distal end of said lifting strut with said frontal end of said gutter cover and interlocking said distal hooked ends of said stabilizing struts with said folded edge of said front rim of said gutter; aligning said gutter cover over said trough of said rain gutter, wherein a longitudinal rear edge of said gutter cover is positioned under a course of shingles or against a fascia plank of a roof; pushing said gutter cover against a roof until a leading hooked frontal edge of said gutter cover is contacting the distal end of said lifting strut of said support structure; and securing said cover to a roof with said fastening means.

16. A method of providing support along the width of a cross sectional length of a gutter cover, comprising the steps of: obtaining a rain gutter; obtaining a spike and ferrule mounting system for said rain gutter; obtaining a gutter cover suitable for fitting new rain gutters or retrofitting existing rain gutters; obtaining a fastening means for securing said gutter cover to a roof; obtaining at least two support structures for a gutter cover, wherein each said support structure is comprised of a junction for at least three struts, a lifting strut having a distal end that can support a frontal edge of said gutter cover and a proximal end that is integral with said junction, said lifting strut also having an aperture for passage of a spike and ferrule; at least two stabilizing struts having distally hooked ends that can interlock with a folded edge of a front rim of said gutter and having proximal ends that are integral with said junction, and at least one connecting strut that connects said lifting strut to said stabilizing struts and that has an aperture for the passage of a spike and ferrule; attaching said gutter to a house with said spike and ferrule mounting system; positioning at least two said support structures on top of said spike and ferrule mounting system along a trough of said gutter at intervals sufficient to provide support for said gutter cover, by interlocking said hooked distal end of said lifting strut with said frontal end of said gutter cover and interlocking said distal hooked ends of said stabilizing struts with said folded edge of said front rim of said gutter; aligning said gutter cover over said trough of said rain gutter, wherein a longitudinal rear edge of said gutter cover is positioned under a course of shingles or against a fascia plank of a roof; pushing said gutter cover against a roof until a leading hooked frontal edge of said gutter cover is contacting the distal end of said lifting strut of said support structure; and securing said cover to a roof with said fastening means.

Description:

CROSS REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATIONS

This nonprovisional patent application claims the benefit of Provisional Application No. 60/659,817 filed Mar. 9, 2005 for SUPPORT STRUCTURE FOR GUTTER COVER.

BACKGROUND OF INVENTION

1. Field of the Invention

This invention relates generally to a rain gutter, and more particularly to a support structure for mounting a gutter cover on a new rain gutter or on an existing rain gutter, wherein the cover is installed using a support structure that does not require fastening devices.

2. Description of Prior Art

The literature is replete with various systems for keeping debris out of rain gutters, while allowing water to freely enter and be conveyed by the gutter.

Layton, U.S. Pat. No. 2,271,081, teaches a rain gutter comprising a “U” shaped trough member supported by hangers and a cover. The cover has staggered slots or elongated apertures. The cover is held in place by pins and by nesting with a comparably hooked frontal edge of the trough member.

Ealer, Sr., U.S. Pat. No. 6,151,837, discloses a gutter screen for covering a gutter, where the gutter screen is a cover that prevents debris from falling into the gutter. The gutter screen has a frontal “V” shaped leading edge that attaches to the frontal edge of the trough, which has an inward turned lip, wherein the frontal “V” shaped leading edge receives and secures the inward turned lip. The rear edge of the gutter screen is disposed between a first course of shingles on the roof and the underlying structural roof. Rows of depressed channels are provided in the cover for directing rainwater through slots in the cover. Each channel and slot is sized so that water is directed into the channel through the slot and into the gutter and such that debris is not trapped in the channel or slot. There is no discussion of how the cover is supported across the width of a sectional length of cover.

Pietersen, U.S. Pat No. 5,640,810, discloses a gutter cover for reducing the amount of debris entering a gutter. The cover is positioned over a gutter by having a rear fastenable edge that is secured between a first course of shingles and the underlying structural roof, and a frontal edge that rests upon the frontal edge of the gutter. The cover, which is comprised of an elastic material, has a thin portion, which acts as a living hinge, therein allowing the cover to pivot upwards away from the gutter frontal edge, for repair and cleaning. The cover is provided with a plurality of recessed perforations, which receive rainwater while debris washes over the cover.

Vahamaki, U.S. Pat. No. 5,271,191, teaches a gutter shield which covers and prevents debris from entering through the open top of a gutter. The gutter shield is attached to the gutter by a frontal edge, which is fastened by screws to the gutter and a rear edge flange secured between the first course of shingles and the underlying structural roof The shield has a plurality of parallel vanes, of which each has a series of slots for receiving rainwater. The slots are sized so that debris will not pass into the gutter.

South, U.S. Pat. No. 3,550,381, teaches a perforated cover which attaches over the top of a rain gutter. The gutter is provided with frontal and rear edges (both upper and lower) having a “U” shaped channel, and periodic vertical mounting devices having an upper downward directed “U” and a lower upward directed “U” (i.e. like curtain rod), wherein the bracket serves as an interlocking channel to secure the back wall of the gutter. The perforated cover has a “U” shaped rear edge, and a flanged frontal edge, such that the frontal edge of the gutter receives the flange of the cover, and the upper rear edge of the gutter receives the “U” shaped rear edge of the cover, wherein the rear edge of the cover is also partially secured by the mounting device. There is no discussion of how the cover is supported across the width of a sectional length of cover.

Shouse, U.S. Pat. No. 4,616,450, teaches a rain gutter having a gutter shield for preventing the ingress of particulates into the gutter. The gutter shield has a solid upper surface and a generally vertical frontal surface that has a first row of rain guiding apertures and a second row of rain receiving apertures inscribed therein.

Sullivan et al., U.S. Pat. No. 2,209,741, discloses a removable screen attached over a top portion of a gutter to prevent entrance of foreign material into the gutter.

Jacobs, U.S. Pat. No. 5,398,464, discloses a gutter system having a strap for supporting a screen on the gutter. The screen allows the passage of rainwater there while preventing the entrance of foreign material into the gutter.

Richard, U.S. Pat. No. 6,732,477, discloses a gutter cap suitable for retrofitting existing gutters. The gutter cap is comprised of a sloped cover, which uses the attraction of water to bend water around a hooked edge as it drains across the sloped cover and ducts into the trough. Mounting blocks that snap onto the cross struts of the gutter are used to attach the gutter cover to the gutter and the mounting blocks interlock with the hooked edge of the cover.

Richard et al., Pub. No. US 2005/0000167, discloses a gutter cover having a unique interlocking bracket. The bracket is shaped like three extended fingers, where each finger is a strut and the struts converge at a junction. The bracket has a lifting strut that hooks to the frontal edge of a gutter cover, a stabilizing strut that has a hooked end that interlocks with the hooked edge of the frontal rim of a gutter trough, and a bracing strut that is a leg stemming from the junction to the bottom portion of the gutter.

With the exception of Richard U.S. Pat No. 6,732,477 and Richard et al. Pub. No. US 2005/0000167, the foregoing systems are designed to be installed as a complete unit and not suitable for retrofitting an existing rain gutter. The majority of the prior art does not provide a means to support the width of the sectional length of a gutter cover. Support adds strength to the long sections of the cover, which can be subjected to substantial weight if debris collects on the cover. Although Richard U.S. Pat No. 6,732,477 and Richard et al. Pub. No. US 2005/0000167 provide a means to support the width of the cross sectional length of a gutter cover, these systems are designed to work with hidden hanger system and not a spike and ferrule mounting system. What is desired is a structural support device that provides support along the width of the cross sectional length of a gutter cover and that can be utilized with a spike and ferrule mounting system, as well as with a hidden hanger mounting system.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

The present invention is a support structure for mounting a gutter cover, wherein the gutter cover is facilely retrofitted to an existing rain gutter as well as to a new rain gutter. The invention is particularly suited for use with an aluminum sheet metal rain gutter. The trough of the gutter has a main channel with a curvilinear front wall and a rear wall that is substantially straight. The cover support structure is comprised of a lifting strut, two stabilizing struts, a connecting strut, and a junction where the lifting strut and stabilizing struts converge. A distal end of the lifting strut provides support to a leading hooked frontal edge of the gutter cover and a proximal end intersects the junction of the support structure. The proximal end of the lifting strut includes an aperture ⅜ inch to ½ inch in diameter to allow passage of a spike and ferrule. Each stabilizing strut has a hooked end that distally interlocks with a hooked edge of a frontal rim of a gutter trough and a proximal end that intersects with the junction of the support structure. The lifting strut and stabilizing struts are joined by at least one connecting strut, wherein the connecting strut enhances the strength of the lifting strut and stabilizing struts. The connecting strut includes an aperture ⅜ inch to ½ inch in diameter to allow passage of a spike and ferrule.

Conventional aluminum rain guttering is installed with fastening devices which are attached to a fascia plank. A fastening device typically has two sectional components, a cross strut for supporting the front wall of the trough and a hanging strap for supporting the rear wall. In some variations of the fastening device the bottom of the trough is supported. The present invention enables quick installation of the gutter cover. Multiple support structures are positioned along the trough at intervals sufficient to provide support for the cover and preferably are positioned approximately two feet apart from one another. The support structures rest on top of a spike and ferrule or hidden hanger mounting system. Each support structure is secured by interlocking the distal end of the lifting strut into the frontal curved portion of the cover and interlocking the distal ends of the stabilizing struts into the folded edge of the rim of the gutter trough.

The gutter cover is aligned over the trough and then a longitudinal rear edge of the cover is inserted under the course of shingles or against the fascia plank of the roof The cover is pushed until the leading hooked frontal edge of the gutter cover is contacting the distal end of the lifting strut of the support structure. The cover is then secured to the roof with a fastening means. In a preferable embodiment, the distal end of the lifting strut has a curved end that has the same curvature as the hooked frontal edge of the cover, wherein the penetration of the distal end of the lifting strut into the hooked frontal edge of the cover creates a partially interlocking attachment. The attachment prevents the cover from lifting in high winds, and becoming dislodged from the gutter.

The support structure is fabricated of materials that have good performance and outside aging characteristics. The support structure can be made of materials including, but not limited to, plastics, metals, or composites. If the support structure is made of plastic or composites of plastics, it can be formed by plastic injection molding. Additionally, a support structure that is made of metal or composites of metal can be formed by casting or extrusion.

The cover can be connected to a roof by a plurality fasteners including nails, staples, screws, and similar fastening devices. The cover is seated so that it slopes downward from the fascia plank or the roof toward the front wall of the trough. The longitudinal hooked frontal edge terminates inside the trough.

When a gutter is installed utilizing the invention, the cover deflects debris and collects rainwater. Rainwater coming off the roof is ducted across and down the width of the flat sheet of the cover, and flows, circumferentially, around a curved path and down the longitudinal hooked frontal edge, and drops off into the trough. The upper surface of the cover is coated so as to be easily wetted by water, such that surface tension is sufficient so that the rainwater adheres to the surface. The rainwater's adhesion to the surface of the cover causes the water to track through an arc scribed by the longitudinal hooked frontal edge, without flying off tangentially. Debris is deflected by the cover, and except for small detritus conveyed by the rainwater, debris is excluded. The surface of the cover does not have any projections onto which straw, leaves, etc. can hang up and collect. Also the surface does not become easily fouled.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF DRAWINGS

The foregoing and other objects will become more readily apparent by referring to the following detailed description and the appended drawings in which:

FIG. 1 is a perspective view of a gutter cover with the support structure as it is installed on an aluminum sheet metal gutter and hidden hanger mounting system, where the proximal ends of the stabilizing struts intersect with the junction and the hooked distal ends of the stabilizing struts interlock with a hooked edge of a frontal rim of a gutter trough.

FIG. 2 is a perspective view of a gutter cover with the support structure as it is installed on an aluminum sheet metal gutter with a spike and ferrule mounting system, where the proximal ends of the stabilizing struts intersect with the junction and the hooked distal ends of the stabilizing struts interlock with a hooked edge of a frontal rim of a gutter trough.

FIG. 3 is a perspective view of the support structure.

FIG. 4 is a perspective view of the support structure.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION

Referring now to the drawings and particularly to FIG. 1, the invention is a support structure 10 for mounting a gutter cover 30. The gutter cover 30 is installed on a sheet metal rain gutter 50, preferably made of aluminum. The rain gutter 50 has a trough 52 with a front wall 58, a bottom 56, and a rear wall 54. The rain gutter 50 is attached to a wall (not shown) of a house with hidden hanger 40. The gutter cover 30 has a substantially flat region 34 that is coextensive and underlying a course of shingles (not shown). The cover 30 is supported by lifting strut 12 that extends from junction 20 of support structure 10. The distal end of lifting strut 12 is curved, and protrudes into the inner surface of the frontal curved portion 32 of the cover 30

Referring to FIGS. 3 and 4, the support structure 10 has four struts, a lifting strut 12, two stabilizing struts 14a, 14b, and a connecting strut 16. The lifting strut 12 and the two stabilizing struts 14a, 14b converge at junction 20. Connecting strut 16 connects the lifting strut 12 to the two stabilizing struts 14a and 14b. The distal end 112 of lifting strut 12 is curved, wherein the curvature matches the curvature of the frontal curved portion 32 of the cover 30 (as shown in FIGS. 1 and 2). The proximal end 111 of lifting strut 12 is integral to support structure 10 at junction 20. The proximal end 111 of lifting strut 12 has an aperture 13 to allow passage of spike 42 and ferrule 44 (as shown in FIG. 2).

Support structure 10 also has two stabilizing struts 14a and 14b. Hooked distal ends 114a, 114b of the stabilizing struts 14a, 14b interlock with folded edge 62 of the gutter rim 60 (as shown in FIGS. 1 and 2). Similarly, the stabilizing struts 14a, 14b are integral to support structure 10 at junction 20 at the proximal ends 115a, 115b (115b not shown).

The support structure 10 also has a connecting strut 16 that connects the lifting strut 12 with the stabilizing struts 14a and 14b. The connecting strut 16 has an aperture 18, to allow passage of a spike 42 and ferrule 44 (as shown in FIG. 2).

As shown in FIG. 2, the support structure 10 can also be installed on a sheet metal gutter 50, wherein the gutter 50 is attached to a wall (not shown) by a spike 42 and ferrule 44. The support structure 10 is disposed on spike 42 and ferrule 44. The connecting strut 16 has an aperture 18, to allow passage of spike 42 and ferrule 44. Similarly, spike 42 and ferrule 44 pass through aperture 13 (as shown in FIGS. 3 and 4) of lifting strut 12.

The support structure 10, as illustrated in the drawings, has two stabilizing struts 14a, 14b, having a thickness that is narrower than the gap created by the folded edge 62 of rim 60. The curvature is high enough that the hooked distal ends 114a, 114b of stabilizing struts 14a, 14b will insert into the space defined by the fascia edge 64 (as shown in FIG. 1) of gutter 50 and engage the folded edge 62 of rim 60. The lifting strut 12 does not have similar thickness constraints. It is partially limited only by the curvature of the frontal edge 32 of the gutter cover 30. An arced lifting strut 12 would enable the use of a thicker strut, and the inventors recognize this as a potential variation of the support structure. Similarly, there is no limitation on the thickness of connecting strut 16. The various struts need not be the same thickness and can be as wide as practical, where practical is a function of the cost of manufacturing, and the cost of installation. The support structure can also have more than one connecting strut 16 to provide additional strength.

It is anticipated that individual features of the support structure can be changed, however, with substantially no effect on the overriding functionality and operative elements. Likewise, the cover can also be modified, as illustrated in the embodiments to adapt to different mounting needs, with substantially no effect on the overriding functionality and operative elements.

It is to be understood that the foregoing description and specific embodiments are merely illustrative of the best mode of the invention and the principles thereof, and that various modifications and additions may be made to the support structure by those skilled in the art, without departing from the spirit and scope of this invention.