Title:
Snow and ice resistant gutter system
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A snow and ice resistant gutter system which more effectively and efficiently prevents the formation of ice dams. The gutter system comprises an elongated gutter adapted to be affixed to a building and a heating element for placement in the gutter for melting snow and ice which accumulates on or in the gutter. The gutter includes at least one wall defining a water-carrying channel and an elongated slot formed in the wall. The slot is sized and configured for receiving the heating element therein. The elongated slot has a depth approximately equal to the diameter of the heating element so that the heating element is generally flush with the top surface of the gutter wall so as not to block the flow of water or trap debris in the gutter.



Inventors:
Bachman, James E. (Omaha, NE, US)
Application Number:
11/089401
Publication Date:
09/28/2006
Filing Date:
03/24/2005
Primary Class:
International Classes:
E04D13/00
View Patent Images:



Primary Examiner:
FONSECA, JESSIE T
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
Hovey Williams LLP (Overland Park, KS, US)
Claims:
1. A gutter system comprising: an elongated gutter adapted to be affixed to a building, the gutter including at least one wall defining a water-carrying channel and an elongated slot formed in the wall; and a heating element for placement in the slot for melting snow and ice which accumulates in or on the gutter.

2. The gutter system as set forth in claim 1, the gutter including a rear wall for attachment to the building; a front wall spaced from the rear wall; and a bottom wall extending between a lower edge of the rear wall and a lower edge of the front wall, wherein the elongated slot is formed near an intersection of the front wall and the bottom wall.

3. The gutter system as set forth in claim 1, wherein the elongated slot has a depth approximately equal to a diameter of the heating element so the heating element is generally flush with a top surface of the gutter wall when positioned in the slot so as not to block or impede flow of water or debris in the gutter.

4. The gutter system as set forth in claim 1, wherein the elongated slot has an opening for receiving the heating element and a closed end for retaining the heating element in the elongated slot.

5. The gutter system as set forth in claim 1, wherein the wall of the gutter can be bent to widen the opening of the elongated slot to permit insertion of the heating element therein.

6. The gutter system as set forth in claim 1, wherein the heating element is a heating cable.

7. A gutter system comprising: an elongated gutter including a rear wall adapted to be affixed below a lower edge of a sloped surface of a building; a front wall spaced from the rear wall; a bottom wall extending between a lower edge of the rear wall and a lower edge of the front wall; an elongated slot formed in the bottom wall, the slot presenting a depth; and a heating element for placement in the slot for melting snow and ice which accumulates in or on the gutter, the heating element presenting a diameter approximately equal to the depth of the elongated slot so the heating element is generally flush with the bottom wall when positioned in the slot so as not to block flow of water over the bottom wall.

8. The gutter system as set forth in claim 7, wherein the heating element is a heating cable.

9. A gutter system comprising: an elongated gutter including a rear wall adapted to be affixed below a lower edge of a sloped surface of a building, a front wall spaced from the rear wall, and a bottom wall extending between a lower edge of the rear wall and a lower edge of the front wall, the bottom wall presenting a recessed region having an elongated slot formed therein; a heating element for placement in the slot for melting snow and ice which accumulates on or in the gutter; and a cover for placement in the recessed region for covering the heating element.

10. The gutter system as set forth in claim 9, wherein the cover has a thickness approximately equal to a depth of the recessed region so the cover is flush with the bottom wall when placed in the recessed region.

11. The gutter system as set forth in claim 9, wherein the elongated slot has a depth approximately equal to a diameter of the heating element so the heating element is generally flush with a top surface of the gutter wall when positioned in the slot so as not to block flow of water in the gutter.

12. The gutter system as set forth in claim 9, wherein the heating element is a heating cable.

13. An attachment device for securing a heating cable in a gutter downspout, the attachment clip comprising: a base; at least one gutter clip extending from the base for removably securing the base to a wall of the gutter downspout; and at least one cable clip extending from the base for securing an end of the heating cable so as to position the heating cable adjacent an inner surface of the wall of the gutter downspout.

14. The attachment device as set forth in claim 13, including a pair of gutter clips.

15. The attachment device as set forth in claim 13, including a pair of cable clips.

Description:

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

1. FIELD OF THE INVENTION

The present invention relates to gutters and ice and snow melting systems. More particularly, the invention relates to a snow and ice resistant gutter system.

2. DESCRIPTION OF THE PRIOR ART

Gutters are often installed on houses and other buildings to collect and carry away water from roofs and other sloped surfaces. Gutters and the sloped surfaces to which they are attached are unfortunately subject to the accumulation of snow and ice, especially in colder climates. Accumulated snow and ice can cause “ice dams” which interfere with the normal shedding and collection of water. As water backs up behind an ice dam on a roof or a gutter, it can flow through small cracks in the roof or spaces between the roof and the gutter. Over prolonged periods of time, the freezing and subsequent thawing cycle of the water expands these cracks, eventually damaging the roof and underlying materials. Ice and snow which accumulates on a gutter can also slowly pull the gutter away from the building, leaving gaps between the gutter and the building. Water can then run through these gaps rather than being carried away from the building by the gutter and thus cause damage to the building. Ice dams also often break away and fall to the ground, potentially causing injury to persons and damage to property below.

Heating cables and other de-icing products can be placed on roofs, gutter covers and/or gutters to melt snow and ice before it accumulates and forms ice dams. However, heating cables must be fastened with staples, nails or other fasteners to prevent movement. Use of such fasteners creates holes in the roofs and/or gutters, resulting in damage due to water infiltration and the subsequent freezing and thawing described above. This placement of heating cables on top of roof shingles and gutters also creates an impediment to the normal flow of water and can trap leaves and other debris.

Heating cables and other de-icing products can be installed underneath roof shingles to avoid some of the above-described problems, but doing so requires a great deal of labor, especially for existing roofs. Covering heating cables with shingles also reduces their ability to melt snow and ice and increases the risk of fires.

Another problem with placing heating cables under roof shingles is that melted snow and ice often re-freezes once it drains into the gutter attached to the roof and reaches the gutter downspouts. Heating cables can be placed in the gutter downspouts to prevent such re-freezing. Unfortunately, however, the heating cables must either be stapled or otherwise fastened to inner walls of the downspouts or they tend to hang near the centers of the downspouts and catch leaves and other debris.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

The present invention solves the above-described problems and provides a distinct advance in the art of gutters and snow and ice melting systems. More particularly, the present invention provides a snow and ice resistant gutter system which more effectively and efficiently prevents the formation of ice dams.

One embodiment of the invention is a gutter system comprising an elongated gutter adapted to be affixed to a building and a heating element for placement in the gutter for melting snow and ice which accumulates on or in the gutter. The gutter includes at least one wall defining a water-carrying channel and an elongated slot formed in the wall. The slot is sized and configured for receiving the heating element therein. The elongated slot preferably has a depth approximately equal to the diameter of the heating element so that the heating element is generally flush with the top surface of the gutter wall so as not to block the flow of water or trap debris in the gutter.

Another embodiment of the invention is a gutter system comprising an elongated gutter including a bottom wall presenting a recessed region having an elongated slot formed therein; a heating element for placement in the slot for melting snow and ice which accumulates on or in the gutter; and a cover for placement in the recessed region for covering the slot and the heating element.

Another embodiment of the invention is an attachment device for securing a heating cable in a gutter downspout. The attachment device comprises a base, at least one gutter clip extending from the base for removably securing the base to the gutter downspout, and at least one cable clip extending from the base for securing an end of the heating cable so as to position the heating cable adjacent an inner surface of the gutter downspout.

These and other important aspects of the present invention are described more fully in the detailed description below.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWING FIGURES

A preferred embodiment of the present invention is described in detail below with reference to the attached drawing figures, wherein:

FIG. 1 is a fragmentary perspective view of a gutter system constructed in accordance with a preferred embodiment of the present invention and shown affixed to a roof of a building.

FIG. 2 is a vertical section view of the gutter system of FIG. 1.

FIG. 3 is a partial vertical section view of the gutter system showing the heating cable removed from the gutter.

FIG. 4 is a partial, exploded, vertical section view of a gutter system constructed in accordance with another preferred embodiment of the invention showing a heating cable and cover removed from a gutter.

FIG. 5 is a partial vertical section view of the gutter system of FIG. 4 showing the heating cable and cover attached to the gutter.

FIG. 6 is a perspective view of a gutter attachment device constructed in accordance with another preferred embodiment of the present invention and shown attached to a gutter downspout.

FIG. 7 is a top plan view of the attachment device of FIG. 6.

FIG. 8 is a bottom plan view of the attachment device of FIG. 6.

FIG. 9 is a partial side sectional view showing the attachment device attached to the downspout of FIG. 6.

The drawing figures do not limit the present invention to the specific embodiments disclosed and described herein. The drawings are not necessarily to scale, emphasis instead being placed upon clearly illustrating the principles of the invention.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENTS

Turning now to the drawing figures, and particularly FIGS. 1-3, a gutter system 10 constructed in accordance with a first preferred embodiment of the invention is illustrated. The gutter system 10 broadly includes an elongated gutter 12 adapted to be attached below a lower edge of a sloped surface of a building 14 and a heating element 16 for placement in the gutter for melting snow and ice which accumulates in or on the gutter.

The particular gutter 12 shown and illustrated herein is provided for purposes of disclosing a preferred embodiment of the present invention. Many aspects of the gutter 12, such as its size and construction material, may be selected as a matter of design choice. For example, the gutter may be formed of any suitable material such as aluminum, vinyl, galvanized steel, stainless steel, or copper and may be sectional or seamless. The gutter may have a K-shape, U-shape, or any other profile and may be of any diameter, such as 4, 5, or 6 inches.

The gutter 12 may be attached to the building 14 by hangers or other conventional fasteners and may include a number of downspouts for carrying water to the ground or other collection area. The gutter may also be used with conventional elbows, end caps, and leader pipes.

The gutter 12 illustrated in FIGS. 1-3 includes a rear wall 18 for attachment to the building 14 by hangers or other fasteners, a front wall 20 spaced from the rear wall 18 and a bottom wall 22 extending between lower edges of the rear wall and the front wall. The rear 18, front 20, and bottom 22 walls define a water-carrying channel for collecting water which runs off the roof or other sloped surface and for carrying the water to the ground, a sewer system, or other collection point via the downspouts.

In accordance with one aspect of the present invention, one of the walls of the gutter 12 includes an elongated groove or slot 24 for receiving and retaining the heating element 16 as disclosed in more detail below. As illustrated, the elongated slot 24 is preferably formed near the intersection of the front 20 and bottom 22 walls of the gutter, but may be formed elsewhere on the gutter.

The heating element 16 is itself conventional and is operable to emit heat when connected to a suitable source of electricity. An example of a heating element that may be used with the present invention is the Tuff brand heating cable manufactured and sold by Heatizon Systems of Salt Lake City, Utah. The preferred heating cable is a 10 gauge coated copper cable that is weather and chemical resistant. The heating cable is connected to a suitable transformer and control box, such as those provided by Heatizon, to provide low-voltage electricity for delivering up to 12 watts of heat per lineal foot of heating cable. The control box may also include or be connected to an activation device, such as those provided by Heatizon, to control when electricity is delivered to the heating cable (for example, only during cold days).

The elongated slot 24 receives and retains the heating cable 16 and is preferably sized so that the top edge of the heating cable is essentially flush with the surface of the bottom wall 22. For example, in one embodiment, the slot 24 is approximately ⅛″ deep and wide so as to receive and flushly secure an approximate ⅛″ diameter heating cable. This permits the heating cable to heat the bottom wall 22 of the gutter 12 to melt any accumulated snow and ice while preventing the heating cable from obstructing the flow of water through the gutter. Flush-mounting the heating cable within the elongated slot also prevents it from trapping leaves or other debris in the gutter. The elongated slot 24 also prevents the heating cable from moving, without the use of staples, screws or other fasteners.

FIG. 3 illustrates the insertion of the heating cable 16 within the elongated slot 24. As illustrated, the front wall 20 of the gutter can be initially bent away from the rear wall 18 to widen the opening in the elongated slot. The heating cable can then be inserted through the opening and pushed against the closed end of the elongated slot. Once the heating cable is positioned in the elongated slot, the front wall 20 can be bent back toward the rear wall 18 to at least partially close the opening in the elongated slot 24 and prevent the heating cable 16 from coming out of the slot. Importantly, the present invention allows the heating cable 16 to be easily installed in the elongated slot 24 while the gutter system is being attached to the building 14.

FIGS. 4 and 5 illustrate a gutter system 10a constructed in accordance with another preferred embodiment of the invention. The gutter system 10a is identical to the gutter system 10 of FIGS. 1-3, except that the elongated slot 24a is formed within a recessed region 25a of the bottom wall 22a and is covered with an elongated cover 27a having a thickness approximately equal to the depth of the recessed region. The cover may be formed of any suitable material, such as aluminum, vinyl, galvanized steel, stainless steel, or copper and may be secured within the recessed region with adhesives or other fasteners or may be retained by friction or a snap-fit. When installed, the top surface of the cover 27a is flush with the top surface of the bottom wall 22a so that neither the heating element 16a nor the cover 27a impedes the flow of water in the gutter or traps leaves or other debris. The cover 27a also prevents water and/or debris from contacting the heating cable 16a.

FIGS. 6-9 illustrate a gutter attachment device 30 constructed in accordance with another preferred embodiment of the invention. The gutter attachment device 30 secures a heating cable 32 or other heating element along an inner wall of a gutter downspout 34 to prevent re-freezing of water that reaches the downspout. The attachment device 30 also prevents the heating cable 32 from hanging loosely in the downspout 34 so it doesn't trap leaves and other debris in the downspout.

The attachment device 30 may be formed of any suitable material, such as aluminum, vinyl, galvanized steel, stainless steel, or copper and includes a base 36, at least one gutter clip 38, and at least one cable clip 40. As illustrated, the attachment device 30 preferably includes a pair of gutter clips 38 and a pair of cable clips 40.

The base 36 may be of any size and shape and is provided for supporting the gutter clips 38 and the cable clips 40. In preferred forms, the base 36 and clips 38,40 are integrally formed of a single piece of material, but they may be formed separately and welded, bolted, screwed, or otherwise attached together.

Each gutter clip 38 depends from the base 36 and includes a short, generally vertical or slightly angled section 42 and a generally horizontal section 44 that extends generally parallel to the lower surface of the base. The gutter clips 38 secure the base 36 to a lower edge of the downspout 34 by gripping an edge of the downspout between the upper surface of the sections 44 and the lower surface of the base 36 as best illustrated in FIG. 9. Once attached as illustrated, the gutter clips 38 may be crimped against the edge of the downspout to prevent movement.

Each cable clip 40 also depends from the base 36 and also includes a short, generally vertical or slightly angled section 46 and a generally horizontal section 48 that extends generally parallel to the lower surface of the base 36. The heating cable 32 is installed in the downspout and then retained by clipping one end thereof between the upper surface of the sections 48 and the lower surface of the base 36. The cable clips 40 may be crimped after the heating cable 32 is secured therein to more firmly grip the heating cable. The heating cable is preferably pulled tight before it is inserted into the cable clips so that the heating cable is positioned adjacent the same wall to which the attachment device is secured. Applicant has discovered that it is best to attach the attachment device to the top wall of the downspout as illustrated so that the heating cable is secured along the wall of the downspout furthest from the building. This heats the section of the downspout 34 that is furthest from the building and therefore most susceptible to freezing.

Although the invention has been described with reference to the preferred embodiment illustrated in the attached drawing figures, it is noted that equivalents may be employed and substitutions made herein without departing from the scope of the invention as recited in the claims. For example, although the heating cable 16 is shown and described as being placed in a slot 24 in the bottom wall 22 of the gutter 12, the heating cable and slot may be positioned elsewhere on the gutter without departing from the scope of the claims below. The gutter systems 10 or 10a and the gutter attachment device 30 may also be used with a gutter cover having an integral heating cable such as the one disclosed in co-pending application Ser. No. ______ (not yet assigned) filed Mar. 1, 2005, with James E. Bachman as the sole inventor, and entitled GUTTER AND ROOF PROTECTION SYSTEM, hereby incorporated into the present application by reference.

Having thus described the preferred embodiment of the invention, what is claimed as new and desired to be protected by Letters Patent includes the following: