Title:
Solid edge gutter screen
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A one-piece, integral metal gutter screen includes an expanded metal screen section for covering a gutter. A front edge margin is sized and shaped to engage the gutter, the front edge margin having no sharp edges. A rear edge margin is sized and shaped to engage at least one of a gutter hanger and a roof, the rear edge margin having no sharp edges. The gutter screen is formed of a single piece of elongate, flexible, resilient metal. The gutter screen includes strands and non-circular holes between the strands in at least the screen section. The strands and non-circular holes are sized and shaped to prevent leaves and debris from falling into the gutter. At least the front edge margin of the screen is solid, unperforated metal for facilitating safe handling of the screen and for ease of installation.



Inventors:
Ealer Sr., James E. (Union, MO, US)
Application Number:
11/105653
Publication Date:
10/19/2006
Filing Date:
04/14/2005
Primary Class:
International Classes:
E04D13/00
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
FONSECA, JESSIE T
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
STINSON LLP (ST LOUIS, MO, US)
Claims:
What is claimed is:

1. A metal gutter screen adapted for covering a gutter and preventing leaves and debris from falling into the gutter, the gutter having front, back and bottom walls and a flange projecting rearwardly from the front wall of the gutter and spaced above the bottom wall of the gutter, said flange extending substantially continuously along the entire length of the gutter, the gutter supported by a hanger extending forward from the back wall of the gutter to a position under the gutter flange, the gutter screen comprising: an expanded metal screen section for covering the gutter, a front edge margin bent to form a forwardly-opening channel generally V-shaped in transverse section extending substantially continuously along the entire length of the screen for receiving the gutter flange therein, the forwardly-opening channel including: an upper rearwardly extending portion bent back from the front edge of the resilient member and adapted to overlie the gutter flange and engage the gutter flange for supporting the screen on the flange and to inhibit sagging of the screen, and a lower forwardly extending portion bent forward from the upper rearwardly extending portion and adapted to underlie the gutter flange, the upper and lower portions being divergent in the forward direction with respect to the channel to form a relatively wide channel mouth for permitting ready passage of the gutter flange through the channel mouth into a position where the gutter flange is between the upper and lower portions, a solid, unperforated rear edge margin adapted for engaging the gutter hanger, the screen section being generally planar when uninstalled and being adapted to be resiliently bent to an arcuate configuration in which the front edge margin and rear edge margin are adapted for pressure engagement with the gutter and gutter hanger to thereby securely maintain the gutter screen on the gutter, the gutter screen being formed integrally of a single piece of elongate, flexible, resilient metal, at least the lower forwardly extending portion of the channel and the rear edge margin being solid, unperforated metal for stiffening the gutter screen, for facilitating safe handling of the screen and for ease of installation.

2. The gutter screen of claim 1 wherein at least a portion of the upper rearwardly extending portion is solid, unperforated metal.

3. The gutter screen of claim 2 wherein all of the front edge margin is solid, unperforated metal.

4. The gutter screen of claim 3 wherein said screen section includes criss-crossing ribs extending at non-perpendicular angles to said edge margins.

5. The gutter screen of claim 1 wherein the screen is made of an aluminum alloy or a steel alloy.

6. The gutter screen of claim 1 wherein the upper rearwardly extending portion extends generally parallel to the screen section.

7. The gutter screen of claim 6 wherein the forwardly extending portion is at an angle of approximately 45 degrees from the rearwardly extending portion.

8. A combination rain gutter and gutter screen, the rain gutter comprising front, back and bottom walls and a flange projecting rearwardly from the front wall of the gutter and spaced above the bottom wall of the gutter, the flange extending substantially continuously along the entire length of the gutter, and a hanger for hanging the gutter under the edge of a roof, the hanger extending forwardly from the back wall of the gutter to a position under the gutter flange; the gutter screen comprising an expanded metal screen section covering the gutter, an integral front edge margin bent to form a forwardly-opening channel generally V-shaped in transverse section extending continuously along the entire length of the screen for receiving the gutter flange therein, the forwardly-opening channel including: an upper rearwardly extending portion bent back from the front edge of the screen section and overlying the gutter flange and engaging the gutter flange along substantially the entire length of the gutter screen for supporting the screen on the flange and to inhibit sagging of the screen, and a lower forwardly extending portion bent forward from the upper rearwardly extending portion and underlying the gutter flange, the upper and lower portions being divergent in the forward direction with respect to the channel to form a relatively wide channel mouth for permitting ready passage of the gutter flange through the channel mouth during installation into the installed position where the gutter flange is between the upper and lower portions, the gutter screen further having a rear edge margin engaging the gutter hanger on the back wall of the gutter, the gutter screen being resiliently bent to an arcuate configuration in which the front edge margin and rear edge margin are in pressure engagement with the gutter and gutter hanger thereby securely maintaining the gutter screen on the gutter, the gutter screen being formed integrally of a single piece of elongate, flexible, resilient metal, the lower forwardly extending portion of the channel and the rear edge margin being solid, unperforated metal for stiffening the gutter screen, for facilitating safe handling of the screen and for ease of installation.

9. A gutter screen as set forth in claim 8 wherein at least a portion of the upper rearwardly extending portion is solid, unperforated metal.

10. A gutter screen as set forth in claim 8 wherein all of the front edge margin is solid, unperforated metal.

11. A gutter screen as set forth in claim 8 wherein the screen section includes criss-crossing ribs extending at non-perpendicular angles to the edge margins.

12. A gutter screen as set forth in claim 8 wherein the screen is made of an aluminum alloy.

13. A gutter screen as set forth in claim 8 wherein the upper rearwardly extending portion extends generally parallel to the screen section.

14. A gutter screen as set forth in claim 8 wherein the forwardly extending portion is at an angle of approximately 45 degrees from the rearwardly extending portion.

15. A metal gutter screen adapted for covering a gutter and preventing leaves and debris from falling into the gutter from a roof above the gutter, the gutter having front, back and bottom walls and a flange projecting rearwardly from the front wall of the gutter and spaced above the bottom wall of the gutter, said flange extending substantially continuously along the entire length of the gutter, the gutter supported by a hanger extending forward from the back wall of the gutter to a position under the gutter flange, the gutter screen comprising: an expanded metal screen section for covering the gutter, a front edge margin sized and shaped to engage the gutter, the front edge margin having no sharp edges, a rear edge margin sized and shaped to engage at least one of the gutter hanger and the roof, the rear edge margin having no sharp edges, the screen section being generally planar when uninstalled, the gutter screen being formed of a single piece of elongate, flexible, resilient metal, the gutter screen including strands and non-circular holes between the strands in at least the screen section, the strands and non-circular holes being sized and shaped to prevent leaves and debris from falling into the gutter, the front edge margin being solid, unperforated metal for stiffening the gutter screen, for facilitating safe handling of the screen and for ease of installation.

16. The metal screen of claim 15 wherein each strand has a width between 0.02 inches and 0.05 inches and the holes have a diamond shape with a length of between 0.25 and 0.63 inches to prevent leaves and debris from falling into the gutter

17. The metal screen of claim 16 wherein the screen is formed by expanding a single piece of metal.

18. The metal screen of claim 17 installed over the gutter, the rear edge margin engaging the roof.

19. The metal screen of claim 17 installed over the gutter, the rear edge margin engaging the gutter hanger.

20. The metal screen of claim 17 wherein the strands are about 0.04 inches.

21. The metal screen of claim 20 wherein the rear edge margin is solid, unperforated metal.

Description:

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

This invention relates generally to rain gutters, and more particularly to a solid edge gutter screen for such gutters.

Since leaves and other debris frequently clog up rain gutters, some kind of guard or screen which prevents leaves from falling into the gutter is desirable. However, cheap conventional gutter screens may become overburdened by such debris and collapse into the gutter, thereby aggravating the problem instead of solving it.

One popular type of gutter screen S (FIG. 9) is designed so that the back edge slides under the shingles and the front edge lays on top of the gutter. This screen has diamond-shaped openings extending transverse to a longitudinal axis of the screen. The long edges LE (the front and back edges) are very sharp due to the orientation of the openings, and the sharp back edge often snags against the shingles, making it hard to install. Also, there is a significant risk the installer will cuts his hands on these sharp edges. Despite these drawbacks, this screen is sold because it is cheap to manufacture, requiring limited manual labor. The screen is formed by feeding a coil of metal into an expanding machine in a continuous process. Some screens eliminate the sharp front edge by covering it with a solid metal bar that is made separate from the screen portion. This metal bar is roll-formed into a Z-shaped cross-section on a roll-former machine. The front edge of the screen is inserted into one of the channels of the Z-shaped cross-section. A pinch roller pinches the channel to fasten the bar and the screen together. The front edge thereby has a solid smooth front edge, and the risk of cutting the installer's hands is reduced or eliminated. However, the back edge is left very sharp and can still snag the shingles.

Another popular screen has what is called a “bonded edge,” meaning that the diamond-shaped openings extend longitudinally, rather than transverse to the screen length. This screen is also produced using an expanding machine, but is produced “by length size”. Importantly, the length size is actually determined by the width of the input coil, rather than input coil length. For example, a 4 foot long screen uses a 4 foot wide coil. If the product design requires a 5 inch wide by 4 foot long section, the expanding machine is set for 5 inches. When the expanded material reaches 5 inches, the machine must stop, the material is then sheared and the expanding machine starts over. The operator stacks the loose sections and moves them to a roll-former to bend or form a desired screen profile. At this secondary roll-former station, the operator manually inserts each piece through the roll-former to produce a finished screen.

This latter screen is more expensive than the first-mentioned screen because of all the manual labor and time required in manufacturing. However, the screen is an improvement over the above-mentioned screen because of the semi-smooth long edges or “bonded edges.” While each bonded edge is irregular in shape due to the diamond holes, it is not a sharp edge. With the smoother long edges, the operator will not cut his hands during installation, and the back edge will not snag on the shingles. Thus, though it is higher priced, the screen is easier to install.

The gutter screen of U.S. Pat. No. 4,907,381 represents one satisfactory solution to the above problems. However, the process of making this gutter screen is also time-consuming and relatively expensive. Moreover, the material required is relatively heavy and expensive.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

In one aspect, the invention is directed to a metal gutter screen adapted for covering a gutter and preventing leaves and debris from falling into the gutter. The gutter has front, back and bottom walls and a flange projecting rearwardly from the front wall of the gutter and spaced above the bottom wall of the gutter. The flange extends substantially continuously along the entire length of the gutter and the gutter is supported by a hanger extending forward from the back wall of the gutter to a position under the gutter flange. The gutter screen comprises an expanded metal screen section for covering the gutter. A front edge margin is bent to form a forwardly-opening channel generally V-shaped in transverse section extending substantially continuously along the entire length of the screen for receiving the gutter flange therein. The forwardly-opening channel includes an upper rearwardly extending portion bent back from the front edge of the resilient member and adapted to overlie the gutter flange and engage the gutter flange for supporting the screen on the flange and to inhibit sagging of the screen. A lower forwardly extending portion is bent forward from the upper rearwardly extending portion and is adapted to underlie the gutter flange. The upper and lower portions are divergent in the forward direction with respect to the channel to form a relatively wide channel mouth for permitting ready passage of the gutter flange through the channel mouth into a position where the gutter flange is between the upper and lower portions. A solid, unperforated rear edge margin is adapted for engaging the gutter hanger. The screen section is generally planar when uninstalled and is adapted to be resiliently bent to an arcuate configuration in which the front edge margin and rear edge margin are adapted for pressure engagement with the gutter and gutter hanger to thereby securely maintain the gutter screen on the gutter. The gutter screen is formed integrally of a single piece of elongate, flexible, resilient metal. At least the lower forwardly extending portion of the channel and the rear edge margin are solid, unperforated metal for stiffening the gutter screen, for facilitating safe handling of the screen and for ease of installation.

Another aspect is directed to a combination rain gutter and gutter screen. The rain gutter comprises front, back and bottom walls and a flange. A hanger supports the gutter under the edge of a roof. The gutter screen comprises an expanded metal screen section covering the gutter. An integral front edge margin is bent to form a forwardly-opening channel generally V-shaped in transverse section extending continuously along the entire length of the screen for receiving the gutter flange therein. The forwardly-opening channel includes an upper rearwardly extending portion bent back from the front edge of the screen section and engaging the gutter flange along substantially the entire length of the gutter screen for supporting the screen on the flange and to inhibit sagging of the screen. A lower forwardly extending portion is bent forward from the upper rearwardly extending portion and underlies the gutter flange. The upper and lower portions are divergent in the forward direction with respect to the channel to form a relatively wide channel mouth for permitting ready passage of the gutter flange through the channel mouth during installation into the installed position where the gutter flange is between the upper and lower portions. The gutter screen further has a rear edge margin engaging the gutter hanger on the back wall of the gutter. The gutter screen is resiliently bent to an arcuate configuration in which the front edge margin and rear edge margin are in pressure engagement with the gutter and gutter hanger thereby securely maintaining the gutter screen on the gutter. The gutter screen is formed integrally of a single piece of elongate, flexible, resilient metal. The lower forwardly extending portion of the channel and the rear edge margin are solid, unperforated metal for stiffening the gutter screen, for facilitating safe handling of the screen and for ease of installation.

In still another aspect, a metal gutter screen comprises an expanded metal screen section for covering the gutter. A front edge margin is sized and shaped to engage the gutter, the front edge margin having no sharp edges. A rear edge margin is sized and shaped to engage at least one of the gutter hanger and the roof, the rear edge margin having no sharp edges. The screen section is generally planar when uninstalled. The gutter screen is formed of a single piece of elongate, flexible, resilient metal. The gutter screen includes strands and non-circular holes between the strands in at least the screen section. The strands and non-circular holes are sized and shaped to prevent leaves and debris from falling into the gutter. The front edge margin is solid, unperforated metal for stiffening the gutter screen, for facilitating safe handling of the screen and for ease of installation.

Other features of the present invention will be in part apparent and in part pointed out hereinafter.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

FIG. 1 is a transverse cross-section of a gutter screen of one embodiment on a gutter;

FIG. 2 is a top plan view of the gutter screen and gutter of FIG. 1;

FIG. 3 is a transverse cross-section of the gutter screen but showing the screen unbent prior to installation in the gutter;

FIG. 4 is a transverse cross-section of another embodiment of the gutter screen;

FIG. 5 is a fragmentary plan view of another embodiment of the gutter screen;

FIG. 6 is a fragmentary plan view of yet another embodiment of the gutter screen;

FIG. 7 is a transverse cross-section of a gutter screen of still another embodiment on a gutter;

FIG. 8 is a transverse cross-section similar to FIG. 7 but showing the screen of FIG. 6 on a gutter;

FIG. 9 is a fragmentary plan view of a prior art gutter screen.

DESCRIPTION OF PREFERRED EMBODIMENTS

Now referring to FIGS. 1 and 2, a gutter screen of one embodiment of the present invention is designated in its entirety by the reference numeral 1. Gutter screen 1 is particularly adapted for covering a conventional rain gutter, such as indicated generally at 3, and preventing leaves, debris and the like from falling into the gutter. Note that the gutter screen is not made of hardware cloth or wire mesh.

As shown in FIG. 1, gutter 3 has a front wall 5, a back wall 7 and a bottom wall 9, which form a channel 11 for drainage of rainwater. Front wall 5 may be provided with a decorative and/or strengthening configuration, as shown. A conventional lip or flange 13 projects rearwardly from the front wall 5 and is spaced above the bottom wall 9 of the gutter 3. The flange 13 extends substantially continuously along the entire length of the gutter 3.

Gutter 3 is suitably attached to the outside wall 15 of a building by gutter hangers, one of which is shown and designated 17. The hanger 17 has a back portion 19 bent to hook over the back wall 7 of gutter 3 and adapted to receive a fastening device, such as a screw or nail, to secure the gutter to a cornice or fascia 21 on wall 15 adjacent the roof 23. Hanger 17 extends over channel 11 to a section 25 of front wall 5 under flange 13 to support the front wall and reinforce it against inwardly directed pressures. A front portion 27 of hanger 17 is bent to fit inside flange 13 to reinforce the front wall 5 against outwardly directed forces.

The gutter screen 1 has an integral rear edge margin 29 adapted for engaging a bend 31 on hanger 17 adjacent back wall 7 of the gutter 3, and an integral front edge margin 33 extending generally parallel to the rear edge margin. Front edge margin 33 is bent to form a forwardly-opening channel 35 having a generally V-shaped configuration in transverse section and is thereby adapted for receiving flange 13 therein. For example, a rearwardly extending upper portion 37 may be bent back from the front edge 33 of the screen member 1 so as to extend generally parallel to the screen member, and a forwardly extending lower portion 39 may be bent forward from the upper portion at an angle of approximately forty-five degrees therefrom to form channel 35. Upper and lower portions 37, 39 are divergent in the forward direction relative to the channel 35 to form a relatively wide channel mouth for ready passage of the gutter flange 13 through the mouth into a position where the flange is disposed between the portions and the screen 1 is thereby securely engaged in the gutter 3. The upper and lower portions 37, 39 engage the gutter flange 13 substantially continuously along the entire length of the screen 1.

The gutter screen 1 is formed of flexible resilient metal, such as an aluminum alloy or steel alloy, and is of integral construction, i.e., it is formed from a single continuous piece of metal. The integral rear edge margin 29 and the integral front edge margin 33 are both solid, unperforated metal. This solid, unperforated metal strengthens the screen 1. This strengthening function allows a lighter, less expensive material, such as aluminum allow to be used. The solid long edges are not sharp like the prior art, thus enabling safer handling and easier installation.

An expanded metal screen section 40, disposed between the rear and front edge margins 29, 33, is adapted to cover the gutter channel 11. The screen section includes criss-crossing ribs 41, 43 extending at non-perpendicular angles.

In a second embodiment 1′ (FIG. 4), the criss-crossing ribs 41′, 43′ continue into the front edge margin 33′. As shown, only a small area of the upper portion 37′ is solid metal. But the lower portion 39′ of the channel 35′ is made entirely of solid, unperforated metal.

The width of the gutter screens 1, 1′ (i.e., from front edge margin to rear edge margin) is greater than the width of the gutter 3 (i.e., between bend 31 of the hanger 17 and flange 13) so that the screen may be resiliently bent to the arcuate configuration shown in FIG. 1 wherein the front edge margin and rear edge margin of the screen member are in pressure (spring-like) engagement with the gutter and gutter hanger, respectively, thereby securely to maintain the gutter screen on the gutter until such time as it is manually removed. The arched configuration of the screens 1, 1′ also increases the load-bearing capability of the screens. As shown in FIGS. 3 and 4, however, the screen section is generally planar when uninstalled.

In another embodiment shown in FIG. 5, gutter screen 1″ includes a front edge margin 33″ that is not bent. However, the front edge margin is solid, unperforated metal. The rear edge margin 29″ is a bonded edge, meaning that it is smooth, but not solid metal. In another embodiment, screen 1′″ shown in FIG. 6, the rear edge margin 29′″ also includes solid, unperforated metal.

The screens of this invention may be secured in other ways. For example. In FIG. 7, the rear edge margin 29 of the screen 1 is slipped under the shingles and the front edge margin 33 is secured to the gutter flange as described above. In FIG. 8, the front edge margin 33″ of screen 1″ simply rests on the gutter flange 13.

Gutter screens of the invention are suitably manufactured in an expanding machine, though other manufacturing methods are contemplated within the scope of the invention. For example, a coil of metal can be slit and expanded in a one-step process that is less expensive and faster than prior art manufacturing methods.

As described in the Background section, many “expanded metal” screen products have disadvantages because they are either cheaply manufactured with sharp edges or produced with a more costly semi-smooth bonded edge. A new method of expanding gutter screen is possible with a new expanding machine that combines the economical expanded width method with smooth long edges. In other words, this new method eliminates the sharp long edges without the costly manual labor required in the above-described secondary stage of roll-forming. This new method forms a screen having either a solid single edge and a bonded edge (FIG. 5), or two solid edges (FIGS. 1-4 and FIG. 6), and does so efficiently by coil length, rather than by coil width. There are no machines on the market that produce a single solid edge (or two solid edges) by coil length, and such screens have not been used in the gutter industry. There are also expanding machines that produce expanded screen coil with a semi-smooth bonded edge, like in the plaster lath industry. The plaster lath industry does not require precise dimensional control. Plaster lath is non-uniform, with holes that are too large for use as gutter screens.

This new gutter screen can now be economically designed with the precise tolerance needed because of advancements made in expanding machines. The precise tolerance relates to the screen strand width and the length and width of the holes.

In the above embodiments, a strand width of the screen ranges from 0.02 and 0.05 inches, e.g., about 0.04 inches. This strand width is significantly smaller, and proven to be significantly better for gutter screen than lath. The lath strand width is non-uniform and varies from 0.0625 to 0.125.

In these embodiments, each hole has a non-circular shape, e.g., a diamond shape. Each diamond has a long dimension, (commonly referred to as LWD) of between 0.25 and 0.63 inches, e.g., about 0.50 inches. Each diamond has a short dimension (SWD) of between 0.13 and 0.38, e.g., about 0.25 inches. These dimensions are significantly smaller, more uniform and proven to be better than lath. The lath holes have a long dimension varying from 0.75 to 1.00 inch and the short dimension varies from 0.38 to 0.50 inches.

When introducing elements of the present invention or the preferred embodiment(s) thereof, the articles “a”, “an”, “the” and “said” are intended to mean that there are one or more of the elements. The terms “comprising”, “including” and “having” are intended to be inclusive and mean that there may be additional elements other than the listed elements.

As various changes could be made in the above constructions without departing from the scope of the invention, it is intended that all matter contained in the above description or shown in the accompanying drawings shall be interpreted as illustrative and not in a limiting sense. For example, the various gutter screen profiles shown herein can be installed over the gutter in a variety of ways.





 
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