Title:
Wand for a carpet extractor
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A cleaning tool head for use with the wand of a carpet extractor. The head includes a housing that engages a surface being cleaned and forms an enclosed interior. A partition divides the interior into a vacuum chamber located a front sidewall of the housing and a cleaning chamber located behind the vacuum chamber. The cleaning head is mounted on a pair of transport wheels which extend along a wheel axis and is further supported by an upwardly extending handle assembly. The cleaning head is pivotable in an arcuate path about the wheel axis through movement of the handle assembly between a cleaning position in which the housing lower edge engages the surface to be cleaned as the handle assembly is pulled by a user and a transport position in which the lower edge is out of engagement with the surface to be cleaned as the user pushes the handle assembly.



Inventors:
Cho, Sung K. (Arlington, TX, US)
Application Number:
11/121548
Publication Date:
11/09/2006
Filing Date:
05/04/2005
Primary Class:
International Classes:
A47L11/30
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
DANIEL, JAMAL D
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
Charles D. Gunter, Jr. (Fort Worth, TX, US)
Claims:
What is claimed is:

1. An apparatus for cleaning a covered planar surface, the apparatus comprising: a cleaning head housing having a front sidewall, a rear sidewall, a top wall and opposing sidewalls which together define a closed interior, the cleaning housing having a longitudinal axis and a substantially planar leading lower edge arranged parallel to the longitudinal axis and running along a lower extent of the front sidewall, the housing interior also has an internal partition which divides the interior into a vacuum chamber located adjacent the front sidewall and a cleaning chamber located adjacent the rear sidewall; a cleaning fluid line extending into the cleaning chamber; a vacuum line extending from the vacuum chamber; a transport wheel mounted on a wheel axis extending from each of the respective opposing sidewalls of the housing, the wheel axis being generally parallel to the housing longitudinal axis; a normally upwardly extending handle assembly having a lower extent connected to the cleaning head housing and an upper extent, the leading lower edge of the cleaning head housing being pivotable in an arcuate path about the wheel axis through movement of the handle assembly between a cleaning position in which the housing lower edge engages the surface to be cleaned as the handle assembly is pulled by a user and a transport position in which the lower edge is out of engagement with the surface to be cleaned as the user pushes the handle assembly.

2. A wand for a carpet extractor used to remove soil from a carpeted surface, the wand comprising: a cleaning head housing having a front sidewall, a rear sidewall, a top wall and opposing sidewalls which together define a closed interior, the cleaning housing having a longitudinal axis and a substantially planar leading lower edge arranged parallel to the longitudinal axis and running along a lower extent of the front sidewall, the housing interior also having an internal partition which divides the interior into a vacuum chamber located adjacent the front sidewall and a cleaning chamber located adjacent the rear sidewall; a cleaning fluid line extending into the cleaning chamber; a vacuum line extending from the vacuum chamber; a transport wheel mounted on a wheel axis extending from each of the respective opposing sidewalls of the housing, the wheel axis being generally parallel to the housing longitudinal axis; a normally upwardly extending handle assembly having a lower extent connected to the cleaning head housing and an upper extent, the leading lower edge of the cleaning head housing being pivotable in an arcuate path about the wheel axis through movement of the handle assembly between a cleaning position in which the housing lower edge engages the carpeted surface to be cleaned as the handle assembly is pulled by a user and a transport position in which the lower edge is out of engagement with the carpeted surface as the user pushes the handle assembly.

3. The wand of claim 2, further comprising: a vacuum source connectable with the vacuum line for drawing a partial vacuum within the housing interior when the cleaning head is in the cleaning position and the cleaning head is being pulled by the user.

4. The wand of claim 3, wherein at least one fluid jet is located in the top wall of the cleaning head housing in communication with the cleaning fluid line for spraying a fluid under pressure into the cleaning chamber when the cleaning head is in the cleaning position.

5. The wand of claim 4, wherein the housing internal partition has a lower linear edge which is disposed near the carpeted surface when the cleaning head is pivoted about the wheel axis to the cleaning position, the lower linear edge defining a narrow gap extending across the chamber interior between the partition and the surface, whereby the housing cleaning chamber comprises an intake compartment for receiving fluids and the housing vacuum chamber comprises an evacuation compartment for evacuation of fluids.

6. The wand of claim 5, wherein, in a wet mode of operation as the user pulls the handle assembly, the fluid jet sprays fluid toward the carpeted surface proximate the gap and the vacuum source simultaneously draws a vacuum in the evacuation chamber to thereby draw fluids from the intake compartment across the gap and into the evacuation compartment.

7. A method of cleaning a carpeted surface, the method comprising the steps of: providing a cleaning head housing having a front sidewall, a rear sidewall, a top wall and opposing sidewalls which together define a closed interior, the cleaning housing having a longitudinal axis and a substantially planar leading lower edge arranged parallel to the longitudinal axis and running along a lower extent of the front sidewall, the housing interior also having an internal partition which divides the interior into a vacuum chamber located adjacent the front sidewall and a cleaning chamber located adjacent the rear sidewall; attaching a cleaning fluid line which extends into the cleaning chamber; attaching a vacuum line which extends from the vacuum chamber; mounting a pair of transport wheels on a wheel axis which extends from each of the respective opposing sidewalls of the housing, the wheel axis being generally parallel to the housing longitudinal axis; mounting the cleaning head onto a lower extent of a normally upwardly extending handle assembly, whereby the leading lower edge of the cleaning head housing is pivotable in an arcuate path about the wheel axis through movement of the handle assembly between a cleaning position in which the housing lower edge engages the surface to be cleaned as the handle assembly is pulled by a user and a transport position in which the lower edge is out of engagement with the surface to be cleaned as the user pushes the handle assembly; dispensing cleaning solution into the cleaning chamber in a fluid dispensing operation while pulling the cleaning head in the direction of a user; stopping the fluid dispensing operation, followed by pushing the cleaning head in a direction away from the user while continuing to apply a vacuum to the vacuum chamber of the cleaning head.

8. The method of claim 7, wherein the housing internal partition has a lower linear edge which is disposed near the carpeted surface when the cleaning head is pivoted about the wheel axis to the cleaning position, the lower linear edge defining a narrow gap extending across the chamber interior between the partition and the surface, whereby the housing cleaning chamber comprises an intake compartment for receiving fluids and the housing vacuum chamber comprises an evacuation compartment for evacuation of fluids.

9. The method of claim 8, wherein the cleaning fluid line is connected to a tank of liquid cleaning solution supported on a wheel mounted base, the base also supporting a motor and liquid pump for circulating the cleaning solution and a vacuum motor and blower for recovering the solution and returning the solution to the tank.

10. The method of claim 9, wherein the user controls the fluid dispensing operation by means of a hand operated valve assembly mounted adjacent an upper extent of the upwardly extending handle assembly.

Description:

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

1. Field of the Invention

The present invention relates to a cleaning tool device and method for cleaning planar surfaces, such as carpeted floors, and more particularly to the wand and associated cleaning tool head used in such devices.

2. Description of the Prior Art

Cleaning systems that circulate and spray liquids are widely used for cleaning carpets, upholstery, fabric and wall coverings, as well as for hard surfaces such as ceramics. Many of these systems use a device in which a liquid cleaning solution is sprayed toward the surface being cleaned, typically while the cleaning head is being pushed across the floor. On the return stroke across the floor, a vacuum source creates a high velocity airstream that draws the dispensed liquid from the surface being cleaned upwardly into an internal chamber of the cleaning head, thereby extracting soil, debris and other foreign matter to clean the surface.

Cleaning systems of this type which circulate and spray liquids often include a tank of liquid cleaning solution supported on a wheel mounted base or framework. The framework also supports a motor and liquid pump for circulating the cleaning solution. These systems also include a vacuum motor and blower for recovering the solution and returning solution to the tank. In many such systems, the cleaning head is not integral with the framework, but rather is coupled to the solution tank through pliable hosing and thus is movable independently. Frequently the connection includes a wand and a length of rigid tubing to enable the operator to orient the cleaning tool head and to either push or pull the cleaning tool head across the surface being cleaned by handling the wand. Patents describing the cleaning heads used in these systems include, for example, U.S. Pat. No. 4,649,594 (Grave); U.S. Pat. No. 4,720,889 (Grave); and U.S. Pat. No. 5,555,598 (Grave and Cho).

Alternatively, a surface cleaning apparatus can be self-contained, in the sense of providing a wheel supported housing that incorporates the necessary motors and contains the cleaning fluid, and further incorporates the cleaning tool head as a part of the same housing, for example, through a pair of pivot arms. This type of cleaning apparatus is described in U.S. Pat. No. 5,432,975 (Hilmanowski), issued Jul. 18, 1995.

The cleaning tool head which is utilized with both of the above types of devices will generally include an elongate housing which is typically divided into a vacuum chamber and a cleaning fluid chamber. One or more fluid spray nozzles are mounted to the head, as in a single row lengthwise of the head. Liquid cleaning solution is supplied to the nozzle or nozzles under pressure so that cleaning fluid is dispensed into the cleaning fluid chamber. Each nozzle sprays cleaning solution in a thin, sheet-like fan-shaped spray pattern that diverges in the direction from the nozzle toward the surface being cleaned. The fluid is drawn away from the surface being cleaned by a vacuum applied to the vacuum chamber portion of the cleaning head.

Despite the above noted similarities, the prior art devices differ on how the cleaning tool head is arranged or divided to form the respective cleaning fluid chamber and the vacuum chamber. Because the chambers are configured differently, a user would also perform a different sequence of motions in using the particular device to clean a surface. For example, in the device shown in U.S. Pat. No. 5,555,598, the cleaning fluid chamber is forward of the vacuum chamber and a user would tend to push while spraying cleaning fluid and pull while vacuuming.

The configuration of the above devices depends, to some extent, upon the type of planar surface being cleaned. For example, U.S. Pat. No. 4,649,594 is used on smooth and napped surfaces; U.S. Pat. No. 4,720,889 is used on hard and yielding surfaces; U.S. Pat. No. 5,555,598 is used on carpeted floors; and U.S. Pat. No. 5,432,975 is also used on carpeted floors.

While the above described devices all represent advances in the state of the floor cleaning arts, a need continues to exist for a carpet extractor wand design which is more efficient in use than the presently existing tools.

A need also exists for such a device which is easier for a user to push and pull across a carpeted planar surface being cleaned, thereby relieving some of the manual effort required in the cleaning operation.

A need also exists for an improved cleaning head for a carpet extractor which is relatively simple in design and economical to manufacture, without requiring significant changes to the overall existing wand configuration.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

The cleaning apparatus of the invention is used to clean a planar covered surface, such as a carpeted surface, and includes a cleaning head housing having a front sidewall, a rear sidewall, a top wall and opposing sidewalls which together define a closed interior. The cleaning housing has a longitudinal axis and a substantially planar leading lower edge arranged parallel to the longitudinal axis and running along a lower extent of the front sidewall. The housing interior also has an internal partition which divides the interior into a vacuum chamber located adjacent the front sidewall and a cleaning chamber located adjacent the rear sidewall. A cleaning fluid line extends into the cleaning chamber and a vacuum line extends from the vacuum chamber.

A transport wheel is mounted on a wheel axis extending from each of the respective opposing sidewalls of the housing, the wheel axis being generally parallel to the housing longitudinal axis. The cleaning head is further supported by means of a normally upwardly extending handle assembly having a lower extent connected to the cleaning head housing and an upper extent. The leading lower edge of the cleaning head housing is pivotable in an arcuate path about the wheel axis through movement of the handle assembly between a wet mode cleaning position in which the housing lower edge engages the surface to be cleaned as the handle assembly is pulled by a user and a dry mode or transport position in which the lower edge is out of engagement with the surface to be cleaned as the user pushes the handle assembly.

A vacuum source is connectable with the vacuum line for drawing a partial vacuum within the housing interior when the cleaning head is in the cleaning position and the cleaning head is being pulled by the user. At least one fluid jet is located in the top wall of the cleaning head housing in communication with the cleaning fluid line for spraying a fluid under pressure into the cleaning chamber when the cleaning head is in the cleaning position.

The housing internal partition has a lower linear edge which is disposed near the carpeted surface when the cleaning head is pivoted about the wheel axis to the cleaning position, the lower linear edge defining a narrow gap extending across the chamber interior between the partition and the surface, whereby the housing cleaning chamber comprises an intake compartment for receiving fluids and the housing vacuum chamber comprises an evacuation compartment for evacuation of fluids. The fluid jet sprays fluid toward the carpeted surface proximate the gap while the vacuum source simultaneously draws a vacuum in the evacuation chamber to thereby draw fluids from the intake compartment across the gap and into the evacuation compartment.

A user of the improved device of the invention thus dispenses cleaning solution into the cleaning chamber in a fluid dispensing operation while pulling the cleaning head in the direction of the user and then stops the fluid dispensing operation, followed by pushing the cleaning head in a direction away from the user while continuing to apply a vacuum to the vacuum chamber of the cleaning head. The cleaning fluid line is connected to a tank of liquid cleaning solution supported on a wheel mounted base, the base also supporting a motor and liquid pump for circulating the cleaning solution and a vacuum motor and blower for recovering the solution and returning the solution to the tank. The user controls the fluid dispensing operation by means of a hand operated valve assembly mounted adjacent an upper extent of the upwardly extending handle assembly.

Additional objects, features and advantages will be apparent in the written description which follows.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

FIG. 1 is a perspective view of the improved wand of the invention showing the cleaning head and the associated wheel supported base which houses the cleaning fluid solution and the vacuum source.

FIG. 2 is a close-up side view of the improved wand of the invention.

FIG. 3 is an isolated view of the cleaning head of the wand of FIG. 2.

FIG. 4 is a simplified, schematic view of the use of the improved wand of the invention in the wet mode of the cleaning operation.

FIG. 5 is a view similar to FIG. 4, but showing the wand in the dry mode of the cleaning operation.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION

Turning to FIG. 1, there is shown an apparatus for cleaning a covered surface of the invention designated generally as 11. The surface to be cleaned can be, for example, a planar, carpeted surface 53. In its preferred embodiment, the apparatus 11 is a wand for a carpet extractor of the type used to remove soil from the carpeted surface and the invention will be explained with reference to that preferred application. As shown in FIG. 1, the wand of the invention includes a cleaning head 13 which is supported by a handle assembly 15. As will be explained in greater detail, the handle assembly 15 supports a cleaning fluid line and vacuum line which fluidly connect the head 13 with a tank 17 of liquid cleaning solution. The tank 17 is typically supported on a wheel mounted base 19 which also supports a motor and liquid pump for circulating the cleaning solution and a vacuum motor and blower (all conventional) for recovering cleaning solution and returning solution to the tank 19.

FIGS. 2 and 3 illustrate portions of the wand of the invention in greater detail. As best seen in FIG. 3, the wand cleaning head 13 includes a housing having a front sidewall 21, a rear sidewall 23, a top wall 25 and opposing sidewalls 27, 29 which together define a closed interior for the housing. The cleaning housing also has a longitudinal axis 31 and a substantially planar leading lower edge 34 which is arranged parallel to the longitudinal axis 31 and which runs along a lower extent of the front sidewall 21. The housing interior 33 also has an internal partition 35 which divides the housing interior 33 into a vacuum chamber 37 located adjacent the front sidewall 21 and a cleaning chamber 39 located adjacent the rear sidewall 23. The vacuum chamber 37 and cleaning chamber 39 communicate with the tank 17 by means of a cleaning fluid line 41 and a vacuum line 43.

As shown in FIG. 3, a transport wheel 45 is mounted on a wheel axis 47 which extends from each of the respective opposing sidewalls 27, 29 of the housing 13. The wheel axis 47 is generally parallel to the housing longitudinal axis 31.

The normally upwardly extending handling assembly 15 has a lower extent 47 which is connected to the cleaning head housing 13. The handle assembly also has an upper extent (49 in FIG. 2). As can be see from FIGS. 3-5, the leading lower edge 34 of the housing 13 is pivotable in an arcuate path about the wheel axis 47 through movement of the handle assembly between a cleaning position (shown in FIG. 4) in which the housing lower edge 34 engages the surface to be cleaned as the handle assembly is pulled by a user and a transport position (shown in FIG. 5) in which the lower edge 34 is out of engagement of the surface to be cleaned as the user pushes the handle assembly.

As shown in FIGS. 2 and 3, at least one fluid jet 49 is located in the top wall section 25 of the cleaning head housing and communicates with the cleaning fluid line 41 for spraying a fluid under pressure into the cleaning chamber 39 when the cleaning head is in the wet (spraying) mode or cleaning position. There are preferably a plurality, i.e., 3-7 fluid jets 49 arranged co-linear in the top wall section 25 of the housing. When the device is in the cleaning position, the lower linear edge 51 of the partition 35 (FIG. 3) is disposed near the carpeted surface with the cleaning head being pivoted about the wheel axis 47 in a counter clockwise direction as viewed in FIG. 3. As can be seen in FIG. 3, the lower linear edge 51 defines a narrow gap extending across the chamber interior 33 between the partition 35 and surface to be cleaned (53 in FIG. 1), whereby the housing cleaning chamber 39 comprises an intake compartment for receiving fluids and the housing vacuum chamber 37 comprises an evacuation compartment for the evacuation of fluid. In the particular embodiment of the wand illustrated in FIG. 2, the fluid jet 49 is mounted to a male connector 55 which has an associated quick connect fitting 57 which is used to connect a filter assembly 59. The filter assembly 59 communicates with the fluid line 41 by means of a quick connect fitting 61 and elbow 63. A check valve 65 is typically present in the cleaning fluid line 41 to prevent the backup of fluid from the cleaning chamber in use.

The cleaning fluid line 41 connects to a valve assembly 67 by means of a quick connect coupling 69. The valve assembly 67 includes a user operated hand lever 71 whereby the user controls the fluid dispensing operation by moving the hand operated valve assembly 67 between open and closed positions. The overall wand assembly also has a handle grip 73 which allows a user to manipulate the cleaning head over the surface to be cleaned.

In use, the device is first placed in the cleaning positing by rotating the housing about the wheel axis (47 in FIG. 3) so that the lower edge 34 of the housing is in contact with the carpeted surface. As illustrated schematically in FIG. 4, the user then pulls the cleaning head by applying a retracting force to the handle grip 73 while depressing the hand lever 71. Thus, in the wet or spraying mode of operation, the fluid jet 49 sprays fluid toward the carpeted surface 53 proximate the gap in the housing interior while the vacuum source (19 in FIG. 1) simultaneously draws a vacuum in the evacuation chamber 37 to thereby draw fluids from the intake compartment 39 across the gap and into the evacuation compartment. It is significant to note that, in the wet mode of operation, cleaning solution is being dispensed into the cleaning chamber 39 while the user is pulling the cleaning head 13 in the direction of the user. The user then releases the hand lever 71 and rotates the housing 13 about the wheel access (47 in FIG. 3) in a clockwise direction to place the device into the dry mode of operation. By releasing the hand lever 71, the user stops the fluid dispensing operation and begins pushing the cleaning head 13 in a direction away from the users body while a vacuum continues to be applied to the vacuum chamber 37 of the cleaning head 13.

An invention has been provided with several advantages. Because the cleaning head of the invention is mounted on rollers, the head can be pivoted between a wet mode in which the housing leading lower edge contacts surface to be cleaned and a dry mode in which the housing leading lower edge is out of contact with the carpeted surface. The contact between the housing leading edge and the surface temporarily closes off the internal housing to facilitate the dispensing of the cleaning solution, contact with the surface to be cleaned and vacuuming off the cleaning solution. Pulling the cleaning head during the wet mode of operation has been found to enhance the ultimate effectiveness of the solution dispensing and cleaning operation. Because the housing can be rotated on the wheel axis, the leading edge of the housing can be rotated out of contact with the surface to be cleaned as the user pushes the handle assembly and cleaning head away from the user's body during the dry mode step. This relative sequence of operating steps has been found to enhance the cleaning operation and facilitate the user's range of motions necessary to accomplish the cleaning job.

While the invention has been shown in only one of its forms, it is not thus limited but is susceptible to various changes and modifications without departing from the spirit thereof.