Title:
Adaptable nozzle attachment for pool cleaner
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
An adjustable nozzle attachment for a pool cleaner includes a planar member having an upper surface and a lower surface with an orifice formed through the planar member adapted for coupling to a vacuum suction source. A plurality of attaching means are formed on the lower surface of the planar member, each of which is adapted to interchangeably or selectively receive at least one of a plurality of rollers and a plurality of brushes that extend from the lower surface and support the nozzle attachment during movement over a surface being cleaned. When installed, the plurality of rollers and brushes change the nozzle attachment's flexibility characteristics, thereby permitting a user to adjust the overall flexibility of the nozzle attachment, based upon the type of surface to be cleaned.



Inventors:
Erlich, Guy (New Brunswick, NJ, US)
Elmaleh, Jonathan (Brooklyn, NY, US)
Application Number:
11/139093
Publication Date:
11/30/2006
Filing Date:
05/26/2005
Assignee:
WATER TECH LLC.
Primary Class:
International Classes:
E04H4/16
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
SCRUGGS, ROBERT J
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
ABELMAN, FRAYNE & SCHWAB (New York, NY, US)
Claims:
We claim:

1. An adjustable nozzle attachment comprising a flexible planar member having an upper surface and a lower surface; an orifice formed through the planar member and adapted for coupling to a vacuum suction source; and a plurality of attaching means formed at said lower surface, each attaching means adapted to interchangeably receive at least one of a roller assembly and a brush support, said roller assembly and brush support being of substantially rigid construction.

2. The nozzle attachment of claim 1, wherein at least a first portion of said plurality of attachment means are formed proximate a perimeter of said planar member.

3. The nozzle attachment of claim 2, wherein a second portion of said plurality of attachment means are arranged in a pattern suitable for directing matter towards said orifice as the planar member is advanced over a surface being cleaned.

4. The nozzle attachment of claim 1, wherein said orifice is positioned at a centralized location on said nozzle attachment, and said second portion of said plurality of attachment means encompass at least a portion of said orifice.

5. The nozzle attachment of claim 2, wherein each of said first portion of attachment means is sized to interchangeably receive a respective roller orientated in a common direction.

6. The nozzle attachment of claim 5, wherein each of said first portion of attachment means is sized to interchangeably receive a brush.

7. The nozzle attachment of claim 5, wherein said planar member retains substantial flexibility while said rollers are coupled to said first portion of attachment means.

8. The nozzle attachment of claim 6, wherein said planar member retains substantial flexibility while said brushes are coupled to said first portion of attachment means.

9. The nozzle attachment of claim 6, wherein said planar member becomes substantially inflexible while said brushes are coupled to said first portion of attachment means.

10. The nozzle attachment of claim 3, wherein each of said second portion of attachment means is sized to receive a brush.

11. The nozzle attachment of claim 10, wherein said planar member retains substantial flexibility while said brushes are coupled to said second portion of attachment means.

12. The nozzle attachment of claim 10, wherein said planar member becomes substantially inflexible while said brushes are coupled to said first portion of attachment means.

13. The nozzle attachment of claim 1 further comprising a nozzle adapter coupled to the upper surface and over said orifice.

14. The nozzle attachment of claim 1, wherein said planar member is formed from a flexible material selected from at least one of a synthetic polymer, natural rubber, and synthetic rubber.

15. The nozzle attachment of claim 1, wherein each attachment means comprises a recess formed in the lower surface of the planar member.

16. The nozzle attachment of claim 15, wherein said recess is substantially rectangular in shape.

17. The nozzle attachment of claim 15, wherein at least a portion of said attachment means further comprises a wheel well.

18. The nozzle attachment of claim 15, wherein each attachment means further comprises a projecting element formed over each recess.

19. The nozzle attachment of claim 1, wherein said plurality of attachment means comprises a plurality of apertures, wherein each aperture is sized to receive said at least one of a roller and a brush.

20. The nozzle attachment of claim 1, wherein the planar member comprises a shape including at least one of a rectangle, polygon, circle, semi-circle, oval, ellipse, triangle, wing, and combinations thereof.

Description:

FIELD OF INVENTION

The present invention relates to apparatus for cleaning submerged surfaces of swimming pools, hot tubs and spas. More specifically, the present invention relates to an adaptable nozzle attachment for a swimming pool cleaner.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

Pool cleaning apparatus are known for passing over the surfaces of pools to remove dirt and debris and to filter the pool water. Such pool cleaning apparatus are typically bulky. Lightweight and hand-held pool cleaners are advantageous because they allow a user to easily manipulate the pool cleaner over the surfaces of a pool, spa or pond. Mechanical pool cleaners which utilize the flow of water drawn through the cleaner by means of a connecting flexible suction hose in communication with a filtration system pump are well known.

In commonly assigned U.S. Pat. No. 6,797,157 to Erlich, a highly portable hand-held pool cleaner is powered by rechargeable batteries and includes a body and intake nozzle for suctioning pool water. A nozzle attachment includes a plurality of spaced brushes, which are used to dislodge dirt and debris from the pool surface, thereby allowing the pool cleaner to suction up the dislodged debris. Alternatively, the nozzle attachment can include permanently fixed protrusions on a base to prevent the suctioning effect of the pool cleaner from causing the base to be flush with the pool surfaces. However, such fixed protrusions do not roll, or may not easily slide along a surface, and can thereby impede movement of the cleaner head.

Pool cleaners, such as professional pool cleaners, clean all types and shapes of pools having conventionally known surfaces. For example, swimming pool-surfaces may be formed with a gunite surface, a tile surface, or a combination thereof. Above ground pools are fitted with a vinyl liner, the surfaces of which are usually smooth and semi-flexible. The material gunite is a combination of sand and cement that covers a framework of an in-ground swimming pool. A gunite surface is usually textured and hard. Tile surfaces may be either smooth or textured, and will have depressions formed between the tiles where a waterproof sealer (e.g., grout) is provided. The roughened gunite surface, and to some extent, tile surfaces can cause extreme wear to brushes and plastic parts of the cleaner head.

As the shapes, contours, and surfaces of each pool, hot tub, spa, or other container for retaining a volume of water that is used for recreational or aesthetic purposes may vary, it may be more desirable to use one type of nozzle attachment over another for a particular type of surface and shape of a pool. To accommodate cleaning of the different types of surfaces, many professional pool cleaners or consumers having, for example, multiple recreational and/or aesthetic water containers (e.g., pool and/hot tub) with differing surfaces, have no choice but to purchase separate cleaning equipment suitable for the different types of surfaces they encounter. Thus, the lack of a cleaner capable of cleaning various surface types of recreational and/or aesthetic water containers can cause additional expenses in terms of purchasing and maintaining multiple cleaning devices.

Therefore, there is a need in the art for an adaptable nozzle attachment that is capable of providing optimal cleaning for recreational and aesthetic water containers having different surface materials, textures and/or shapes.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

The disadvantages heretofore associated with the prior art are overcome by the present invention of an adaptable nozzle attachment for a pool cleaner. The nozzle is an adjustable attachment to allow a user to selectively attach either brushes and/or rollers to a lower surface of the nozzle attachment, based on the type of surface to be cleaned.

The adjustable nozzle attachment includes a planar member having an upper surface and a lower surface. An orifice is formed through the planar member, and is adapted for coupling to a vacuum suction source. A plurality of attaching means are formed on the lower surface of the planar member.

In one embodiment, each attaching means is adapted to interchangeably receive a roller or a brush at a common location of the lower surface. Alternatively, the attaching means permits selective removal and fastening of the rollers and brushes at different locations along the lower surface. In this embodiment, each attachment means is dedicated to selectively receive either a roller or a brush. In either embodiment, the user can illustratively remove a brush and install a roller (or vice versa) based on the type of surface to be cleaned.

In one preferred embodiment, the attachment means are recesses into which the brushes and/or rollers are received. Other means of attachment include magnets, hook-and-loop fasteners, frictional or locking slide fittings, threaded members, and other mechanical fastening means known to the art.

The configuration of the attaching means, when combined with the plurality of rollers and brushes, permits a user to adjust the overall flexibility of the nozzle attachment to accommodate the type of surface being cleaned. Thus, the ability to interchange the rollers and brushes, and thereby adapt the flexibility of the nozzle attachment, provides a more efficient and effective nozzle attachment to clean the various surfaces of a recreational and/or aesthetic water container (e.g., pond, hot tub, pool, among others).

The invention also minimizes the cost to the manufacturer of a recreational and/or aesthetic water container by providing a single vacuum attachment head along with a plurality of brushes and rollers that the purchaser/user can install, based on the surface to be cleaned.

The ability to convert the attachment of the invention is also particularly attractive to purchasers who have two or more recreational and/or aesthetic water containers (e.g., pools and/or spas), who will be able to remove the brushes and install the rollers (or vice versa) to change the flexible and performance characteristics of the vacuum cleaning/pick-up attachment.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

The teachings of the present invention can be readily understood by considering the following detailed description in conjunction with the accompanying drawings, in which:

FIG. 1 illustrates one mode of operating a pool cleaner in accordance with one embodiment of the present invention;

FIG. 2 depicts an enlarged side elevational view of the pool cleaner illustrated in FIG. 1;

FIG. 3 is a top perspective view of one embodiment of a nozzle attachment of the present invention;

FIG. 4 is a bottom perspective view of the nozzle attachment of FIG. 3;

FIG. 5 is a top perspective view of another embodiment of a nozzle attachment of the present invention;

FIG. 6 is a bottom view of the nozzle attachment of FIG. 5; and

FIG. 7 is a bottom view of yet another embodiment of a nozzle attachment of the present invention.

To facilitate understanding, the same reference numerals have been used, when appropriate, to designate the same or similar elements that are common to the figures. Further, unless stated otherwise, the drawings shown and discussed in the figures are not drawn to scale, but are shown for illustrative purposes only.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION

The present invention provides various embodiments of an adaptable nozzle attachment suitable for cleaning various textured underwater surfaces. The nozzle attachment is suitable for cleaning a variety of swimming pool surfaces, such as flexible vinyl liners, gunite, and tile, among other textured and non-textured surfaces. It is noted that the pool cleaner can also be used for cleaning other vessels containing water, such as spas, hot tubs, ornamental outdoor ponds, among other recreational and aesthetic water containers.

The present invention is generally discussed in terms of a “nozzle attachment.” However, the present invention is applicable to any other nozzle head, suction head, face plate, vacuum head, or other projecting component with an opening for regulating and directing a flow of fluid while illustratively cleaning a surface of a vessel, such as a swimming pool.

In one embodiment of the invention, an adjustable nozzle attachment includes a planar member having an upper surface and a lower surface with an orifice formed there through the upper and lower surfaces of said planar member. The orifice is adapted for coupling to a vacuum source, such as an underwater vacuum cleaner. A plurality of attaching means are formed at the lower surface of the planar member, where each attaching means is adapted to interchangeably receive at least one of a plurality of rollers and a plurality of brushes.

In one embodiment, the planar member is manufactured from a flexible material, such as a synthetic polymer, natural or synthetic rubber, or other suitable flexible materials. The flexibility of the planar member can be selectively controlled by the type and user placement of rollers and/or brushes that are coupled to the attachment means. For example, rollers can be selectively interchanged and attached to the lower surface of the nozzle attachment for use with swimming pools having a gunite surface material. In this instance, the planar member substantially retains its flexible characteristics and can follow the contours of the pool surface area being cleaned. That is, the flexible planar member will substantially assume the radius of curvature typically found in gunite pools.

Alternatively, brushes may be interchangeably attached to the lower surface of the nozzle attachment for use with swimming pools having a vinyl liner. In this instance, the planar member becomes semi-rigid, thereby allowing greater sweeping and removal of matter from the semi-flexible vinyl surface of the pool liner.

FIG. 1 illustrates one mode of operating a pool cleaner 10 in accordance with one embodiment of the present invention. The pool cleaner 10 is capable of suctioning matter, such as water and particulate solid material including debris of a relatively large size (e.g., insects, leaves, small twigs) from the surfaces to be cleaned. The pool cleaner 10 includes body 16, a nozzle attachment 36, a filter, and one or a plurality of discharge ports for expelling the filtered water.

In one embodiment, the pool cleaner 10 can be a battery-powered pool cleaner, as shown and described in commonly assigned U.S. Pat. No. 6,797,157 to Erlich, the contents of which is incorporated by reference in its entirety. However, one skilled in the art will appreciate that the pool cleaner 10 may include any vacuum source (e.g., a pump) for providing suction to remove matter from an underwater environment. For example, the vacuum source (e.g., body) of the pool cleaner 10 may be positioned externally from the swimming pool, such that a connecting hose is utilized between the nozzle attachment 36 and body 16.

In a first mode of operation shown in FIG. 1, the pool cleaner 10 is attachable to a pole 12, which allows the user to clean the pool surfaces while standing outside the pool. In a second, hand-held mode of operation, the pool cleaner 10 includes an integral handle 14 (see FIG. 2), allowing the user immersed with the pool cleaner 10 in the pool to grasp and orient the pool cleaner 10 and so to manipulate the pool cleaner 10 over the surfaces of the pool.

FIG. 2 depicts a side elevational view of the pool cleaner 10 illustrated in FIG. 1. The embodiment of the pool cleaner shown in FIG. 2 includes a body 16 that is submersible. The body 16 can be composed of molded plastic with an ergonomical and streamlined shape, e.g., a smooth and curvilinear surface providing low resistance in the water.

The body 16 of the pool cleaner 10 includes a projecting handle 14. In one embodiment, the handle is integrally formed from the molded plastic to allow the pool cleaner 10 to be hand-held and to be easily carried and manipulated. The body 16 can include hollow sections (not show n) that fill with water during immersion, so the pool cleaner 10 is not buoyant after full immersion. The pool cleaner 10 configured to be of essentially neutral buoyancy so that it can be manipulated underwater with relative ease, as well as in any orientation along any horizontal, vertical or curved surface that is being cleaned.

A pole attachment member 20 extends from the body 16, allowing the extended pole 12 to be securely, but removably attached to the pool cleaner 10 for use in the first mode of operation shown in FIG. 1. The pole 12 can be attached to the pole attachment member 20 by any known fastening devices, such as removable screws with corresponding apertures. Alternatively, the pool attachment member 20 can include spring-loaded buttons and detents 22, such as shown in FIG. 2, or other curved surfaces for removably attaching the pole 12 in a friction fit.

A plurality of water discharge ports or apertures 24 are present in the body 16 to allow filtered water to be returned to the pool, and for allowing water to flow into and out of the hollow portions. In a preferred embodiment illustrated in FIG. 2, the water discharge ports 24 are symmetrically oriented to expel the filtered water in a direction generally perpendicular to the longitudinal axis 56 of the pole attachment member 20. The symmetrical orientation of the water discharge ports 24 helps prevent water jet pressure of the expelled water that exits from any single water expulsion port 24 from causing the pool cleaner 10 to move in an unintended direction. Accordingly, the pool cleaner 10 is easy to manipulate when in use, and responds primarily to the movement determined by the user by use of the handle 14 or the pole 12 when attached to the pole attachment member 20.

A filter housing 26 is mounted to the fore of the body 16 for accumulating the debris suctioned into the pool cleaner 10 by the nozzle attachment 36. In a preferred embodiment, the filter housing 26 is composed of transparent plastic, allowing the user to see the amount of debris suctioned and the remaining capacity of the filter housing 26 and thereby to determine the need for emptying the accumulated debris.

As also shown in FIG. 2, the filter housing 26 can be attached to the body 16 by a latch-and-hinge arrangement. The filter housing 26 accommodates at least one filter 40 for trapping undesirable matter, such as debris. A releasable latch 28 fits into a latch aperture 30, allowing the filter housing 26 to pivot away from the body 16 about a hinge 32 to permit emptying of debris from the filter housing 26. In one embodiment, the hinge 32 permanently affixes the filter housing 26 to the body 16 in a pivoting configuration. In another embodiment, the hinge can be a removable hinge, engaging a complementary hinge member (not shown) on the filter housing 26, in which the filter housing 26 is capable of being detached from the hinge 32 after being pivoted to a predetermined angle. Alternatively, at least two spring clips or other type fasteners that engage the other member can be provided to allow complete detachment of the filter housing 26 from the body 16. In this latter embodiment, the filter can advantageously be joined to a two-way sealing member that is positioned between and engages both the filter housing 26 and body 16 to form a watertight seal between them.

In one embodiment, an impeller (not shown) is provided in the body 16 of the pool cleaner. The impeller, when rotating, causes the filtered water to be drawn into the nozzle attachment, pass through the filter bag and be forced out of the water discharge ports 24. Further, the filter housing 26 can be conical in shape, such that while the impeller is rotating, the conical filter housing facilitates the formation of a vortex, which draws the water through the filter housing 26 and out through the water discharge ports 24. Further, the vortex also forces the debris against the bottom portion of the filter, such that the debris is first compacted at the bottom or downstream end of the filter, thereby allowing more debris to be retained in the filter between filter cleanings.

The nozzle attachment 36 of the present invention includes an orifice 42 that is adapted for coupling to the filter housing 26. In one embodiment, a conduit element 38, such as a hose, bellows cover, among other flexible tubular conduit elements, is coupled to the nozzle attachment 36 over the orifice 42. Alternatively, the conduit element 38 can be a semi rigid tube or the like. The conduit element 38 can be formed of molded polymeric material, and optionally provided with wire reinforcement. In particular, a first end of the conduit element 38 circumscribes and is attached over the orifice 42, while a second end of the conduit element 38 is similarly coupled over an orifice 44 formed in the filter housing 26. The conduit element 38 forms a watertight seal at its points of attachment to the nozzle attachment 36 and housing 26. As such, water and solid material may be pumped through the orifice 42 formed in the nozzle attachment 36, through the conduit element 38, and into the filter housing 26, where the filter 40 traps the solid material, and the water discharge ports 24 expel the filtered water. Further, the flexible conduit element 38 permits the pool cleaner 10 to be easily manipulated over and around curved surfaces in the pool.

Although the conduit element 38 is illustratively shown in FIG. 2 as a flexible hose that is relatively short in length, such that the nozzle attachment 36 is positioned proximate the body 16 of the pool cleaner 10, one skilled in the art will appreciate that longer lengths of flexible hosing may also be utilized as a conduit element 38. For example, there may be instances where it is desirable to clean hard to clean surfaces that have numerous corners and edges, such as steps in a shallow end of a pool or hot tub. A person cleaning the steps may find it preferable to hold the nozzle attachment 36 by hand to direct the cleaning, as opposed to holding the handle 14 on the body 16 of the pool cleaner 10. A flexible “extension” hose serves as an extension from the body 16 to the nozzle 36 to allow the cleaning person to move the nozzle attachment 36 by hand along the difficult to clean surfaces, while the negative buoyancy of the body 16 keeps the body 16 submerged and operative at another location in the water container.

Alternatively, a pole attachment may be coupled either to the nozzle attachment 36 or the end of the hose extension proximate the nozzle attachment 36, to allow a cleaning person to clean any difficult to reach surfaces (e.g., a deep end) of the aesthetic or recreational water container. Thus, the flexible extension hose advantageously accommodates cleaning by hand or with an extension pole for those difficult surfaces requiring extra attention.

FIG. 3 is a top perspective view of one embodiment of a nozzle attachment 36 of the present invention. FIG. 4 is a bottom perspective view of the nozzle attachment 36 of FIG. 3, and should be viewed in conjunction with FIG. 3.

The nozzle attachments 36 described herein comprises a planar member 300 having an upper surface 302, a lower surface 304, and the orifice 42 formed there through. In one embodiment, the nozzle attachment 36 is fabricated from a flexible material, such as a synthetic polymer, natural or synthetic rubber, among other water impermeable flexible materials.

The shape of the planar member 300 may be circular, oval, semi-circular, polygonal (e.g., triangle, square, rectangular, pentagon, hexagon, octagon, among other multi-side shapes), elliptical, wing shaped, or any other shape or combination thereof suitable for interfacing with the contours of the pool surface and directing liquid (e.g., water) and solid matter (e.g., debris) into the pool clearier 10. In the illustrative embodiment shown in FIGS. 3 and 4, the nozzle attachment 36 is substantially rectangular in shape having the orifice 42 formed approximately in the center of the planar member 300.

Referring to FIG. 3, a nozzle adapter 310 is coupled over the orifice 42 on the upper surface 302 of the planar member 300 and forms a seal against the upper surface 302. In one embodiment, the nozzle adapter 310 may be stationary with respect to the upper surface 302. Alternatively, and as shown in FIG. 3, the nozzle adapter 310 is hinged to a conventional nozzle pivot interface or turret 312 to allow movement with respect to the upper surface 302, such as along horizontal axis A-A. A movable nozzle adapter 310 may be preferable to provide greater surface contact and enable greater reach by the user, as well as reduce undesirable stresses on the conduit 38, as conventionally known in the art.

The nozzle adapter 310 is adapted for coupling to the conduit 38 (e.g., a hose) as discussed above. In one embodiment, the conduit 38 is form fitted around the nozzle adapter 310. For example, the conduit 38 and the nozzle adapter 310 can be circular in shape, and the nozzle adapter 310 includes a protrusion or flange 314 extending outward to provide additional contact area as the end of the conduit 38 is fitted over the nozzle adapter 310. In this embodiment, frictional forces secure the nozzle attachment 36 to the conduit 38. Alternatively, the nozzle adapter 310 and the end of the conduit 38 may include one or more fasteners, such as a latch and hook, a screw, or any other conventional fastener capable of securing the conduit 38 to the nozzle adapter 310 without leakage of fluid there between.

In one embodiment, a plurality of attachment means, illustratively attachment means 320, through 320n (collectively attachment means 320, where n is an integer greater than one) are formed on the lower surface 304 of the planar member 300. The attachment means 320 are sized to receive a brush 350 and/or roller 360, which the user can interchangeably install. The attachment means can be any suitable device for selectively attaching the brushes and/or rollers to the lower surface of the planar member 300. For example, the attachment means 320 can be any fastener, such as a clip, snap, clamp, hook-and-loop, latch, pin, screw, rotating/slide locking pins/plates, as well as magnetic attachments, strapping (e.g., VELCRO straps), among other conventional mounting and fastening devices, or any combination thereof.

User selection of the brushes 350 and/or rollers 360 to be installed is based on the surface type of the pool. For example, FIG. 3 illustratively shows brushes 350 installed on the lower surface 304 of the planar member 300. Further, FIG. 4 illustratively shows how the brushes 350 and/or rollers 360 are installed.

As shown in FIGS. 3 and 4 the attachment means 320 illustratively comprises a plurality of recesses 3221 through 322n (collectively recesses 322, where n is an integer greater than 1) formed in the lower surface 304 of the planner member 300. Each recess 322 is sized to receive a respective brush 350 or roller 360. For example, the recesses 322 are illustratively shown as being rectangular in shape to accommodate the brushes 350, which comprise a rectangular brush head 352 to retain a plurality of bristles 354. However, one skilled in the art will appreciate that such rectangular shape is not to be considered as being limiting, and that other indentations or cutouts (e.g., one or more bores or channels) can be alternatively provided in the planar member to secure the rollers and/or brushes.

In one embodiment, one or more detents (not shown) may be formed in each recess to position and hold the brush or roller, such that the brush or roller can be released by applying an external force to one of the parts. As shown in FIG. 3, the recesses 322 are aligned in a direction along the length of the planar member 300, which is illustratively perpendicular to the direction that the user pushes the nozzle attachment 36.

In one embodiment, the recesses 322 extend a distance to allow the sidewalls of the recesses to retain the brush heads 352. In another embodiment, the recesses may extend through the upper surface 302 to form respective orifices that are sized to retain the brush heads 352. Alternatively, the recesses 322 can extend beyond above the upper surface 302 of the planar member 302, into corresponding projecting elements 330. The projecting elements 330 are provided over the recesses 332 to retain the inserts (i.e., brush heads 352 and or roller 360). For example, the projecting element 3321 is formed over recess 3221, the projecting element 3302 is formed over recess 3202, and so forth. The projecting elements 330 are sized to receive and cover the brush heads 352. The recess/projecting element pairs 322 and 330 are illustratively formed proximately the perimeter of the planar member 300 to direct any debris swept by the brushes 350 towards the nozzle adapter 310, which facilitates the suctioning of water and debris from the pool surface.

In one embodiment, a portion of the recesses 322 can each include a wheel well 332. For example, wheel wells 3321 through 332p (where p is an integer greater than one) are illustratively shown formed coincidently with recesses 3301, 3303, 3304, and 330n, respectively. In one embodiment, the wheel wells 330 are formed centrally and perpendicular to the rectangular recesses 322, although other arrangements are also possible.

As shown in FIG. 4, the illustrative rollers 360 comprise a roller member, such as a wheel 364, and an axle 366 extending through a central hub of the wheel 364, as conventionally known in the art. A pair of rectangular shaped axle aligners 362 coaxially circumscribes a portion of the axle 366 on each side of the wheel 364. The pair of axle aligners 362 is sized to secure the wheel 364 and axle 366 into the recesses 322, such that the wheel wells 332 cover an upper portion of the wheel 364 from the perspective of the upper surface 302 of the planar member 300. The wheel wells 330 are sized to allow the wheels 364 to rotate perpendicularly about the axles 366 without being impeded.

The embodiment shown in FIGS. 3 and 4 allow a user to interchangeably secure the brushes 350 and/or rollers 360 in the planar member 300. One skilled in the art will appreciate that the size and number of brushes 350 and/or rollers 360 are a matter of design choice, and the illustrative embodiments shown herein are not to be considered as limiting. Accordingly, when a substantially smooth or non-textured pool surface requires cleaning, such as a vinyl liner surface, the brushes 350 are inserted into the recesses 322. Alternatively, when a textured pool surface requires cleaning, such as a gunite surface, the brushes 350 are removed and the rollers 360 can be inserted into the recesses 322. Further, a combination of rollers 360 and brushes 350 can optionally be inserted in the recesses 322 of the nozzle attachment 36, illustratively, for cleaning tiled surfaces.

FIGS. 5 and 6 are a top and bottom view of another embodiment of a nozzle attachment 36 of the present invention. The embodiment of FIGS. 5 and 6 differs from the embodiment of FIGS. 3 and 4 by having a different shape, arrangement of the brushes 350 and rollers 360, as well as by having distinct wheel wells that are apart-from the recesses.

The nozzle attachment 36 comprises a planar member 500 fabricated from a flexible material or materials, as described above. The planar member 500 is illustratively formed in a substantially triangular shape, and as illustratively shown in FIGS. 5 and 6, is formed as a pair of adjacent aircraft wings or a manta ray. However, the shape of the planar member 500 should not be considered as being limiting.

Referring to FIG. 6, the attachment means 520 may be any type of attachment means, as described above with respect to the embodiment of FIGS. 3 and 4. As shown in FIGS. 5 and 6, the attachment means 520 comprise recesses 522 and wheel wells 532, which are illustratively formed separate and apart from each other. In one embodiment, the recesses 522 are formed in a pattern such that one end of a rectangular recess is directed towards the orifice 42, while the opposing end of the recess is directed towards the perimeter of the planar member 500. As discussed above with respect to FIGS. 3 and 4, the recesses retain the brushes 350, and the pattern of the recesses 522 facilitates directing matter that is swept by the brushes 350 to the centralized nozzle orifice 42. The brushes 350 preferably contact the entire surface area beneath the planar member 500 as it moves across the bottom or sidewall of the pool.

In one embodiment, the recesses 522 may extend through the lower surface 504 and upper surface 502 to form an aperture (not shown), which is sized to secure the brushes 350 against the sidewalls of the aperture. Alternatively, and as shown in FIG. 5, corresponding projecting element portions 532 may be provided on the upper surface 502 over the recesses 522 in a similar manner as described with respect to the embodiment of FIGS. 3 and 4.

The nozzle attachment 36 illustratively includes wheel wells 532, through 532s (collectively wheel wells 532, where s is an integer greater than one) formed proximate the perimeter of the planar member 500. In the embodiment of FIGS. 5 and 6, a first wheel well 5321 is formed proximate the apex 508 of the planar member 500, wheel wells 5323 and 5324 are formed near the rear 506 of the planar member 500, and wheel wells 5322 and 532s are formed on the extremities (e.g., wings) of the planar member 500. The illustrative wheel wells 532 are formed by a second plurality of recesses extending through the lower surface 504 of the planar member 500. Each wheel well 532 illustratively includes an upper portion 534 formed on the upper surface 502 to cover an upper portion of the wheel 560. The wheel wells 532 are aligned in a common direction, such as along line B—B extending from the center of the rear portion 306 to the apex 308 of the planar member. One skilled in the art will appreciate that the upper portions 534 of the wheel wells are optional, and alternatively, a wheel well aperture (not shown) can be formed through the planar member 500 instead. In either embodiment, each wheel well 532 further includes a pair of perpendicular cutouts 536, which is sized to receive a roller 560.

For example, roller 560 can include a wheel portion 564 and an axle portion 566 extending perpendicular through the center of the wheel 564 via a central hub. The axle 566 extends outward on each side of the wheel 564. The axle 566 of the roller 560 can be inserted into the cutout portion 536, and the wheel well 532 is sized greater than the size of the wheel 564 to allow clearance for the wheel 564 to rotate unimpeded about its axle 566. The roller 560 can be molded as a single piece or formed as an assembly of component parts.

The embodiment shown in FIGS. 5 and 6 allow a user to interchange the brushes 350 and/or rollers 560 into and out of the planar member 500. One skilled in the art will appreciate that the size, shape, and number of brushes 350 and/or rollers 560 are a matter of design choice, and the illustrative embodiments shown herein are not to be considered as limiting. Accordingly, when a pool having a non-textured surface requires cleaning, such as a vinyl surface, the brushes 350 may be inserted into the recesses 522. Alternatively, when a textured pool surface requires cleaning, such as a gunite surface, the rollers 560 may be inserted into the recesses 522. Further, a combination of rollers 560 and brushes 350 can be inserted in the recesses 522 of the nozzle attachment 36, illustratively for cleaning tiled surfaces.

FIG. 7 is a bottom view of yet another embodiment of a nozzle attachment 36 of the present invention. The nozzle attachment 36 includes a planar member 700 that is illustratively semi-circular in shape, and has a centrally located orifice 42 formed therein for coupling to the nozzle adapter (not shown). FIG. 7 depicts a bottom surface 704 of the planar member 700.

A plurality of recesses 7221 through 722u (collectively recesses 722, where u is an integer greater than one) are formed proximately the perimeter of the planar member 700. For example, three substantially rectangular recesses 7223 through 722s can be axially aligned proximate a straight edge 706 of the planar member 700. A fourth recess 7221 is formed along the central axis at the apex 708 of the semi-circle, which is perpendicular to the straight edge 706. At least two additional recesses 7222 and 722u are formed between the straight edge 706 and apex 708. The at least two additional rectangular recesses 7222 and 722u are illustratively formed in a direction extending from the central orifice 42 towards perimeter of the semi-circular portion of the planar member 700.

At least three of the substantially rectangular recesses 722 include a wheel well portion 734 sized to receive a portion of a roller, such as the roller 360 shown and described with respect to the embodiment of FIGS. 3 and 4. For example, the recess 722 formed at the apex 708 of the planar member 700 includes a wheel well 7341, and the three recesses 7223 through 7335 respectively include wheel wells 7342 through 734w (where w is an integer greater than one).

One skilled in the art will appreciate that the nozzle attachment 36 can be formed in any shape suitable for either rolling over or sweeping a surface of a swimming pool. In each of the illustrative embodiments shown, the recesses are sized to allow the interchangeable rollers and brushes to be easily removed and replaced by the other. Additionally, the wheel wells are aligned to accommodate the rollers, so that the user can easily move the nozzle attachment 36 either forwards or backwards along a line of direction.

Although the recesses and brushes are illustratively shown as being substantially rectangular in shape, other shapes can be provided as well. For example, curved shaped recesses and respective brushes may be utilized to direct debris into the central orifice 42. Further, the brush heads 352 can be fabricated from a flexible, semi-flexible or rigid material, such as plastic, to facilitate a desired stiffness or flexibility of the planar member. That is, when the brushes 350 are inserted into the recesses, the planar member of the nozzle attachment 36 may lose some of its flexibility, depending on the stiffness of the brush heads 352 being inserted therein. In many applications, such as cleaning a vinyl pool surface, it may be desirable to have a stiffer brush head to decrease the flexibility of the planar member. Alternatively, when cleaning a tile surface, it may be desirable to utilize a more flexible brush in the nozzle attachment 36. It is noted that all materials of construction are selected for resistance to the chemicals commonly used in maintaining water quality, cleaning compounds, and the ultra violet rays of the sun.

One skilled in the art will appreciate that a similar analysis also applies to the rollers, such as the rollers 360 shown in FIGS. 4 and 7. For those embodiments, the flexibility of the axle aligners 362 may vary, depending on the surface to be cleaned by the nozzle attachment 36.

Further, although the brushes and rollers have been shown and described in the various embodiments as being attached to the planar member of the nozzle attachment via recess formed therein, such attachment means is not to be considered as being limiting. For example, the brushes and rollers can be attached by fasteners, such as clips, mating snaps, and/or other conventional fasteners known in the art.

As such, the present invention provides a nozzle attachment 36 that includes removable and/or interchangeable brushes and rollers. Further, the user is able to adjust the flexibility of the nozzle attachment 36 by installing brushes and/or rollers producing differing stiffness characteristics in the normally flexible planar member, depending on the type of surface area (e.g., gunite, vinyl, tile, among others) to be cleaned. As such, the user (e.g., as a professional pool cleaning service), can purchase a single pool cleaning device suitable for multiple types of surfaces, as opposed to having to purchase specialized vacuum cleaning heads for different types of surfaces.

Although various embodiments that incorporate the teachings of the present invention have been shown and described in detail herein, those skilled in the art can readily devise many other varied embodiments that still incorporate these teachings.