Title:
Snap fit access panel for tub
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A tub surround includes an access opening that has a removable panel that is snap fit to a wall of the tub surround. The snap fit connection ensures that the removable panel can be repeatedly removed with little risk of separation of the securing structure.



Inventors:
Sisk, Thomas J. (Tottenham, CA)
Application Number:
11/200684
Publication Date:
02/15/2007
Filing Date:
08/10/2005
Assignee:
MASCO CORPORATION
Primary Class:
International Classes:
A47K3/02
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
FETSUGA, ROBERT M
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
Carlson, Gaskey & Olds/Masco Corporation (Birmingham, MI, US)
Claims:
What is claimed is:

1. A tub comprising: a forward facing skirt, and a tub defined laterally inwardly of said forward facing skirt, said forward facing skirt having an access opening for providing access to plumbing; and a removal panel for covering said access opening, and said removable panel being attached directly to said forward facing skirt with a snap fit connection.

2. The tub as set forth in claim 1, wherein said snap fit connection is provided by at least one resilient snap member provided on said panel.

3. The tub as set forth in claim 2, wherein there are a pair of spaced resilient snap members formed on said removable panel.

4. The tub as set forth in claim 3, wherein said spaced snap members are vertically spaced.

5. The tub as set forth in claim 4, wherein a vertically lower snap member includes a leg for being secured behind a portion of said forward facing skirt, and a vertically upper snap member includes a curved upper surface for snapping behind an upper portion of said forward facing skirt.

6. The tub as set forth in claim 1, wherein said snap fit connection includes a snapping member having a leg extending at an angle from a base wall at a vertically lower position, and a curved surface extending from said base wall, said curved surface being formed to snap behind a surface of said forward facing skirt.

7. The tub as set forth in claim 1, wherein said forward facing skirt includes laterally inwardly extending wall portions, and vertically extending portions extending vertically from said laterally inwardly extending portions, said vertically extending portions defining said access opening, and said snap fit connection snapping behind said vertically extending portion.

8. A tub comprising: a forward facing skirt, and a tub defined laterally inwardly of said forward facing wall, said forward facing skirt having an access opening for providing access to plumbing; a removal panel for covering said access opening, and said removable panel being attached to said forward facing skirt with a snap fit connection; and said snap fit connection including a vertically lower snap member including a leg for being initially secured behind a portion of said forward facing skirt, and a vertically upper snap member including a curved upper surface for facilitating snapping movement behind an upper portion of said forward facing skirt.

9. The tub as set forth in claim 8, wherein said forward facing skirt includes laterally inwardly extending wall portions, and vertically extending portions extending vertically from said laterally inwardly extending portions, said vertically extending portions defining said access opening, and said snap fit connection snapping behind said vertically extending portion.

10. A method of attaching a panel to an access opening in a tub skirt comprising the steps of: (1) providing a tub having an access opening, and providing a panel for closing or exposing said access opening to provide access to plumbing behind said panel and within said access opening, said panel including a vertically lower clip and a vertically upper clip; (2) inserting said vertically lower clip behind a wall of the tub, and pivoting said panel such that said vertically upper clip snaps behind said wall to secure said panel within said access opening.

11. The method of claim 10 wherein said vertically upper clip has a curved upper surface.

Description:

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

The present invention relates to a molded plastic tub surround wherein a removable access panel is clipped to the underlying tub structure.

Tubs, such as are typically utilized in bathroom environments, are often formed of molded sheets of plastic. A large piece provides a tub and a skirt extending downwardly from a rim of the tub to contact the floor of the bathroom. One type of such tub is used as a whirlpool bath tub. As known, in such whirlpool baths, an access panel is removably attached to the skirt, such that a plumber may have access to pipes, etc., for maintenance. In the prior art, this detachable panel has been attached by self-adhesive Velcro strips, or other adhesive surfaces.

The panel may be removed repeatedly during the life of the tub. The prior art adhesive Velcro™ strips do not always bond well to the smooth surface of the skirt. In the past, these strips have sometimes fallen off.

In one proposed system, the panel is clipped to an underlying intermediate bracket. The intermediate bracket is first secured to the skirt. While the clip is the improvement over the prior art Velcro™ strips, the requirement of the intermediate separate bracket results in an unduly complex assembly.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

In the disclosed embodiment of this invention, the removable panel is snap fit directly to the underlying tub structure. In a disclosed environment, clips are formed at vertically upper and lower surfaces of the removable panel, and clip behind the skirt at spaced locations. In a disclosed embodiment, the clips extend behind a vertically upper and a vertically lower surface of the skirt. The clips are formed such that they are resilient and will snap out of the way, to facilitate the insertion and removal of the panel.

In a disclosed embodiment, the vertically lower clip has a leg that can hook behind the surface of the skirt. A vertically uppermost surface of the clips is curved to facilitate snapping behind the skirt.

In a disclosed method of removing or inserting the skirt, the skirt may initially be placed with the vertically lower leg locked behind the skirt. The panel may then be pivoted into the opening, such that the curved upper portion snaps behind the skirt to secure the panel.

These and other features of the present invention can be best understood from the following specification and drawings, the following of which is a brief description.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

FIG. 1A shows a tub surround incorporating the present invention.

FIG. 1B shows the removed panel.

FIG. 2A is a cross-sectional view along line 2-2 as shown in FIG. 1.

FIG. 2B shows an assembly step or a removal step for a removable panel according to the present invention.

FIG. 3 is an enlarged view of a clip according to the present invention.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENT

As shown in FIG. 1A, a whirlpool bath 10 includes a tub 12 having a removable panel 14. As is known, the removable panel is removable to provide access to pipes 19, as shown schematically.

As shown in FIG. 2A, the inventive removable panel 14 is clipped to the tub 12. The tub includes a skirt with an upper surface 16 having a laterally inwardly extending portion 18 and a vertically downwardly extending portion 20. A lower portion of the skirt has a portion 22 with a laterally inwardly extending portion 24 and a vertically upwardly extending portion 26. Clips 28 are attached to the removable panel 14 at vertically spaced surfaces. As shown, the clip 28 includes a leg 30, and a curved latch member 32. A plate 34 is secured to a rear of the removable panel 14. Preferably, there are three sets of the vertically aligned clips, such that there are six clips in total.

As can be appreciated from FIG. 2B, the lower clip 28 may have its leg 30 resting behind portion 26, as the upper curved member 32 is snapped behind the surface 20. The curved surface facilitates this snapping movement. To remove the panel, one simply pivots the panel in a reverse direction. Now, the clip will be securely held on the removable panel 14, and the panel will be securely held to the tub 12. The panel is removable any number of times, with little risk of the clips 28 separating from the panel 14.

FIG. 3 shows the detail of clip 28, including the curved upper member 32, and the leg 30 extending at an angle relative to the back surface 34. The clips may be molded from a rigid PVC. An angle between the leg 30 and the back surface 34 may be on the order of 30°.

Although a preferred embodiment of this invention has been disclosed, a worker of ordinary skill in this art would recognize that certain modifications would come within the scope of this invention. For that reason, the following claims should be studied to determine the true scope and content of this invention.