Title:
Hydronic heating system, hanger for tubing and method of using same to install the hydronic heating system
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A hydronic heating system that is rapidly installed using a hanger for suspending a tubing that conducts heated fluid beneath a floor to be heated. The hanger includes a stem having an upper loop for securing the hanger to the underside of a floor and a helical hook at a bottom end of the stem for supporting the tubing. The hanger can be made of a single piece of metal wire.



Inventors:
Macduff, James (Victoria, CA)
Application Number:
11/249947
Publication Date:
05/03/2007
Filing Date:
10/13/2005
Primary Class:
International Classes:
F24D5/10
View Patent Images:
Related US Applications:



Primary Examiner:
NAMAY, DANIEL ELLIOT
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
DORITY & MANNING, P.A. (GREENVILLE, SC, US)
Claims:
I/We claim:

1. A hydronic heating system for radiant floor heating, comprising: a length of tubing defining a conduit within which a heated fluid can be circulated; and a plurality of hangers that suspend the tubing a predetermined distance beneath an underside of the floor, each hanger comprising: a stem having a top end that can be secured to the underside of the floor; and a helical hook at a bottom end of the stem for supporting the tubing.

2. The hydronic heating system as claimed in claim 1 wherein the helical hook has a free end that is spaced away from the stem a distance that is about equal to an outer diameter of the tubing, the helical hook forming an arc with respect to the stem that does not exceed 270° to permit the tubing to be slid through the gap, and thereafter the hanger is rotated about 90° to lock the tubing within the hook when the hanger is secured to the underside of the floor.

3. The hydronic heating system as claimed in claim 1 wherein the top end of the stem comprises a loop formed integrally with the stem, the loop forming a passage through which a fastener can be inserted for securing the hanger to the underside of the floor.

4. The hydronic heating system as claimed in claim 1 further comprising a threaded fastener having a narrow neck region that is rotatably restrained within a loop at a top end of the stem.

5. The hydronic heating system as claimed in claim 4 wherein the stem, hook and loop are formed from a single length of metal wire.

6. The hydronic heating system as claimed in claim 1 wherein the plurality of hangers are secured to the underside of the floor between floor joists.

7. The hydronic heating system as claimed in claim 6 wherein the plurality of hangers are secured to the underside of the floor midway between floor joists.

8. The hydronic heating system as claimed in claim 1 further comprising heat radiating fins connected to the tubing at predetermined intervals.

9. A method of installing a hydronic heating system, the method comprising steps of: extending a tubing beneath a floor to be heated; sliding a helical hook at a bottom end of a hanger over the tubing, the helical hook having a free end that is spaced away from a stem of the hanger by a distance that is about equal to an outer diameter of the tubing, the helical hook forming an arc with respect to the stem that does not exceed 270° to permit the tubing to be slid through the gap, after which the hanger is rotated about 90° to lock the tubing within the hook when the hanger is secured to the underside of the floor; and sliding the hangers over the tubing at predetermined intervals and securing the respective hangers to an underside of the floor to suspend the tubing a predetermined distance below the underside of the floor.

10. The method as claimed in claim 9 wherein the securing comprises inserting a threaded fastener through a loop at an upper end of the hanger and driving the fastener into the underside of the floor to secure the hanger to the floor.

11. The method as claimed in claim 9 wherein suspending the tubing comprises suspending the tubing from the underside of the floor between adjacent floor joists.

12. The method as claimed in claim 11 wherein suspending the tubing comprises suspending the tubing midway between adjacent joists.

13. The method as claimed in claim 11 further comprising: drilling holes in opposite ends of alternate joists; and threading the tubing through the holes before sliding the hangers over the tubing and suspending the tubing from the underside of the floor.

14. The method as claimed in claim 13 further comprising: attaching heat radiating fins to the tubing at predetermined intervals.

15. The method as claimed in claim 10 further comprising preassembling the hanger and the fastener, wherein the fastener has a narrow neck region that is rotatably restrained within the loop of the hanger.

16. A hanger for suspending a tubing for circulating a heated fluid in a hydronic heating system, the hanger comprising: a stem having a top end securable to an underside of a floor; and a helical hook at a bottom end of the stem, the hook having a free end that is spaced from the stem by a distance that is about equal to an outer diameter of the tubing, the helical hook forming an arc with respect to the stem that does not exceed 270° to permit the hook to be slid over the tubing by passing the tubing through the gap, and thereafter rotating the hanger about 90° to lock the tubing within the hook when the hanger is secured to the underside of the floor.

17. The hanger as claimed in claim 16 wherein the top end comprises a loop formed integrally with the stem through which a fastener can be inserted for securing the hanger to the underside of the floor.

18. The hanger as claimed in claim 16 further comprising a fastener having a narrow neck region for being rotatably restrained within the loop formed at the top end of the hanger.

19. The hanger as claimed in claim 16 wherein the hanger is formed from a single length of metal wire.

20. The hanger as claimed in claim 16 wherein the stem is about 3″ long.

Description:

CROSS-REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATIONS

This is the first application filed for the present invention.

MICROFICHE APPENDIX

Not Applicable.

TECHNICAL FIELD

The present invention relates generally to radiant heating systems and, in particular, to hangers for installing tubing in a radiant heating system.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

Radiant heating systems for living and/or working spaces are widely known. One popular type of radiant heating system for these applications is the hydronic heating system wherein a heated fluid such as water is pumped through an endless tubing loop installed under a floor (“RFH” or Radiant Floor Heating) or inside a wall (“RWH” or Radiant Wall Heating). Heat is supplied to the living area or workspace from heated fluid circulated through the endless loop which heats the floor or wall via natural heat transfer mechanisms, i.e. radiation, convection and conduction. The fluid is typically heated by a boiler which burns a carbonaceous fuel such as natural gas or fuel oil or, alternatively, by a gas or electrical heated water heater, or the like.

Traditionally, hydronic heating coils have been installed between floor joists or wall studs with at least one loop between each pair of adjacent joists or studs. Furthermore, the endless loop has traditionally been supported in close contact with the floor or wall surface and heat conductive plates have been used to enhance the radiation of heat from the endless loop to the undersurface of the floor.

Prior art radiant heating systems suffer from a number of disadvantages. First, the radiant plates which support the heating tubes are secured directly to the floor or wall surface. This promotes “hot spots” on the floor or wall. Heating fluid temperatures must therefore be controlled in order to prevent hot spots which could prove injurious or discomforting to occupants of the heated space. Second, plastic tubing used in hydronic heating system is vulnerable to puncture by fasteners driven through the flooring or the wall structure by persons who are not aware of the hazard. Such accidental damage to the heating system can cause water damage and potentially cause damage to the fluid distribution pump and/or the boiler used for heating the fluid. Third, at least one loop is required in each inter-joist space in order to lay out the endless heating loop efficiently as well as to provide adequate radiant heat in most climates. Fourth, as noted above most boilers operate at temperatures which exceed the desired temperature of a floor surface. It is therefore necessary to provide some mechanical arrangement to prevent fluid heated by the boiler from circulating in an undiluted condition through the hydronic heating system. Expensive flow control components which must be installed by skilled workmen are therefore required in the heating system. This contributes to the cost of installation and maintenance of the system.

These problems were addressed by the hydronic heating system described in Applicant's U.S. Pat. No. 5,542,603 (MacDuff) which issued Aug. 6, 1996. This hydronic heating system includes a conduit for circulating heated fluid beneath a floor. The conduit is suspended a predetermined distance beneath the floor, which provides more uniform heat transfer, eliminating unwanted hot spots. The hydronic heating system is installed so that the conduit runs transverse to the floor joists, i.e. the conduit passes through holes bored in the joists.

Accordingly, it is desirable to provide an improved hydronic heating system that facilitates installation by permitting the fluid conduit to be run between, and generally parallel to, the floor joists to facilitate installation.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

It is therefore an object of the invention to provide a hydronic heating system that is rapidly and easily installed.

The invention therefore provides a hydronic heating system for radiant floor heating, comprising a length of tubing defining a conduit within which a heated fluid can be circulated; and a plurality of hangers that suspend the tubing a predetermined distance beneath the floor, each hanger comprising: a stem having a top end that can be secured to the underside of the floor; and a helical hook at a bottom end of the stem for supporting the tubing, the helical hook having a free end that is spaced away from the stem a distance that is about equal to an outer diameter of the tubing, the helical hook forming an arc with respect to the stem that does not exceed 270° to permit the hook to be slid over a side of the tubing and rotated 90° to lock the tubing within the hook when the hanger is secured to the underside of the floor.

The invention further provides a method of installing a hydronic heating system, the method comprising: extending a tubing beneath a floor to be heated; sliding a helical hook at a bottom end of a hanger over the tubing, the helical hook having a free end that is spaced away from a stem of the hanger by a distance that is about equal to an outer diameter of the tubing, the helical hook forming an arc with respect to the stem that does not exceed 270° to permit the hook to be slid over a side of the tubing and rotated 90° to lock the tubing within the hook when the hanger is secured to the underside of the floor; and, sliding the hangers over the tubing at predetermined intervals and securing the respective hangers to an underside of the floor to suspend the tubing a predetermined distance below the underside of the floor.

The invention further provides a hanger for suspending a tubing for circulating a heated fluid in a hydronic heating system. The hanger comprises a stem having a top end securable to an underside of a floor; and a helical hook at a bottom end of the stem, the hook having a free end that is spaced from the stem by a distance that is about equal to an outer diameter of the tubing, the helix forming an arc with respect to the stem that does not exceed 270° to permit the hook to be slid over a side of the tubing and rotated 90° to lock the tubing within the hook when the hanger is secured to the underside of the floor.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

Further features and advantages of the present invention will become apparent from the following detailed description, taken in combination with the appended drawings, in which:

FIG. 1 is a schematic plan view of a hydronic heating system in accordance with an embodiment of the invention;

FIG. 2 is a front elevational view of a hanger for use in the hydronic heating in accordance with the invention;

FIG. 3 is a side view of the hanger shown in FIG. 2, with a fastener for fastening the hanger to an underside of a floor;

FIG. 4 is a front view of the hanger shown in FIG. 2;

FIG. 5 is a top plan view of the hanger shown in FIG. 2;

FIG. 6 is an isometric view of the hanger shown in FIG. 2, preassembled with a fastener; and

FIG. 7 is a perspective view of a section of tubing supported by the hanger shown in FIGS. 2-6.

It should be noted that throughout the appended drawings, like features are identified by like reference numerals.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF PREFERRED EMBODIMENTS

The invention provides a hydronic heating system and a hanger that facilitates installation of fluid distribution tubing for the hydronic heating system.

FIG. 1 is a schematic plan view of a hydronic heating system, generally designated by reference numeral 10, in accordance with an embodiment of the invention. As shown in FIG. 1, the hydronic heating system 10 transfers radiant heat from a fluid heated by a boiler 12 or other heater for heating the fluid, e.g., water. A pump 14, can be located upstream or downstream of the boiler 12, although, as is known in the art, the system will perform more efficiently if the pump is located upstream of the boiler, as shown in FIG. 1. The boiler 12 and the pump 14 can be separate units, as shown, or different subcomponents of the same unit.

As shown in FIG. 1, the pump 14 circulates the heated fluid through a tubing that defines a conduit 16. In one embodiment, the conduit is made of a composite tubing which includes plastic and aluminum components to prevent the intrusion of atmospheric oxygen into the heating fluid, which can corrode boiler parts and even attack the plastic tubing at elevated temperatures. This type of composite tubing is well known and commercially available from a number of suppliers.

As shown in FIG. 1, the hydronic heating system may optionally include a return manifold 18 and a distribution manifold 20. The return manifold 18 has a plurality of inlet ports 22 and the distribution manifold 20 has a plurality of outlet ports 24 for connecting to other conduits 26, 28 that convey the heated fluid to other heating zones. These manifolds therefore permit several heating circuits (or “heating loops”) to be connected to a single boiler loop.

The hydronic heating system 10 typically includes a zone valve 30 for regulating the fluid flow through the conduit 16. The zone valve 30 is controlled by a thermostat (not shown), which opens the zone valve 30 when the thermostat demands heat and closes the zone valve 30 when heat is no longer required. Typically, the thermostat also controls the boiler 12 and pump 14.

As shown in FIG. 1, the conduit 16 loops back and forth under a floor 42 of a zone 40 and runs between and generally parallel to the floor joists 44. In other words, the conduit 16 passes through the “inter-joist spaces” beneath the floor 42. As shown, the tubing is pulled through holes 46 drilled in ends the joists to enable the tubing to be extended into an adjacent inter-joist space.

A plurality of heat-radiating fins 50 which promote heat transfer from the tubing/conduit 16, are connected to the tubing 16 at predefined intervals, as described in Applicant's U.S. Pat. No. 5,542,603 (MacDuff) entitled HYDRONIC HEATING SYSTEM which is hereby incorporated by reference.

As shown in FIG. 1, the hydronic heating system 10 further includes a plurality of hangers 100 in accordance with the invention. As will be described in greater detail below, the hangers 100 suspend the tubing (conduit) 16 a predetermined distance beneath an underside of the floor 42 in order to provide uniform heat transfer to the floor and to thus preclude the creation of any unwanted hot spots on the floor. It should be expressly understood that the distribution and spacing of the hangers 100 or the heat radiating fins 50 shown schematically in FIG. 1 are not intended to reflect a distribution and spacing that would actually be used to suspend the tubing.

It should also be expressly understood that although the invention is illustrated with reference to a floor supported by floor joists through which holes may be bored, the invention is equally adapted to be used with floors constructed with open or “space joist” systems, well known in the art, stressed-skin panels, reinforced concrete, or any other flooring system that presents a relatively flat floor underside into which fasteners can be driven.

FIGS. 2-5 illustrate the hanger 100 in accordance with an embodiment of the invention. The hanger 100 includes a stem 102 having a top end 104 connectable to an underside 41 of a floor 42, e.g. a sub floor. In one embodiment, the top end 104 includes an upper loop 106 formed integrally with the stem 102. The upper loop 106 defines an passage 108 (shown in the top view of FIG. 5) through which a fastener 110 (shown in FIG. 3) can be inserted for securing the hanger 100 to the underside 41 of the floor 42. In one embodiment, the fastener 110 is a threaded fastener having a head 112 substantially larger than the passage 108 defined by the upper loop 106 and threads 114.

The hanger 100 further includes a helical hook 120 at a bottom end 122 of the stem 102. The hook 120 has a free end 124 that is spaced apart from the stem 102 by a distance 126 that is about equal to an outer diameter of the tubing 16. The helical hook spirals away from the stem 102 and forms an arc with respect to the stem that does not exceed 270° (see FIG. 2) to provide a substantially circular seat 128 for supporting the tubing 16. The geometry of the helical hook 120 facilitates the sliding of the helical hook 120 over the tubing 16 and ensures that the retention of the tubing 16 by the hook when the hanger 100 is fastened to the underside 41 of the floor 42.

In one embodiment, the helical hook 120 is integrally formed with the stem 102. In one embodiment, the stem 102 (including the upper loop 106) and the hook 120 are integrally formed from a single piece of metal wire, stainless steel for example. The hanger 100 can be constructed to accommodate any size of tubing. The length of the stem 102 positions the tubing a desired distance beneath the floor, such as, for example, three inches.

As illustrated in FIG. 6, the hanger can also be preassembled with a fastener 150 having a narrow neck region 152, in accordance with another embodiment of the invention. The narrow neck region 152 is rotatably restrained within the passage 108 defined by the upper loop 106. In other words, the fastener 150 is rotatably restrained within the loop 106 to further facilitate the task of hanging the tubing 16 to provide a hydronic heating system.

FIG. 7 illustrates a section of tubing 16 supported by the helical hook 120 of the hanger 100. The tubing is not tightly or snugly gripped by the hanger 100. Rather, there is enough play to permit the tubing to slide longitudinally through the hanger 100.

The hydronic heating system 10 can be installed by extending or “pulling” a tubing 16 beneath a floor 42 to be heated. The tubing 16 is positioned between and generally parallel to floor joists 44 as was shown in FIG. 1. Holes 46 are drilled in the ends of the joists 44 to enable the tubing 16 to be looped in a continuous circuit beneath the floor 42. The tubing 16 is then suspended or hung using the hangers 100, which are secured by fastening each one to an underside of the floor using, for example, a threaded fastener 110. The suspension of the tubing 16 is rapidly accomplished and the installation of the hydronic heating system 10 is greatly facilitated. It should be understood that although the hydronic heating system is shown installed between joists in FIG. 1, if an open joist system or a stressed skin panel flooring system is used, the hydronic heating system in accordance with the invention can be installed transversely to joists or beams supporting the floor.

During installation, each successive hanger 100 is slipped over the tubing 16 by passing the tubing through the gap 126 and rotating the hanger 100 about 90° before fastening the hanger 100 to the underside 41 of the floor 42 using a threaded fastener 110, for example. In one embodiment, the hangers 100 are secured to the underside of the floor 42 midway between adjacent joists 44 to ensure uniform heat transfer to the floor 42.

Once all of the tubing 16 is hung for the zone 40, the tubing 16 is connected to the boiler 12 and pump 14, or, if there are other zones, to the return and distribution manifolds 18, 20, as described earlier.

The heat-radiating fins 50 are attached to the tubing 16 in order to promote heat transfer from the tubing 16 to the floor 42. The heat-radiating fins 50 may be attached to the tubing 16 after the tubing is threaded through the respective joists and either before or after the hangers 100 are installed to support the tubing 16.

The embodiments of the invention described above are intended to be exemplary only. The scope of the invention is therefore intended to be limited solely by the scope of the appended claims.