Title:
Drain-Clearing Device and System
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
Disclosed herein relates to a drain-clearing device. The drain-clearing device includes, a flexible elongated body fabricated of at least one polymer having a circular cross section, and a graspable rigid member attached to a first end of the flexible elongated body being made of at least one polymer. The device further includes a nose on a second end of the flexible elongated body leadable of the body through a drain.



Inventors:
Thorp, Dale N. (Unionville, CT, US)
John, Jerold L. (West Simsbury, CT, US)
Cammarano, Tony (Perth Attadale, AU)
Application Number:
11/616375
Publication Date:
06/28/2007
Filing Date:
12/27/2006
Primary Class:
International Classes:
E03D9/00
View Patent Images:
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20100043128SUCTION SYSTEM FOR BATHROOMSFebruary, 2010Soldera et al.
20100064426Toilet Seat Alarm HandleMarch, 2010Chikara Imamura
20070245473Flushing system for a vacuum toiletOctober, 2007Seibt et al.
20090013452Flexible Spout for a Portable UrinalJanuary, 2009Davis et al.
20080264810DEVICES, KITS, AND METHODS FOR TEMPORARILY STOPPING AN AUTOMATIC FLUSHING ASSEMBLY FOR A TOILET OR URINAL FROM FLUSHINGOctober, 2008Stewart
20080155743Shower apparatus for securing infant and toddlerJuly, 2008Allen
20090113621Segmented Drain SystemsMay, 2009Degooyer et al.



Primary Examiner:
LE, HUYEN D
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
CANTOR COLBURN LLP (Hartford, CT, US)
Claims:
What is claimed is:

1. A drain-clearing device, comprising: a flexible elongated body fabricated of at least one polymer having a circular cross section; a graspable rigid member attached to a first end of the flexible elongated body, the rigid member being made of at least one polymer; and a nose on a second end of the flexible elongated body leadable of the body through a drain.

2. The drain-clearing device of claim 1, wherein the rigid member has threads and the body has threads and the rigid member is threadably engaged to the body

3. The drain-clearing device of claim 1, wherein the threads of the rigid member are male and the threads of the body are female.

4. The drain-clearing device of claim 1, wherein the at least one polymer of the body is an elastomer.

5. The drain-clearing device of claim 1, further comprising: a polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE) covering the body.

6. The drain-clearing device of claim 1, wherein the at least one polymer of the body includes PTFE.

7. The drain-clearing device of claim 1, wherein the body is a hollow corrugated tubular member.

8. The drain-clearing device of claim 7, wherein the corrugations permit the body to flex around the bends of a toilet trap.

9. The drain-clearing device of claim 1, wherein drain-clearing device is sized to extend the nose beyond a weir dam of a toilet while at least a portion of the rigid member is above a rim of a toilet.

10. The drain-clearing device of claim 1, wherein the drain-clearing device is 18 to 30 inches in length.

11. The drain-clearing device of claim 1, further comprising: a bulbous member attached to an end of the rigid member opposite an end to which the body is attached.

12. The drain-clearing device of claim 11, wherein the bulbous member is a T shaped handle.

13. The drain-clearing device of claim 1, wherein the nose includes a transverse hole there through.

14. The drain-clearing device of claim 1, wherein the nose and the body fit into an opening with a minimum dimension of 10 millimeter.

15. The drain-clearing device of claim 1, wherein the at least one polymer of the body includes an antibacterial agent.

16. The drain-clearing device of claim 1, wherein the body is coated with an antibacterial agent.

17. The drain-clearing device of claim 1, wherein the rigid member is coated with an antibacterial agent.

18. A drain-clearing system, comprising: a flexible elongated body fabricated of a at least one polymer; a graspable rigid member attached to a first end of the flexible elongated body, the rigid member being made of a at least one polymer; an antibacterial agent covering the flexible elongated body; an antibacterial agent covering the graspable rigid member; a nose on a second end of the flexible elongated body leadable of the body through a drain; a sleeve receptive of the body; and a bracket receptive of the rigid member.

19. The drain-clearing system of claim 18, wherein the sleeve includes walls with at least one hole therethrough.

20. The drain-clearing system of claim 18, wherein the bracket is attachable to a vertical surface.

Description:

CROSS REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATIONS

This application claims priority to U.S. provisional application, 60/753,727, filed Dec. 27, 2005, the entire contents of which are incorporated herein by reference.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

Clearing clogged drains is an unpleasant necessity of life. A myriad of products have been developed and marketed to simplify the process as much as possible. A common device for clearing drains is called a snake. A snake typically includes a coil of long flexible metal cable, a housing for storing the cable, and an auger at the tip of the cable. The housing is rotatable by an included motor or by hand. Rotation of the housing rotates the cable and auger to cut through whatever blockage it encounters as it is fed into the drain.

Though effective at clearing drains, snakes can be unsanitary and difficult to handle. In order to be strong yet still flexible, the cable is typically fabricated from wire wound into a tight spiral. The wound wire tends to trap hair by pinching it between adjacent layers of the winding, making removal of the hair very difficult. The interstices that exist between layers of the wound wire hold water, waste products and bacteria via surface tension of the fluid. Such a condition retards drying and promotes growth of additional bacteria.

Usage of drain clearing snakes typically requires an operator to grasp portions of the snake that become submerged in fluid during installation and retrieval of the snake from the drain, thus promoting transfer of bacteria to the operator.

Accordingly, there is a need in the art for a drain clearing apparatus that improves sanitation conditions during their usage.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION

Disclosed herein relates to a drain-clearing device. The drain-clearing device includes, a flexible elongated body fabricated of at least one polymer having a circular cross section, and a graspable rigid member attached to a first end of the flexible elongated body being made of at least one polymer. The device further includes a nose on a second end of the flexible elongated body leadable of the body through a drain.

Further disclosed herein relates to a drain-clearing system. The drain-clearing system includes, a flexible elongated body fabricated of at least one polymer being covered by an antibacterial agent, and a graspable rigid member attached to a first end of the flexible elongated body being made of at least one polymer and covered by an antibacterial agent. The system further includes a nose on a second end of the flexible elongated body readable of the body through a drain, a sleeve receptive of the body, and a bracket receptive of the rigid member.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

The following descriptions should not be considered limiting in any way. With reference to the accompanying drawings, like elements are numbered alike:

FIG. 1 depicts a cross sectional exploded view of a drain-clearing device disclosed herein;

FIG. 2 depicts a cross sectional view of an alternate drain-clearing device disclosed herein;

FIG. 3 depicts a cross sectional view of the drain-clearing device of FIG. 1 shown clearing a toilet drain;

FIG. 4 depicts a cross sectional view of a storage sleeve disclosed herein;

FIG. 5 depicts an elevation view of a bracket disclosed herein; and

FIG. 6 depicts top view of the bracket of FIG. 5.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION

A detailed description of several embodiments of the disclosed apparatus and method are presented herein by way of exemplification and not limitation with reference to the Figures.

Referring to FIG. 1 an embodiment of the drain-clearing device 10 disclosed herein is illustrated in an exploded cross sectional view. The drain-clearing device 10 includes a flexible elongated body 14, depicted herein as a corrugated tubular member and a graspable rigid member 18. The elongated body 14 has a curved nose 22 on a first end 26 thereof, and female threads 38 in a second end 34 thereof. The rigid member 18 has male threads 30 on a first end 42 thereof and a bulbous portion 46 on a second end 50 thereof. The bulbous portion 46 can be any shape to facilitate grasping it within one's hands such as bulging further in one transverse direction of the member 18 as compared to the other transverse direction to thereby form a T shaped handle, for example. The elongated body 14 is threadably attachable to the rigid member 18 by threadably engaging the female threads 38 of the elongated body 14 with the male threads 30 of the rigid member 18. It should be noted that alternate embodiments could have alternate methods of attachment such as by a snap fit or welding, for example.

The elongated body 14 is made from a flexible material of at least one polymer. The elongated body 14 can have any of several configurations, such as; a hollow tubular shape, a solid cylinder and a combination of a core and an outer layer, for example. Additionally, the elongated body 14 can be made of several material combinations such as; a single homogeneous material, a compound of two or more materials, an inner core of a first material and an outer layer of a second material, or a solid piece of a first material and a coating of a second material, for example. Such variations can be used to tradeoff advantages and disadvantages of each. For example, a thin polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE) layer may be used over a solid elastomeric core to minimize usage of the more expensive PTFE as compared to the elastomer of the core, while minimizing friction of the outer layer with surfaces and substances with which it comes into contact. An alternate embodiment may use an elastomeric compound that includes antibacterial agents to kill off bacteria that may come in contact with the compound. Still other embodiments may be hollow and tubular to minimize total material usage while providing a high degree of flexibility.

Referring to FIG. 2, an alternate embodiment of the drain-clearing device 60 is illustrated in cross section. The drain-clearing device 60 includes a flexible elongated body 64, depicted herein as a thin cylindrical shaped member, and a graspable rigid member 68, depicted herein as a spherical shaped member. The elongated body 60 has a curved nose 72 on a first end 76 thereof, and the rigid member 68 on a second end 80 thereof. A hole 84 transverse to the length of the body 64 extends through the body 64 adjacent to the nose 72 forming an auger 88. The auger 88 includes a first blade 92 and a second blade 96 that bow radially outwardly from the axis of the body 64. The blades 92, 96 can be pressed together such that the auger 88 will fit through a small drain opening in the range of 5 to 15 millimeters in diameter. Resiliency in the polymer of the body 64 will cause the blades 92, 96 to expand radially outwardly as soon as the compressive force is removed.

The drain-clearing device 60 may be used to clear drains in showers, tubs and sinks (not shown) for example. To operate the drain-clearing device 60 simply press the blades 92, 96 of the auger 88 together while feeding the auger 88 through an opening in a drain grate (if the drain is so equipped) near the center of the drain grate. Proceed by rotating the drain-clearing device 60 with the rigid member 68 while running the length of the body 64 into and out of the drain. The flexibility of the body 64 will allow the drain-clearing device 60 to bend around traps and turns in the drain system. Running water while performing this action will help wash any loosened blockage down the drain. It should be noted the alternate embodiment might have other auger 88 designs including just the nose 72 itself, with no change to the body 64 in the area of the auger 88.

Similarly, alternate embodiments of the rigid member 68 may have a variety of shapes such as a cylinder and a rectangular prism, for example. Additionally, the rigid member 68 can be attached to the body 64 by several methods, such as; by threadable attachment, by welding, by adhesive, and by integrally forming it with the body 64, for example.

While the embodiment of FIG. 2 is well suited for clearing drains such as; shower, tub and sink drains, the embodiment of FIG. 1 is better suited for clearing drains in toilets. Referring to FIG. 3, the drain-clearing device 10 is shown in operation clearing a toilet 100. The toilet 100 has a rim 104 surrounding a bowl 108 at the bottom of which is a drain passageway 112. The drain passageway 112 extends upwardly at an angle until it reaches a weir dam 116. Beyond the weir dam 116 is an exit passage 120 that connects to an exterior drain line (not shown) that connects to a sewer, septic field or the like. Blockage 124 that stops up a toilet 100 can be in the drain passageway 112 or the exit drain 120. The further down the exit drain 120 that the blockage 124 is located, the less likely it will continue to prevent drainage. This is due to the increase in fluidic head pressure above the blockage 124 that will tend to force it out of the exit drain 120. The drain-clearing device 10 is long enough to extend beyond the weir dam 116 and into the exit drain 120 while the rigid member 18 remains above the rim 104 thereby allowing the hands of an operator of the device 10 to remain above any fluid that may have risen in the bowl 108. The flexibility of the body 14 is necessary to permit the body to bend around the curves of the drain passageway 112, the weir dam 116 and into the exit drain 120 during operation of the device 10.

It should be noted that the outermost dimension 130 of the body 14 is less than a minimum dimension 134 of the drains 112 and 120 such that a seal is not created between the body 14 and the drains 112, 120. As such the drain-clearing device 10 does not rely upon an increase in pressure to force the blockage 124 down the drains 112, 120. This may be desirable to avoid an increase in pressure below the level of water in the bowl 108 that could at times escape and expel water upwardly from the bowl 108 and onto an operator. Thus, with the drain-clearing device 10 the operator has complete control over spillage by controlling the speed at which the device 10 is moved into and out of the drains 112, 120 during the drain-clearing operation. Once the blockage 124 is cleared, the clean water from the flush can be used to rinse and clean the device 10. The body 14 can also be tapped against the surface of the bowl 108 to dislodge most of the water that may be on the device 10.

Referring to FIG. 4, any water remaining on the device 10 can be captured in a storage sleeve 140 illustrated here in cross section. The inside dimension 144 of the storage sleeve 140 is sized to engagably receive the body 14 therein. The sleeve may also include one or more holes 148 therethrough to promote airflow and drying of the device 10.

The outermost dimension 130 of the body 14 frictionally engages with the inside dimension 144 of the sleeve 140 to hold the full weight of the sleeve 140 to the body 14 during storage. The sleeve 140 may be made of a polymer that includes an antibacterial agent therein or may be surface treated with an antibacterial agent to kill bacteria that comes into contact therewith.

Referring to FIGS. 5 and 6, the illustrated bracket 150 can further facilitate the storage of the device 10. The bracket 150 can be made of a rigid material such as polymer or metal, for example, and includes two legs 154, 158 disposed substantially perpendicular to one another. The first leg 154 has two portions 162 that are spaced apart from one another a dimension 166 slightly larger than a dimension 170 (FIG. 1), but smaller than a dimension 174, of the bulbous portion 46 of the rigid member 18. As such the device 10 is slidably engagable and hangable from the first leg 154 of the bracket 150 in response to the first leg 154 being substantially horizontally oriented. The second leg 158 can be attached to a substantially vertical surface by adhesive, screws or other mechanical means of attachment to thereby orient the first leg 154 in a substantially horizontal orientation.

While the invention has been described with reference to an exemplary embodiment or embodiments, it will be understood by those skilled in the art that various changes may be made and equivalents may be substituted for elements thereof without departing from the scope of the invention. In addition, many modifications may be made to adapt a particular situation or material to the teachings of the invention without departing from the essential scope thereof. Therefore, it is intended that the invention not be limited to the particular embodiment disclosed as the best mode contemplated for carrying out this invention, but that the invention will include all embodiments falling within the scope of the claims.