Title:
MODULAR FIREPLACE ASSEMBLY
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A modular fireplace burner assembly replacement method comprises providing a burner assembly positioned on a floor of a fireplace, turning off the gas source, decoupling a gas connection of the burner assembly from the gas source, removing the burner assembly from the fireplace, altering the burner assembly, positioning the burner assembly on floor of the fireplace, coupling the gas connection to the gas source, and turning on the gas source. The step of altering the burner assembly may include repairing the burner assembly or one or more subcomponents thereof, performing maintenance on the burner assembly or one or more subcomponents thereof, cleaning the burner assembly or one or more subcomponents thereof, or replacing the burner assembly or one or more subcomponents thereof.



Inventors:
Husted, Martin D. (Glendora, CA, US)
Klein, Mark W. (San Clemente, CA, US)
Klein, Darin J. (Dana Point, CA, US)
Litonjua, Leo T. (Lakewood, CA, US)
Application Number:
11/680053
Publication Date:
09/20/2007
Filing Date:
02/28/2007
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
431/125
International Classes:
F23Q2/32; F24C3/00
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Primary Examiner:
SUERETH, SARAH ELIZABETH
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
Arent Fox LLP - Los Angeles (Los Angeles, CA, US)
Claims:
What is claimed is:

1. A modular fireplace burner assembly replacement method, the method comprising: providing a first modular burner assembly positioned within a fireplace, the first burner assembly configured to burn gas from a gas source; substantially stopping the flow of gas from the gas source to the burner assembly; decoupling a gas connection of the first burner assembly from the gas source; removing the first burner assembly from the fireplace; after the first burner assembly is removed from the fireplace, placing a second modular burner assembly in the fireplace and altering the burner assembly, wherein altering the first burner assembly comprises at least one selected from the group consisting of: repairing the first burner assembly or one or more subcomponents thereof; performing maintenance on the first burner assembly or one or more subcomponents thereof; cleaning the first burner assembly or one or more subcomponents thereof; and replacing a subcomponent of the burner assembly; after altering the burner assembly, placing the first burner assembly back into the fireplace.

2. The modular fireplace burner assembly replacement method of claim 1, wherein the first burner assembly comprises at least one selected from the group consisting of a bottom plate dimensioned for placement within the fireplace, a holding grate, a decorative element generally resembling a stack of logs, and a burner that uses gas.

3. A modular fireplace burner assembly replacement method, the method comprising: providing a first burner assembly positioned within a fireplace; decoupling a gas connection of the first burner assembly from a gas source; removing the first burner assembly from the fireplace; and after removing the first burner assembly from the fireplace, placing a second burner assembly in the fireplace.

4. The modular fireplace burner assembly replacement method of claim 3, the first burner assembly comprising at least one of a base, a bottom plate, a grate, a decorative element, and a burner.

5. The modular fireplace burner assembly replacement method of claim 3, further comprising: removing the second burner assembly from the fireplace; positioning the first burner assembly back in the fireplace; and coupling the gas source to the gas connection such that the first burner is in communication with the gas source.

6. The modular fireplace burner assembly replacement method of claim 3, further comprising performing maintenance on the first burner assembly when the first burner assembly is removed from the fireplace.

7. The modular fireplace burner assembly replacement method of claim 3, further comprising cleaning the first burner assembly when the first burner assembly is removed from the fireplace.

8. The modular fireplace replacement burner assembly method of claim 3, further comprising replacing a component of the first burner assembly with another component when the first burner assembly is removed from the fireplace.

9. The modular fireplace burner assembly replacement method of claim 3, further comprising replacing a first decorative element of the first burner assembly with a second decorative element when the first burner assembly is removed from the fireplace.

10. The modular fireplace burner assembly replacement method of claim 9, wherein the first decorative element is a unitary structure.

11. The modular fireplace burner assembly replacement method of claim 9, wherein the first decorative element comprises a plurality of separate logs.

12. The modular fireplace burner assembly replacement method of claim 9, wherein the second decorative element is a unitary structure.

13. The modular fireplace burner assembly replacement method of claim 9, wherein the second decorative element comprises a plurality of separate logs.

14. A method of altering a modular fireplace, the method comprising: removing a first burner assembly from the fireplace, the first burner assembly is configured to burn fuel when installed in the fireplace; after removing the first burner assembly, installing a second burner assembly in the fireplace; and performing maintenance on the first burner assembly.

15. The method of claim 14, wherein the maintenance is performed on the first burner assembly while the second burner assembly is installed in the fireplace.

16. The method of claim 14, wherein the first burner assembly and second burner assembly are visually distinctive.

17. The method of claim 14, wherein the second burner assembly is generally the same size and the first burner assembly.

18. The method of claim 14, wherein the first burner assembly is configured to output gas for combustion.

Description:

CROSS-REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATIONS

The present application is based on and claims the benefit of U.S. Provisional Patent Application No. 60/778,056 filed on Mar. 1, 2006, which the entire contents of which is hereby expressly incorporated by reference.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

1. Field of the Invention

The present invention is directed to a fireplace, and in particular to a modular fireplace and methods of using the same.

2. Description of the Related Art

Fireplaces are often used to heat living spaces. Typically, fireplaces can be either wood-burning or gas-burning. Gas-burning fireplaces are advantageous when compared to wood-burning fireplaces because they provide immediate heating, are convenient to light, and avoid problems associated with purchasing, handling, and storing wood logs. In a gas-burning fireplace, one or more artificial, non-combustible logs that resemble natural logs are often positioned atop a grate that is located on the floor of the fireplace. A burner connected to a gas source is often located beneath the logs. When gas emitted from the burner is ignited, the artificial logs and the resulting flames simulate the appearance of a wood-burning fireplace. The appearance of the artificial log assembly can significantly impact the aesthetic characteristics of the flame produced by the burner and the overall “look” of the fireplace.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

Installation of a gas-burning burner assembly in a fireplace is often too complex for the average homeowner. Installation may require the skill of a professional. Additionally, a person installing a gas-burning burner assembly can encounter additional difficulties because the burner assembly may comprise a variety of separate components that are assembled together. The burner assembly can comprise, for example, a burner for burning gas, a gas connection, a grate, a base, and one or more artificial logs. The artificial logs can form an artificial log assembly that resembles a stack of wood logs. In some embodiments, the logs are coupled together to form a unitary structure.

The difficulties posed by installation of a gas-burning burner assembly can significantly diminish a user's ability to alter the aesthetic characteristics of the fireplace by replacing the artificial log assembly. Also, similar difficulties are encountered when attempting to alter a component of the fireplace, such as the burner assembly, for purposes of repair, maintenance, or replacement of a fireplace component. As used herein, the term “repair” is a broad term and includes, without limitation, restore, replace, refurbish, or otherwise improve the performance of the component. Moreover, when the component (e.g., the burner assembly) is removed from the fireplace during one of the aforementioned alterations, the complexity of installation precludes substitution of the burner assembly. In other words, a user of the fireplace will not be able to use the fireplace during the alteration.

In one embodiment, a modular fireplace burner assembly replacement method comprises providing a burner assembly positioned on a floor of a fireplace. Gas flow from the gas source is stopped. A gas connection of the burner assembly is decoupled from the gas source. The burner assembly is removed from the fireplace. In some variations, the burner assembly is altered by positioning the burner assembly on floor of the fireplace, coupling the gas connection to the gas source, and turning on the gas source. In some variations, the method further comprises repairing the burner assembly or one or more subcomponents thereof, performing maintenance on the burner assembly or one or more subcomponents thereof, cleaning the burner assembly or one or more subcomponents thereof, and/or replacing the burner assembly or one or more subcomponents thereof. As used herein, the term “subcomponents” is a broad term and includes, without limitation, a portion or component of an entire assembly. For example, a subcomponent of the burner assembly can be a burner, log (e.g., an artificial log or wood log), grate, base, etc.

In another embodiment, a modular fireplace burner assembly replacement method comprises providing a first burner assembly positioned on a floor of a fireplace. A gas connection of the first burner assembly is decoupled from a gas source. The first burner assembly is removed from the fireplace.

In another embodiment, a modular fireplace includes a first burner assembly positioned on a floor of a fireplace. The first burner assembly is removed from the fireplace. A second burner assembly is then placed the fireplace. In some variations, the first burner assembly is visually distinct from the second burner assembly.

In yet another embodiment, a method of altering a modular fireplace comprises removing a first burner assembly from the fireplace. The first burner assembly is configured to burn fuel when installed in the fireplace. After removing the first burner, second burner assembly is installed in the fireplace. Maintenance is performed on the first burner assembly.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

FIG. 1 is a front view of a fireplace with a burner assembly installed and coupled to a gas source.

FIG. 2A is a front view of a portion of the fireplace of FIG. 1.

FIG. 2B is a front view of the fireplace of FIG. 2A after the burner assembly has been removed from the fireplace.

FIG. 3 is a perspective view of the burner assembly as a log assembly is being removed from a grating.

FIG. 4A is a front view of the burner assembly after the log assembly has been removed.

FIG. 4B is a perspective view of the burner assembly with some of the log assembly in place.

FIG. 4C is a perspective view of the burner assembly with some of the log assembly in place.

FIG. 4D is a perspective view of the burner assembly with a fully assembled log assembly in place.

FIG. 5 is a perspective view of the fireplace as the burner assembly is being positioned inside the fireplace.

FIG. 6 is a perspective view of the fireplace after the burner assembly has been placed inside the fireplace.

FIG. 7A shows a part of a gas connection that can be connected to the gas source.

FIG. 7B shows a part of the gas connection that can be connected to the burner of the burner assembly.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENT

FIG. 1 illustrates a modular fireplace assembly that can be used to burn fuel. The illustrated installed fireplace assembly 100 includes a removable burner assembly 110. The fireplace assembly 100 can be used in various settings, such as in residential dwellings, hotels, commercial settings, indoors, outdoors, and the like. Fuel (e.g., gas such as natural gas, wood, pellets, etc.) can be burned in the fireplace assembly 100. The illustrated fireplace assembly 100 is a gas-burning fireplace dimensioned for use in a residence, and the burner assembly 110 comprises a pile of logs. The burner assembly 110 can be removed from the fireplace assembly 100 to, e.g., alter the appearance of the fireplace, replace or repair the burner assembly, perform maintenance, and the like.

The burner assembly 110 is positioned on the floor of the fireplace 105 and is in communication with a gas connection 120, which is coupled to a gas source 115. In some embodiments, other types of fuel sources and delivery constructions can be used. Gas from the fuel source 115 can flow through the gas connection 120 to the burner assembly 110 for combustion.

As noted above, the burner assembly 110 can be removed from the fireplace assembly 100 to perform repairs, maintenance, or can be replaced with another burner assembly 110 as noted above. To alter the overall appearance of the fireplace assembly 100, the illustrated burner assembly 110 can be replaced with another burner assembly that is visually distinct from the illustrated burner assembly 110.

FIG. 2A shows the burner assembly 110 immediately prior to removal from the fireplace 100. The burner assembly 110 is positioned on the floor of the fireplace 105. Prior to removal of the burner assembly 110, the gas source 115 can be turned off. The gas connection 120 of the burner assembly 110 can then be decoupled from the gas source 115. The burner assembly 110 can be removed from the fireplace assembly 100, as shown in FIG. 2B. A base or bottom plate 113 can be attached to the burner assembly 110. As such, the bottom plate 113 and burner assembly 110 can be removed together. In some embodiments, the base or bottom plate 113 can be provided separate from the burner assembly and/or can be separately mounted. The bottom plate 113 can have connectors, fittings, or other structures for mating with gas lines or connectors of the fireplace. Another burner assembly can then be installed into the empty fireplace. The installed burner assembly can be visually distinct from the burner assembly 110. Accordingly, the aesthetics of the fireplace assembly 100 can be altered as desired.

FIG. 2B shows the burner assembly 110 after it has been removed from the floor of the fireplace 105. In some embodiments, the bottom plate 113 of the fireplace 100 can remain in the fireplace 100 when the burner assembly 110 is removed. After the illustrated gas source 115 has been turned off and decoupled from the gas connection 120, the burner assembly can be removed from the fireplace 100. If maintenance needs to be preformed on the burner assembly 110 (e.g., if the burner assembly is malfunctioning) the assembly 110 can be removed for an extended period of time, such as one day, two days, four days, a week, multiple weeks, or one or more months. Another burner assembly 110 can be installed in the fireplace 100 so that the fireplace can be utilized even though the original burner assembly 110 has been removed.

In some embodiments, including the illustrated embodiment of FIG. 3, the burner assembly 110 comprises a burner 135, a holder or grate 130, a gas connection 120, and a decorative element 125. The decorative element 125 can be an artificial log assembly that preferably resembles natural logs. The logs can resemble different types of wood, such as birch, pine, oak, walnut, driftwood, and the like. However, the decorative element 125 can have other designs and configurations that can be positioned upon the grate 130 and burner 135, which can discharge fuel that is burned. The burner assembly 110 can comprise various types of fittings, connectors, valves, and piping. The size and configuration can be selected based on the configuration of the gas feed system of the fireplace.

The illustrated burner 135 of FIG. 3 is configured to output fuel in the form of gas. An elongated conduit 136 extends along an elliptical path and has a plurality of apertures 137 along its length. The illustrated elongated conduit 136 has a somewhat circular axial cross-section; however, the burner 135 can have other cross-sectional shapes and configurations.

Additionally or alternatively, the burner assembly 110 can comprise a base 140. The base 140 can have different types of designs and configurations. For example, the base 140 of FIG. 2B is a plate having a pattern formed by bricks. The base 140 can also have other designs. In some other embodiments, the base 140 contains an insulating material 145 that can reduce or inhibit heat transfer through the base 140. In some embodiments, the entire burner assembly 110 can be removed by lifting the base 140 from the floor of the fireplace 105, as shown in FIG. 2B.

A burner mounting structure 141 preferably couples the burner 135 to the base 140 and forms at least a portion of the grate 130. The burner mounting structure 141 and the grate 130 cooperate to hold the decorative element 125 resting thereon. The design and configuration of the mounting structures 141 can be selected based on the configuration of the burner 135.

In some embodiments, the illustrated decorative element 125 can be replaced with a second log assembly (or other decorative element) so as to alter the overall aesthetic of the fireplace, as mentioned above. Substituting one decorative element for another not only alters the visual appearance of the fireplace or burner assembly 110 but may also alter the visual appearance of the flames generated by the burner assembly 110. Additionally or alternatively, the decorative element 125, gas connection 120, and/or burner 135 can be removed and replaced with different components. In some embodiments, for example, these components are removed so that the fireplace can be used as a wood burning fireplace. Natural wood logs can be placed on the grate 130 positioned on the floor of the fireplace 105. Doing so can increase the versatility of the fireplace 100, permitting it to be both gas-burning and wood-burning.

One or more components of the burner assembly 110 may be repaired or replaced. In some embodiments, a first burner assembly 110 can be removed and replaced with another burner assembly. The first burner assembly 110 can be repaired at a different location, preferably off-site. The fireplace 100 can thus be used while maintenance is being performed on the first burner assembly 110.

FIG. 4A illustrates the grate 130 after the decorative element 125 and burner 135 have been removed. The grate 130 is positioned above the bottom plate 113, which preferably contains an insulative material 145. The insulative material 145 can be comprised of one or more heat resistant materials. The insulative material 145 can be vermiculite, a member of the phyllosilicate group of materials, or other insulating material. The insulative material 145 serves to insulate the bottom plate 113 of the burner assembly 110, the base 140 of the burner assembly 110, and the floor of the fireplace 105 from the heat generated by the burning fuel. In one embodiment, the bottom plate 113 does not comprise insulating material. For example, the bottom plate 113 can be a metal plate without an insulating layer.

FIGS. 4B-4D illustrate one method of assembling the decorative element 125. A first log 151 is placed upon the grate 130. A second log 152 is then placed upon the grate 130, followed by a third log 153. A fourth 154 and fifth log 155 subsequently are placed on top of the other logs, as shown in FIG. 4C. After logs 151, 152, 153, 154, 155 have been placed on top of the grate 130, the burner assembly 110 is ready to be positioned on the floor of the fireplace 105. The decorative element 125 can have any number of logs. Moreover, the placement of the logs can be altered to change the appearance of the decorative element 125.

FIG. 5 illustrates the partially assembled burner assembly 110 being positioned onto the floor of the fireplace 105, and FIG. 6 shows the fireplace 100 after the fully assembled burner assembly 110 has been positioned on the floor of the fireplace 105. Once the burner assembly 110 is positioned on the floor of the fireplace 105, the gas connection 120 of the burner assembly 110 is coupled to the gas source 115. The gas source 115 is then turned ON to permit gas from the gas source 115 to travel to the burner 135 of the burner assembly 110 via the gas connection 120. The gas connection 120 can comprise any number of gas conduits, regulators, valves (e.g., globe valves, check valves, etc.), and connectors.

FIGS. 7A and 7B illustrate the gas connection 120 configured to provide fluid communication between the gas source 115 and the burner 135. FIG. 7A shows the portion of the gas connection 120 coupled to the gas source 115, and FIG. 7B shows the portion of the gas connection 120 coupled to a regulator 122. In some embodiments, the regulator 122 permits a user to control the flow of gas to the burner 135.

The embodiments, features, systems, devices, materials, methods and techniques described herein may, in some embodiments, be similar to any one or more of the embodiments, features, systems, devices, materials, methods and techniques described in U.S. application Ser. No. 10/793,325, filed on Mar. 4, 2004, which incorporated by reference in its entirety. In addition, the embodiments, features, systems, devices, materials, methods and techniques described herein may, in certain embodiments, be applied to or used in connection with any one or more of the embodiments, features, systems, devices, materials, methods and techniques disclosed in the above-mentioned U.S. application Ser. No. 10/793,325. For example, the fireplace 100 described above can have prefabricated brick panels.

The articles disclosed herein may be formed through any suitable means. The various methods and techniques described above provide a number of ways to carry out the invention. Of course, it is to be understood that not necessarily all objectives or advantages described may be achieved in accordance with any particular embodiment described herein. Thus, for example, those skilled in the art will recognize that the methods may be performed in a manner that achieves or optimizes one advantage or group of advantages as taught herein without necessarily achieving other objectives or advantages as may be taught or suggested herein.

Furthermore, the skilled artisan will recognize the interchangeability of various features from different embodiments disclosed herein. Similarly, the various features and steps discussed above, as well as other known equivalents for each such feature or step, can be mixed and matched by one of ordinary skill in this art to perform methods in accordance with principles described herein. Additionally, the methods which are described and illustrated herein are not limited to the exact sequence of acts described, nor are they necessarily limited to the practice of all of the acts set forth. Other sequences of events or acts, or less than all of the events, or simultaneous occurrence of the events, may be utilized in practicing the embodiments of the invention.

Although the invention has been disclosed in the context of certain embodiments and examples, it will be understood by those skilled in the art that the invention extends beyond the specifically disclosed embodiments to other alternative embodiments and/or uses and obvious modifications and equivalents thereof. Accordingly, it is not intended that the invention be limited, except as by the appended claims.