Title:
FIRE PROTECTION MOUNTING SYSTEM AND METHOD FOR MOUNTING
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A fire protection mounting system that facilitates the installation of a fire protection system and a decorating feature such as a crown molding. In a two-piece embodiment one set of hanger elements secures the sprinkler pipe to the wall/ceiling junction, while the second hanger elements are secured to the crown molding. The two hanger elements have mutually engaging surfaces by which the crown molding is secured in place at the wall/ceiling junction. An alternative embodiment has a single hanger element having a surface to receive the inner surface of the crown molding and an opening to receive the sprinkler pipe. These three elements are mounted to the wall/ceiling junction to provide a decorative effect and to achieve some element of thermal protection for the pipe in the case of a fire occurrence.



Inventors:
Johnston, Wayne R. (San Marcos, CA, US)
Johnston, Alan G. (Nashua, NH, US)
Application Number:
11/458661
Publication Date:
01/24/2008
Filing Date:
07/19/2006
Primary Class:
International Classes:
E04B9/00
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Primary Examiner:
FONSECA, JESSIE T
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
THE MAXHAM FIRM (Escondido, CA, US)
Claims:
What is claimed is:

1. A mounting system for installing a fire protection system conduit at a wall/ceiling junction, the mounting system comprising: a first hanger element shaped and configured to receive the conduit and to fit in the corner formed by the wall/ceiling junction; and a second hanger element shaped and configured to engage said first hanger element and having one side flat to receive crown molding thereon.

2. The mounting system recited in claim 1, wherein said first and second hanger elements are formed with mating engaging elements by which said first and second hanger elements are secured together.

3. The system according to claim 2, wherein said engaging elements are roughened surfaces on both said first and second hanger elements.

4. The system according to claim 2, wherein said mating engaging elements are in the form of linear teeth.

5. The system according to claim 1, wherein said first hanger element is sufficiently flexible to provide a snap-fit with the conduit.

6. The system according to claim 1, further comprising a length of crown molding connected with said first and second hanger elements to provide a decorative effect at the wall/ceiling junction.

7. The system according to claim 6, wherein said first hanger element is much shorter than said length of crown molding and several spaced said first hanger elements are employed for said length of crown molding.

8. The system according to claim 6, wherein said second hanger element is much shorter than said length of crown molding and several spaced said second hanger elements are employed for said length of crown molding.

9. The system according to claim 1, wherein said first and second hanger elements are each much shorter than said length of crown molding, the length of said first and second hanger elements being equal or unequal.

10. The system according to claim 6, wherein said crown molding provides some thermal protection to the conduit in case of a fire occurrence.

11. A method for mounting a fire protection system conduit at a wall/ceiling junction, the method comprising: mounting at least one first hanger element to the wall/ceiling junction; mounting the conduit to the at least one first hanger element; mounting at least one second hanger element to a length of crown molding; and engaging the first hanger element by the second hanger element to thereby secure the crown molding in place at the wall/ceiling junction to conceal the fire protection system conduit.

12. A mounting system for installing a fire protection system conduit at a wall/ceiling junction, the mounting system comprising: a hanger element shaped and configured to receive a conduit and to fit in the corner formed by the wall/ceiling junction; and a length of crown molding secured to the wall/ceiling junction to conceal said hanger element and conduit combination.

13. The mounting system according to claim 12, wherein a side of said hanger element opposite to the conduit is configured to receive said crown molding.

14. The mounting system according to claim 12, wherein said hanger element is much shorter than said length crown molding and several spaced said hanger elements are employed for said length of crown molding.

15. A method for mounting a fire protection conduit at a wall/ceiling junction, the method comprising: mounting at least one hanger element to a length of the conduit; mounting said combination of conduit and hanger element to the wall/ceiling junction; and mounting a length of crown molding to the wall/ceiling junction over said combination of conduit and hanger element.

Description:

BACKGROUND

1. Field of the Invention

This invention relates generally to fire protection of buildings, and more particularly to a system for unobtrusively mounting fluid carrying conduits in rooms.

2. Discussion of the Related Art

Fire protection, by means of sprinkler systems, is very important in homes, office buildings, and other structures. Regulations require that most new constructions, other than homes (with a few exceptions), be equipped with sprinkler systems. That leaves homes, and some older buildings, insufficiently protected against fire. The advantage of sprinkler systems in homes is well documented. A fire is less likely to spread in the face of an active sprinkler, and is often extinguished before fire fighters even arrive. A sprinkler system affords more time for occupants to get out of the home. This is especially important for people under five years old and older than 65, the age groups most susceptible to be trapped in house fires. The average amount of damage in sprinkler equipped homes is about one tenth of the damage to homes not so equipped.

For many reasons, including at least some of those mentioned above, some local municipalities have taken steps to require sprinklers in new home construction. It has generally been assumed that it is much more costly and disruptive to retrofit a home with a sprinkler system than it would be to install such a system during the construction phase. The perceived cost, disruption, and perceived unsightliness of a sprinkler system have militated against retrofitting existing homes with such systems.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

The present invention addresses many of the concerns of owners of existing homes with respect to adding a sprinkler system. The fire protection mounting system of this invention is specifically designed to be employed to retrofit sprinkler systems into existing homes, and to be equally useful in new construction. All work can be done in a heated or air-conditioned space rather than in an attic or crawl space, both of which are susceptible to temperature extremes and tight working conditions. This has lead many fire protection contractors to shy away from retrofitting existing homes or to charge high fees. Historically, retrofits require removing sections of drywall and hiring additional craftsmen to make repairs. Painting is usually left to the homeowner. This system of this invention requires no invasive procedures, demolition, or any extraordinary measures in order to protect a home against fire, resulting in substantial labor cost savings.

In homes where crown molding is, or can be, used, the fire protection mounting system of this invention can be installed with minimal disruption, and is completely unobtrusive. This mounting system completely encloses the sprinkler system conduits behind the crown molding at the wall/ceiling junction.

In one embodiment, two hanger elements are mated together around the conduit and are installed at the wall/ceiling junction. Normal size crown molding fully hides the conduit and hanger elements from view.

In another embodiment, a single hanger element partially surrounds the conduit. This hanger element functions to hold the conduit directly in the corner made by the wall/ceiling junction. This embodiment of hanger and conduit is also completely enclosed or hidden by a crown molding.

The hangers in each embodiment also provide a means to secure the crown molding in place.

The invention also includes a method of installation of the fire protection system in a room.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWING

The objects, advantages and features of this invention will be more fully understood from the following detailed description when read in conjunction with the accompanying drawing, in which:

FIG. 1 is a partial sectional view of a portion of a wall/ceiling junction together with the mounting system of the invention, showing the conduit and mounting elements in place on one side and in an exploded form on the other side;

FIG. 2 is a perspective view of a room segment showing the mounting system of FIG. 1;

FIG. 3 is an exploded view of the mounting system of FIG. 1 in perspective;

FIG. 4 is a partial sectional view similar to FIG. 1, showing an alternative embodiment of the mounting system of the invention;

FIG. 5 is a perspective view of a room segment showing the mounting system of FIG. 4; and

FIG. 6 is a perspective view of the alternative hanger element of FIG. 4.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF PREFERRED EMBODIMENTS

The following description specifically relates to a system and method for mounting a sprinkler conduit in existing homes. However, the mounting system as described can equally be used in new home construction, as well as in offices or other buildings.

With reference now to the drawing, and more specifically to FIGS. 1-3 thereof, sprinkler piping or fluid conduit 11 is any appropriate pipe, such as ¾ inch pex pipe, in an appropriate length to accomplish coverage of a room with the number of sprinkler heads (not shown) connected to it as necessary for the particular room in which it is installed. The inside surface of the ceiling is designated by reference numeral 12 and the inside surface of the wall is designated by reference numeral 13. The wall/ceiling junction defines corner 14. As shown, the ceiling comprises joist 15 and under surface 15a, which is typically ½ inch drywall. The wall comprises stud 16 and drywall surfaces 16a and 16b. Wall top plate 17 is normally a part of a wall/ceiling assembly.

First hanger element 21 fits into corner 14 and partially encloses conduit 11. Fingers 22 and 23 of hanger element 21 are formed with roughened surfaces such as ratchet or saw-tooth surfaces 24 and 25 (see FIG. 3). Second hanger element 31 is a wide trough or U-shape with fingers 32 and 33, each being formed with roughened surfaces such as ratchet or saw-tooth surfaces 34 and 35, respectively, configured to mate with the equivalent surfaces 24, 25 on fingers 22, 23 of the first hanger element. The space between fingers 32, 33 of hanger element 31 is sized to form an interference fit with fingers 22, 23 of hanger element 21 so that when the two hanger elements are forced together, as shown in FIG. 1, they securely engage and retain thereby enclosed pipe segment 11. Hanger elements 21, 31 may be of any suitable length. They can be quite short, for example, about two inches, or four feet in length, or anything in between, as well as even shorter or longer than the lengths just mentioned. The hanger elements are preferably made of a relative rigid plastic, such as polyvinyl chloride (PVC), which can easily be extruded in any length and cut to size as needed. The elements must have sufficient flexibility to enable the fingers of element 21 to be spread slightly to be forced over pipe 11 and to enable arms 32 and 33 to spread slightly, possibly by bowing connecting flat back plate 36, to be forced over arms 22 and 23 of hanger element 21.

The preferred method for mounting the system of FIGS. 1-3 in a room is to secure several short first hanger elements 21 to the wall/ceiling junction first. When hanger elements 21 are secured, such as by nails or screws, a desired length of conduit is mounted between fingers 22 and 23 of each of hanger elements 21 along that junction 14. A full wall length of crown molding 42 is prepared and several short hanger elements 31 are mounted to inside surface 43 of the crown molding at intervals corresponding to the hanger 21 intervals. It should be noted that, while hanger elements 21 and 31 are shown equal in length in FIG. 3, they could be of unequal lengths. They only need to have at least partially aligned, mutually engaging segments.

The crown molding and second hanger elements combination are then placed against the first hanger elements and conduit combination and forced into engagement until the crown molding is properly in place, extending from the ceiling to the wall at junction 14, as shown at the right side of wall surface 13 in FIG. 1. To secure the entire assembly the usual nails, or equivalent, may be used to extend from the crown molding into the wall and ceiling. A pneumatic nailer is typically used for this purpose. In some instances the crown molding may be prepared with markings or predrilled holes to assist in the final securing process. However, if first hanger elements 21, with the fluid conduit, are securely and permanently mounted to corner 14, the crown molding may be prefinished and there would then be no need for caulking nail holes and painting the molding after installation.

The invention can be thought of as an apparatus and a method to install crown molding in conjunction with a fire protection conduit, where the crown molding performs its normal function while at the same time concealing the fire protection conduit and hanger apparatus. The invention facilitates the installation of two different systems; a fire protection system and a room decorating feature. This can be done as easily before or after a house is completed.

An alternative hanger system is shown in FIGS. 4-6. Here, several single piece hanger elements 51 are employed to secure pipe 11 in place in corner 14 formed by the wall surface (13)/ceiling surface (12) junction. In this embodiment, arcuate groove 52 of each hanger receives pipe 11 and that assembly is mounted in the corner by suitable means as before. Crown molding 42 is mounted as previously described, with its inner surface 43 on facing surface 44 of hanger elements 51.

The hanger element of this embodiment may be made of any suitable material, such as plastic or wood. In this embodiment it is not necessary that the hanger element have any degree of flexibility because the pipe can be captured in groove 52 without there being a snap-in aspect. Alternatively, a small amount of flexibility could exist and the pipe could then be forcefully captured in groove 52.

In any embodiment, crown molding 42 may be made of wood or extruded, relatively rigid plastic. Other materials may also be used, as may be acceptable in the building industry and by applicable codes. Fire protection conduits are typically made of plastic and are relatively flexible but rigid enough to not be likely to collapse.

Another benefit of the mounting assembly of this invention is that it provides some element of thermal insulation that protects the fire protection conduit from melting during a fire, or at least delays any such melting, giving an opportunity for the sprinkler system to do its job before the conduit can be disabled.

The above-described embodiments of the invention are examples only and are not intended to be exhaustive. The invention is defined only by the attached claims and reasonable equivalents thereto.