Title:
SYSTEMS AND METHODS FOR PROVIDING A FIREPLACE SEAL
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
This invention relates generally to fireplaces, and more specifically, to systems and methods for providing a fireplace seal. In one embodiment, the invention includes a sheet, the sheet being constructed from fire-resistant material, the sheet defining a surface area configurable to cover a fireplace opening; a first rod, the first rod being resistantly compressible, the first rod being fastened to the sheet, wherein the first rod is configurable to provide opposing force against walls of the fireplace opening to removably secure the sheet in a position that obstructs air flow through the fireplace opening; and a second rod, the second rod being resistantly compressible, the second rod being fastened to the sheet, wherein the second rod is configurable to provide opposing force against walls of the fireplace opening to removable secure the sheet in a position that obstructs air flow through the fireplace opening.



Inventors:
Berry, Ted (Everett, WA, US)
Berry, Judy (Everett, WA, US)
Application Number:
11/859610
Publication Date:
03/27/2008
Filing Date:
09/21/2007
Primary Class:
International Classes:
F24B1/192
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
NDUBIZU, CHUKA CLEMENT
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
Ruttler Mills PLLC (Seabeck, WA, US)
Claims:
What is claimed is:

1. A fireplace seal, the fireplace seal comprising: a sheet, the sheet being constructed from fire-resistant material, the sheet defining a surface area configurable to cover a fireplace opening; and a first rod, the first rod being resistantly compressible, the first rod being fastened to the sheet, wherein the first rod is configurable to provide opposing force against walls of the fireplace opening to removably secure the sheet in a position that obstructs air flow through the fireplace opening.

2. The fireplace seal of claim 1, further comprising: a second rod, the second rod being resistantly compressible, the second rod being fastened to the sheet, wherein the second rod is configurable to provide opposing force against walls of the fireplace opening to removable secure the sheet in a position that obstructs air flow through the fireplace opening.

3. The fireplace seal of claim 2, wherein the sheet has a top edge, a bottom edge, a left edge, and a right edge and wherein the first rod is fastened to the top edge of the sheet and the second rod is fastened to the bottom edge of the sheet.

4. The fireplace seal of claim 3, wherein the sheet includes a first pouch along the top edge and a second pouch along the bottom edge and wherein the first rod is fastened to the top edge by being disposed within the first pouch and the second rod is fastened to the bottom edge by being disposed within the second pouch.

5. The fireplace seal of claim 4 wherein the sheet is height adjustable by rolling any of the first and second rod about the sheet and wherein the sheet includes at least one fastener to retain the sheet at a given height.

6. The fireplace seal of claim 5, wherein the first pouch includes a first slit and the second pouch includes a second slit, wherein the sheet is width adjustable by permitting the first rod to protrude from the first slit and the second rod to protrude from the second slit thereby establishing excess sheet, and wherein the sheet includes at least one additional fastener to secure the excess sheet.

7. The fireplace seal of claim 6, further comprising: a skirt, the skirt constructed from fire-resistant material, the skirt being disposed about a perimeter of the sheet to provide a flexible extension flap that is configurable to rest against walls of the fireplace opening to obstruct air flow between any gaps between the sheet and walls of the fireplace opening.

8. The fireplace seal of claim 7, further comprising: at least one horizontal skirt, the at least one horizontal skirt being disposed along a length of the sheet at a distance between the top and bottom edge of the sheet, wherein the at least one horizontal skirt is configurable to resting against a wall of the fireplace opening when the sheet is height adjusted by rolling any of the first and second rod about the sheet.

9. The fireplace seal of claim 8, further comprising: at least one vertical skirt, the at least one vertical skirt being disposed along a height of the sheet at a distance between the left and right edge of the sheet, wherein the at least one vertical skirt is configurable to resting against a wall of the fireplace opening when the sheet width adjusted by permitting the first rod to protrude from the first slit and the second rod to protrude from the second slit and securing the excess sheet.

10. The fireplace seal of claim 9, further comprising: at least one magnet, the at least one magnet being fastened to the skirt, the at least one magnet being configurable to magnetically couple to at least one metallic member on the fireplace opening to secure the skirt in a position that obstructs air flow between any gaps between the sheet and the walls of the fireplace opening.

11. The fireplace seal of claim 10, further comprising: at least one additional magnet, the at least one additional magnet being fastened to any of the horizontal skirt and the vertical skirt, the at least one additional magnet being configurable to magnetically couple to at least one additional metallic member on the fireplace opening to further obstruct air flow between any gaps between the sheet and the walls of the fireplace opening.

12. The fireplace seal of claim 11, wherein the sheet includes at least one aperture on its surface configurable to permit a small amount of air flow through the fireplace opening.

13. The fireplace seal of claim 12, wherein the at least one aperture is any of closable and adjustable.

14. The fireplace seal of claim 2, wherein the sheet has a top edge, a bottom edge, a left edge, and a right edge and wherein the first rod is fastened to the left edge of the sheet and the second rod is fastened to the right edge of the sheet.

15. The fireplace seal of claim 14, further comprising: a decorative cover, the decorative cover being configurable to being removably coupled to the sheet.

16. A fireplace seal, the fireplace seal comprising: a sheet for covering a fireplace opening, the sheet being fire-resistant; a means for securing the sheet to the fireplace opening to obstruct air flow through the fireplace opening; a means for adjusting a height of the sheet; a means for retaining the sheet at an adjusted height; a means for adjusting a width of the sheet; and a means for retaining the sheet at an adjusted width;

17. The fireplace seal of claim 16, further comprising: a means of obstructing air flow between any gaps between the sheet and the fireplace opening.

18. The fireplace seal of claim 17, further comprising: a means of obstructing air flow between any gaps between the sheet and the fireplace opening when the sheet is height adjusted; and a means of obstructing air flow between any gaps between the sheet and the fireplace opening when the sheet is width adjusted.

19. The fireplace seal of claim 18, further comprising: a means of adjustably permitting a small amount of airflow to pass through the fireplace opening.

20. The fireplace seal of claim 19, further comprising: a means of decorating the sheet.

Description:

PRIORITY CLAIM

This application claims the benefit of the filing date of pending U.S. Provisional Patent Application No. 60/826,434 filed Sep. 21, 2006 (Our Ref: FIRE-1-1001). The foregoing application is incorporated by reference in its entirety as if fully set forth herein.

FIELD OF THE INVENTION

This invention relates generally to fireplaces, and more specifically, to systems and methods for providing a fireplace seal.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

The use of fires domestically can be traced back nearly one million years. Initially fires were built in the middle of hut-like structures to provide maximum heat distribution, and smoke escaped through incidental holes in the roof of the structure. About half a million years ago, holes and chimneys began to be built into houses so that smoke could escape more easily. When houses became two stories, however, chimneys were moved to the outside of the building to protect wooden walls and floors that were used to build multi-story buildings. This was the birth of the modern fireplace.

Today there exists a wide variety of fireplaces that take on a myriad of embodiments and that can occupy various places within the home. What all these fireplaces have in common, however, is first an opening that allows a user to put combustible material in the fireplace and enjoy the heat, light and smell that accompanies a burning fire. Second, there is a chimney that conveys smoke and other combusted gasses out of the house. Additionally, fireplaces can have multiple chimneys or vents that facilitate more efficient airflow to and from a fire. Although the chimney is necessary to make the fireplace safe, it does also have negative impacts on a home environment, especially when the fireplace is not being used.

When a fireplace is not being used, any channel that conveys smoke and other gases out of the house is typically open. Accordingly, air, gasses and other matter from outside of the house can travel into the house. For example, when it is cold outside, persons who reside in a house typically want the house to be warm and the fireplace allows cold air from outside to cool the house. Conversely, when it is hot outside, persons who reside in a house typically want the house to be cool, and the fireplace allows hot air from outside the house to heat the house. Although modern air-conditioning can typically keep a home at a constant temperature despite the influence of hot or cold air passing into the house through the fireplace, this comes at a substantial and undesirable energy cost. The cost of energy to heat or cool a home is becoming increasingly expensive and there has become an emphasis is decreasing this cost by making homes more energy-efficient.

One way to make a home more energy-efficient is to stop or reduce the air-flow through the fireplace when the fireplace is not being used. Many systems and methods of sealing a fireplace are known in the art, however these systems and methods suffer from being difficult to use, being bulky and difficult to store, and being unable to fit multiple sizes of fireplaces. First, many systems for sealing a fireplace are made of solid materials, which facilitate a good seal, but are bulky, unable to fit into a wide variety of fireplace sizes, and difficult to store when not in use. Second, of those systems of sealing a fireplace that are configurable to be sized to various sizes of fireplaces, these systems are nonetheless limited to very few fireplace sizes and are difficult and cumbersome to use. Furthermore, many of these systems require that permanent fixtures be attached to the fireplace, which can result in undesirable damage or unsightly appearance.

What is needed, is a fireplace seal that is lightweight, easy to use, configurable to fit in a wide variety of fireplaces, and compactable for easy and discrete storage. Therefore, what are needed are systems and methods for providing a fireplace seal.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

This invention relates generally to fireplaces, and more specifically, to systems and methods for providing a fireplace seal. In one embodiment, the invention includes a sheet, the sheet being constructed from fire-resistant material, the sheet defining a surface area configurable to cover a fireplace opening; a first rod, the first rod being resistantly compressible, the first rod being fastened to the sheet, wherein the first rod is configurable to provide opposing force against walls of the fireplace opening to removably secure the sheet in a position that obstructs air flow through the fireplace opening; and a second rod, the second rod being resistantly compressible, the second rod being fastened to the sheet, wherein the second rod is configurable to provide opposing force against walls of the fireplace opening to removable secure the sheet in a position that obstructs air flow through the fireplace opening.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

Embodiments of the present invention are described in detail below with reference to the following drawings:

FIG. 1 is a front cross sectional view of a fireplace seal, in accordance with an embodiment of the invention;

FIG. 2 is a side cross sectional view of a fireplace seal, in accordance with an embodiment of the invention;

FIG. 3 is a further side cross sectional view of a fireplace seal, in accordance with an embodiment of the invention;

FIG. 4 is a front view of a rod, in accordance with an embodiment of the invention;

FIG. 5 is a further front view of a rod, in accordance with an embodiment of the invention;

FIG. 6 is a front view of a fireplace seal being used in a fireplace, in accordance with an embodiment of the invention;

FIG. 7 is a top cross sectional view of a fireplace seal being used in a fireplace, in accordance with an embodiment of the invention;

FIG. 8 is a side cross sectional view of a fireplace seal being used in a fireplace, in accordance with an embodiment of the invention;

FIG. 9 is a further side cross sectional view of a fireplace seal being used in a fireplace, in accordance with an embodiment of the invention; and

FIG. 10 is a perspective view of a fireplace seal having a skirt, in accordance with an embodiment of the invention.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION

This invention relates generally to fireplaces, and more specifically, to systems and methods for providing a fireplace seal. Specific details of certain embodiments of the invention are set forth in the following description and in FIGS. 1-10 to provide a thorough understanding of such embodiments. The present invention may have additional embodiments, may be practiced without one or more of the details described for any particular described embodiment, or may have any detail described for one particular embodiment practiced with any other detail described for another embodiment.

FIG. 1 is a front cross sectional view of a fireplace seal 100, in accordance with an embodiment of the invention. The fireplace seal 100 comprises a first and second rod 110, 115, a sheet 120, and a first and second sheet coupling 130, 135. The sheet 120 is made of any flexible or semi flexible material, including, but not limited to, any textile, fabric, rubber, plastic or composite of two or more materials, either natural or synthetic and defines an area suitable for preventing airflow through a fireplace opening. The first rod 110 is enclosed in a pouch, which is defined by a length of the sheet 120 that has been folded onto itself and then coupled at the first sheet coupling 130. The second rod 115 is enclosed in a pouch, which is defined by a length of the sheet 120 that has been folded onto itself and then coupled at the second sheet coupling 135.

In one particular embodiment, the sheet 120 is fireproof or heat resistant. In yet another embodiment, the first and second sheet coupling 130, 135 can be achieved by any method known in the art, including but not limited to, stitching, adhesives, or heat sealing. In further embodiments, the pouch that encloses the first rod 110 and the pouch that encloses the second rod 115 can be any size and shape, can be open along one or more length, surface or edge, can be closed on all sides, can be alternatively disposed relative to the sheet 120, or can be tailored to snuggly fit the circumference of the first and second rod 110, 115. The pouch that enclosed the first rod 110 and the pouch that encloses the second rod 115 can be omitted or augmented by additional pouches. In an alternative embodiment, pouches are alternatively coupled to the sheet 120 or the sheet 120 does not include pouches and the first and second rod 110, 115 are differently coupled to the sheet 120. In a still further embodiment, the fireplace seal 100 can comprise one or more sheet 120 for extending to cover a plurality of openings including an under-flue or for doubling up.

FIG. 2 is a side cross sectional view of a fireplace seal 100, in accordance with an embodiment of the invention. The fireplace seal 100 comprises a first and second rod 110, 115, a sheet 120, and a first and second sheet coupling 130, 135 as described more fully in reference to FIG. 1. The first rod 110 is enclosed in a pouch, which is defined by a length of the sheet 120 that has been folded onto itself and then coupled at the first sheet coupling 130. The second rod 115 is enclosed in a pouch, which is defined by a length of the sheet 120 that has been folded onto itself and then coupled at the second sheet coupling 135. In certain embodiments, the first rod 110 and the second rod 115 are positioned vertically in relation to the sheet 120, are complimented by additional rods that are positioned vertically in relation to the sheet 120, or are differently disposed relative to the sheet 120 such as medially or across opposing corners. In an additional embodiment, the first rod 110 and the second rod 115 are increased or decreased in number or are complimented with or substituted by an alternative coupling mechanism such as clips, hooks, adhesives, magnets, bands, expansion rings, or some other similar system.

FIG. 3 is a further cross sectional view of a fireplace seal 100, in accordance with an embodiment of the invention. The fireplace seal 100 comprises a first and second rod 110, 115, a sheet 120, and a first and second sheet coupling 130, 135 as described more fully in reference to FIGS. 1-2. The first rod 110 is enclosed in a pouch, which is defined by a length of the sheet 120 that has been folded onto itself and then coupled at the first sheet coupling 130. The second rod 115 is enclosed in a pouch, which is defined by a length of the sheet 120 that has been folded onto itself and then coupled at the second sheet coupling 135. The sheet 120 and the first rod 110 are rollable to permit the fireplace seal 100 to be vertically adjusted to various fireplace sizes. In one particular embodiment there can be one or more clasp, hook, pin, hole, strap, string, magnet, or other means to secure a rolled sheet 120 at a desired height.

FIGS. 4 and 5 are front views of a rod 110, in accordance with an embodiment of the invention. The rod 110 is spring loaded such that when force is applied to the ends of the rod 110 it compresses to create tension and opposing force. The rod 110 can include stoppers on a first and second end of the rod 110 to provide improved contact with any surface. The rod 110 is configurable to being used in association with the sheet 120 (FIG. 1) to press against opposing walls of a fireplace opening. In certain embodiments, the rod 110 is substituted or complimented by any system that provides tension such as a hydraulic or magnetic system.

FIG. 6 is a front view of a fireplace seal 100 being used in a fireplace 650, in accordance with an embodiment of the invention. The fireplace seal 100 comprises a first and second rod 110, 115, a sheet 120, and a first and second sheet coupling 130, 135 as described more fully in reference to FIGS. 1-5. The first rod 110 is enclosed in a pouch, which is defined by a length of the sheet 120 that has been folded onto itself and then coupled at the first sheet coupling 130. The second rod 115 is enclosed in a pouch, which is defined by a length of the sheet 120 that has been folded onto itself and then coupled at the second sheet coupling 135.

To insert the fireplace seal 100 into the fireplace 650, force is applied to the ends of the rods 110, 115 such that the rods collapse or retract to a length that is equal to or less than the width of the fireplace 650. The first rod 110 is configured in a position that is roughly or approximately at the top of the opening of the fireplace 650 and the second rod 115 is configured in a position that is roughly or approximately at the bottom of the opening of the fireplace 650. The force being applied to the rods 110, 115 is then removed and the fireplace seal 100 is held in the opening of the fireplace 650 by the tension that is created by the rods 110, 115 propensity to return to their extended resting state. The rods 110, 115 can be further manipulated or configured such that the rods 110, 115 allow the sheet 120 to create a seal around the opening of the fireplace 650. If the fireplace seal 100 is of a greater height than the height of the opening of the fireplace 650, the sheet 120 can be rolled with either the first or second rod 110, 115, or both such that the fireplace seal 100 is approximately the height of the opening of the fireplace 650. Additionally, if the fireplace seal 100 has a greater width than the width of the opening of the fireplace 650, the vertical edges of the sheet 120 can be folded into or away from the opening of the fireplace 650. In alternative embodiments, the fireplace seal 100 is usable to cover any opening including a window or door opening.

FIG. 7 is a top cross sectional view of a fireplace seal 100 being used in a fireplace 650, in accordance with an embodiment of the invention. The fireplace seal 100 comprises a first rod 110, a second rod (not visible), and a sheet 120 as described more fully in reference to FIGS. 1-6. FIG. 7 further depicts sheet flaps 740. The first rod 110 is enclosed in a pouch, which is defined by a length of the sheet 120 that has been folded onto itself and then coupled at the first sheet coupling (not visible).

The fireplace seal 100 is inserted and held in the opening of the fireplace 650 as described herein. If fireplace seal 100 has greater width than the width of the opening of the fireplace 650, the width of the sheet 120 that is in excess can be folded into or away from the opening of the fireplace 650, thus creating the sheet flaps 740. In one embodiment, the sheet flaps 740 can be of equal or different length, the sheet flaps 740 may not be created, or a sheet flap 740 can exist on one side of the sheet 120, but not on the other. Additionally, as described herein, the creation and existence of sheet flaps 740 applies equally to the second rod (not visible). Accordingly, sheet flaps 740 can run the entire height of one or both of the vertical edges of the sheet 120 and can be of consistent or varied length. In one particular embodiment, the sheet flaps 740 can form a seal along the vertical edges of a fireplace 650.

FIG. 8 is a side cross sectional view of a fireplace seal 100 being used in a fireplace 650, in accordance with an embodiment of the invention. The fireplace seal 100 comprises a first and second rod 110, 115, a sheet 120, and a first and second sheet coupling 130, 135 as described more fully in reference to FIGS. 1-7. The first rod 110 is enclosed in a pouch, which is defined by a length of the sheet 120 that has been folded onto itself and then coupled at the first sheet coupling 130. The second rod 115 is enclosed in a pouch, which is defined by a length of the sheet 120 that has been folded onto itself and then coupled at the second sheet coupling 135.

The sheet 120 is rollable with the first rod 110, such that the height of the fireplace seal 100 is approximately, roughly or equal to the height of the opening of the fireplace 650. In one embodiment, the sheet 120 can be rolled with one, both, or neither of the first and second rod 110, 115 to achieve a height of the fireplace seal 100 that is approximately, roughly or equal to the height of the opening of the fireplace 650. By configuring the fireplace seal 100 to be of approximately, roughly or equal to the height of the opening of the fireplace 650, a seal can be achieved between the horizontal top and bottom edges of the fireplace seal 100 and the horizontal top and bottom of the opening of the fireplace 650.

FIG. 9 is a side cross sectional view of a fireplace seal 100 being used in a fireplace 650, the fireplace comprising a floor vent 960 and a chimney 970, in accordance with an embodiment of the invention. The fireplace seal 100 comprises a first and second rod 110, 115, a sheet 120, and a first and second sheet coupling 130, 135 as described in reference to FIGS. 1-8. The first rod 110 is enclosed in a pouch, which is defined by a length of the sheet 120 that has been folded onto itself and then coupled at the first sheet coupling 130. The second rod 115 is enclosed in a pouch, which is defined by a length of the sheet 120 that has been folded onto itself and then coupled at the second sheet coupling 135.

The floor vent 960 is a conduit in the floor or base of the fireplace 650 that allows air, smoke or other matter to flow in or out of the floor vent 960. Additionally, the chimney 970 also allows air, smoke or other matter to flow in and out of the chimney 970. Typically, both the floor vent 960 and chimney 970 are conduits to the exterior of the house and therefore the external environment. Thus, the fireplace seal 100 provides a complete or partial seal for the fireplace 650.

In further embodiments, the fireplace seal 100 can facilitate a partial or complete seal about the opening of a fireplace that is approximately, roughly or exactly any polygon or other shape, either regular or irregular. In one embodiment the fireplace seal can be used in any part of a fireplace, window, door, vent, or other opening. In a still further embodiment, the fireplace seal 100 can comprise additional systems or members that facilitate a seal, including, but not limited to, rubber, plastic, magnets, or ceramic. In yet a further embodiment, the fireplace seal 100 can be rolled up into a relatively small and compact form and stored for later use. In an alternate embodiment, the fireplace seal 100 can be folded one or more times into a relatively small and compact form and stored for later use. In a similar embodiment, the fireplace seal 100 can be reduced in size by compressing the first and second rods 110, 115.

FIG. 10 is a perspective view of a fireplace seal having a skirt, in accordance with an embodiment of the invention. In one embodiment, the fireplace seal 100 includes the sheet 120 as described in reference to FIGS. 1-9. The sheet 120 further includes a skirt 1002 disposed about the sheet 120 perimeter. The skirt 1002 provides a flexible extension to the sheet 120 and is configurable to being disposed against a wall of the fireplace 650 to assist in preventing air flow from slipping through any gaps between the sheet 120 and the fireplace 650. In one particular embodiment, the skirt 1002 further includes skirt magnets 1004 for removably coupling the skirt 1002 to a metallic mount 1006 on the fireplace 650. In certain embodiments, the skirt 1002 extends only partially about the sheet 120 perimeter. In a further embodiment, the skirt 1002 further includes one or more horizontal skirt segments (not illustrated) for being disposed against a wall of the fireplace 650 when the sheet 120 is height adjusted. In a similar embodiment, the skirt 1002 further includes one or more vertical skirt segments (not illustrated) for being disposed against a wall of the fireplace 650 when the sheet 120 is width adjusted. The vertical skirt segment and the horizontal skirt segment can include magnets. In another embodiment, the skirt magnets 1004 are substituted or complimented with another fastening mechanism. In yet a further embodiment, a plurality of layered skirts 1002 are employable to further assist in preventing air flow from slipping through any gaps between the sheet 120 and the fireplace 650.

In an additional embodiment, a decorative covering can be removably coupled to the sheet 120 to match a room d├ęcor where the fireplace 650 is located. The decorative covering can be coupled to the sheet 120 using magnets or some other fastener and can partially or fully cover the sheet 120. In yet another embodiment, paints are employable to decoratively color the sheet 120.

While preferred and alternate embodiments of the invention have been illustrated and described, as noted above, many changes can be made without departing from the spirit and scope of the invention. Accordingly, the scope of the invention is not limited by the disclosure of these preferred and alternate embodiments. Instead, the invention should be determined by reference to the claims that follow.





 
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