Title:
Thimbles installable from one side of a structural element and methods of installing such thimbles
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A thimble that extends through an opening is a structural element comprising: a hollow body sized and shaped to extend through the opening; an exterior seal substantially extending around an exterior portion of the body that has a selected size and shape prior to installation through the opening and a different size and shape at a time after installation through the opening to substantially seal at least a portion of the opening against passage of moisture and/or ambient air between the opening and the hollow body; an anchor on one end portion of the hollow body to substantially fix one end portion of the hollow body to the element; and an interior seal sized and shaped to sealingly engage a throughpiece extending through the hollow body to seal at least a portion of the throughpiece to the hollow body against passage of moisture and/or ambient air between the throughpiece and the hollow body.



Inventors:
Dijk, Floris Van (Doesburg, NL)
Application Number:
11/698491
Publication Date:
07/31/2008
Filing Date:
01/25/2007
Assignee:
Ubbink B.V., a corporation of the Netherlands (Doesburg, NL)
Primary Class:
International Classes:
F24F13/08
View Patent Images:
Related US Applications:
20100075586Systems and methods of preparing wheel surfaces and maintaining air circulation in a mobile environmentMarch, 2010Stretch
20090143915Environmental control systemJune, 2009Dougan et al.
20080242212AIR-CONDITIONING REGISTER ASSEMBLY AND METHODOctober, 2008El-galley et al.
20060199527Attic ventSeptember, 2006Peters
20060116066Method for removing environmental contaminants and a related deviceJune, 2006Shih et al.
20090236432RETROFITTING A CONSTANT VOLUME AIR HANDLING UNIT WITH A VARIABLE FREQUENCY DRIVESeptember, 2009Malloy
20100075590Passive Ventilation For Outdoor Electrical EnclosuresMarch, 2010Rico
20060211358Integrated duct and monitor housingSeptember, 2006Hachmann
20090149122AIRCRAFT AIR CONDITIONING SYSTEMJune, 2009Barbara et al.
20040072536Foundation vent coverApril, 2004Charron
20080254733Airflow RegulatorOctober, 2008Mutton



Primary Examiner:
BARLOW, ADAM G
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
IP GROUP OF DLA PIPER LLP (US) (PHILADELPHIA, PA, US)
Claims:
What is claimed is:

1. A thimble that extends through an opening is a structural element comprising: a hollow body sized and shaped to extend through the opening; an exterior seal substantially extending around an exterior portion of the body that has a selected size and shape prior to installation through the opening and a different size and shape at a time after installation through the opening to substantially seal at least a portion of the opening against passage of moisture and/or ambient air between the opening and the hollow body; an anchor on one end portion of the hollow body to substantially fix one end portion of the hollow body to the element; and an interior seal sized and shaped to sealingly engage a throughpiece extending through the hollow body to seal at least a portion of the throughpiece to the hollow body against passage of moisture and/or ambient air between the throughpiece and the hollow body.

2. The thimble according to claim 1, wherein the exterior seal is a ring of expandable foam that expands upon exposure to moisture.

3. A thimble that extends through an opening is a structural element comprising: a hollow body sized and shaped to extend through the opening; an exterior seal substantially extending around an exterior portion of the body that has a selected size and shape prior to installation through the opening and a different size and shape at a time after installation through the opening to substantially seal at least a portion of the opening against passage of moisture and/or ambient air between the opening and the hollow body; removable moisture proof barrier covering the exterior seal; an anchor on one end portion of the hollow body to substantially fix one end portion of the hollow body to the element; and an interior seal sized and shaped to sealingly engage a throughpiece extending through the hollow body to seal at least a portion of the throughpiece to the hollow body against passage of moisture and/or ambient air between the throughpiece and the hollow body.

4. The thimble according to claim 2, wherein the exterior seal is positioned to engage the opening at and/or adjacent one surface of the element to substantially insure that moisture and/or ambient air does not penetrate inwardly from the one surface.

5. The thimble according to claim 1, wherein the interior seal is an elastic ring having an interior diameter that is smaller than the diameter of an exterior surface of the throughpiece.

6. The thimble according to claim 1, wherein the interior seal is at least partially positioned interiorly of the hollow body.

7. The thimble according to claim 1, wherein the anchor is a substantially flat plate extending radially outwardly from an end portion of the hollow body and is positioned adjacent one surface of the element.

8. The thimble according to claim 1, wherein the throughpiece is a hollow vent.

9. The thimble according to claim 1, wherein the throughpiece is a pipe.

10. The thimble according to claim 1, wherein in the throughpiece is a cable or wire.

11. The thimble according to claim 1, wherein the element is a wall having at least one exterior surface exposed to ambient weather.

12. The thimble according to claim 11, wherein the exterior seal is positioned in the opening adjacent the wall exterior surface.

13. The thimble according to claim 11, wherein the interior seal is positioned in the hollow body adjacent the wall exterior surface.

14. The thimble according to claim 1, wherein the element is a roof having at least one exterior surface exposed to ambient weather.

15. The thimble according to claim 14, wherein the exterior seal is positioned in the opening adjacent the roof exterior surface.

16. The thimble according to claim 14, wherein the interior seal is positioned in the hollow body adjacent the roof exterior surface.

17. The thimble according to claim 1, wherein the hollow body has a length that is longitudinally adjustable to substantially match the thickness of the element.

18. The thimble according to claim 17, wherein at least a portion of the hollow body is longitudinally flexible.

19. The thimble according to claim 17, wherein the hollow body comprises two or more substantially concentrically oriented body pieces that are slidable with respect to each other.

20. The thimble according to claim 19, wherein one of the body pieces that is located concentrically inwardly of another of the body pieces has a multiplicity of concentric ribs, and further comprises a locking ring that is slidably positioned around the another of the body pieces and at least one lock associated with the another a body that engages at least one of the ribs in response to sliding movement of the locking ring over the at least one lock.

21. The thimble according to claim 17, wherein the hollow body comprises two or more substantially concentrically oriented body pieces that threadingly engage adjacent body pieces.

22. The thimble according to claim 1, wherein the hollow body is stainless steel.

23. A method of installing the thimble according to claim 1 through the structural element from one side of the element comprising: creating an opening through the element; determining an approximate thickness of the structural element proximate the opening; adjusting the length of the thimble, if necessary, such that the exterior seal will engage the opening at one side portion of the element and the thimble will extend substantially through the opening to another side portion of the opening; inserting the hollow body into the opening; allowing the exterior seal to be exposed to moisture; fixing the anchor to the element; and before or after any other steps, inserting the throughpiece into the hollow body such that the exterior seal substantially engages the opening at or adjacent the one side portion of the element and the one end portion substantially terminates at or adjacent the another side portion.

24. The method according to claim 23, wherein the structural element is a wall or roof of a building and all steps are performed from inside the building.

25. A method of installing the thimble according to claim 1 through the structural element from one side of the element comprising: creating an opening through the element; determining an approximate thickness of the structural element proximate the opening; adjusting the length of the thimble, if necessary, such that the exterior seal will engage the opening at one side portion of the element and the thimble will extend substantially through the opening to another side portion of the opening; inserting the hollow body into the opening; removing a barrier material from the exterior seal prior to inserting the hollow body into the opening; allowing the exterior seal to be exposed to moisture; fixing the anchor to the element; and before or after any other steps, inserting the throughpiece into the hollow body such that the exterior seal substantially engages the opening at or adjacent the one side portion of the element and the one end portion substantially terminates at or adjacent the another side portion.

Description:

TECHNICAL FIELD

This disclosure relates to thimbles that extend through an opening in a structural element, particularly wall thimbles that may be installed from the interior of a building.

BACKGROUND

Various types and sizes of thimbles have been used to create a sealed access through a structural element such as a wall or roof, for example. However, many of the thimbles in use today, require installation from both the inside and outside of the structure. This is particularly problematic in high rise buildings, especially in the case of refurbishments after construction of the building and where no exterior scaffolding is present. Such conditions make it difficult to install thimbles.

SUMMARY

I disclose thimbles that extend through an opening in a structural element comprising: a hollow body sized and shaped to extend through the opening; an exterior seal substantially extending around an exterior portion of the hollow body that has a selected size and shape prior to installation through the opening and a different size and shape at a time after installation through the opening to seal at least a portion of the opening against passage of moisture and/or ambient air between the opening and the hollow body; an anchor on one end portion of the hollow body to substantially fix one end portion of the hollow body to the element; and an interior seal sized and shaped to sealingly engage a throughpiece extending through the hollow body to seal at least a portion of the throughpiece to the hollow body against passage of moisture and/or ambient air between the throughpiece and the hollow body.

I also disclose methods of installing thimbles through a structural element from one side of the element comprising: creating an opening through the element; determining the approximate thickness of the structural element proximate the opening; adjusting the length of the thimble such that the exterior seal will engage the opening at one side portion of the element and the thimble will extend substantially through the opening to another side portion of the opening; inserting the hollow body into the opening; allowing the exterior seal to be exposed to moisture; fixing the anchor to the element; and before or after any other steps, inserting the throughpiece into the hollow body such that the exterior seal substantially engages the opening at or adjacent the one side portion of the element and the one end portion substantially terminates at or adjacent the another side portion.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

For purposes of illustration, the drawings show selected, representative structures, it being understood that the thimbles are not limited to the precise arrangements and instrumentalities shown.

FIG. 1 is a side elevational view of a wall thimble.

FIG. 2 is a partial cross sectional view of the wall thimble shown in FIG. 1.

FIG. 3 is an end view of the wall thimble shown in FIG. 1.

FIG. 4 is a perspective view of the wall thimble of FIG. 1 broken into its constituent pieces.

FIG. 5 is a front elevational view of an interior sealing ring.

FIG. 6 is a cross section of the sealing ring of FIG. 5.

FIG. 7 is a perspective view of a hollow body piece of the wall thimble of FIG. 1.

FIG. 8 is a side elevational view of the hollow body piece of FIG. 7.

FIG. 9 is a cross sectional view taken along the lines IX-IX of FIG. 8.

FIG. 10 is a side elevational view of a locking ring.

FIG. 11 is an exploded view of the locking ring of FIG. 10 taken at phantom line XI.

FIG. 12 is a section taken at the lines XII-XII of FIG. 10.

FIG. 13 is a side elevational view of another wall thimble.

FIG. 14 is a partial sectional view of the wall thimble of FIG. 13.

FIG. 15 is a front view of the wall thimble of FIG. 13.

FIG. 16 is a perspective view of the wall thimble of FIG. 13.

FIG. 17 is a perspective view of the wall thimble of FIG. 13 fitted with a throughpiece.

FIG. 18 is a perspective view of the wall thimble of FIG. 13 installed in a structural element.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION

It will be appreciated that the following description is intended to refer to specific representative structures selected for illustration in the drawings and is not intended to define or limit this disclosure, other than in the appended claims.

Referring generally to FIGS. 1-12, a thimble 10 is shown. The thimble includes a hollow body 12, an exterior seal 14, an interior seal 16 and an anchor 18.

The hollow body 12 includes a ribbed body piece 20 and a flat body piece 22. The flat body piece 22 has a diameter that is larger than the ribbed body piece such that the body pieces 20 and 22 are substantially concentrically slidable with respect to each other. Ribbed body piece 20 has a plurality of spaced apart ribs 24 that extend over at least a portion of its outer surface.

A locking ring 26 surrounds at least a portion of flat body piece 22 and has a diameter that is sufficiently large enough relative to the diameter of flat body piece 22 that locking ring 26 is substantially concentrically slidable with respect to flat body piece 22. Flat body piece 22 has four locking tabs 28 that are formed from and partially cut out of the material used to form flat body piece 22. Each locking tab 28 has a flat, somewhat elongated arm portion 27 and a distal end portion with a locking rib 29. Flat body piece 22 also has a distal rib 30. Locking ring 26 also has a rolled edge 32 to facilitate sliding/locking action with respect to locking tabs 28. Also, rolled edge 32 may be located on both sides of locking ring 26.

Exterior seal 14 as shown in FIG. 2 is in an expanded configuration. However, as shown by the arrows A exterior seal 14 is initially covered with a barrier material 34 which limits the size and shape of the exterior seal to a smaller diameter which is a small fraction of the diameter of exterior seal 14 when it is in the expanded position. In other words, when thimble 10 is first manufactured, exterior seal 14 is covered with the barrier material 34 and has a particular reduced size and reduced shape. At the time of installation, barrier material 34 is removed by the installer to permit exterior seal 14 to expand to a size and shape such as shown in FIG. 2 by arrows A.

Exterior seal 14 can be made of any number of materials that are expandable into different sizes and shapes. The material selected for exterior seal 14 should be resistant to and substantially seal a structural element from penetration of ambient air and/or moisture. One type of expandable foam is a moisture activated foam such as hanoband, manufactured by Imbema Denso.

Interior seal 16 as shown in particular in FIGS. 5 and 6 is a flexible or elastic ring which is mounted to hollow body 12 on the interior of ribbed body piece 20. One type of material suitable for interior seal 16 is a silicone such as SI3603-08N, manufactured by Argomm. The material selected for interior seal 16 should be weather resistant and substantially seal a structural element from penetration of ambient air and/or moisture. Interior seal 16 has an outer base 36 and a seal portion 38 that extends inwardly of the ring. The diameter of the inner edge 40 of interior seal 16 is sized to be less than the outermost diameter of a throughpiece (not shown in FIGS. 1-12) that will extend through thimble 10.

Referring now to FIGS. 13-16, another thimble is shown. The structure of the thimble of FIGS. 13-16 is similar to the thimble shown in FIGS. 1-12. One significant difference is that the flat body piece 22 of FIGS. 13-16 is elongated relative to that of FIGS. 1-12 and ribbed body piece 20 has a flattened portion substantially not present in the ribbed body piece 20 of FIGS. 1-12. Hence, the most of the constituent elements of the thimble of FIGS. 13-16 are labeled with like reference numbers except that they have been multiplied by ten. The difference noted above permits the thimble of FIGS. 13-16 to be used in structural elements that are thicker than the thimble of FIGS. 1-12. For example, a thimble of FIGS. 1-12 can be used with thicknesses of about 6-9 inches. A thimble of FIGS. 13-16 can be used with thicknesses of about 9-12 inches.

FIGS. 13-16 also show another difference relative to FIGS. 1-12 wherein locking ring 120 of FIGS. 13-16 is positioned in a fully “locked” position. The locking ring 12 of FIGS. 1-12 is shown in a partially “locked” position. Nonetheless, operation of the relative components is the same in both thimbles

FIG. 17 shows a throughpiece 44 installed in a thimble 100. Throughpiece 44 in this configuration is a vent terminal which is adapted for use in heating appliance to which it is adapted. However, throughpiece 44 can be associated with any type of heating appliance and can be manufactured in any number of configurations to suit the particular connection with a water heater such as an instantaneous water heater. Throughpiece 44 can also be utilized in connection with any type of ventilation passing through a structural element.

FIG. 18 shows thimble 100 installed in an opening 44 in a wall 46. Anchor 180 is shown positioned adjacent to or against an interior surface 48 of wall 36. On the other hand, exterior seal 140 is expanded against a distal portion of opening 44 at or adjacent exterior surface 50 of wall 46. The distal most portion of ribbed body piece 200 extends slightly beyond exterior surface 50. A set of screws (not shown) mounts anchor 180 to wall 46 through openings 420 (see FIG. 15).

With reference to FIGS. 11-18 in general, one manner of installing a thimble into a wall 46 is described. With particular reference to FIG. 18, an installer creates an opening 44 in wall 46. The opening 44 extends between the interior surface 48 and exterior surface 50. FIG. 18 shows a solid wall 46 made of any type of material such as concrete, solid block or the like. However, any type of wall may be used. For example, a typical “stud” wall having an inner surface 48 made of a material such as plaster or sheet rock may be used. An exterior surface of stucco, brick, vinyl siding, wood siding, shakes and the like may be used. The interior space between the interior and exterior materials can typically be some type of insulating material such as fiberglass, foam or the like or some other type of solid/semi-solid material.

Then, the installer determines the approximate thickness between the interior surface 48 and the exterior surface 50. This can be done in any conventional way such as with a tape measure or the like. Then, with the approximate thickness of the wall at hand, the thimble can be adjusted by sliding body piece 220 relative to body piece 200 such that the distance between the inner surface 540 of anchor 180 and the exterior surface 540 of exterior seal 140 is the same as or about the same as the thickness of wall 46.

Once the bodies 200 and 220 have been slid into the appropriate position based on the measured wall thickness, locking ring 260 may be slid into a locking position in the direction shown by the arrow B in FIG. 13 such that the front edge 32 of locking ring 120 substantially abuts against rib 300 to cause locks 280 to engage ribs 240, in particular by locking the ribs of locking tab 280 to engage ribs 240 of ribbed body piece 200. This action prevents further relative movement of body pieces 200 and 220 with respect to each other to ensure that the thimble 100 maintains its appropriate length.

At this stage, thimble 100 is nearly ready for insertion into opening 44. However, prior to insertion, barrier 340 should be removed from exterior seal 140. Subsequent to removal of barrier 340, the distal end of thimble 100 that carries exterior seal 140 is inserted into opening 44 such that interior surface 520 of anchor 180 is substantially against interior surface 38 of wall 46. This will cause exterior surface 540 of exterior seal 140 to be substantially flush with exterior surface 50 of wall 46. The relative humidity contained in the ambient atmosphere will, over the course of time, cause exterior seal 140 to expand from its initial shape and size radially outwardly to engage a portion of the interior surface of wall 46 at opening 44 to thereby create a seal which substantially prevents ambient air and/or moisture/water from entering wall 46 in the space between hollow body 120 and opening 44.

Then, the installer can secure the proximal end of hollow body 120 that carries anchor 180 to inner surface 48 of wall 46. At that point, throughpiece 44 may be introduced into hollow body 120 so that it engages seal 160 and seals the space between throughpiece 44 and hollow body 120 against penetration of ambient air and/or water/moisture. Throughpiece 44 can then be connected to the appropriate heating appliance (or for any other ventilation function).

It should be understood, however, that throughpiece 44 can be inserted through hollow body 120 prior to installation of thimble 100 into wall 46. The timing of insertion of throughpiece 44 is optional. One advantage to inserting throughpiece 44 into hollow body 120 prior to installation of thimble 100 into wall 46 is that the distance that throughpiece 44 extends beyond outer surface 50 of wall 46 can be predetermined.

In any event, thimble 100 allows an installer to completely install thimble 100 into a wall, roof or other structural element completely from the inner space of the structure. There is no need for an installer to be on the exterior of the building. This reduces time, effort and cost, particularly on high rise structures and further in particular in retrofit situations where there is no exterior scaffolding available to the installer.

A variety of modifications to the structures and methods described will be apparent to those skilled in the art from the disclosure provided herein. Thus, aspects of the structures and methods may be embodied in other forms without departing from the spirit or attributes thereof and, accordingly, reference should be made to the appended claims, rather than to the foregoing specification, as indicating the scope of the thimbles and methods.

One example is that the thimble 100 can be made from any number of materials. Those materials should be preferably corrosion resistant and preferably fire resistant. One particularly preferred material is stainless steel, for example. As noted above, exterior seal 14/140 can be made from any number of materials so long as they are capable of expanding into opening 44 to create a substantially weatherproof seal. For example, an adjustable/expandable lip may be used. Also, any number of materials may be used to substantially fix the anchor 18/180 to interior surface 48 of wall 46. Although screws have been described, other materials such as adhesives and the like may be used. Also, anchor 18/180 is shown essentially as a flat, round plate. Other shapes, sizes and points of fixation to flat body piece 22/220 are contemplated. For example, anchor 18/180 could be configured similarly to exterior seal 14/140. Another example is that anchor 18/180 could be one or more devices that are fixed to or into wall 46, but cause flat body piece 22/220 to remain in a fixed position. Such devices can include nails, screws, spacers and the like.

Body pieces 20/200 and 22/220 have been shown as being ribbed and flat, respectively. However, other entirely different length adjustability system may be employed. For example, accordion type or longitudinally expandable material similar to flexible natural gas piping may be used. Also, both of body pieces 20/200 and 22/220 can be threaded so that the length of hollow body 12/120 is adjustable. Other means of adjusting the length of hollow body 12/120 can be employed. For example, hollow body 12/120 can be a single piece and the material can be made so that a selected portion can be cut away and anchor 18/180 applied to the remaining portion of hollow body 12/120.

Although the means for establishing the relative sliding position of body pieces 20/200 and 22/220 are shown and described with respect to locking ring 26/260, any number of other means of locking the relative positions of body pieces 20/200 and 22/220 may be employed.

Although the drawings show thimbles 10/100 that are suitable to receive vent terminals for heating appliances, the above-described structures may be employed for other types of applications such as plumbing applications wherein a pipe extends through a structural element or electrical conduits or wires. Optical cables can also be employed with thimbles in accordance with the scope of this disclosure.