Title:
AEROSOL DRAIN OPENER
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
The present invention comprises a system and method for unclogging drains, piping systems and related items. The system employs an aerosol delivery of a broadly dispersed compressed gas wave. Preferably, the gas comprises the liquefied propellant Tetrafluoroethane that freezes the clog, allowing for more efficient break up of the clog. Solvents, fluid coatings and fragrance may also be employed to further improve the efficiency of the system. Additionally, an extension and/or adapter may also be employed, thereby providing a single system capable of unclogging drains and associated systems of almost any size or type.



Inventors:
Zucchero, Vincent W. (Thousand Oaks, CA, US)
Application Number:
11/734683
Publication Date:
08/14/2008
Filing Date:
04/12/2007
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
134/22.12
International Classes:
E03C1/304
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
DEERY, ERIN LEAH
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
ARCHIBALD LLC (Haverhill, MA, US)
Claims:
What is claimed is:

1. A system for unclogging a drain, said system comprising: an aerosol delivery device; a drain interface cap appended to said aerosol delivery device; a drain mating member associated with said drain interface cap, said drain mating member comprising portions forming an orifice, said orifice comprising an orifice diameter and wherein said drain mating member further comprises portions defining a dispersion region; and a gas conduit, wherein said gas conduit is fluidly communicative with said dispersion region and said aerosol delivery device.

2. The system of claim 1, further comprising a gas, wherein said gas is releasably contained within an inner portion of said aerosol delivery device.

3. The system of claim 2, further comprising a solvent, wherein said solvent is contained within said inner portion of said aerosol delivery device.

4. The system of claim 3, further comprising a fragrance, wherein said fragrance is contained within said inner portion of said aerosol delivery device.

5. The system of claim 3, wherein said gas comprises a liquefied propellant.

6. The system of claim 3, further comprising a coating fluid, wherein said coating fluid is contained within said inner portion of said aerosol delivery device.

7. The system of claim 3, wherein said drain mating member further comprises a substantially pliable material.

8. The system of claim 3, wherein said solvent substantially comprises dimethylketone.

9. The system of claim 5, wherein said liquid propellant substantially comprises tetrafluoroethane.

10. The system of claim 7, further comprising an adapter, wherein said adapter comprises an adapter mating member, and wherein said adapter comprises an inner sealing ring and an outer sealing ring, and wherein said adapter supplements said drain mating member.

11. The system of claim 7, further comprising an extension, wherein said extension comprises a proximal end and a distal end, said distal end further comprising portions defining a receptacle, wherein said receptacle is capable of receiving said aerosol delivery device.

12. The system of claim 10, wherein said adapter further comprises an outer surface and an inner surface, and wherein said adapter further comprises a plurality of trusses located substantially within said inner surface.

13. The system of claim 10, further comprising an extension, wherein said extension comprises a proximal end and a distal end, said distal end further comprising portions defining a receptacle, wherein said receptacle is capable of receiving said aerosol delivery device.

14. The system of claim 11, wherein said proximal end further comprises a handle.

15. The system of claim 13, wherein said proximal end further comprises a handle.

16. The system of claim 14, wherein said extension further comprises a plurality of ribs, wherein said plurality of ribs are substantially located within said receptacle, and wherein said receptacle further comprises portions defining an air release.

17. The system of claim 15, wherein said extension further comprises a plurality of ribs, wherein said ribs are substantially located within said receptacle, and wherein said receptacle further comprises portions defining an air release.

18. A system for unclogging a drain, said system comprising: an aerosol delivery device; a drain interface cap appended to said aerosol delivery device; an adapter, wherein said adapter comprises an adapter mating member, and wherein said adapter comprises an inner sealing ring and an outer sealing ring, and wherein said, and wherein said adapter further comprises portions defining a dispersion region; and a gas conduit, wherein said gas conduit is fluidly communicative with said dispersion region and said aerosol delivery device.

19. A method for unclogging a drain, said method comprising the steps of: attaching a drain interface cap to an aerosol delivery device; attaching a drain mating member to said drain interface cap; and delivering a broadly dispersed compressed gas wave to a clog by means of said aerosol delivery device.

20. The method of claim 19, further comprising the steps of: attaching an extension to said aerosol delivery device; delivering a solvent to said drain by means of said aerosol delivery device; and delivering a fragrance to said drain by means of said aerosol delivery device.

Description:

CROSS REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATIONS

This application claims the benefit of U.S. Provisional Application No. 60/791,342, filed Apr. 12, 2006.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

1. Field of the Invention

The present invention relates generally to the field of plumbing devices and more particularly to an aerosol drain opener.

2. Description of the Related Art

Many piping systems and similar plumbing configurations include drains of some type. Drains are known generally in the art as any type of pipe or similar conduit whereby a liquid may be drawn off. It is a generally common occurrence for these drains to become clogged over time, either partially or completely, in a manner that reduces their effectiveness. Not surprisingly, those skilled in the art have devised a number of approaches to alleviate this problem.

There are a variety of methods used to combat drainage problems. One solution includes the introduction of a force designed to push or pull clogged material out of a drain and nearby areas. This may be accomplished via manual plunging devices, or other means of introducing a pressurized force. Other methods include means for dissolving the clogging material, such as hot water, vinegar and sodium bicarbonate solutions, as well as various chemicals.

In general, the use of compressed gas for unclogging drains is known. For example, professional plumbers have used compressed gas canisters as a means for delivering a burst of compressed air against a clog, thereby dislodging it.

This concept was adapted for the home market by the introductions of aerosol clog removers. It has been believed that a narrowly directed stream of gas is preferred for creating a breach in a clog, thereby enabling a subsequently delivered stream of water or other solvents, to progressively dilate the clog until at least the majority of the clog has been dislodged.

For example, FIG. 1 depicts a prior art solution in an aerosol can 10 having a drain interface cap 2 and a drain mating member 4. The mating member 4 is provided with an orifice 6 in fluid communication with a gas conduit 8 in the interface cap and with a conventional aerosol can valve (not illustrated). The valve is opened by compression between the interface cap and the aerosol can. In keeping with the prior art approach of delivering a narrowly focused jet of compressed gas, the diameter of the orifice is relatively narrow. As illustrated, the prior art diameter d is approximately 0.75 inch (roughly 2 cm).

Many sinks found in the home are provided with stopper mechanisms that are raised and lowered in a drain opening by use of a lever disposed in the drain itself. It is readily apparent that the prior art aerosol drain opening system shown in FIG. 1 cannot be used within such drains without at least partial disassembly of the stopper mechanism. Many homeowners do not want to perform this step due to difficulties in reinserting the stopper mechanism, and due to the tendency for such lever mechanisms to become coated with grime and other waste. Additionally, homeowners will often either fail to reinsert the stopper mechanism properly, or may even damage it beyond repair.

It is also apparent that the prior art approach is not suitable for use with larger drain openings, such as typically found with floor drains and toilets.

It has been found that the initial application of compressed gas only partially interrupts some clogs, thereby requiring the use of solvents, water, etc. to further clear the clog. Therefore, a more effective technique for enabling clog removal using aerosols is needed, in addition to one that is readily adapted for use with a variety of drain configurations.

BRIEF SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

Therefore, it is an object of the present invention to provide a system for unclogging and otherwise clearing drains using aerosols to effectively clear clogs.

It is also an object of the present invention provide a system that uses aerosols for clearing drains and associated systems that is readily adaptable for use with a variety of drain configurations.

The present invention provides an improved system and method for using aerosols to effectively clear clogs in conduits such as drain pipes. As used in this application, the term “aerosol(s)” is used in its broadest sense to include any type of matter, solid, liquid or gas, typically contained within a releasably sealed container. Additionally, “aerosol” may mean: “of or containing a substance, such as a liquid or gas, under pressure for dispensing.” Also, when used in this application, the term “gas” refers to any type of gaseous substance, at any temperature, and may include substances that may or may not be in gaseous form at room temperature, and may or may not be inert, or active.

As opposed to the narrowly focused jet of compressed gas found in the prior art, the present invention recognizes and benefits from the superior drain clearing capability resulting from a broadly dispersed compressed gas wave. The term “wave” refers to a form or shape that a gas may take, wherein the gas is not a narrowly focused jet. When impacted by such a gas wave, the entire surface of a clog is contacted and dislocated. Water may then be used merely to translate the disrupted clog out of the pipe, rather than being used to continue the clog removal begun by the prior art.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE SEVERAL VIEWS OF THE DRAWINGS

These and other features, aspects and advantages of the present invention will become better understood with reference to the following description, appended claims and accompanying drawings where:

FIG. 1 illustrates a prior art device.

FIG. 2 illustrates a perspective view of the present invention.

FIG. 3 illustrates a side perspective view of the present invention.

FIG. 4 illustrates an alternate perspective side view of the present invention.

FIG. 5 illustrates a perspective view of the drain interface cap of the present invention.

FIG. 6 illustrates a posterior perspective view of the drain interface cap of the present invention.

FIG. 7 illustrates a perspective view of the drain mating member of the present invention.

FIG. 8 illustrates a posterior perspective view of the drain mating member of the present invention.

FIG. 9 illustrates a perspective view of the adapter of the present invention.

FIG. 10 illustrates a posterior perspective view of the adapter of the present invention.

FIG. 11 illustrates a perspective view of the present invention including the adapter attached to the drain mating member of the present invention.

FIG. 12 illustrates a top perspective view of the present invention including the adapter attached to the drain mating member of the present invention.

FIG. 13 illustrates a side perspective view of the extension of the present invention.

FIG. 14 illustrates a perspective view of the extension of the present invention.

FIG. 15 illustrates a perspective view of the extension attached to the aerosol delivery device of the present invention.

FIG. 16A-16F illustrate the present invention employed in various drain configurations.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION

As previously mentioned, FIG. 1 illustrates a well-known prior art device.

FIG. 2 represents a perspective view of a preferred embodiment of the present invention. In FIG. 2, an aerosol delivery device 20 is provided with a drain interface cap 22 having a unique drain mating member 24. The aerosol delivery device 20 may comprise an aerosol spray can or similar item. Also shown is orifice 26 formed in the mating member 24, said orifice 26 having a diameter d′. Diameter d′ comprises a diameter that is approximately 1.75 inches (roughly 4.4 cm), which is substantially larger than that of the prior art. This configuration thus forms a gas dispersion region 30 within the mating member 24 and the drain interface 22; the dispersion region 30 being in fluid communication with gas conduit 28, connected to an aerosol can valve.

FIGS. 3 and 4 provide alternate views of the aerosol delivery device 20 having the presently disclosed drain interface cap 22 with the drain mating member 24 installed therein.

A key feature of the present invention that distinguishes it from the prior art corresponds to the delivery of the gas used to unclog a drain. By relying on a narrow jet of gas the prior art teaches away from the unique features of the present invention. Rather than utilize a typical compressed gas (ex. compressed air, CO2, nitrogen), the present invention incorporates a substantially uniform wave of high pressure gas, derived from the use of a liquefied propellant, preferably tetrafluoroethane. Tetrafluoroethane maintains a constant pressure (whether the can is full or partially full), unlike other compressed gases, and when emitted is extremely cold. Further, it is non-flammable and contains no CFCs, thus causing no harm to sound pipes or the environment. In addition to enabling a substantially uniform high pressure wave of gas to be applied across the surface of a clog, a cutting agent such as dimethylketone is preferably employed for delivery with the gas. Tetrafluoroethane is used to instantly freeze the clog upon impact, rendering the clog more prone to fracturing and being displaced as larger pieces, resulting in a more immediate opening of the pipe or drain. Of course, the temperature of the clog rises after displacement, after which the displaced pieces of the clog are prone to dispersal. Dimethylketone is a solvent which aids in the removal of residual portions of the clog and the dispersal of the dislocated pieces.

Preferably a fragrance is also provided for application with the gas. Odors associated with rotting or degrading material comprising or beyond the clog are thus masked.

In a further embodiment, another fluid is included in the contents of the aerosol can which acts to coat the interior of the drain pipe with a smooth, non-toxic coating. Such a material assists in retarding the buildup of clogging materials and facilitates future clog dislodgement. In one embodiment this material is a silicone-like product.

FIGS. 5 and 6 illustrate the drain interface cap 22 of the present invention. The drain interface cap 22 is preferably formed of molded plastic or copolymer polypropylene, which is resistant to the effects of the propelled solvent. The material is also sufficiently pliable to resist cracking with rough use, is light-weight, and is non-porous so as to prevent the absorption of odors and/or other materials, such as bacteria, fecal matter, etc., associated with clogged sinks or toilets.

FIGS. 7 and 8 illustrate the drain mating member 24 which is normally disposed within the drain interface cap 22. The drain mating member 24 is preferably formed of a resilient material such as rubber or clear gloss flexible vinyl, with a density selected to minimize the risk of scratching or otherwise marring a surface adjacent a treated drain, or to the drain itself. The pliable nature of the material also enables the drain mating member 24 to conform to a degree to irregular surface features to provide a tighter seal for maximum effectiveness and to avoid the risk of slipping out of position during delivery. The interior diameter of drain interface cap 22 and drain mating member 24 are selected to form a gas dispersion region 30 (See FIGS. 2 and 3) which enables the compressed gas to disperse, and for pressure to equalize prior to impacting the clog.

Another benefit associated with the configuration of the drain interface cap 22 and drain mating member 24 is that they can be used with drains having pop-up type stopper mechanisms without the need for removing the mechanism. For example, the selected gas dispersion region 30 diameter will accommodate most commonly encountered bathroom and bathtub drain stoppers.

FIGS. 9 through 12 depict an adapter 34 that is configured for use with the present invention. The adapter 34 includes an adapter mating member 42 having an outer dimension d″ that is substantially identical to the inner diameter d′ of the drain mating member 24. An inner sealing ring 36 and an outer sealing ring 38 provide lower mating surfaces that are substantially coplanar in a preferred embodiment. For drains of a diameter substantially the same as that of the inner sealing ring 36, compressed gas is delivered in substantially the same manner as with the drain mating member 24 alone. This is due to the fact that the space within the inner ring serves as an extension of the gas dispersion region 30.

For drains that have a diameter greater than that of the inner sealing ring 36 but less than that of outer sealing ring 38, the outer sealing ring 38 serves to enable the application of the compressed gas to the clog with only a small decrease in total pressure due to the region between the inner and outer sealing rings 36 and 38 being in fluid communication with the gas flow path. The shallow angle of the outer surface 40 of adapter 34 with respect to a horizontal plane helps minimize this pressure decrease in a preferred embodiment.

In addition to the configurations illustrated in FIGS. 11 and 12, the adapter 34 can also be configured to receive the drain interface cap 22, with or without the drain mating member 24, inserted within the inner sealing ring 36. In this manner, the adapter mating member 42 can be inserted into an orifice such as within a toilet bowl, the outer surface 40 of the adapter acting as a sealing interface to the bowl itself.

The adapter 34 is preferably provided of clear gloss flexible vinyl, with a specifically selected density that allows for superior pliability and conformance in a preferred embodiment. The pliability of this material is preferred for its enhanced conforming capabilities, while still being non-porous and thus resistant to odor, liquid, bacteria and fecal matter absorption. Plurality of trusses 44 are preferably employed intermediate the inner sealing ring 36 and the underside of the adapter outer surface 40 to resist vertical deformation of the outer surface 40.

FIGS. 13 through 15 illustrate an additional element, extension 50, of the present invention in an alternate embodiment. Extension 50 is useful in a variety of situations; including clogged toilets or clogged drains that are not readily accessible by hand, or that are under an accumulation of water or other substance. The extension 50 preferably includes a handle 52 at the proximal end of extension 50, which may include finger indentations or similar additions including non-slip material to form an improved grip. At the distal end, a receptacle 54 is formed as a substantially open cylinder. The diameter of the receptacle 54 is preferably slightly greater than that of the aerosol delivery device 20. Preferably, the inner surface of the receptacle 54 is provided with a plurality of ribs 56, preferably three or more, that may extend slightly into the receptacle 54, and which may engage the outer surface of aerosol delivery device 20 once inserted into the receptacle 54. The plurality of ribs 56 act to prevent the aerosol delivery device 20 from becoming disengaged from extension 50 once inverted. Additional ribs may be formed on the bottom interior surface of receptacle 54 to prevent an aerosol delivery device 20 comprising a concave bottom from becoming vacuum adhered to the bottom interior surface of receptacle 54. An air release in the form of an air hole may be provided in the bottom surface of the receptacle 54 in an alternate embodiment to enable air to enter and exit the receptacle 54 as the aerosol delivery device 20 is remove or inserted.

Preferably, the extension 50 is formed of a semi-rigid material such as molded plastic or copolymer polypropylene. The selected material is chosen to resist odor and liquid retention. Structural ribs may be provided to increase the rigidity of the extension 50 without significantly increasing its weight or size.

While the presently disclosed system benefits from its flexibility in terms of adapting to various drain configurations, certain specific examples of use are illustrated in FIGS. 16A through 16F as examples, not as limitation. For example, the aerosol delivery device 20 with the drain interface cap 22 and the drain mating member 24 may be sufficient for use with a single sink, double sink, garbage disposal, and bathtub, as seen in FIGS. 16A through 16D. For drains with an overflow drain or second interconnected drain, it may be necessary to apply a wet washcloth or drain plug to the other drain to maximize the pressure applied to the clog.

To operate in conjunction with a larger drain opening, such as that of a toilet, and as illustrated in FIG. 16E, the adapter 34 may be installed on the drain interface cap 22 in an inverted position with the adapter mating member 42 projecting into the toilet drain. It will be noted that this illustration depicts the optional use of the extension 50. Finally, for larger diameter drains such as floor drains, the adapter 34 is employed with the inner sealing rings 36 and outer sealing ring 38 facing the drain. Water may also be used to improve the seal between the adapter 34 and the floor surrounding the drain.

Together, the previously disclosed elements provide an adaptable system for effectively removing clogs from a variety of drains and/or other openings.

Although the present invention has been described with reference to particular embodiments, it will be apparent to those skilled in the art that variations and modifications can be substituted therefore without departing from the principles and spirit of the invention.