Title:
Plumbing System for a Shower
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A prefabricated plumbing system or wall system for a shower includes a support frame, a plumbing system carried by the support frame and an enclosure member for enclosing the plumbing system within the support frame. The plumbing system includes a piping configuration for carrying a plurality of body spray mountings and includes a hot water inlet, a cold water inlet, water mixing valve arrangement and a control valve arrangement. Each body spray mounting supports a body spray unit and forms a jet array consisting of spray units. Control valves control the volume of water supplied to the body spray units and the water volume supplied to the water delivering devices. The prefabricated system is adapted to be manufactured as a unit and then shipped for installation in a shower as a unit. A steam seat arrangement for converting a shower into a steam bath is also provided.



Inventors:
Mueller, Brett (Corona, CA, US)
Romo, Richard (Chino Hills, CA, US)
Paroonagian, Garo (Upland, CA, US)
Application Number:
12/062962
Publication Date:
10/16/2008
Filing Date:
04/04/2008
Assignee:
JACUZZI, INC. (Chino, CA, US)
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
4/596
International Classes:
A47K3/00
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
CRANE, LAUREN ASHLEY
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
THE WEBB LAW FIRM, P.C. (PITTSBURGH, PA, US)
Claims:
The invention claimed is:

1. A prefabricated plumbing system for a shower, comprising: a support frame, a plumbing system including a piping configuration and carried by the support frame, and a protective enclosure member for enclosing the plumbing system within the support frame, and wherein the prefabricated plumbing system is adapted to form an enclosure for its positioning behind a wall of the shower.

2. The prefabricated plumbing system of claim 1 wherein the piping configuration includes a plurality of body spray mountings for supporting a plurality of body spray units.

3. The prefabricated plumbing system of claim 2 further comprising a plurality of control valves for controlling the water being delivered to the plurality of body spray units.

4. The prefabricated plumbing system of claim 2 wherein the plurality of body spray mountings includes at least four body spray mountings.

5. The prefabricated plumbing system of claim 2 wherein the plurality of body spray mountings includes at least six body spray mountings.

6. The prefabricated plumbing system of claim 1 wherein the piping configuration is adapted to carry a plurality of body spray mountings, and further includes a hot water inlet, a cold water inlet, water mixing valve arrangement and a control valve arrangement.

7. A wall system for a shower, comprising: a support frame, a plumbing system including a piping configuration and carried by the support frame, and a protective enclosure member for enclosing the plumbing system within the support frame, and wherein the prefabricated plumbing system is adapted to form an enclosure for its positioning behind a wall of the shower.

8. The wall system of claim 7 wherein the piping configuration includes a plurality of body spray mountings for supporting a plurality of body spray units.

9. The wall system of claim 8 further comprising a plurality of control valves for controlling the water being delivered to the plurality of body spray units.

10. The wall system of claim 8 wherein the plurality of body spray mountings includes at least four body spray mountings.

11. The wall system of claim 8 wherein the plurality of body spray mountings includes at least six body spray mountings.

12. The wall system of claim 7 wherein the piping configuration is adapted to carry a plurality of body spray mountings, and further includes a hot water inlet, a cold water inlet, water mixing valve arrangement and a control valve arrangement.

13. A pre-plumbed steam seat arrangement for a shower enclosure, comprising: a support frame, a seat on the support frame, a steam generator housed in the support frame for generating steam, a power supply line for the steam generator, a water supply line for supplying water to the steam generator, a control and temperature sensor, and a timer for setting the control to supply steam into the shower enclosure at predetermined times.

14. A method for manufacturing a shower, the steps comprising: a) providing a prefabricated plumbing system comprising a support frame, a plumbing system including a piping configuration and carried by the support frame, and a protective enclosure member for enclosing the plumbing system within the support frame, and wherein the prefabricated plumbing system is adapted to form an enclosure for its positioning behind a wall of the shower, b) attaching the support frame to a support, c) connecting the piping configuration to a hot water supply line and to a cold water supply line, and d) connecting a plurality of shower fixtures and a plurality of control knobs to the piping configuration.

15. The method of claim 14, the steps further including: prior to performing at least step d), installing a wall over the prefabricated plumbing system.

16. The method of claim 14 the steps further including manufacturing the prefabricated plumbing system at a plant site and then shipping it to an installation site for installation in the shower.

17. The method of claim 14 the steps further including providing the plurality of shower fixtures with a plurality of body spray units; and providing the piping configuration with a plurality of body spray mountings for supporting the plurality of body spray units.

18. The method of claim 17 the steps further including providing the plurality of body spray mountings with at least four body spray mountings.

19. The method of claim 17 the steps further including providing the plurality of body spray mountings with at least six body spray mountings.

20. The method of claim 17 the steps further including providing the piping configuration with at least one control valve arrangement for controlling the water being delivered to the plurality of shower fixtures and for supporting the plurality of control knobs.

Description:

CROSS REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATIONS

This application is based on U.S. Provisional Patent Application No. 60/922,752 filed Apr. 10, 2007, on which priority of this patent application is based and which provisional patent application is hereby incorporated by reference in its entirety.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

1. Field of the Invention

The invention relates to a plumbing system for a shower. More particularly, the invention relates to a prefabricated plumbing system for a shower for installation as a unit in the shower, a wall system for a shower, a pre-plumbed steam seat arrangement for optional use in a shower, and a method for manufacturing a shower.

2. Description of Related Art

In the past, showers for residential use required that the plumbing or piping be installed before the walls surrounding the shower are finished since this plumbing or piping is installed within the walls. Prefabricated plumbing partitions or modules have been developed over the years for easy installation in the wall of a building.

U.S. Pat. No. 3,766,574 to Smid, Jr. discloses a prefabricated plumbing partition having a plumbing assembly encased in a block of cellular polyurethane. The plumbing assembly is intended for installation in a bathroom and contains complete facilities for a water closet, lavatory and combination shower and bathtub, together with associated water supply pipes and vent and soil stacks. Specifically, the assembly includes hot and cold water risers, which supply hot and cold water to the assembly. The cold water riser, via pipes and fittings, supplies cold water to the lavatory and the water closet, and the hot water riser, via pipes and fittings, supplies hot water to the lavatory.

U.S. Pat. No. 4,457,031 to Moore discloses a modular, pre-plumbed shower unit configured to be affixed to a wall above a bathtub. The shower unit provides a shower head, a tub spout and a control valve handle for water temperature control, all of which extend outwardly from the front of a pre-molded shell, one piece construction which conceals the plumbing. The shower unit further includes a plumbing tree positioned within the shell, and the plumbing tree includes a control valve from which extend upper and lower conduits for respective connection of the shower head and the tub spout. This shower unit provides for rapid installation via a simple connection exteriorly of the wall.

U.S. Pat. No. 3,611,451 to Armstrong discloses a plumbing module having edge flanges for connection to the studs of a building. The module includes a plurality of interconnected pipes. The pipes and edge flanges are joined by an integrally formed web, and the end flanges are provided with suitable openings for the passage of hot and cold water pipes.

U.S. Pat. No. 2,653,357 to Sanders et al. discloses a prefabricated plumbing installation in which the conduits and connecting pipes of the plumbing system are retained entirely within a supporting framework capable of forming a wall structure. The plumbing installation may be installed as a wall between two rooms or against an existing wall to provide plumbing for the room.

U.S. Pat. No. 6,834,401 to Hatrick-Smith discloses a shower door system including a door and one or more return panels for forming a shower enclosure. The shower door system further includes a pre-installed shower mixer valve and a pre-installed shower rose mounted in a frame member. Pre-installed plumbing is provided within the frame member to couple the mixer valve to the shower rose. Accordingly, when the shower door system is assembled and installed against a wall to form a shower enclosure, water supply plumbing to the shower may pass from the wall directly to the frame member to connect to the shower mixer valve.

None of the above references discloses a prefabricated, pre-plumbed shower frame which carries a plumping system that includes a hot water inlet, a cold water inlet, a water mixing valve, a plurality of outlets and several control valves, and in which a frame is adapted to form a wall of the shower.

There is a need to provide a prefabricated plumbing system for a shower including a pre-plumbed shower frame which can be easily installed and which includes a hot water inlet, a cold water inlet, a water mixing valve, a plurality of water outlets, such as spray mountings or shower heads, and several control valves for controlling the water being delivered to the water outlets, and in which a frame is adapted to form a wall of a shower.

There is also a need to provide a pre-plumbed steam seat arrangement for a shower which easily converts a shower or bath into a steam bath.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

The present invention has met the above needs. The present invention provides a prefabricated plumbing system or a wall system for a shower that includes a support frame, a plumbing system carried by the support frame and a protective enclosure member for enclosing the plumbing system and a piping network within the support frame, wherein the plumbing system includes a piping configuration for carrying a plurality of body spray mountings, a hot water inlet, a cold water inlet, a water mixing valve arrangement and a control valve arrangement, wherein each body spray mounting supports a shower fixture, e.g. a body spray unit and wherein the prefabricated plumbing system is adapted to form an enclosure for its positioning behind a wall of the shower.

The present invention also provides a pre-plumbed steam seat arrangement which can be optionally installed in a shower and which includes a support frame, a steam seat on the support frame, a steam generator housed in the support frame for generating steam, a power supply line for the steam generator, a water supply line for supplying water to the steam generator, a control and temperature sensor, and a timer for setting the control to supply steam to the steam seat arrangement at predetermined times.

The piping configuration for the prefabricated plumbing system or wall system for a shower may contain either four or six body spray mountings for providing four or six jets forming a jet array, and the four or six body spray mountings may be serviced by either a two-control valve arrangement or by a three control valve arrangement. Optionally, for the two-control valve arrangement, one control valve may be used to control the water supply to the body spray mountings, and the other control valve may be used to control the water supply to a further water delivering device, for example, a shower head. For the three control valve arrangement, one control valve may be used to control the water supply to the body spray mountings, and the other two control valves may be used to control the water supply to two shower heads. A water mixing valve, which acts to mix the hot and cold water, supplies the water to the control valves, which, in turn, controls the volume or water supply either to the spray mountings or to one or two additional water delivering devices.

The present invention also provides a method for manufacturing a shower including the steps of a) providing a prefabricated plumbing system comprising a support frame, a plumbing system including a piping configuration and carried by the support frame, and a protective enclosure member for enclosing the plumbing system within the support frame, and wherein the prefabricated plumbing system is adapted to form an enclosure for its positioning behind a wall of the shower, b) attaching the support frame to a support member, c) connecting the piping configuration to a hot water supply line and to a cold water supply line, and d) connecting a plurality of shower fixtures and a plurality of control knobs to the piping configuration. Prior to performing step d), a wall is installed over the prefabricated plumbing system. Further steps include manufacturing the prefabricated plumbing system at a plant site and then shipping it to an installation site for installation in the shower; providing the piping configuration with a plurality of body spray mountings for supporting the plurality of body spray units; providing at least four or six body spray mountings; and providing the piping configuration with a control valve arrangement for controlling the water being delivered to the shower fixtures, e.g. body spray units and for supporting the control knobs.

The prefabricated plumbing system or wall system of the invention may be assembled at the manufacturer's plant and then shipped as a unit to an installation site for installation as a unit in a wall partition of a building or it can be sent partially disassembled and then fully assembled at the installation site between the wall studs.

The pre-plumbed steam seat arrangement can be packaged at the manufacturer's plant and then shipped to the installer for installation in a bath or shower.

These and other objects of the invention will be better appreciated and understood when the following description is read along with the accompanying drawings and the claims.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

FIG. 1 is an exploded, perspective view of a prefabricated pumping system of the invention which is carried in a support frame;

FIG. 2 is an exploded, perspective view illustrating a piping configuration for four body spray mountings for providing a four jet array for the prefabricated pumping system of FIG. 1;

FIG. 3 is an exploded, perspective view illustrating a piping configuration for six body spray mountings for providing a six jet array for the prefabricated pumping system of FIG. 1;

FIG. 4 is a perspective view illustrating the prefabricated pumping system of FIG. 1 installed between wall studs;

FIGS. 5a-5b are partial, elevational views illustrating an enclosure member for enclosing the pumping system of FIG. 1;

FIG. 5c is a partial, perspective view illustrating an enclosure member of FIGS. 5a-5b;

FIG. 6 is a perspective view illustrating a body spray unit used in the pumping system of FIG. 1;

FIGS. 7a, 7b and 8 are perspective views illustrating the steps for installing a body spray unit of FIG. 6 onto each of the body spray mountings of FIG. 1;

FIG. 9 is a perspective view of a pre-plumbed steam seat arrangement of the invention for optional installation in a shower; and

FIG. 10 is a perspective view showing the pre-plumbed steam seat arrangement of FIG. 9 and the prefabricated pumping system of FIG. 4 installed in a shower.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION

An embodiment of the invention relates to a pre-fabricated plumbing system for a shower or to a wall system for a shower which includes a plumbing system 10. FIG. 1 illustrates the plumbing system 10 which includes a support frame 12, a two-way control valve arrangement 14, a three-way control valve arrangement 16 and a piping configuration 18 which in this FIG. 1, supports six spray mountings 20. Support frame 12 may be a polymeric or plastic molded frame and includes protruded members or supports 22 which are formed in support frame 12 during the molding process of support frame 12. Protruded members or supports 22 contain tapped-in holes 24 which correspond to openings 26 provided in extensions 28 which form a base 30 for each of the spray mountings 20. When assembled, each base 30 of piping configuration 18 abuts against one of the protruded members 22 and is fixedly mounted via suitable fasteners (not shown).

Still referring to FIG. 1, it is to be appreciated that either the two-way control valve arrangement 14 or the three-way control valve arrangement 16 may be used with the piping configuration 18 with the six spray mountings 20, depending on other water supply requirements for the plumbing system for the shower. For example, if two shower heads are to be provided, then the three-way control valve arrangement 16 would be used. In this instance, a control valve 16a would control the volume of water being supplied to the spray mountings 20 and control valves 16b and 16c would control the volume of water being supplied to each of the two shower heads (not shown). If one shower head is to be provided, then the two-way control valve arrangement 14 would be used. A control valve 14a would control the volume of water being supplied to the six spray mountings 20 and a control valve 14b would control the volume of water being supplied to the single shower head (not shown).

The body spray mountings 20 of FIG. 1 preferably support a shower fixture, such as a body spray unit 80 (FIG. 6) such as that referred to as VECTRAâ„¢ Body Spray Jets for an optimum performance of the shower wall system of the invention. These spray units are commercially available from Jacuzzi, Inc., in Chino, Calif.

The three-way control valve arrangement 16 further includes a thermostat water mixing valve 16d which supplies a mix of hot and cold water to the control valves 16a, 16b and 16c through fittings 32, 34 and 36 and which mixing valve 16d has a cold water inlet 38 and a hot water inlet 40. Similarly, the two-way control valve arrangement 14 has a thermostat water mixing valve 14c which supplies a mix of hot and cold water to the control valves 14a and 14b through fittings 42, 44 respectively, and which mixing valve 14c has a cold water inlet 46 and a hot water inlet 48.

As shown in FIG. 1, three-way control valve arrangement 16 also has a conduit 15 which extends from the fitting for control valve 16a. This conduit 15 is connected to a top pipe 52 of the piping configuration 18 via a nut 54. Two-way control valve arrangement 14 also has a conduit 56 extending from the fitting for control valve 14b, and this conduit 56 is connected to the top pipe 52 of the piping configuration 18 via nut 54.

FIG. 2 illustrates a piping configuration 58 having four spray mountings 20 and which piping configuration 58 forms a four-jet sidewall system. Alternatively, the piping configuration 18 of FIG. 3, which is the same configuration discussed hereinabove with regard to FIG. 1, may be used. This piping configuration 18 of FIG. 3 forms a six-jet sidewall system. As FIGS. 2 and 3 illustrate, the support frame 12 can easily accommodate both piping configurations 18 and 58. For piping configuration 58 of FIG. 2, the upper four protruded members 22 will be used for affixing the piping configuration 58 of FIG. 2 to support frame 12. For the piping configuration 18 of FIG. 3, the six protruded members 22 will be used to affix piping configuration 18 to support frame 12.

FIG. 4 illustrates plumbing the system 10 with a three-way valve control arrangement 16 (FIG. 1) and piping configuration 18 (FIG. 3) mounted in frame 12, which, in turn, is mounted between vertical wall studs 60, 62. Support blocks 64 are provided between wooden wall studs 60, 62 for rising and supporting frame 12 on a horizontal stud 63, and water supply lines 66, 68, and temporary water shut-off valves 70, 72 are provided. Shims (not shown in FIG. 4) may be used to provide a comfortable fit between frame 12 and wall studs 60, 62. Also as shown in FIG. 4, several pipe nipples 74 are inserted into the spray mountings 20. These pipe nipples 74 are used to prevent debris from entering into spray mountings 20 and the piping configuration 18 while a wall is being built to close in the plumbing system 10 of the invention. Once a wall is constructed in front of the prefabricated plumbing system or wall system 10, the pipe nipples 74 can be removed, more about which is discussed hereinbelow.

Referring to FIG. 5a, the wall studs 60, 62 may be about 2 inches thick and 4 inches wide. Support frame 12 may have a depth of 3 inches so that the wall studs 60, 62 overhang frame 12 by about 1 inch. As also shown in FIG. 5a, pipe nipples 74 also extend beyond wall studs 60, 62 for their easy removal from spray mountings 20 (not shown in FIG. 5a). FIG. 5b shows that a cement board 76 may be nailed to studs 60, 62 and that this cement board 76 may contain a finish material, such as tile, marble or granite, indicated at reference number 77. Preferably, the finished wall thickness ranges between 4.50 inches to about 6.00 inches. FIG. 5c illustrates a protective enclosure member 78. This protective enclosure member 78 may be made of a sturdy material, such as a thermoplastic, and may be affixed to the horizontal stud 63 and wall studs 60, 62 of FIG. 4 for protecting the plumbing system 10 when the wall for the shower is being built.

FIG. 6 illustrates the body spray unit 80 which may be mounted onto each of the spray mountings 20 of FIG. 1. Body spray unit 80 of FIG. 6 may be commercially available from Jacuzzi, Inc. The body spray unit 80 of FIG. 6 may be installed on one of the body spray mountings 20 according to the procedure illustrated in FIGS. 7a, 7b and 8. As shown in FIG. 7a, the pipe nipple 74 in FIGS. 4 and 5c is removed and replaced with a permanent pipe nipple 96 which length extends beyond the finish wall W about 0.50 to 0.75 inch and which outer surface has threads (FIG. 7b). FIG. 8 shows that the gap between the permanent pipe nipple 96 and wall W is filled with a sealant S. Body spray unit 80 is then installed on pipe nipple 96 to create a water-tight seal in a manner well-known to those skilled in the art.

In operation, the installer may provide the desired number of spray heads, the location of the spray heads and the controls in the final design of the shower system. Also, the location of the water supply lines may be provided. The installer may provide the final dimensions to the manufacturer for the front wall shower system shown in FIG. 1, as well as the back wall system and/or the sidewall system, if utilized. The prefabricated plumbing system 10 of FIG. 1 can then be easily installed in a shower. Although specific shower arrangements have been disclosed, it is to be understood that a multitude of shower arrangements could be provided ranging from a single shower head to a plurality of shower heads with a variety of controls.

It can be appreciated that the embodiment of the invention of FIGS. 1-5c provides a prefabricated or pre-assembled plumbing system for a shower whereby a plumber is not needed to plumb the components of the shower system. Instead, the prefabricated system 10 of the invention can be pre-assembled at the manufacturer's plant and then sent to the installer for installation.

A second embodiment of the invention provides a pre-plumbed steam seat arrangement 200 of FIG. 9 that can easily be installed in a shower. The pre-plumbed steam seat arrangement 200 may optionally be installed in a shower enclosure 202 and includes a support frame 204, a seat 206 on the support frame 204, a steam generator 208 housed in the support frame 204 for generating steam, a power supply line 210 for the steam generator 208, a water supply line 212 for supplying water to the steam generator 208, a control and temperature sensor 214, a drain and valve line 216, and a timer 218 for setting the control to supply steam into the shower enclosure 202 at predetermined times. This pre-plumbed steam seat arrangement 200 only requires that a plumber hook-up the appropriate water lines and the power lines, and the steam seat arrangement 200 turns a bath or shower into a steam bath.

FIG. 10 shows the pre-plumbed steam seat arrangement 200 of FIG. 9 installed in a shower S and the prefabricated pumping system 10 of FIG. 4 installed behind the wall W of the shower S. The pumping system 10 includes a plurality of shower fixtures, e.g. body spray units 80 and several control knobs 81a mounted on control valves 16a, 16b, and 16c of FIG. 4. It is to be appreciated that the pipe nipples 74 of FIG. 4 have been removed from spray mountings 20 and replaced with the body spray units 80. It is to be further appreciated that the body spray units 80 may be replaced with other suitable shower fixtures or spray units available in the marketplace.

While the present invention has been set forth in terms of specific embodiments thereof, it will be understood, in view of the instant disclosure that numerous variations upon the invention are now enabled yet reside within the scope of the invention. Accordingly, the invention is to be broadly construed and limited only by the scope and spirit of the claims now appended hereto.