Title:
BETWEEN-JOIST GUTTER AND HANGER APPARATUS AND METHOD
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A between-joist gutter and hanger apparatus and method having hangers and pans for enclosing the open spaces between each pair of adjacent joists. Hangers are attached on each side of the joist space and a pan is placed therebetween providing a continuous top over the area below. Some embodiments of the present invention include a two-part hanger with one-part securable to the joist and the second part securable to the pan and the joist. The first hanger part is securable to the joists and supports the pan and second hanger part. The second hanger attached to the pan and supported by the first hanger is securable to the joist, providing further support for the pan. In some embodiments, the first hanger part includes a mechanism for selectively detaching the pan and second hanger parts after installation to allow cleaning and maintenance. Some embodiment include cross bracing for additional strength.



Inventors:
Walker, John D. (Duluth, MN, US)
Application Number:
11/735999
Publication Date:
10/16/2008
Filing Date:
04/16/2007
Primary Class:
International Classes:
E04B7/00
View Patent Images:



Primary Examiner:
FONSECA, JESSIE T
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
LEMAIRE PATENT LAW FIRM, P.L.L.C. (BURNSVILLE, MN, US)
Claims:
What is claimed is:

1. An apparatus comprising: a first upper hanger configured to be fastened to a side of a first joist by a first plurality of fasteners, the first upper hanger having an elongated concave groove recess, and below the groove recess, having a pan-receiver-guide portion and a lower edge spaced at a distance from the first joist; a first drain pan having a lengthwise upper edge and having a lengthwise convex portion next to the upper edge, the upper edge and convex portion configured to be mated into the groove recess of the first upper hanger in a non-latched manner such that the drain pan is readily and non-destructively removable from below, and such that the drain pan is directly held against the first joist by spring pressure from the first upper hanger sufficient to hold a first weight that is at least half a weight of the drain pan; and a first lower pan support configured to be fastened to the first joist by a second plurality of fasteners, wherein the pan support, once fastened to the first joist by the second plurality of fasteners, cooperates with the first upper hanger to securely support the drain pan in a manner sufficient to hold the drain pan plus a second weight that is greater than the first weight.

2. The apparatus of claim 1, wherein the first lower pan support includes a separate first lower hanger configured to be mated onto the drain pan in a manner such that the first lower hanger is readily removable from the drain pan and when attached to the drain pan, is held by spring pressure sufficient to hold at least a weight of the first lower hanger in position on the drain pan while the drain pan is held by the first upper hanger, wherein fastening of the first lower hanger to the first joist is facilitated by support from the drain pan held by the first upper hanger without having to manually hold the first lower hanger in place, and wherein once the first lower hanger is secured to the first joist by a second plurality of fasteners, the first lower hanger more securely supports the drain pan in a manner sufficient to hold the drain pan plus a second weight that is greater than the first weight.

3. The apparatus of claim 1, wherein the first lower pan support is a contiguous portion of the drain pan configured to vertically extend below an adjacent non-vertical portion of the drain pan and is held by spring pressure against a surface of the first joist when the drain pan is held by the first upper hanger, wherein fastening of the first lower pan support to the first joist is facilitated by support from the first upper hanger without having to manually hold the first lower pan support in place, and wherein once the first lower pan support is secured to the first joist by a second plurality of fasteners, the first lower pan support more securely supports the drain pan in a manner sufficient to hold the drain pan plus a second weight that is greater than the first weight.

4. The apparatus of claim 1, wherein the drain pan is constructed of sheet metal.

5. The apparatus of claim 2, wherein the first upper hanger and the first lower hanger are constructed of extruded materials.

6. The apparatus of claim 2, wherein the first upper hanger and the first lower hanger are constructed of metal.

7. The apparatus of claim 1, wherein the drain pan includes hand-width-spaced finger-port grooves running lengthwise along sloping walls in the drain pan to facilitate single-handed manual compression of a portion of the drain pan to aid in installation and removal of the drain pan.

8. The apparatus of claim 1, wherein the drain pan includes at least one lengthwise narrow score-guide groove configured to facilitate knife-edge scoring, and wherein, along each of two sides of the score-guide groove, the drain pan includes one of two respective upper finger-port grooves that facilitate subsequent bending of the drain pan for breaking and separating the drain pan into a first narrower portion and a second narrower portion, each having a new edge, and wherein the upper finger-port groove along the new edge of the first narrower portion of the drain pan forms a convex portion pre-configured for mating with into the first upper hanger.

9. The apparatus of claim 1, wherein the first upper hanger has a top engaging edge, the engaging edge extending lengthwise and configured to engage into the joist when the first upper hanger is fastened to the joist by the first plurality of fasteners, to help direct water from going between the joist and the first upper hanger and to provide an edge for caulking.

10. The apparatus of claim 9, wherein top engaging edge of the first upper hanger also includes a lengthwise portion configured to extend away from the joist to provide a drip edge extending over the first plurality of fasteners.

11. The apparatus of claim 9, wherein the first upper hanger includes a double-stick foam strip having two adhesive-covered faces, one of which is adhered to the first upper hanger below the top engaging edge and the other of which is placed against the joist to provide a moisture barrier and to temporarily hold the first upper hanger to the joist until first upper hanger is secured to the first joist by the first plurality of fasteners.

12. A method comprising: providing a supply of sheet metal; forming a piece of the sheet metal into a first upper hanger having an elongated concave groove recess, and below the groove recess, having a pan-receiver portion and a lower edge spaced to be at a distance from a first joist when the first upper hanger is attached to the first joist; forming a piece of the sheet metal into a first drain pan having a lengthwise upper edge and having a lengthwise convex portion next to the upper edge, wherein the first drain pan is configured to be mated such that the upper edge and convex portion of the first drain pan fit into the groove recess of the first upper hanger in a non-latched manner when the first upper hanger is attached to the joist, wherein the drain pan is readily and non-destructively removable from below when the first upper hanger is attached to the joist and the drain pan is inserted under the first upper hanger, and wherein the drain pan is directly held against the joist by spring pressure from the first upper hanger sufficient to hold a first weight that is at least half a weight of the drain pan; and forming a piece of the sheet metal into a first lower pan support that is configured to be fastened to the joist by a second plurality of fasteners, wherein the first lower pan support, once fastened to the joist by the second plurality of fasteners, cooperates with the first upper hanger to securely support the drain pan in a manner sufficient to hold the drain pan plus a second weight that is greater than the first weight.

13. The method of claim 12, wherein the supply of sheet metal is in roll form to facilitate fabrication of arbitrary lengths with reduced scrap waste, and wherein the forming into the first upper hanger, the forming into the first drain pan, and the forming into the first lower pan support are done by roller-forming techniques.

14. The method of claim 12, further comprising performing the method from a vehicle.

15. The method of claim 12, further comprising; forming a piece of the sheet metal, separate from the piece used to form the drain pan, into a first lower hanger that forms the first lower pan support; mating the first lower hanger onto the drain pan in a manner such that the first lower hanger is readily removable from the drain pan and when attached to the drain pan, is held by spring pressure sufficient to hold at least a weight of the first lower hanger in position on the drain pan while the drain pan is held by the first upper hanger; fastening the first upper hanger against a side of the first joist using a first plurality of fasteners; and fastening the first lower hanger to the first joist using a second plurality of fasteners, with the drain pan and first lower hanger temporarily held in place by the first upper hanger, and wherein once the first lower hanger is secured to the first joist by a second plurality of fasteners, the first lower hanger more securely supports the drain pan in a manner sufficient to hold the drain pan plus a second weight that is greater than the first weight.

16. The method of claim 12, wherein the forming of the piece of the sheet metal into the first lower pan support includes forming a contiguous portion of the drain pan configured to vertically extend below an adjacent non-vertical portion of the drain pan, such that when the drain pan is held by the first upper hanger, the vertical portion is held by spring pressure against a surface of the first joist; the method further comprising: fastening the first upper hanger against a side of the first joist using a first plurality of fasteners; and fastening the first lower pan support to the first joist using a second plurality of fasteners, with the drain pan and its first lower pan support are temporarily held in place by the first upper hanger, and wherein once the lower pan support is secured to the first joist by a second plurality of fasteners, the lower pan support more securely supports the drain pan in a manner sufficient to hold the drain pan plus a second weight that is greater than the first weight.

17. A method comprising: providing a first upper hanger having an elongated concave groove, and below the groove recess, having a pan-receiver portion and a lower edge spaced to be at a distance from a first joist when the upper hanger is attached to the first joist; fastening the first upper hanger against a side of the first joist; providing a first drain pan having a lengthwise upper edge and having a lengthwise convex portion next to the upper edge; mating the upper edge and convex portion of the first drain pan into the groove recess of the upper hanger in a non-latched manner, wherein the drain pan is readily and non-destructively removable from below, and wherein the drain pan is directly held against the first joist by spring pressure from the upper hanger sufficient to hold a first weight that is at least half a weight of the drain pan; fastening a first lower pan support the first joist by a second plurality of fasteners, wherein the pan support, once fastened to the first joist by the second plurality of fasteners, cooperates with the upper hanger to securely support the drain pan in a manner sufficient to hold the drain pan plus a second weight that is greater than the first weight.

18. The method of claim 17, further comprising; providing the first lower pan support that includes a first lower hanger; mating the first lower hanger onto the drain pan in a manner such that the first lower hanger is readily removable from the drain pan and when attached to the drain pan, is held by spring pressure sufficient to hold at least a weight of the first lower hanger in position on the drain pan while the drain pan is held by the upper hanger; and fastening the first lower hanger to the first joist without having to manually hold the first lower hanger in place, and wherein once the first lower hanger is secured to the first joist by a second plurality of fasteners, the first lower hanger more securely supports the drain pan in a manner sufficient to hold the drain pan plus a second weight that is greater than the first weight.

19. The method of claim 17, further comprising; providing a first lower pan support that includes a contiguous portion of the drain pan configured to vertically extend below an adjacent non-vertical portion of the drain pan, and is held by spring pressure against a surface of the first joist when the drain pan is held by the upper hanger; and fastening the first lower pan support to the first joist without having to manually hold the first lower pan support in place, and wherein once the first lower pan support is secured to the first joist by a second plurality of fasteners, the first lower pan support more securely supports the drain pan in a manner sufficient to hold the drain pan plus a second weight that is greater than the first weight.

20. The method of claim 17, wherein the providing of the drain pan includes constructing the drain pan of sheet aluminum.

21. The method of claim 17, wherein the providing of the drain pan includes forming hand-width-spaced finger-port grooves running lengthwise along sloping walls in the drain pan to facilitate single-handed manual compression of a portion of the drain pan to aid in installation and removal of the drain pan.

22. The method of claim 17, wherein the providing of the drain pan includes scoring the drain pan along a lengthwise narrow score-guide groove that was configured to facilitate knife-edge scoring; bending the scored score-guide groove by squeezing using an upper finger-port groove along each of two sides of the score-guide groove, wherein the bending of the drain pan provides snap breaking the drain pan into a first and a second narrower portion, each having a new edge.

23. The method of claim 22, wherein once the drain pan is separated, the upper finger-port groove along the new edge of the first narrower portion of the snap broken drain pan forms a convex portion for mating with into an upper hanger.

24. The method of claim 17, wherein the providing of the upper hanger includes forming a top engaging edge, the engaging edge configured to engage into the joist when the hanger is fastened to the joist by the first plurality of fasteners, to help direct water from going between the joist and the hanger and to provide an edge for caulking.

25. The method of claim 24, wherein the forming of the upper hanger top engaging edge includes forming the engaging edge to extend both towards the joist and away from the joist to also provide a drip edge over the first plurality of fasteners securing the top hanger to the joist.

26. The method of claim 24, wherein the providing of the upper hanger includes configuring a double-stick foam strip below the top engaging edge to provide a moisture barrier and to temporarily hold the upper hanger to the joist until upper hanger is secured to the first joist by the first plurality of fasteners.

27. An apparatus comprising: a first drain pan having a lengthwise upper edge and having a lengthwise convex portion next to the upper edge; upper means for temporarily supporting the drain pan to a first joist; means for mating the upper edge and convex portion of the first drain pan into the means for temporarily supporting in a non-latched manner, wherein the drain pan is readily and non-destructively removable from below, and wherein the drain pan is directly held against the first joist by spring pressure from means for temporarily supporting sufficient to hold a first weight that is at least half a weight of the drain pan; lower means for supporting the drain pan to the first joist, wherein the lower means for supporting, once fastened to the first joist by a second plurality of fasteners, cooperates with the upper means for temporarily supporting to securely support the drain pan in a manner sufficient to hold the drain pan plus a second weight that is greater than the first weight.

Description:

CROSS-REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATIONS

This invention is related to U.S. Pat. No. 6,421,967 issued Jul. 23, 2002, to John. D. Walker, titled “SPACE ENCLOSURE”, which is incorporated herein by reference in its entirety.

FIELD OF THE INVENTION

The present invention relates to apparatus and method for enclosing the space between two parallel supports, such as between two adjacent joists in standard frame construction. More particularly to a plurality of hangers and a pans for enclosing each space between the pairs of adjacent joists, whether the joists are parallel or non-parallel, and with variable space widths between joists.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

In exterior construction, such as a deck, the joists are typically covered with planking. The planking is fastened to the joists having a small space between any two planks for esthetic considerations, and more importantly, to allow the planking to shed rain water. When the deck is constructed a distance above grade, this leaves an open area below the deck which could be used for storage, were the area not open the rain and other elements. In some cases like apartment buildings, multilevel decks are constructed over one another. It can be desirable to shield the space below decks from moisture, dirt, and other debris that may fall through between planking.

There is a need for a deck guttering system which can be installed after construction of the deck that is visually appealing, inexpensive, easy to install, and constructed of durable materials. There is also a need for a deck guttering system that can be easily and non-destructively removed or opened from below to provide for maintenance, cleaning of debris, or retrieval of items that have fallen beneath the deck planking, without removal of the deck planking.

BRIEF SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

The invention disclosed herein includes hangers and pans for enclosing the open spaces between pairs of adjacent joists. Hangers are attached on each side of the joist space and a pan is supported by the hangers providing a cover which diverts water from areas below.

Some embodiments of the present invention include a two part hanger with one part securable to the joist and the second part securable to the pan and the joist. The first hanger part is securable to the joists and supports the pan and second hanger part. The second hanger attached to the pan and supported by the first hanger is securable to the joist, providing further support for the pan. In some embodiments, the first hanger part includes a mechanism for selectively detaching the pan and second hanger parts after installation to allow cleaning and maintenance. In some other embodiments, the second hanger part supports a plurality of cross bars that are installed across the bottom of the drain pan further stabilizing the system from the weight of water in the pan, winds or other environmental elements. In some embodiments, the pan includes mechanisms to aid cutting the pan for course width adjustment and mechanisms for fine width adjustment. In some embodiments, the pan and lower hanger include finger-port grooves to aid in installation and removal.

The invention is installed between to joists from below and does not intrude upon the space or headroom below the joist. This also presents a less obtrusive and more aesthetically pleasing appearance than below the joist systems.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

FIG. 1 is a perspective view showing one section of a between-joist gutter and hanger apparatus 100 according to some embodiments of the invention.

FIG. 2 is an exploded perspective end view showing one side of one section of the between-joist gutter and hanger apparatus 100 according to some embodiments of the invention.

FIG. 3 is a perspective end view showing one side of one section of the between-joist gutter and hanger apparatus 300 that includes a single-piece integrated support and drain pan 140.

FIG. 4 is a perspective end view showing one side of one section of the between-joist gutter and hanger apparatus 301 that includes an integrated support and drain pan 140 that has been separated into two pieces that nest to one another.

FIG. 5 is a perspective end view showing the installation of one section of the between-joist gutter and hanger apparatus 100 according to some embodiments of the invention.

FIG. 6 is an end view showing the partial installation of one section of the between-joist gutter and hanger apparatus 100 according to some embodiments of the invention.

FIG. 7 is an end view showing the partial installation of one section of the between-joist gutter and hanger apparatus 100 according to some embodiments of the invention.

FIG. 8 is an end view showing the partial installation of one section of the between-joist gutter and hanger apparatus 100 according to some embodiments of the invention.

FIG. 9 is an end view showing the partial installation of one section of the between-joist gutter and hanger apparatus 100 according to some embodiments of the invention.

FIG. 10 is an end view showing the partial installation of one section of the between-joist gutter and hanger apparatus 300 according to some embodiments of the invention.

FIG. 11 is an example of some embodiments of the invention having an extruded drain pan and hangers.

FIG. 12 is an example of a first stage of resizing the width of drain pan 120 in some embodiments of the invention.

FIG. 13 is an example of a second stage of resizing the width of drain pan 120 in some embodiments of the invention.

FIG. 14 is an example of a third stage of resizing the width of drain pan 120 in some embodiments of the invention.

FIG. 15 is an end view of a between-joist hanger apparatus 1500 that can use a flexible-sheet drain-pan material according to some embodiments of the invention.

FIG. 16 is an end view showing a between-joist gutter and hanger apparatus 1600 that includes a flexible sheet drain-pan material according to some embodiments of the invention.

FIG. 17 is an end view showing a between-joist gutter-and-hanger apparatus 1600 that has flexible-sheet drain-pan material 1630 further stretched according to some embodiments of the invention.

FIG. 18 is an end view showing a between-joist gutter-and-hanger apparatus 1600 that has flexible-sheet drain-pan material 1630 still further stretched according to some embodiments of the invention.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION

Although the following detailed description contains many specifics for the purpose of illustration, a person of ordinary skill in the art will appreciate that many variations and alterations to the following details are within the scope of the invention. Accordingly, the following preferred embodiments of the invention are set forth without any loss of generality to, and without imposing limitations upon the claimed invention.

In the following detailed description of the preferred embodiments, reference is made to the accompanying drawings that form a part hereof, and in which are shown by way of illustration specific embodiments in which the invention may be practiced. It is understood that other embodiments may be utilized and structural changes may be made without departing from the scope of the present invention.

The leading digit(s) of reference numbers appearing in the Figures generally corresponds to the Figure number in which that component is first introduced, such that the same reference number is used throughout to refer to an identical component which appears in multiple Figures. Signals and connections may be referred to by the same reference number or label, and the actual meaning will be clear from its use in the context of the description.

Referring to the detail in the drawings, FIG. 1 is a perspective view showing one section of the between-joist gutter and hanger apparatus 100 according to some embodiments of the invention. This embodiment includes two upper hangers 110 (one affixed to the left-hand joist and another affixed to the right-hand joist), drain pan 120, and two lower hangers 130 (one affixed to the left-hand joist and another affixed to the right-hand joist). In some embodiments, apparatus 100 is installed in the space 46 between a pair of joists 40, has a set of one or more upper hangers 110 installed on a side of each joist holding drain pan 120 from above (e.g., if a single upper hanger 110 is too short to span the length needed along its joist, then two or more may be installed end-to-end (optionally having a small gap between the ends of the pieces, and optionally with a gap cover piece covering the gap), or overlapping pieces (optionally with a lap cover), to achieve then length needed, a drain pan 120 and a set of one or more lower hangers 130 installed on the respective sides of each joist holding pan 120 from below (e.g., if a single lower hanger 130 is too short to span the length needed along its joist, then two or more may be installed end-to-end or overlapping with a lap cover, to achieve then length needed). In some embodiments, the upper hangers 110 are nailed, screwed, or otherwise fastened to joists 40 such that they are sloped downward toward one end (e.g., a one-percent slope, thus dropping at a ⅛ inch per one foot of run (about one cm drop per one meter of run)). When so installed, rain falling upon the deck boards 42 and passing through the spaces between the deck boards 42 will fall onto the drain pan 120. In some embodiments, the joists have cross bracing along the span of the joists to prevent twisting. In these embodiments, the upper hangers 110 can be installed sloped downward from the joist cross bracing toward both ends of the joists. The water flowing down near joists 40 will be directed away from the joists 40 and into the drain pan 120 by upper hangers 110. The upper hangers 110 also act as a splash guard diverting water into the drain pan 120. Once the water is in drain pan 120, the water will flow down the slope of the pan 120 to and then off of the end of drain pan 120 into a collection area or gutter (not shown). Thus, the area 48 beneath the deck is protected from rain and other precipitation by between-joist gutter and hanger apparatus 100. In a typical installation, the ends of the joists 40 are covered with an end cap, but for clarity of illustration, the end cap is not shown.

FIG. 2 is an exploded perspective end view showing one side of one section of the between-joist gutter and hanger apparatus 100 of FIG. 1, including upper hanger 110, drain pan 120, and lower hanger 130.

In some embodiments, the upper hanger 110 is formed from a thin elongated material in the cross-sectional shape as shown in FIG. 2. In some embodiments, the top edge 111 of upper hanger 110 includes a lengthwise engaging edge 112 formed to engage into the joist surface when the upper hanger is fastened to the side of the joist (in some embodiments, engaging edge 112 is a small lip of the top edge 111 bent at a right angle (or a smaller sloping angle) toward the joist). The engaging edge 112 helps seal the top edge 111 to the joist 40 to prevent water from running between upper hanger 110 and the joist 40, even when the surface of the joist 40 has small imperfections (as is often the case). The engaging edge 112 also provides a ledge to support a sealing material such as a caulking bead along the top edge 111 and joist 40 to further seal the edge 112 from water running between the upper hanger 110 and the joist 40. In some embodiments, the upper hanger 110 includes a lengthwise fastener-guide groove 114. The lengthwise fastener-guide groove 114 aids the installer in installing fasteners by providing a guide at the correct position or distance from top edge 111 or bottom edge for the fastener, and when using screws to fasten upper hanger 110 to the joist, fastener guide groove 114 helps prevent screw wandering and helps screw tips bite into upper hanger 110 and start the hole for the screw. In some embodiments, upper hanger 110 includes an elongated concave groove recess 116 (e.g., a finger-sized groove running lengthwise along upper hanger 110). In various embodiments, concave groove recess 116 has one of a variety of cross-sectional shapes, including rounded, curved, or a multifaceted shape. Below the concave groove recess 116, some embodiments include a pan-receiver guide 117. In some embodiments, pan-receiver guide 117 acts as a “funnel” that guides and aids in inserting the upper edge 121 of the drain pan 120 between the upper hanger 110 and the joist 40. In various embodiments, pan-receiver guide 117 has one of a variety of suitable shapes, including sloped, rounded, curved, or a multifaceted shape. In some embodiments, the lower part of the pan-receiver guide 117 is generally spaced at a distance further from the joist than the upper part of the pan-receiver guide 117, to form the funneling function. In some embodiments, lower edge 118 of the upper hanger's pan-receiver guide 117 includes a rolled or folded edge 119 (or in some embodiments where upper hanger 110 is extruded, a rounded edge). In some embodiments, lower edge 118 is generally sloped away from the joist 40. This provides a drip edge to guide water into the drain pan and helps prevent water from wicking up behind upper hanger 110.

In some embodiments, upper hanger 110 is formed from any suitable material including sheet metal, aluminum (e.g., sheet or extruded), painted aluminum, anodized aluminum, plastic (such as vinyl or other suitable polymer), or other durable material suitable for the outdoor conditions and having the desired combination of flexibility (to allow the drain pan 120 to be inserted, and to conform to joist 40) and stiffness (to provide the necessary support during installation). For example, in some embodiments, the upper hanger 110 is formed from 0.024 inch (24 mil, which is approximately 0.6 mm) paint-coated sheet aluminum. In some embodiments, the upper hanger 110 is used as-is or cut from a longer-than-needed continuous length, while in other embodiments, upper hanger 110 is formed using a plurality of sections of upper hangers arrayed end-to-end (optionally having a small gap between the ends of the pieces to accommodate different amounts of temperature-dependent length changes (e.g., due to different coefficients of thermal expansion between the hanger pieces and the joist they are fastened to), and optionally with a gap cover piece covering the gap), or overlapping pieces (optionally with a lap cover), spaced along a joist 40. In some embodiments, upper hanger 110 is fabricated in any convenient length, such as eight, ten, twelve, sixteen, or twenty feet (2.44 meters, 3.05 meters, 3.66 meters, 4.87 meters, or 6.10 meters, respectively). In other embodiments, custom-made lengths are prefabricated for a particular job, either at a manufacturing facility or from a mobile-mounted fabrication rig used on-site. Each upper hanger 110 is attached to a joist 40 by any suitable means, including discrete fasteners such as nails, screws, or staples, and/or adhesive. In some embodiments, back side 113 of the upper hanger 110 is coated with an adhesive (such as a pre-applied or in-the-field-applied pressure-sensitive adhesive (such as contact cement), or an in-the-field-applied adhesive dispensed from a caulking gun) so that the upper hanger 110 may be pressed against and adhered to a joist 40, with or without the use of additional fasteners such as screws, nails or staples. In some embodiments, back side 113 of the upper hanger 110 has a double-stick foam strip having two pressure-sensitive-adhesive-covered faces, one of which is adhered to the upper hanger 110, and the other of which is exposed by removing a release layer so that the upper hanger 110 may be placed against and adhered to a joist 40 with or without the use of additional fasteners. The use of a double-stick foam strip can aid in preventing later-applied caulking on the engaging edge 112 from running down between upper hanger 110 and joist 40, which could interfere with installation or removal of the drain pan 120. In some embodiments, the use of adhesives also aids in holding the upper hanger 110 in position while installing the fasteners. In some embodiments, the upper hangers 110 are installed on the sides of the joists 40 in sloping orientation, with, for example, a one-percent slope from horizontal (0.125 inches drop per running foot, or 1 cm drop for each one meter run). This slope provides drainage for the water collected by system toward one end once the other components are installed. In some embodiments, the joists 40 of a deck are installed already sloped away from the main structure with sufficient slope, in which case, the upper hangers 110 are applied parallel to the joists 40. In these embodiments, the upper hangers 110 can be installed on the sides of the joists 40 parallel with the top and bottom edges of the joists 40.

In some embodiments, the drain pan 120 is formed from a thin (i.e., thin being the thickness of the material, which is the smallest dimension across the material) elongated material (i.e., having a lengthwise dimension that is longer than the width measured in a direction perpendicular to the lengthwise dimension) having the cross-sectional shape as shown in FIG. 1 and FIG. 2. In some embodiments, the lengthwise sides 124 of drain pan 120 are generally vertical and include a lengthwise upper convex portion 122 on the inner side of drain pan 120 formed in a shape configured to mate into the concave groove recess 116 of upper hanger 110. The upper convex portion 122 can have a variety of shapes, including rounded, curved, or a multifaceted shape, and are generally a mating shape to complement the shape of the concave groove recess 116 of upper hanger 110. Below the upper convex portion 122, some embodiments include a lower convex portion 123 separated from the upper convex portion 122 by a short flat vertical section 105, and separated from the edge-most horizontal section 126 by a short flat vertical section 106. The lower convex portion 123 can have a variety of shapes, including rounded, curved, or a multifaceted shape, configured to engage lower hanger convex portion 132 next to edge 131 of lower hanger 130. In some embodiments, the drain pan 120 includes a plurality of ridges comprised of pairs of sloped sections 125 and adjacent to horizontal sections 126. In some embodiments, the sloped sections 125 include a lengthwise upper finger groove 127 and a lengthwise lower finger groove 128. In some embodiments, at the top of the sloped sections 125, a score-guide groove 129 is formed. The score-guide groove 129 facilitates knife-edge scoring of the drain pan from below and snap-breaking the drain pan into narrower width sections by manually squeezing the sloped sections 125 together using the upper finger grooves 127. The snap-broken sloped sections 125 can then be bent into vertical sections forming new lengthwise sides 124 of a narrower drain pan 120. Sloped sections 125 of the drain pan 120 can be adjusted to accommodate drain pan fine-width adjustments into the correct width to fit between a pair of adjacent joists.

In some embodiments, the drain pan 120 is formed from any suitable material including sheet metal, aluminum (e.g., sheet or extruded), painted aluminum, anodized aluminum, plastic (such as vinyl or other suitable polymer), or other durable material suitable for the outdoor conditions and having the desired combination of flexibility (to allow the drain pan 120 to be inserted under upper hanger 110 and conform to joist 40) and stiffness (to provide the necessary support to hold the water it drains). In some embodiments, the drain pan 120 is formed from 0.024 inch (24 mil, which is approximately 0.6 mm) paint-coated sheet aluminum. The material used to form the drain pan 120 must be sufficiently stiff to support the anticipated loads placed upon it, yet sufficiently flexible so the material can be reformed into the proper between-joist width. Each drain pan 120 is configured to have the proper width to fit between a pair of joists 40. For example, the drain pan 120 would be formed such that it is approximately 14.5 inches (36.83 cm) wide when installed, in order to fit between joists 40 that are installed sixteen-inches (40.64 cm) on center, or approximately 22.5 inches (57.15 cm) wide to fit twenty-four-inch (60.96 cm) on-center joists 40. In some embodiments, variations in the width between the joists will be accommodated by the flexibility of the drain pan 120, which, in some embodiments, includes curved or radial joists as used in circularly shaped decks. In some embodiments, drain pan 120 is fabricated in different widths configured for other applications. In some embodiments, drain pan 120 is fabricated in any convenient length, such as eight, ten, twelve, sixteen, or twenty feet (2.44 meters, 3.05 meters, 3.66 meters, 4.87 meters, or 6.10 meters, respectively). In other embodiments, custom-made lengths are prefabricated for a particular job, either at a manufacturing facility or from a mobile-mounted fabrication rig used on-site.

In some embodiments, lower hanger 130 is formed from a thin elongated material in the cross-sectional shape as shown in FIG. 2. In some embodiments, lower hanger 130 includes a vertical section 135, a horizontal section 136, and a sloped section 137. At the top of the vertical section 135 is a first rounded joist-side convex portion 132. At the top of the sloped section 137 is a second rounded center-side convex portion 134. The joist-side convex portion 132 and center-side convex portion 134 are formed to engage and “snap” onto lower convex portion 123 and lower finger groove 128, respectively, of drain pan 120. In some embodiments, lower convex portion 123 and lower finger groove 128 are configured so that a person can grasp these two features with one hand and squeeze to compress or shape this portion of the drain pan 120.

In some embodiments, the lower hanger 130 includes a lower ledge 138. In some embodiments, lower ledge 138 acts as a “finger port” that facilitates grasping and pulling down on the lower hanger to remove the drain pan 120 from the upper hanger 110 and to release the lower hanger 130 from the drain pan 120 when disassembling apparatus 100 (for example, to clean debris or retrieve a lost item that fell into pan 120). In some embodiments, lower ledge 138 also provides a ledge to support and fasten horizontal cross braces to add additional horizontal support and strength to the drain pan 120. In some embodiments, the lower hanger 130 includes a lengthwise fastener-guide groove 139. As was the case with fastener-guide groove 114 of upper hanger 110, the lengthwise fastener guide groove 139 helps prevent screw wandering and helps screw tips bite into lower hanger 130 and start the hole for the screw when using screws to fasten the lower hanger 130 to the joist 40, and provides the correct locating position for the fastener.

In some embodiments, the lower hanger 130 is formed from any suitable material including sheet metal, aluminum (e.g., sheet or extruded), painted aluminum, anodized aluminum, plastic (such as vinyl or other suitable polymer), or other durable material suitable for the outdoor conditions and having the desired combination of flexibility (to allow the lower hanger 130 to be snapped onto drain pan 120 and to conform to joist 40) and stiffness (to provide the necessary support to drain pan 120 during installation and later during use). In some embodiments, the lower hanger 130 is formed from 0.024 inch (24 mil, which is approximately 0.6 mm) paint-coated sheet aluminum. In some embodiments, the lower hanger 130 is used as-is or cut from a longer-than-needed continuous length, while in other embodiments, lower hanger 130 is formed using a plurality of sections of upper hangers arrayed end-to-end (optionally having a small gap between the ends of the pieces, and optionally with a gap cover piece covering the gap), or overlapping pieces (optionally with a lap cover, to achieve then length needed), spaced along a joist 40. In some embodiments, lower hanger 130 is fabricated in any convenient length, such as eight, ten, twelve, sixteen, or twenty feet (2.44 meters, 3.05 meters, 3.66 meters, 4.87 meters, or 6.10 meters, respectively). In other embodiments, custom-made lengths are prefabricated for a particular job, either at a manufacturing facility or from a mobile-mounted fabrication rig used on-site.

FIG. 3 is a perspective end view showing one side of one section of the between-joist gutter and hanger apparatus 300 according to some embodiments of the invention. In some embodiments, apparatus 300 includes a one-piece integrated-support drain pan 140 (having vertical section 145 and lower ledge 138 that replace the function of lower hanger 130) that is used with upper hangers 110 (such as shown in FIG. 2 and described above). In some embodiments, integrated-support drain pan 140 is formed from a thin elongated material in the cross-sectional shape as shown in FIG. 3. In some embodiments, the integrated-support drain pan 140 includes a vertical section 145 that connects upper edge 141 to lower ledge 138 and which includes fastener-guide grove 139. In some embodiments, the remaining portions of integrated-support drain pan 140 are the same as those portions of drain pan 120 having identical reference numbers, as shown in FIG. 2. In some embodiments, lower ledge 138 can be used as a finger port that facilitates grasping and pulling down on the integrated-support drain pan 140, in order to remove the integrated-support drain pan 140 from the upper hanger 110. In some embodiments, lower ledge 138 also provides a ledge to support and fasten horizontal cross braces to add additional horizontal strength to the integrated-support drain pan 140. In some embodiments, the integrated-support drain pan 140 includes a lengthwise fastener guide groove 139. The lengthwise fastener guide groove 139 helps prevent screw wandering when using screws to fasten the integrated-support drain pan 140 to the joist 40, and provides the correct up-down-locating position for the fastener.

In some embodiments, the integrated-support drain pan 140 is formed from a thin (i.e., thin being the thickness of the material, which is the smallest dimension across the material) elongated material (i.e., having a lengthwise dimension that is longer than the width measured in a direction perpendicular to the lengthwise dimension) having the cross-sectional shape as shown in FIG. 3. In some embodiments, the integrated-support drain pan 140 is formed from 0.024 inch (24 mil, which is approximately 0.6 mm) paint-coated sheet aluminum. In some embodiments, the integrated-support drain pan 140 is used as-is or cut from a longer-than-needed continuous length, while in other embodiments, integrated-support drain pan 140 is formed using a plurality of sections of upper hangers arrayed end-to-end (optionally having a small gap between the ends of the pieces, and optionally with a gap cover piece covering the gap), or overlapping pieces (optionally with a lap cover, to achieve then length needed), spaced along a joist 40. In some embodiments, integrated-support drain pan 140 is fabricated in any convenient length, such as eight, ten, twelve, sixteen, or twenty feet (2.44 meters, 3.05 meters, 3.66 meters, 4.87 meters, or 6.10 meters, respectively). In other embodiments, custom-made lengths are prefabricated for a particular job, either at a manufacturing facility or from a mobile-mounted fabrication rig used on-site.

In some embodiments, apparatus 300 includes a combination of upper hangers 110, with integrated-support drain pan 140 as a single piece, initially hung between joists 40 with standard spacing, and screwed (or otherwise fastened) to joist 40 using fastener-guide groove 139 to help start the holes for the screws, and provides the correct up-down-locating position for the fastener.

In other embodiments, integrated-support drain pan 140 can be separated into two parts (e.g., by scoring with a knife along score-guide groove 129 and bend-snapping into two parts) and using portion 143 of integrated-support drain pan 140 with one edge snap broken as described above for drain pan 120 with one edge bent or reformed into a vertical lengthwise side 124 (i.e., wherein upper finger groove 127 next to the snap-broken edge of score-guide groove 129 becomes upper convex portion 122, and the adjacent lower finger groove 128 becomes lower convex portion 123 separated from the new upper convex portion 122 by a short flat vertical section 105 (which used to be flat section 107), and separated from the new edge-most horizontal section 126 by a short flat vertical section 106 (which used to be flat section 108). In some embodiments, this new portion 143 of integrated-support drain pan 140 no longer has its integrated support and thus is combined with a lower hanger 130 as described above for FIG. 2, to facilitate non-standard spacing between joists 40.

In other embodiments, such as shown in FIG. 4, this new edge of integrated-support drain pan 140 is combined with the portion just removed from it, which functions in the same manner as lower hanger 130 described above for FIG. 2.

FIG. 4 is a perspective end view showing one side of one section of the between-joist gutter and hanger apparatus 301 that includes an integrated support and drain pan 140 that has been separated into two pieces (lower-hanger portion 142 and remaining drain pan 143) that nest to one another. In other words, when integrated-support drain pan 140 is separated into two portions, a lower-hanger portion 142 and a remaining drain pan 143, then the lower hanger portion 142 is used in place of lower hanger 130, and remaining drain pan 143 is supported by nesting to lower-hanger portion 142.

FIG. 5 is a perspective end view showing the installation of one section of the between-joist gutter and hanger apparatus 100 according to some embodiments of the invention. In use, the installer secures upper hangers 110 to the joists 40 as described above. In some embodiments, the drain pan 120 is joined to the lower hangers 130 by snapping lower hangers onto both lengthwise edges of drain pan 120. The drain pan with lower hangers can then be installed from below the joists as shown in FIG. 5. The edges of the drain pan 120 engage the upper hangers 110, being slid up between the upper hangers 110 and joists 40. The drain pan 120 is slid up until the convex portion 122 is fully mated with concave groove recess 116, where it is retained by the upper hanger 110 allowing fasteners to be installed in the lower hanger 130. In some embodiments, lower ledge 138 also provides a ledge for the installation of horizontal cross braces (not shown here) to add additional horizontal strength to the drain pan 120. In FIG. 5, the convex portion 122 of the right hand edge of drain pan 120 is fully mated with concave groove recess 116 of upper hanger 110. The convex portion 122 of the left hand edge of drain pan 120 is in the process of being inserted between the upper hanger 110 and joist 40, where it will be mated with concave groove recess 116 of upper hanger 110. After mating both edges of drain pan 120 with upper hangers, lower hangers 130 are fastened to joists 40, securing the drain pan 120.

FIG. 6 is an end view showing the partial installation of one section of the between-joist gutter and hanger apparatus 100 according to some embodiments of the invention. In this embodiment, the installer has secured upper hangers 110 to the joists 40 as described above and installed drain pan 120 into upper hangers 110 between the upper hangers 110 and joists 40. In this embodiment, the installer has secured the hangers to the joists 40 with screw fasteners 56. In this embodiment, the drain pan 120 has been installed into upper hangers 110 prior to attaching lower hangers 130 to the drain pan 120.

FIG. 7 is an end view showing the partial installation of one section of the between-joist gutter and hanger apparatus 100 according to some embodiments of the invention. In this stage of this embodiment, the installer has installed lower hangers 130 to drain pan 120 by snapping lower hangers onto both lengthwise edges of drain pan 120.

FIG. 8 is an end view showing the partial installation of one section of the between-joist gutter and hanger apparatus 100 according to some embodiments of the invention. In this stage of this embodiment, the installer has installed screw fasteners 58 securing lower hangers 130 to joists 40, also firmly securing drain pan 120 from separating from upper hanger 110 when under load from substantial moisture or wind.

FIG. 9 is an end view showing the partial installation of one section of the between-joist gutter and hanger apparatus 100 according to some embodiments of the invention. In this stage of this embodiment, the installer has installed horizontal cross brace 160 to add additional horizontal strength to drain pan 120 when under load from substantial moisture or wind. In some embodiments, horizontal cross brace 160 is secured to lower hanger 130 by screw fasteners (not shown). In some embodiments horizontal cross brace 160 is secured to lower hanger 130 by friction fit into indentations in lower hanger 130. In some embodiments, a cross brace 160 is installed every two to three feet (about every 60 to 90 cm) of liner run of the joist gutter and hanger apparatus 100.

FIG. 10 is an end view showing the partial installation of one section of the between-joist gutter and hanger apparatus 300 (see FIG. 3) according to some embodiments of the invention. The embodiment is similar to the progress of the installation of the joist gutter and hanger apparatus shown in FIG. 7, except this embodiment includes a single-piece integrated support and drain pan 140, replacing lower hangers 130 to drain pan 120. The integrated support and drain pan 140 is then secured with fasteners similar to what was described above in FIG. 8. In some embodiments, joist gutter and hanger apparatus 300 will also have horizontal cross braces 160 installed to add additional horizontal strength to integrated support and drain pan 140 when under load from substantial moisture or wind.

FIG. 11 is an example of some embodiments of the invention with extruded hangers and drain pan. In some embodiments, upper hanger 110, drain pan 120, and lower hanger 130 are extruded formed from any suitable materials including aluminum, plastic (such as vinyl or other suitable polymer), or other durable materials suitable for the outdoor conditions and having the desired combination of flexibility (e.g., to allow the drain pan 120 to be inserted behind upper hanger 110, and to conform to joist 40) and stiffness (e.g., to provide the necessary support during installation and after installation under rain, snow, ice, wind and wide temperature ranges).

FIG. 12 is an example of a first stage of resizing the width of drain pan 120 in some embodiments of the invention. The drain pan 120 can be resized as required prior to installation. The score-guide groove 129 facilitates knife-edge scoring of the drain pan from the bottom side of the drain pan before installation. Although for illustration, the drain pan is shown being scored with a utility knife from below, it may be easier in some embodiments to turn the drain pan up-side-down to enable scoring from above. In some embodiments, the end section 1299 is discarded after being snapped off, the remaining portion 120′ of drain pan 120 is used as a drain pan across a narrow joist spacing. In other embodiments, the end section is instead portion 142 as shown in FIG. 3, and once snapped off, can then be used as a lower hanger 142 as shown in FIG. 4.

FIG. 13 is an example of a second stage of resizing the width of drain pan 120 in some embodiments of the invention. After scoring the drain pan 120 with a utility knife, the installer can snap-break the drain pan into narrower-width portion 120′, and a discardable portion 1299, by manually squeezing the sloped sections 125 together using the upper finger grooves 127. The upper finger grooves 127 allow easier gripping of the sloped sections 125.

FIG. 14 is an example of a third stage of resizing the width of drain pan 120 in some embodiments of the invention. The snap-broken sloped section 125 can then be bent into a vertical section forming new lengthwise side 124 of a narrower drain pan 120′. The lower finger grooves 128 allow easier gripping of the sloped sections 125 and reforming into a lengthwise side. The remaining sloped sections 125 of the narrower drain pan 120′ can be adjusted to accommodate drain pan fine-width adjustments into the correct width to fit between a pair of adjacent joists.

Some embodiments further include hangers and a drain-pan as part of a kit of parts configured to be installed as a set.

FIG. 15 is an end view of a between-joist hanger apparatus 1500 that can use a flexible-sheet drain-pan material according to some embodiments of the invention. In some embodiments, hanger apparatus 1500 includes a one-piece hanger 1510, a linear insert plug 1520, and a flexible sheet drain pan (see FIG. 16). (In other embodiments, hanger 1510 is implemented as two or more pieces that when screwed to a joist, form a shape substantially similar to that of the one-piece hanger 1510 shown here). In some embodiments, one-piece hanger 1510 includes a 1513 bonnet to partially cover the fasteners, direct moisture away from the fasteners, and to add strength. In some embodiments, the top edge 1511 of one-piece hanger 1510 includes a lengthwise engaging edge 1512 formed to engage into the joist surface when the upper hanger is fastened to the side of the joist (in some embodiments, engaging edge 1512 is a small lip of the top edge 1511 formed at a right angle (or a smaller or larger sloping angle) toward the joist). In other embodiments, engaging edge 1512 is omitted, and the joist-side surface of one-piece hanger 1510 is flat. The engaging edge 1512 helps seal the top edge 1511 to the joist to prevent water from running between one-piece hanger 1510 and the joist, even when the surface of the joist has small imperfections (as is often the case). The engaging edge 1512 also provides a ledge to support a sealing material such as a caulking bead along the top edge 1511 and joist to further seal the edge 1512 from water running between the one-piece hanger 1510 and the joist. In some embodiments, the one-piece hanger 1510 includes an upper lengthwise fastener-guide groove 1514. The lengthwise fastener-guide groove 1514 aids the installer in installing fasteners by providing a guide at the correct position or distance from top edge 1511 or bottom edge of the piece for locating the fastener's starting position, and when using screws to fasten one-piece hanger 1510 to the joist, fastener guide groove 1514 helps prevent screw wandering and helps screw tips bite into one-piece hanger 1510 and start the hole for the screw. In some embodiments, the one-piece hanger 1510 is predrilled at the correct position or distance from top edge 1511 or bottom edge for the fastener (e.g. at regular intervals of 8-12 inches (about 20-30 cm)).

In some embodiments, one-piece hanger 1510 includes an insert-plug chamber 1515, configured to receive linear insert plug 1520 with a flexible sheet drain pan around it (further described below). At the back of the insert plug chamber 1515 is lengthwise plug-screw-guide groove 1518. In some embodiments, one-piece hanger 1510 includes a rounded drip edge 1516 that reduces stress and evens the tension on the adjoining flexible-sheet drain-pan material once that is installed. In some embodiments, along the lower edge of insert-plug chamber 1515 is a succession of one or more latch grooves or notches 1517 to aid in installation of the flexible-sheet drain-pan material by ratcheting against the one or more latch lips or ridges 1526 of linear insert plug 1520 (and the adjoining latch ridges 1519 of insert-plug chamber 1515 mate to the latch notches 1529; i.e., the latch ridges of one piece are configured to engage the latch notches of the mating piece). In some embodiments, linear insert plug 1520 is predrilled with fastener holes 1538 at intervals to a help guide the fasteners at the correct angle. In some embodiments, linear insert plug 1520 includes a lengthwise groove to further aid in inserting the fasteners into fastener holes 1538.

In some embodiments, the one-piece hanger 1510 includes a lower ledge 1538. In some embodiments, lower ledge 1538 provides stiffening and also provides a ledge to support and fasten horizontal cross braces (described above) to add additional horizontal support and strength to the flexible sheet drain pan. In some embodiments, the one-piece hanger 1510 includes a second lengthwise fastener-guide groove 1539. As was the case with the upper fastener-guide groove 1514, the fastener-guide groove 1539 helps prevent screw wandering and helps screw tips bite into one-piece hanger 1510 and start the hole for the screw when using screws to fasten the one-piece hanger 1510 to the joist, and provides the correct locating position for the fastener.

FIG. 16 is an end view showing a between-joist gutter-and-hanger apparatus 1600 that includes a flexible-sheet drain-pan material 1630 according to some embodiments of the invention. In some embodiments, gutter-and-hanger apparatus 1600 includes between-joist hanger apparatus 1500, wherein a one-piece hanger 1510 is screwed to the inside surfaces of two opposing joists 40. The installer the wraps flexible-sheet drain-pan material 1630 around a linear insert plug 1520, which is then pushed into the insert-plug chamber 1515 until lower ridges 1526 of linear insert plug 1520 catches against one of the latch notches 1517 of one-piece hanger 1510, which then hold the insert 1520 in place. In some embodiments, by providing a series of latch notches 1517, the linear insert plug 1520 can be successively tightened to stretch flexible-sheet drain-pan material 1630. In various embodiments, flexible-sheet drain-pan material 1630 is a woven or spun fabric that is made watertight by a suitable polymer and/or metal-film coating, while in other embodiments, a plastic sheeting material (such as polyethylene, polyester, or polypropylene, for example) is used. Once latched in place, and before installing screw fasteners, flexible-sheet drain-pan material 1630 may be manually adjusted and stretched to remove any extra slack and wrinkles by pulling on excess flexible-sheet material 1635.

FIG. 17 is an end view showing a between-joist gutter-and-hanger apparatus 1600 that has flexible-sheet drain-pan material 1630 further stretched by partially the tightening of screw fasteners 1710 according to some embodiments of the invention.

FIG. 18 is an end view showing a between-joist gutter-and-hanger apparatus 1600 that has flexible-sheet drain-pan material 1630 still further stretched by the tightening of screws 1710 according to some embodiments of the invention. In some embodiments, the excess portion of excess flexible-sheet material 1635 is later trimmed off (e.g., with a utility knife).

In some embodiments, the present invention provides an apparatus 1600 that includes a first hanger 1510 and a second hanger 1510 each configured to be fastened to a side of a first joist by a first plurality of fasteners, the first and second hangers each having an elongated concave insert-plug chamber 1515 having one or more latch notches 1517, and a first linear insert plug 1520 and a second linear insert plug 1520 each having one or more latch ridges 1526 configured to mate to the respective latch notches 1517, and configured to successively tighten a flexible-sheet drain-pan material 1630 stretched over the first linear insert plug 1520 and the second linear insert plug 1520 between the respective first and second hangers 1510. In some embodiments, hangers 1510 and plugs 1520 are made of extruded plastic, extruded aluminum, or formed of other suitable material.

Some embodiments of the first hanger 1510 further include a lengthwise engaging edge 1512 on an upper portion (e.g., the top edge) formed to engage into the joist surface when the first hanger 1510 is fastened to the side of the joist.

Some embodiments of the first hanger 1510 further include a rounded drip edge 1516 that reduces stress and evens the tension on the adjoining flexible-sheet drain-pan material.

In some embodiments, the present invention provides an apparatus that includes (1) a first upper hanger configured to be fastened to a side of a first joist by a first plurality of fasteners, the first upper hanger having an elongated concave groove recess and a lower edge spaced at a distance from the first joist, (2) a first drain pan having a lengthwise upper edge and having a lengthwise convex portion next to the upper edge, the upper edge and convex portion configured to be mated into the groove recess of the first upper hanger in a non-latched manner such that the drain pan is readily and non-destructively removable from below, and such that the drain pan is directly held against the first joist by spring pressure from the first upper hanger sufficient to hold a first weight that is at least half a weight of the drain pan, and (3) a first lower pan support configured to be fastened to the first joist by a second plurality of fasteners, wherein the first lower pan support, once fastened to the first joist by the second plurality of fasteners, cooperates with the first upper hanger to securely support the drain pan in a manner sufficient to hold the drain pan plus a second weight that is greater than the first weight.

In some embodiments, parts (2) and (3) are separate formed sheet-metal parts that snap together, while in other embodiments, they are parts of a single piece of sheet metal. Thus, in some embodiments of the apparatus, the first lower pan support includes a separate first lower hanger configured to be mated onto the drain pan in a manner such that the first lower hanger is readily removable from the drain pan and when attached to the drain pan, is held by spring pressure sufficient to hold at least a weight of the first lower hanger in position on the drain pan while the drain pan is held by the first upper hanger, wherein fastening of the first lower hanger to the first joist is facilitated by support from the drain pan held by the first upper hanger without having to manually hold the first lower hanger in place, and wherein once the first lower hanger is secured to the first joist by a second plurality of fasteners, the first lower hanger more securely supports the drain pan in a manner sufficient to hold the drain pan plus a second weight that is greater than the first weight. In other embodiments of the apparatus, the first lower pan support is a contiguous portion of the drain pan configured to vertically extend below an adjacent non-vertical portion of the drain pan and is held by spring pressure against a surface of the first joist when the drain pan is held by the first upper hanger, wherein fastening of the first lower pan support to the first joist is facilitated by support from the first upper hanger without having to manually hold the first lower pan support in place, and wherein once the first lower pan support is secured to the first joist by a second plurality of fasteners, the first lower pan support more securely supports the drain pan in a manner sufficient to hold the drain pan plus a second weight that is greater than the first weight.

In some embodiments of the apparatus, the drain pan is constructed of sheet metal.

In some embodiments of the apparatus, the first upper and lower hangers are constructed of extruded materials.

In some embodiments of the apparatus, the first upper and lower hangers are constructed of metal.

In some embodiments of the apparatus, the drain pan includes hand-width-spaced finger-port grooves running lengthwise along sloping walls in the drain pan to facilitate single-handed manual compression of a portion of the drain pan to aid in installation and removal of the drain pan.

In some embodiments of the apparatus, the drain pan includes at least one lengthwise narrow score-guide groove configured to facilitate knife-edge scoring, and wherein, along each of two sides of the score-guide groove, the drain pan includes one of two respective upper finger-port grooves that facilitate subsequent bending of the drain pan for breaking and separating the drain pan into a first narrower portion and a second narrower portion, each having a new edge, and wherein the upper finger-port groove along the new edge of the first narrower portion of the drain pan forms a convex portion pre-configured for mating with into an first upper hanger.

In some embodiments of the apparatus, the first upper hanger includes an anti-wicking lower drip edge to direct water into the drain pan and away from the joists.

In some embodiments of the apparatus, the lower hanger includes a lengthwise fastener-guide groove, and a plurality of fasteners are applied through the fastener-guide groove.

In some embodiments of the apparatus, the first upper hanger includes a lengthwise fastener-guide groove, and is held against a side of the first joist using a plurality of fasteners applied through the fastener-guide groove.

In some embodiments of the apparatus, the first upper hanger has a top engaging edge, the engaging edge extending lengthwise and configured to conform or engage into the joist when the first upper hanger is fastened to the joist by the first plurality of fasteners, to help direct water from going between the joist and the first upper hanger and to provide an edge for caulking. In some embodiments of the apparatus, top engaging edge of the first upper hanger also includes a lengthwise portion configured to extend away from the joist to provide a drip edge extending over the first plurality of fasteners. In some embodiments of the apparatus, the first upper hanger includes a double-stick foam strip having two adhesive-covered faces, one of which is adhered to the first upper hanger below the top engaging edge and the other of which is placed against the joist to provide a moisture barrier and to temporarily hold the first upper hanger to the joist until first upper hanger is secured to the first joist by the first plurality of fasteners.

In some embodiments, the present invention provides a method that includes providing a supply of sheet metal, forming a piece of the sheet metal into an upper hanger having an elongated concave groove recess, and below the groove recess, having a pan-receiver portion and a lower edge spaced to be at a distance from a first joist when the upper hanger is attached to the first joist, forming a piece of the sheet metal into a first drain pan having a lengthwise upper edge and having a lengthwise convex portion next to the upper edge, wherein the first drain pan is configured to be mated such that the upper edge and convex portion of the first drain pan fit into the groove recess of the upper hanger in a non-latched manner when the upper hanger is attached to the joist, wherein the drain pan is readily and non-destructively removable from below when the upper hanger is attached to the joist and the drain pan is inserted under the upper hanger, and wherein the drain pan is directly held against the joist by spring pressure from the upper hanger sufficient to hold a first weight that is at least half a weight of the drain pan, and forming a piece of the sheet metal into a first lower pan support that is configured to be fastened to the joist by a second plurality of fasteners, wherein the pan support, once fastened to the joist by the second plurality of fasteners, cooperates with the upper hanger to securely support the drain pan in a manner sufficient to hold the drain pan plus a second weight that is greater than the first weight.

In some embodiments of the method, the supply of sheet metal is in roll form to facilitate fabrication of arbitrary lengths with reduced scrap waste, and wherein the forming into the first upper hanger, the forming into the first drain pan, and the forming into the first lower pan support are done by roller-forming techniques.

In some embodiments of the method, the method is performed from a vehicle.

Some embodiments further include forming a piece of the sheet metal, separate from the piece used to form the drain pan, into a first lower hanger that forms the first lower pan support, mating the first lower hanger onto the drain pan in a manner such that the first lower hanger is readily removable from the drain pan and when attached to the drain pan, is held by spring pressure sufficient to hold at least a weight of the first lower hanger in position on the drain pan while the drain pan is held by the upper hanger, fastening the upper hanger against a side of the first joist using a first plurality of fasteners, and fastening the first lower hanger to the first joist using a second plurality of fasteners, with the drain pan and first lower hanger temporarily held in place by the upper hanger, and wherein once the first lower hanger is secured to the first joist by a second plurality of fasteners, the first lower hanger more securely supports the drain pan in a manner sufficient to hold the drain pan plus a second weight that is greater than the first weight.

In some embodiments of the method, the forming of the piece of the sheet metal into the first lower pan support includes forming a contiguous portion of the drain pan configured to vertically extend below an adjacent non-vertical portion of the drain pan, such that when the drain pan is held by the upper hanger, the vertical portion is held by spring pressure against a surface of the first joist, and the method further includes fastening the upper hanger against a side of the first joist using a first plurality of fasteners, and fastening the lower pan support to the first joist using a second plurality of fasteners, with the drain pan and first lower hanger temporarily held in place by the upper hanger, and wherein once the lower pan support is secured to the first joist by a second plurality of fasteners, the lower pan support more securely supports the drain pan in a manner sufficient to hold the drain pan plus a second weight that is greater than the first weight.

In some embodiments, the present invention provides a method that includes providing a first upper hanger having an elongated concave groove recess, and below the groove recess, having a pan-receiver portion and a lower edge spaced to be at a distance from a first joist when the first upper hanger is attached to the first joist, fastening the first upper hanger against a side of the first joist, providing a first drain pan having a lengthwise upper edge and having a lengthwise convex portion next to the upper edge, mating the upper edge and convex portion of the first drain pan into the groove recess of the first upper hanger in a non-latched manner, wherein the drain pan is readily and non-destructively removable from below, and wherein the drain pan is directly held against the first joist by spring pressure from the first upper hanger sufficient to hold a first weight that is at least half a weight of the drain pan, and fastening a first lower pan support the first joist by a second plurality of fasteners, wherein the pan support, once fastened to the first joist by the second plurality of fasteners, cooperates with the first upper hanger to securely support the drain pan in a manner sufficient to hold the drain pan plus a second weight that is greater than the first weight.

In some embodiments of the method further include, providing a first lower pan support that includes a first lower hanger, mating the first lower hanger onto the drain pan in a manner such that the first lower hanger is readily removable from the drain pan and when attached to the drain pan, is held by spring pressure sufficient to hold at least a weight of the first lower hanger in position on the drain pan while the drain pan is held by the first upper hanger, and fastening the first lower hanger to the first joist without having to manually hold the first lower hanger in place, and wherein once the first lower hanger is secured to the first joist by a second plurality of fasteners, the first lower hanger more securely supports the drain pan in a manner sufficient to hold the drain pan plus a second weight that is greater than the first weight.

In some embodiments of the method further include, providing a first lower pan support that includes a contiguous portion of the drain pan configured to vertically extend below an adjacent non-vertical portion of the drain pan, and is held by spring pressure against a surface of the first joist when the drain pan is held by the first upper hanger, and fastening the lower pan support to the first joist without having to manually hold the lower pan support in place, and wherein once the lower pan support is secured to the first joist by a second plurality of fasteners, the lower pan support more securely supports the drain pan in a manner sufficient to hold the drain pan plus a second weight that is greater than the first weight.

In some embodiments of the method, the providing of the drain pan includes constructing the drain pan of sheet aluminum.

In some embodiments of the method, the providing of the drain pan includes forming hand-width-spaced finger-port grooves running lengthwise along sloping walls in the drain pan to facilitate single-handed manual compression of a portion of the drain pan to aid in installation and removal of the drain pan.

In some embodiments of the method, the providing of the drain pan includes forming one or more lengthwise narrow score-guide grooves each configured to facilitate knife-edge scoring, each score-guide groove having an upper finger-port groove along each of two sides of the score-guide groove, to facilitate subsequent bending of the drain pan for snap breaking the drain pan into a first and a second narrower portion, each having a new edge.

In some embodiments of the method, the upper finger-port groove along the new edge of the first narrower portion of the snap broken drain pan forms a convex portion for mating with into the first upper hanger.

In some embodiments of the method, the providing of the first upper hanger includes forming a top engaging edge (—helps with imperfections on side of joist) inside, versus a drip edge on outer edge), the engaging edge configured to engage into the joist when the hanger is fastened to the joist by the first plurality of fasteners, to help direct water from going between the joist and the hanger and to provide an edge for caulking.

In some embodiments of the method, the forming of the first upper hanger top engaging edge includes forming the engaging edge to extend both towards the joist and away from the joist to also provide a drip edge over the first plurality of fasteners securing the top hanger to the joist.

In some embodiments of the method, the providing of the first upper hanger includes configuring a double-stick foam strip below the top engaging edge to provide a moisture barrier and to temporarily hold the first upper hanger to the joist until the first upper hanger is secured to the first joist by the first plurality of fasteners.

In some embodiments, the present invention provides an apparatus that includes a first drain pan having a lengthwise upper edge and having a lengthwise convex portion next to the upper edge, upper means for temporarily supporting the drain pan to a first joist, means for mating the upper edge and convex portion of the first drain pan into the means for temporarily supporting in a non-latched manner, wherein the drain pan is readily and non-destructively removable from below, and wherein the drain pan is directly held against the first joist by spring pressure from means for temporarily supporting sufficient to hold a first weight that is at least half a weight of the drain pan, lower means for supporting the drain pan to the first joist, wherein the lower means for supporting, once fastened to the first joist by a second plurality of fasteners, cooperates with the upper means for temporarily supporting to securely support the drain pan in a manner sufficient to hold the drain pan plus a second weight that is greater than the first weight.

It is to be understood that the above description is intended to be illustrative, and not restrictive. Although numerous characteristics and advantages of various embodiments as described herein have been set forth in the foregoing description, together with details of the structure and function of various embodiments, many other embodiments and changes to details will be apparent to those of skill in the art upon reviewing the above description. The scope of the invention should be, therefore, determined with reference to the appended claims, along with the full scope of equivalents to which such claims are entitled. In the appended claims, the terms “including” and “in which” are used as the plain-English equivalents of the respective terms “comprising” and “wherein,” respectively. Moreover, the terms “first,” “second,” and “third,” etc., are used merely as labels, and are not intended to impose numerical requirements on their objects.