Title:
SPLASH BLOCK WITH DIFFUSER
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A splash block having a trough and a diffuser arrangement for use in controlling water dispensed from a downspout of a home or building. The diffuser arrangement including a plurality of diffusing elements that displace a high flow of water produced from a heavy downpour in a random dispensing pattern to prevent erosion of the surrounding ground material. The diffuser arrangement also defining low-flow pathways that accommodate a low flow of water through the trough.



Inventors:
Anderson, Ken (DePere, WI, US)
Records, Jonathan (Appleton, WI, US)
Draheim, Linda (Neenah, WI, US)
Application Number:
11/769251
Publication Date:
01/01/2009
Filing Date:
06/27/2007
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
52/97, 137/312
International Classes:
E02B9/04
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
WILL, THOMAS B
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
RYAN KROMHOLZ & MANION, S.C. (MILWAUKEE, WI, US)
Claims:
What is claimed is:

1. A splash block, comprising: a) a trough having a first end and a second end, the trough being constructed such that water dispensed into the trough runs in a first direction of flow from the second end toward the first end, the trough including a base; b) a diffuser arrangement located at the first end of the trough, the diffuser arrangement including: i) at least one low-flow opening that permits a low flow of water to exit the trough at the first end, the low-flow opening coinciding with the base of the trough; and ii) a plurality of diffusing elements that displaces water in a random dispensing pattern at the first end of the trough, the diffusing elements projecting upward from the base of the trough.

2. The block of claim 1 wherein: a) the diffuser arrangement includes a plurality of low-flow openings coinciding with the base of the trough.

3. The block of claim 2 wherein: a) each of the diffusing elements are discrete diffusing elements, the low-flow openings being located between the discrete diffusing elements.

4. The block of claim 1 wherein: a) the base of the trough defines a substantially planar bottom surface.

5. The block of claim 1 wherein: a) each of the diffusing elements includes a transition region that diverts water flow from the first direction of flow to a second random direction of flow different than the first direction of flow.

6. The block of claim 5 wherein: a) the transition regions of the diffusing elements are ramped surfaces that divert water flow from the first direction of flow to the second random direction of flow.

7. The block of claim 1 wherein: a) each of the diffusing elements has a width, the width of some diffusing elements being different from the width of other diffusing elements.

8. The block of claim 1 wherein: a) each of the diffusing elements has a width, the widths of each of the diffusing elements being generally the same.

9. The block of claim 1 wherein: a) the diffuser arrangement includes a plurality of low flow openings defined between the plurality of diffusing elements, each of the low flow openings having a width of between about 1/16 and ½ inch.

10. The block of claim 1 wherein: a) each of the diffusing elements are triangular constructions that project upward from the base of the trough.

11. The block of claim 10 wherein: a) the triangular constructions are right-angle triangular constructions having a hypotenuse, the hypotenuse being oriented to face the flow of water.

12. The block of claim 1 wherein; a) the trough includes opposing side walls extending between the first and second ends of the trough, and a back wall located at the second end of the trough.

13. A splash block, comprising: a) a trough having a first end and a second end, the trough being constructed such that water dispensed into the trough runs in a direction from the second end toward the first end, the trough including a base; b) a diffuser arrangement located at the first end of the trough, the diffuser arrangement including: i) at least one low-flow water pathway that permits a low flow of water to exit the trough at the first end, the low-flow water pathway coinciding with the base of the trough; ii) a plurality of high-flow water pathways that displaces a high flow of water in a random dispensing pattern at the first end of the trough, the high-flow water pathways directing water flow above the at least one low-flow water pathway.

14. The block of claim 13 wherein: a) the diffuser arrangement includes a plurality of low-flow water pathways coinciding with the base of the trough.

15. The block of claim 13 wherein: a) the high-flow water pathways are provided by diffusing elements that divert water flow from the at least one low-flow water pathway to the high-flow water pathways.

16. The block of claim 15 wherein: a) the diffusing elements include a plurality of discrete diffusing elements that project upward from the base of the trough.

17. A method of controlling water flow from a downspout, the method comprising that steps of: a) providing a splash block, the splash block including a trough; b) positioning the splash block in relation to a downspout such that water dispensed from the downspout is received in the trough; c) directing a low flow of water dispensed from the downspout through openings located at an end of the trough, the openings coinciding with a bottom surface of the trough; and d) disrupting a high flow of water dispensed from the downspout at the end of the trough, the step of disrupting the high flow of water including displacing the water in a random pattern to prevent erosion of surrounding ground material.

Description:

TECHNICAL FIELD

The present disclosure relates generally to devices for use in diverting rainwater away from a home or building. More particularly, this disclosure relates to a splash block used in association with a downspout of a home or building.

BACKGROUND

A wide variety of splash block arrangements have been utilized for carrying run-off water collected by a gutter system away from a home or building. The more common conventional arrangements include a block structure that defines a trough. The block structure is placed under the downspout of a gutter system. Water dispensed from the downspout into the trough of the block structure runs to an open end of the trough and away from the foundation of the home or building.

In heavy downpours, excessive amounts of rainwater exiting the open end of the trough can cause surrounding landscape material to wash away, and can create ruts in the ground adjacent to the open end of the trough. In general, improvement has been sought with respect to such arrangements, generally to prevent the occurrence of erosion or a washout during heavy rain downpours.

SUMMARY

One aspect of the present disclosure relates to a splash block having a trough and a diffuser arrangement. The diffuser arrangement displaces a high flow of water from a heavy downpour in a random dispensing pattern, yet also permits a low flow of water to exit the trough at a downstream trough end. The random dispensing pattern produced by the diffuser arrangement during a heavy rain downpour prevents the erosion or washout of surrounding ground material.

A variety of examples of desirable product features and methods are set forth in part in the description that follows, and in part will be apparent from the description, or may be learned by practicing various aspects of the disclosure. The aspects of the disclosure may relate to individual features as well as combinations of features. It is to be understood that both the foregoing general description and the following detailed description are explanatory only, and are not restrictive of the claimed invention.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

FIG. 1 is a front perspective view of a splash block having one embodiment of a diffuser arrangement in accordance with the principles of the present disclosure;

FIG. 2 is a partial, rear perspective view of the splash block of FIG. 1;

FIG. 3 is a front perspective view of a splash block having another embodiment of a diffuser arrangement in accordance with the principles of the present disclosure;

FIG. 4 is a front perspective view of a splash block having still another embodiment of a diffuser arrangement in accordance with the principles of the present disclosure; and

FIG. 5 is a front perspective view of a splash block having yet another embodiment of a diffuser arrangement in accordance with the principles of the present disclosure.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION

Reference will now be made in detail to various features of the present disclosure that are illustrated in the accompanying drawings. Wherever possible, the same reference numbers will be used throughout the drawings to refer to the same or like parts.

FIGS. 1-5 illustrate embodiments of splash blocks having features that are examples of how inventive aspects in accordance with the principles of the present disclosure may be practiced. Preferred features are adapted for preventing material washout in an area adjacent to a gutter system downspout of a home or building.

Referring to FIG. 1, a first embodiment of a splash block 10 is illustrated. The splash block 10 generally includes a trough 12 having a first end 14 and a second end 16. The trough 12 is defined by a base 18, opposing lateral side walls 20, 22, and a back wall 24. The side walls 20, 22 extend from the first end 14 of the trough 12 to the second end 16. The back wall 24 is located at the second end 16 of the trough 12 between the lateral side walls 20, 22. Preferably, the base 18 of the trough 12 is sloped so that water dispensed into the trough 12 runs in a direction (represented by arrow A) from the second end 16 toward the first end 14. In the illustrated embodiment, the base 18 defines a substantially planar bottom surface 26 of the trough 12.

In one embodiment, the trough 12 is made of plastic; although the trough 12 can be made of a variety of other materials, such as concrete or metal, for example. The side walls 20, 22 and the back wall 24 are formed integrally with the base 18 of the trough 12. In the alternative, the walls 20, 22, 24 can be separate components joined to the base 18 to define the trough 12.

Referring now to FIGS. 1 and 2, the splash block 10 includes a diffuser arrangement 30 located at the first end 14 of the trough 12. The diffuser arrangement 30 is designed to diffuse and displace water in a random pattern during heavy rain downpours. That is, the rainwater is displaced or dispensed in an irregular or non-uniform manner. By diffusing the water randomly, surrounding ground material is not washed-out or eroded by the flow of water exiting the trough, as is a common problem with conventional splash blocks.

In particular, conventional splash blocks commonly have an open trough end. Heavy water flow exiting the open trough end can wash away surrounding ground material. The surrounding ground material can include soil, wood chips, and decorative stone, for example. Such heavy water flow can even create ruts in established lawns, erode soil away from plantings, and over time, deteriorate building materials such as masonry and asphalt.

In the illustrated embodiment of FIGS. 1 and 2, the diffuser arrangement 30 generally includes a plurality of diffusing elements 32. The arrangement 30 also includes gaps or low-flow openings 34 defined between adjacent diffusing elements 32 and between the diffusing elements 32 and side walls 20, 22. The low-flow openings 34 coincide with the planar bottom surface 26 of the base 18. That is, the openings 34 are generally at the same level as, and are partially defined by an extension of, the planar bottom surface 26 of the base 18. The low-flow openings 34 define low-flow water pathways that permit a low flow of water to exit the trough 12 at the first end 14; as opposed to trapping water at the first end until the collected water exceeds a particular level. A low flow of water is a flow of an amount of water that does not generally exceed a rate at which erosion or washout occurs; for example, a flow rate that does not exceed the saturation rate of the surrounding ground.

Referring now to FIG. 2, the plurality of diffusing elements 32 of the diffuser arrangement are configured to obstruct or disrupt the normal flow of water through the first end 14 of the trough 12 during a heavy downpour. The normal flow of water is a flow of water in the direction represented by arrow A through the first end 14 of trough 12. In particular, the diffusing elements 32 are configured to displace water in a random dispensing pattern at the first end 14 of the trough 12.

In the illustrated embodiment, the diffusing elements 32 are discrete elements. That is, the elements 32 are separate or individually distinct from one another. The low-flow openings 34 are located between and adjacent to the discrete diffusing elements 32. Each of the discrete diffusing elements 32 projects upward from the planar bottom surface 26 of the base 18. The discrete diffusing elements 32 are formed integrally with the base 18 of the trough 12; although the elements can also be non-integral components joined to the base 18.

Each of the diffusing elements 32 defines a transition region 36 (FIG. 2) that diverts water flow from the low-flow water pathways to high-flow water pathways. That is, the transition region 36 diverts water flow from the first direction (represented by arrow A) to a second different random direction (represented by random arrows B).

In the illustrated embodiment, the diffusing elements 32 are triangular in shape, and in particular, are constructed has right-triangles having a hypotenuse or ramped surface 38 oriented to face the normal flow of water. The ramped surfaces 38 of the diffusing elements 32 are the transition regions 36 that divert water flow from the low-flow water pathways to the high-flow water pathways. In one embodiment, the ramped surfaces 38 of the diffusing elements 32 are oriented at angle of between 30 and 60 degrees relative to the planar bottom surface 26 of the base 18; which creates the vertical vector of the second random direction of flow (represented by random arrows B).

The high-flow water pathways direct water flow above the low-flow water pathways; in particular, the high-flow water pathways are defined as pathways that run up and off the diffusing elements 32 of the diffuser arrangement 30. The high-flow water pathways dispense water produced from a high flow of water in a random dispensing pattern at the first end 14 of the trough 12. A high flow of water is a flow of an amount of water that can cause erosion or washout; for example, a flow of water at a rate that exceeds the saturation rate of the surrounding ground.

The high-flow water pathways are random, that is, the water flow may run up and off either side of a diffusing element, or may run up and over the diffusing element 24, as shown by random arrows B in FIG. 2. The random dispensing pattern is provided by directing the water flow upward over the diffusing elements 32 so that the water exiting the trough sprays off the diffusing elements 32 in random directions. The disruption of flow and random spray or displacement of water prevents erosion of the surrounding ground material.

Referring back to FIG. 1, the diffusing elements 32 of the present disclosure each have a height H1. Preferably, the height H1 is sufficient enough to create an obstruction and diversion of flow such that water is randomly displaced over a large region of the surrounding area so as to avoid a concentrated flow of water that would otherwise cause washout. In the illustrated embodiment, the height H1 of each of the elements 32 is substantially the same as a height H2 of the side walls 20, 22. Alternatively, the heights of each element can vary.

Referring to FIG. 2, each of the diffusing elements 32 also has a width W. The width W of some of the diffusing elements 32 is less than the width of others of the diffusing elements 32. In the illustrated diffuser arrangement 30, three inner diffusing elements 32 having more narrow widths are located between two outer diffusing elements 32 having wider widths.

In alternative embodiments, the diffusing elements can all have the same width, or can all have different widths, and/or can be arranged in a different pattern of locations. For example, referring to FIG. 3, a second embodiment of a splash block 110 is illustrated. The splash block 110 includes a diffuser arrangement 130 and is generally similar in construction to the splash block 10 previously described; except for the arrangement of diffusing elements 132 of the diffuser arrangement 130. In particular, the diffusing elements 132 of the embodiment of FIG. 3 each have a width W. The width W of each of the diffusing elements 132 is the same as the other diffusing elements. The diffusing elements 132 are also generally equally spaced from one another such that gaps or low-flow openings 134 defined between adjacent diffusing elements 132 are generally all the same size. Each of the low-flow openings 134 is typically between about 1/16 and ½ inch in width. In the illustrated embodiment, the low-flow openings 134 are about ⅛ inch in width.

In use, the splash block is positioned underneath the downspout of a gutter system of a house or building to control the flow of rainwater from the downspout. When a low flow of rainwater is dispensed from the downspout, the splash block directs the rainwater through the low-flow openings 34, 134 at the end of the trough 12, 112. When a high flow of rainwater from a downpour is dispensed from the downspout, the diffuser arrangement 30, 130 of the splash block diverts the high rainwater flow and displaces or dispenses the water in a random pattern about the surrounding area. Displacing or dispensing the rainwater in a random pattern reduces the concentration of flow in one particular region and prevents erosion or washout.

Referring now to FIG. 4, yet another embodiment of a splash block 210 is illustrated. The splash block 210 generally includes a trough 212 having a first end 214 and a second end 216. The trough 212 is defined by a base 218, opposing lateral side walls 220, 222, and a back wall 224. The side walls 220, 222 extend from the first end 214 of the trough 212 to the second end 216. The back wall 224 is located at the second end 216 of the trough 212 between the lateral side walls 220, 222. Preferably, the base 218 of the trough 212 includes a sloped bottom surface 226 that causes water to run in a direction (represented by arrow A) from the second end 216 toward the first end 214.

Similar to the previous embodiments, the trough 212 is made of plastic; although the trough 212 can be made of a variety of other materials, such as concrete or metal, for example. The side walls 220, 222 and the back wall 224 are formed integrally with the base 218 of the trough 212. In the alternative, the walls 220, 222, 224 can be separate components joined to the base 218 to define the trough 212.

The splash block 210 includes a diffuser arrangement 230. The diffuser arrangement is located within the trough 212 of the splash block 210. The diffuser arrangement 230 is designed to diffuse and slow water flow during heavy rain downpours. That is, the flow of rainwater is diverted and dispensed in an irregular or non-uniform manner. By slowing and diffusing the water, surrounding ground material is not washed-out or eroded by the flow of water exiting the trough, as is a common problem with conventional splash blocks.

In the illustrated embodiment of FIG. 4, the diffuser arrangement 230 includes a plurality of diffusing elements or projections 232. The diffusing elements or projections 232 extend or project outward from the sloped bottom surface 226 of the base 218. In one embodiment, the projections 232 are randomly positioned on the base 218, however a more uniform pattern of projections 232 can also be provided.

The plurality of projections or diffusing elements 232 of the diffuser arrangement 230 is configured to obstruct or disrupt the normal flow of water through the trough 212 during a heavy downpour. The normal flow of water is a flow of water in the direction represented by arrow A through the first end 214 of trough 212. In particular, the diffusing elements 232 are configured to redirect water in a random dispensing pattern within the trough 212, and in following, out the first end 214 of the trough 212. This random dispensing pattern is provided particularly during heavy down pours. Yet, a low flow of water is still permitted to exit the trough 212 without significant impedance; as opposed to being trapped at the first end until the collected water exceeds a particular level.

In the illustrated embodiment, the projections or diffusing elements 232 are discrete elements. That is, the diffusing elements 232 are separate or individually distinct from one another. Each of the diffusing elements 232 is formed integrally with the base 218 of the trough 212; although the elements can also be non-integral components joined to the base 218. The diffusing elements 232 of the present disclosure each have a height H1. Preferably, the height H1 is sufficient enough to create an obstruction and diversion of water flow. In the illustrated embodiment, the height H1 of each of the elements 232 can vary but is generally less than about ½ inch. As shown in FIG. 4, the overall widths of the diffusing elements 232 vary.

In addition to the varying sizes, the diffusing elements 232 also have varying shapes. The shapes can include square, rectangular, or pentagonal shapes that have either irregular or regular side lengths. Other shapes can be provided. In the illustrated embodiment, the shape of each diffusing element is defined by sidewalls 242 that extend generally perpendicular to the bottom surface 226 of the base 218; although the sidewalls can also be angled. The sidewalls 242 of the diffusing elements 232 divert water flow from the normal water pathway to random water pathways (represented by arrows B). The random water pathways redirect water in a random dispensing pattern. In heavier flow, the water obstructed by the sidewalls 242 of the projections 232 may further spray or crash off the projections in random directions. The disruption of flow and random spray or displacement of water prevents erosion of the surrounding ground material.

As shown in FIG. 4, the projections or diffusing elements 232 are located generally at and forward of a mid-region 246 of the trough 212. During a heavy down pour, the rain water runs toward the diffusing elements 232, and where upon contact, crashes against the sidewalls 242 of the diffusing elements 232 and splashes off in random directions. The location of the diffusing arrangement 230 at and forward of the mid-region 246 of the trough 212 assists in reducing water spray from being directed back onto the house or building foundation.

In alternative embodiments, the diffusing elements or projections can be arranged in a different pattern relative to one another, and/or have a different appearance or aesthetic feel. For example, referring to FIG. 5, yet another embodiment of a splash block 310 is illustrated. The splash block 310 includes a diffuser arrangement 330 and is generally similar in construction to the splash block 210 of FIG. 4; except for the arrangement and shape of diffusing elements 332 of the diffuser arrangement 330. In particular, the diffusing elements or projections 332 of the embodiment of FIG. 5 have contoured shapes. The contoured shapes of the diffusing elements 332 are rough and irregular such that the arrangement provides a more natural slate or rock-like look. In addition, the sloped bottom surface 326 of the trough 312 includes ledge-like contours 340 that also enhance the natural slate or rock-like look.

In use, the splash block is positioned underneath the downspout of a gutter system of a house or building to control the flow of rainwater from the downspout. When a high flow of rainwater is dispensed from the downspout, the projections or diffusing element 232, 332 of the splash block divert and displace the rainwater in a random pattern. Displacing or dispensing the rainwater in a random pattern reduces the concentration of flow in one particular region and prevents erosion or washout.

The above specification provides a complete description of the present invention. Since many embodiments of the invention can be made without departing from the spirit and scope of the invention, certain aspects of the invention reside in the claims hereinafter appended.