Title:
RETROFITTABLE DEVICE FOR PROVIDING MULTIPLE SHOWER HEADS
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
The present invention includes a retrofittable apparatus adapted for retrofit installation in an existing shower arrangement having walls, a single shower head, and plumbing providing water to the single shower head. The apparatus includes wall mounts for mounting to opposing walls, and a tube defining an inner passageway for communicating water. The tube includes ends that telescopingly slidably engage the wall mounts for adjustably supporting the tube. The tube ends each include a laterally-extending pipe nipple, one connected to a water source, and the other connected to a second shower head. The mounts include a notch receiving the nipples, thus creating an adjustable but aesthetic arrangement. The apparatus provide flexibility in installation, such that it can be installed along a side wall of the shower as a grab handle, or along a raised position, such as over an open side or along a ceiling of the shower.



Inventors:
Tracey, Michael (Hudsonville, MI, US)
Application Number:
11/872349
Publication Date:
04/16/2009
Filing Date:
10/15/2007
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
4/596, 29/428
International Classes:
A47K3/28
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
HWU, DAVIS D
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
PRICE HENEVELD LLP (GRAND RAPIDS, MI, US)
Claims:
The invention claimed is:

1. A retrofittable apparatus for installation in a shower arrangement having walls, a single shower head, and plumbing providing a water source to the single shower head, comprising: wall mounts adapted for mounting to an opposing pair of the walls; and a tube defining an inner passageway for communicating water, the tube including ends that telescopingly slidably engage the wall mounts for adjustably mounting the tube to the opposing walls; the ends each including a laterally-extending secondary passageway extending from the first passageway for communicating water to and from the inner passageway, and at least one of the ends including a retainer for securing the tube to the wall mounts, the mounts being shaped and configured to accommodate the secondary passages for lateral water flow into and out of the inner passageway of the tube.

2. The apparatus defined in claim 1, wherein the ends include a downstream end and an upstream end, and including at least one second shower head operably connected to the secondary passageway at the downstream end of the tube.

3. The apparatus defined in claim 2, including a flexible line connecting the secondary shower head to the downstream end.

4. The apparatus defined in claim 3, including a nipple connector engaging the secondary passageway in each of the tube ends, the nipple connectors each being tubular and defining one of the secondary passageways.

5. The apparatus defined in claim 4, including a supply line adapted for connection to the water source.

6. The apparatus defined in claim 1, wherein the mounts each include a notch that aligns with one of the secondary passageways.

7. The apparatus defined in claim 6, wherein the mounts each include a nipple connector that engages the tube ends and that defines one of the secondary passageways.

8. The apparatus defined in claim 7, wherein the nipple connectors each extend through the notch in the respective wall mounts.

9. The apparatus defined in claim 1, wherein the wall mounts each have a planar mounting flange for engaging a respective one of the walls and further having a tube section extending from the flange for telescopingly adjustably receiving an associated end of the tube.

10. The apparatus defined in claim 9, wherein at least one of the tube sections of the wall mounts define a socket with a cavity defining a total adjustment distance of at least 3 inches long, such that a length of the tube can vary up to 3 inches while still allowing the tube to be structurally mounted to the walls by the wall mounts.

11. The apparatus defined in claim 1, including a diverter adapted for connection to the plumbing for providing water, and including a water supply line connecting the diverter to the secondary passageway on an upstream end of the tube.

12. The apparatus defined in claim 1, wherein the retainer comprises a set screw.

13. A retrofittable apparatus for installation in a shower arrangement having walls, a single shower head, a beam-like rail extending above an open side defined by the walls, a movable cover supported by the rail for covering the open side to prevent water leakage when taking a shower, and plumbing providing water to the single shower head, comprising: wall mounts adapted for mounting to the rail; and a tube defining an inner passageway for communicating water and including ends that engage the wall mounts for adjustably mounting the tube to the rail; the ends each including a laterally-extending secondary passageway extending from the first passageway for communicating water to and from the inner passageway, and at least one of the ends including a retainer for securing the tube to the wall mounts.

14. The apparatus defined in claim 13, including a diverter adapted for connection to the plumbing for providing water, and including a water supply line connecting the diverter to the secondary passageway on an upstream end of the tube.

15. The apparatus defined in claim 13, wherein the retainer comprises a set screw.

16. The apparatus defined in claim 13, wherein the mounts each include a notch, and including nipple connectors extending through the notches and into the ends of the tube, the nipple connectors defining the secondary passageways.

17. A method of installing multiple shower heads in a shower stall having walls, a single shower head, and a water supply connected to the single shower head, comprising the steps of: providing a pair of wall mounts and a tube; fitting the wall mounts slidably onto ends of the tube; attaching the wall mounts to opposing ones of the walls; attaching a water supply line to a first end of the tube and connecting the water supply line to a selected one of the water supply and the single shower head; attaching a water dispensing line to a second end of the tube; and connecting a second shower head to a free end of the water dispensing line.

18. The method defined in claim 17, wherein the step of attaching the water supply line to the tube includes installing a diverter in the water supply and connecting a line from the diverter to the first end of the tube.

19. The method defined in claim 17, wherein the mounts each include a notch, and including nipple connectors that engage the ends of the tube, the nipple connectors extending through the associated one of the notches.

Description:

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

The present invention relates to shower/bathtub arrangements with multiple water outlets/shower heads, and more particularly relates to a retrofittable device for providing one or more remote shower heads.

Many home owners want multiple shower heads in a shower stall or shower bathtub arrangement as a personal preference. Also, handicapped individuals may use such arrangements to facilitate showering and/or cleaning themselves, such as by positioning the remote shower head near a seat in the shower arrangement. Also, an assistant may use the same to help the handicapped individual. However, most homes are built with only a single shower head. Unfortunately, it can be very expensive to convert an existing single-head shower arrangement into a multi-shower-head arrangement because multiple walls around the shower stall have to be torn apart and permanent plumbing embedded therein. Further, many homeowners do not have the skill necessary to cut and install plumbing in a leak-free manner.

One alternative is to position plumbing on inside walls of a shower stall. However, as noted above, many homeowners do not have the skill level necessary to take individual plumbing components and install them in a leak-tight plumbed arrangement. Further, attachment to a shower wall can lead to water leaks in and around the walls, creating future problems for the homeowner. Still further, an arrangement is desired that is easy to construct, and that is visually and functionally acceptable as a final arrangement. In particular, it is important to many homeowners that the shower arrangement not look like an afterthought nor look like an “ugly” add-on.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

The present invention includes a retrofittable apparatus for installation in a shower arrangement having walls, a single shower head, and plumbing providing a water source to the single shower head. The apparatus includes wall mounts adapted for mounting to an opposing pair of the walls, and a tube defining an inner passageway for communicating water, the tube including ends that telescopingly slidably engage the wall mounts for adjustably mounting the tube to the opposing walls. The ends each include a laterally-extending secondary passageway extending from the first passageway for communicating water to and from the inner passageway, and at least one of the ends includes a retainer for securing the tube to the wall mounts.

In a narrower form, the ends each include a nipple defining the secondary passageway, one nipple being adapted for connection to a source of water and the other nipple being connected to a second shower head, with the nipples extending through a notch in a tubular portion of the mounts.

In another aspect of the present invention, a retrofittable apparatus is provided for installation in a shower arrangement having walls, a single shower head, a beam-like rail extending above an open side defined by the walls, a movable cover supported by the rail for covering the open side to prevent water leakage when taking a shower, and plumbing providing water to the single shower head. The apparatus includes wall mounts adapted for mounting to the rail, and a tube defining an inner passageway for communicating water and having ends that engage the wall mounts for adjustably mounting the tube to the rail. The ends each include a laterally-extending secondary passageway extending from the first passageway for communicating water to and from the inner passageway, and at least one of the ends includes a retainer for securing the tube to the wall mounts.

In another aspect of the present invention, a method of installing multiple shower heads in a shower stall having walls, a single shower head, and a water supply connected to the single shower head, comprises the steps of providing a pair of wall mounts and a tube; fitting wall mounts slidably onto ends of a tube; attaching the wall mounts to opposing ones of the walls; attaching a water supply line to a first end of the tube and connecting the water supply line to a selected one of the water supply and the single shower head; attaching a water dispensing line to a second end of the tube; and connecting a second shower head to a free end of the water dispensing line.

An object of the present invention is to provide an apparatus and method that facilitates, either as a retrofit or as a new installation, installation of multiple shower heads in a shower stall having only a single shower head. The method also includes attaching a tube to opposing walls for communicating water from the single shower head to at least one additional shower head on an opposite wall.

These and other features, advantages, and objects of the present invention will be further understood and appreciated by those skilled in the art by reference to the following specification, claims, and appended drawings.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

FIG. 1 is a perspective view of a shower stall including embodiments of the present inventive device;

FIG. 2 is a side view of a curtain hanger embodying the present invention;

FIG. 3 is a fragmentary end view similar to FIG. 2 but showing an extended position;

FIGS. 4-5 are side and end views of the wall mount for the curtain rod;

FIG. 6 is a cross-sectional view of an alternative waterline attached to a track for a shower door.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF PREFERRED EMBODIMENT

For purposes of description herein, the terms “upper,” “lower,” “right,” “left,” “rear,” “front,” “vertical,” “horizontal,” and derivatives thereof shall relate to the invention as oriented in FIG. 1. However, it is to be understood that the invention may assume various alternative orientations and step sequences, except where expressly specified to the contrary. It is also to be understood that the specific devices and processes illustrated in the attached drawings and described in the following specification are simply exemplary embodiments of the inventive concepts defined in the appended claims. Hence, specific dimensions and other physical characteristics relating to the embodiments disclosed herein are not to be considered as limiting, unless the claims expressly state otherwise.

An exemplary shower stall 20 includes three walls 21-23 and an open side covered by a curtain 24 (or shower door). The shower head 25 is located on a wall 21, with its plumbing for water supply being located within the wall 21, and with controls on an inner surface of the wall 21 or on the shower head 25.

The present apparatus 30 includes a tube 31 (such as a chromed or painted pipe) supported at its ends by mounts 40. The tube 31 is structural, and can also act as grab handle, a towel bar, an accessory mount such as for adjustably positioned soap dishes, etc. The tube 31 includes an internal passageway and has laterally-extending passages at each end for communicating water into and through the tube 31, as illustrated, a pipe nipple connector is extended into lateral holes in ends of the tube 31. The pipe nipple connector at the supply end is connected to a line 32 (flexible or rigid) which is in turn connected to the shower head 25 for supplying water to the tube 31. A second flexible line 34 is connected to the pipe nipple connector at an opposite end of the tube 31 and the line 34 is further connected at its free end to one (or more) hand-held shower head (also called a “sprayer 33”).

In a retrofit situation, it is contemplated that the shower head 25 can be removed (i.e., unscrewed), and a diverter 35 threaded inbetween the shower head 25 and the water-supply plumbing. Diverters are well known in the art, and a detailed description of them is not required for a person of ordinary skill in this art. They basically comprise a valve with deflector for selectively directing water flow in different directions. The illustrated diverter 35 has a manually-adjustable control switch that allows a user to selectively direct water to the shower head 25 and/or to the line 32 through the tube 31 to line 34 and sprayer 33. A handicap seat 36 can be located near the sprayer 33 to facilitate use of the shower by handicapped persons. Alternatively, water can be simultaneously directed to both the shower head 25 and the sprayer 33 so that a user receives water from multiple directions.

It is noted that the tube 31 can be aesthetically linear or slightly curved, and can be painted, coated, chromed, or otherwise aesthetically treated. Notably, the tube 31 can be made structural for gripping by a showering person. Also, it is contemplated that soap dishes and/or utility shelving can be mounted to the tube 31 for additional functionality.

In an alternative design, a hollow rod/tube 31A is extended across the open side of the shower arrangement. The hollow rod 31A is not unlike the tube 31, and is similarly connected to a source of water and to a dispenser head. The illustrated sprayer 33A is a fixed-location shower head (much like shower head 25) (though it can be angularly adjustable if desired). The illustrated curtain 24 is supported on the hollow rod 31A. The remaining arrangement should be relatively clear and does not require explanation for a skilled artisan to understand.

The tube 31 is supported by end mounts 40 that are sufficiently deep to allow a 3 inch telescoping adjustment of the tube 31 into the mounts 40. By this arrangement, a tube 31 having a length of 4′7″ can be adjusted to extend between walls 21 and 23 that are 4″8″ apart or up to 5′0″ apart, with the difference in wall spacing being adjustably taken up by the adjustability provided by telescopingly adjusting the ends of the tube 31 in the tubular socket section 41 of the mounts 40. In the present illustration, the mounts 40 have a planar flange 42 (with wall-engaging gasket if desired) for engaging the wall 21 (or wall 23) in a leak free manner, and a tubular socket section 41 of slightly more than 4 to 5 inches for telescopingly receiving an end of the grab handle/tube 31. Notably, the socket can be made shorter or longer, and the flange can be made larger or smaller in diameter, depending on the functional requirements and aesthetic demands of a particular installation. There is a slot 44 in each socket 41 for receiving the nipple connectors. The slot 44 permits the telescoping adjustment, and further can help drain water from the mount 40. The grab handle/tube 31 includes a nipple pipe connector 43 at each end to facilitate connection of lines 32 and 34. The nipple pipe connector 43 slides along the slot 44 during the telescoping adjustment. This helps eliminate the need to accurately cut a length of the grab handle 31, and thus helps considerably with installation by a non-skilled installer. At the same time, it provides a visually attractive and functionally-strong arrangement. It is noted that the tube 31 can be installed at a slight angle to horizontal to facilitate draining after use, if desired, such as at a 1 to 3 degree angle.

Where there is a shower door or overhead track 50, an aesthetic tubular pipe/tube 31B (similar to the rod 31A or tube 31) is attached to the track 50 by brackets 51. The illustrated brackets 51 are L-shaped and attach the rod in a position where it is difficult to see the pipe 31B, and/or where the pipe is high enough to be less noticeable. It is contemplated that the pipe 31B can also be attached to opposing walls in an overhead position near a ceiling in the shower if desired (see FIG. 1), or attached directly to a ceiling in the shower arrangement (using mounts similar to the mounts shown in FIG. 6).

In the foregoing description, it will be readily appreciated by those skilled in the art that modifications may be made to the invention without departing from the concepts disclosed herein. Such modifications are to be considered as included in the following claims, unless these claims by their language expressly state otherwise.