Title:
Adjustable Footing Assembly For Pool Steps
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
An adjustable footing assembly comprising a footing member including a base element and a vertical element. The vertical element is connected to the base portion and the vertical element defines a bore therein. An elongate coupling member has a lower portion positionally adjustably situated within the bore of the vertical portion of said footing member and an upper portion structured and arranged for connection to an end of a stair support member. Rotation of the elongate coupling member results in movement of the elongate coupling member vertically along a vertical axis of the bore.



Inventors:
Lucas, Thomas Edward (Clifton Park, NY, US)
Wiley, William L. (Latham, NY, US)
Mosier, David Scott (Delanson, NY, US)
Application Number:
12/021033
Publication Date:
07/30/2009
Filing Date:
01/28/2008
Assignee:
Latham International (Latham, NY, US)
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
52/745.21
International Classes:
E04G25/00
View Patent Images:
Related US Applications:
20070056245SLOTTED METAL TRUSS AND JOIST WITH SUPPLEMENTAL FLANGESMarch, 2007Edmondson
20040148872Method of transforming a closed landfill or remedial site into a self-storage facilityAugust, 2004Dzierzbicki
20060143994Flexible flashings and associated method of manufactureJuly, 2006Allen
20020148172Separable wood shim assembly and method of making the sameOctober, 2002Deschenes
20080148677Reinforced Wood PanelJune, 2008Pu et al.
20040177569Assemblable bungalowSeptember, 2004Kim et al.
20060037269Stiffness reinforced floor panel for a raised floor systemFebruary, 2006Park et al.
20050257489Length adjustable composite stud and method of assembly thereofNovember, 2005Belanger
20050166521Lattice tower disguised as a monopoleAugust, 2005Silber
20030089055Vehicle window and method of producing the sameMay, 2003Kawase et al.
20090126315C-Shaped ProfileMay, 2009Knauf



Primary Examiner:
FERENCE, JAMES M
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
Kilpatrick Townsend & Stockton LLP - East Coast (ATLANTA, GA, US)
Claims:
We claim:

1. An adjustable footing assembly comprising: a footing member including a base element and a vertical element, said vertical element connected to said base element and said vertical element defining a bore therein; and an elongate coupling member having a lower portion positionally adjustably situated within the bore of said vertical element of said footing member and an upper portion structured and arranged for connection to an end of a stair support member.

2. The adjustable footing assembly of claim 1, wherein said bore is internally threaded and said lower portion of said elongate coupling member is externally threaded.

3. The adjustable footing assembly of claim 2, wherein rotation of said elongate coupling member results in movement of said externally threaded lower portion vertically along an axis of said internally threaded bore.

4. The adjustable footing assembly of claim 1, wherein said vertical element is substantially cylindrical in shape.

5. The adjustable footing assembly of claim 1, further comprising a plurality of obliquely extending webs spaced from each other connecting said base element to said vertical element.

6. The adjustable footing assembly of claim 1, wherein said base element is round, octagonal, square-shaped, or rhomboid-shaped.

7. The adjustable footing assembly of claim 6, wherein said base element is rhomboid-shaped.

8. The adjustable footing assembly of claim 7, wherein said base element has substantially rounded corners.

9. The adjustable footing assembly of claim 1, wherein said base element further comprises apertures structured and arranged to receive reinforcing rods.

10. The adjustable footing assembly of claim 9, wherein said apertures are located at the opposite ends of said base element.

11. The adjustable footing assembly of claim 1, wherein a lower end of said vertical element is spaced from an upper surface of the base element.

12. The adjustable footing assembly of claim 1, wherein said elongate coupling member further comprises a shelf located at the junction of said lower portion and said upper portion.

13. The adjustable footing assembly of claim 12, wherein said shelf comprises and upper surface and a lower surface.

14. The adjustable footing assembly of claim 13, wherein at a lowest height of the adjustable footing assembly, the bottom surface of the shelf segment abuts an upper end of said vertical portion of said footing member.

15. The adjustable footing assembly of claim 12, wherein said shelf comprises a pair of handle portions.

16. The adjustable footing assembly of claim 15, wherein rotation of said handle portions results in movement of said elongate coupling member vertically along an axis of said bore.

17. The adjustable footing assembly of claim 1, wherein said upper portion of said elongate coupling member has an x-shaped cross section.

18. The adjustable footing assembly of claim 1, wherein said upper portion of said elongate coupling member further comprises a pair of upwardly extending fingers structured and arranged to be inserted into an open end of a stair support member.

19. The adjustable footing assembly of claim 18, wherein said fingers are structured and arranged to be urged towards each other.

20. The adjustable footing assembly of claim 19, wherein said fingers are structured and arranged to spring biased against an interior surface of the stair support member.

21. A method for supporting and leveling pre-fabricated pool steps comprising: attaching a footing member of an adjustable footing assembly to a substrate, said footing member comprising a base element connected to a vertical element, said vertical element defining a bore therein; connecting an end of a stair support member to an upper portion of an elongate coupling member, said elongate coupling member having a lower portion structured and arranged to be received by the bore of the vertical portion of the footing member; situating said lower portion of said elongate coupling member within said bore; and adjusting the elongate coupling member to alter the vertical position of said elongate coupling member to achieve a desired height.

22. The method of claim 21, wherein the substrate is an uneven ground surface.

23. The method of claim 21, wherein adjusting the elongate coupling member comprises rotating the elongate coupling member.

24. The method of claim 21, the adjustable footing assembly is secured to the substrate by pouring concrete around the base of said footing assembly.

25. The method of claim 24, wherein the substrate is a bottom surface of a pool stair.

26. The method of claim 21, further comprising securing said base member to the substrate using reinforcing rods.

27. The method of claim 21, wherein said desired height is the height necessary for the stair support member to firmly abut the bottom of a step surface.

Description:

FIELD OF THE INVENTION

The present invention relates generally to a footing assembly for use with pool steps. More particularly, the present invention relates to an adjustable footing assembly used for installation and stabilization of supporting members for pool steps for use with in-ground swimming pools.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

Installation of pre-fabricated steps or stairs in in-ground pools is a time-consuming and expensive practice. Pool stairs require reinforcement to eliminate bending and flexing. Pool steps are prone to deforming underneath the weight of a person stepping on the step. Providing support for pool steps is necessary for both the comfort and safety of potential swimmers. However, installation of support members can be problematic. During installation, stair supports may not provide suitable support or may shift due to uneven ground levels beneath the steps.

A common method of installing pre-fabricated pool stairs, as disclosed in U.S. Pat. No. 3,848,378, includes constructing and installing supplementary support consisting of piers formed from concrete or brick stacks which rest on concrete footings. The piers extend from the ground to the underside of one or more of the steps of the stairs to provide support for the steps. This system requires construction of a concrete footing that is level and resistant to misalignment.

Another method of installing pre-fabricated stairs includes installing columns or poles which abut the underside of pool steps. The columns are attached to the ground by concrete blocks or footings. These concrete blocks and footings are prone to settling improperly and are further prone to misalignment. In order to ensure that the pole is secured correctly to the bottom of the step and that the pole provides adequate support for the step, additional stiffeners may have to be used.

U.S. Pat. No. 4,589,237 and U.S. Pat. No. 6,655,098 disclose a stair support system wherein support posts are attached to the underside of pre-fabricated stairs and footings are provided at the bottom of the support posts for connection to the ground. Prior to installation of the stairs, the supports posts are deployed along with the footings and the pre-fabricated stairs are lowered into the area where they will be installed. The support posts of this system come in a standard size so further leveling is needed to ensure that the steps provide adequate support.

The above described methods each suffer from certain drawbacks when installing pre-fabricated pool steps using support posts which rest on an uneven or non-level ground surface. For example, construction of a concrete footing may not adequately compensate for an uneven surface and further alteration is typically needed to attain optimal leveling. Systems that require the posts to be manufactured to a specific height, for pre-attachment to the underside of steps prior to installation, also suffer from problems during installation. The fixed length of the posts requires that further work, such as shimming or augmentation of the footings, be conducted if the pre-fabricated pool stairs are installed over uneven or non-level ground surfaces. In such cases, the posts may shift or provide insufficient support for the pool steps without further augmentation.

Therefore, it is an object of the present invention to provide new and improved methods and apparatus for use in the installation of pool steps.

Another object of the present invention is to provide new and improved footing assemblies for support posts for prefabricated pool steps.

Still another object of the present invention is to provide new and improved footing assemblies for pool step supports which are adjustable to accommodate for unevenness of the ground surface on which the step support posts rest.

A further object of the present invention is to provide new and improved adjustable height footing assemblies for support posts for swimming pool steps.

It is a still further object of the present invention to provide new and improved methods of installing support members for pool steps, wherein installation does not require excessive alteration of the length and size of the support members.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

In accordance with the present invention, these and other objects are attained by providing an adjustable footing assembly comprising a footing member including a base element and a vertical element connected to said base element, the vertical element defining a bore therein, and an elongate coupling member having a lower portion positionally adjustably situated within the bore of said vertical element of said footing member and an upper portion structured and arranged for connection to an end of a stair support member.

The height of the adjustable footing assembly of the invention may be adjusted by adjusting the position of the elongate coupling member within the bore of the footing member. Such adjustment may be accomplished by providing cooperating threads on the interior of the bore and exterior of the lower portion of the coupling member, and suitably rotating the coupling member within the bore of the footing member. Rotation of the elongate coupling member in a selected direction raises or lowers a support member attached to the upper portion of said elongate coupling member in order to compensate for uneven ground surfaces and/or to accomplish precise engagement of the underside of the step with the top of the support member.

The upper portion of the elongate coupling member may further comprise a plurality of upwardly extending resilient fingers structured and arranged to be received in an open end of a step support member and to engage the inner surface of the support member.

The adjustable footing assembly of the present invention enables pre-fabricated pool steps to be evenly supported without further modifications, such as shimming, to compensate for an uneven level of the ground on which the pool support members rest.

According to the method of the invention, an end of a support member is attached to an upper portion of an elongate coupling member. A lower portion of the elongate coupling member is situated within a bore of a footing member. The height of the stair support member coupled to the adjustable footing assembly can be varied by adjusting the position of the elongate coupling member in the bore. To secure the adjustable footing assembly to the ground, the base of the footing member is staked to the ground and concrete poured around the adjustable footing assembly and allowed to harden, thereby securing the support member in place.

These and other features and advantages of this invention are described in or are apparent from the following detailed description of exemplary embodiments.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

A more complete appreciation of the present invention and many of the attendant advantages thereof will be readily understood by reference to the following detailed description of a preferred embodiment when taken in conjunction with the accompanying drawings, in which:

FIG. 1 is a front elevation view of an adjustable footing assembly in accordance with an embodiment of the present invention;

FIG. 2 is a cross-sectional view of the adjustable footing assembly shown in FIG. 1;

FIG. 3 is a top view of the adjustable footing assembly shown in FIG. 1;

FIG. 4 is a front elevation view of a base portion of the adjustable footing disengaged from an elongate support member; and

FIG. 5 is a side view of the adjustable footing as shown in FIG. 1.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION

Referring now to the drawings, in which like reference characters designate identical or corresponding parts throughout the several views, an adjustable footing assembly, generally designated 20, constructed in accordance with the present invention, is shown. Referring to the figures, an adjustable footing assembly 20 comprises a footing member 22 and an elongate coupling member 24. Footing member 22 is constructed of a metallic material such as steel or aluminum although other materials may be employed. The footing member 22 comprises a base element 26 disposed in a substantially horizontal plane, having an upper surface 27 and a lower surface (not shown) connected to a vertical element 28, having an upper end 29 and a lower end 31, the vertical element defining a cylindrical bore 30 therein. Lower end 31 of vertical element 28 and upper surface 27 of base element 26 are spaced from each other. As will be seen, this spacing allows for further downward vertical displacement of a lower portion 34 of an elongate coupling member 24 to a position below lower end 31 of vertical element 28. As seen in FIG. 3, the perimeter of the base element 26 is spaced outwardly from the profile of the vertical element 28 to provide stabilization when the adjustable footing assembly 20 rests on an uneven ground surface. Referring to FIG. 4, the vertical element 28 is substantially cylindrical in shape and defines a cylindrical bore 30 therein. Base element 26 is connected to vertical element 28 by a plurality of obliquely extending webs 32, which are spaced from each other around the circumference of vertical element 28.

Referring to FIGS. 1 and 2, elongate coupling member 24, preferably formed of a metallic material such as steel or aluminum, although other material may be employed, comprises a lower portion 34 adjustably positioned within the bore 30 of vertical portion 28 of footing member 22 and an upper portion 36 structured and arranged for connection to an end of a stair support member. As best seen in FIG. 3, upper portion 36 of coupling member 24 has an x-shaped cross section which is structured and arranged for insertion into an end of a stair support member. A “support member,” as used herein, can include a post, column, vertical channel, vertical member or other support. Support members may further include lengths of ABS or PVC plastic pipe. The support member may be precut prior to installation in accordance with customary lengths corresponding to the construction of pre-fabricated steps known in the field. Alternatively, the support member may be cut at an installation site and customized to a specific set of pool stairs.

Lower portion 34 of coupling member 24 has external spiral threads 44 formed therein while the surface of bore 30 of the vertical element 28 has matching threads 45 formed thereon. The lower portion 34 of coupling member 24 is threadedly engaged within bore 30 so that rotation of the coupling member 24 within bore 30 will cause the coupling member 24 to either protrude further from the bore 30 (i.e., be raised) or extend further into the bore 30 (i.e., be lowered).

The elongate coupling member 24 further comprises a shelf 38 at the junction of lower portion 34 and upper portion 36. The shelf 38 has an upper surface 40 and a lower surface 42. Shelf 38 has a x-shaped cross-section which extends beyond the cross-sections of upper portion 36 and lower portion 38 defining two pairs of handle portions 68. During installation, the elongate coupling member 24 is rotated to adjust the height of the support member by grasping and rotating the handle portions 68.

During installation of pre-fabricated pool stairs, the support member may need to be either raised or lowered to optimize stability of the steps where the footing members for the same step are situated on an uneven ground surface. The adjustable footing assembly 20 allows for such an adjustment without requiring further measuring and cutting of the support member or necessitating the use of shims and stiffeners to compensate for the uneven ground surface. Rotation of elongate coupling member 24 in one direction lowers elongate coupling member 24 into footing member 22, thus reducing the height of adjustable footing assembly 20 and lowering the height of the support member coupled to the adjustable footing assembly 20. At the lowest height of adjustable footing assembly 20, the lower surface 42 of shelf 38 abuts the top surface 29 of vertical element 28.

Referring now to FIG. 3, base element 26 of footing member 22 may be round, octagonal, square-shaped, rhomboid-shaped, or any other shape. Preferably, base element 26 of footing member 22 is rhomboid-shaped with two opposing pairs of substantially parallel sides 46, 50 and 48, 52. The rhomboid shape provides additional stability on uneven surfaces. Apertures 62 and 64 are formed through the base element 26 near corners 54 and 58 of base element 26. Apertures 62 and 64 are structured and arranged to receive reinforcing bars (“rebars”), for staking adjustable footing assembly 20 into position before concrete is poured. Rebars are further used to insure that adjustable footing assembly 20 does not move even if the concrete that surrounds adjustable footing assembly 20 cracks.

Referring to FIG. 5, upper portion 36 of elongate coupling member 24 comprises a pair of upwardly extending fingers 66 spaced from each other. A planar member 67 is situated between the fingers 66. The fingers 66 are structured and arranged to be inserted into an open end of a stair support member. Fingers 66 are flexible and resilient and can be urged towards each other prior to insertion into an open end of a stair support member to accommodate a support member of a particular diameter. When unengaged, the width of upper portion 36 and distance between fingers 66 is equal to or slightly greater than the width of the inside diameter of the support member. Upon insertion, fingers 66 are flexed inwardly and consequently spring biased against the inner surface of the stair support member.

In a typical installation of the adjustable footing assembly 20 of the present invention, a pre-fabricated stair unit is brought to a work site and is measured and positioned. Adjustable footing assembly 20 is positioned beneath the bottom surface of a stair and is placed on the ground. A support member is connected to adjustable footing assembly and secured into place. The adjustable footing assembly is adjusted to situate the top end of support member in the preferred position, which is typically a position wherein the end of the support member securely abuts the bottom surface of the step. The support member can be secured to the bottom of the step using a stiffener or a second adjustable foot assembly. Additional locking mechanisms can be used to secure the support member to the bottom surface of a step or an attachment coupled to the bottom surface of a step. Adjustable footing assembly 20 may be secured to the underside of a pool step and may be attached to either or both ends of a supporting member. Subsequent to attachment of the support member to the bottom surface of the step, adjustable foot assembly 20 is staked to the ground using reinforcing bars to secure and hold the footing assembly in place. Concrete is then poured over adjustable foot assembly 20 to secure it into position. The spaces between the webs 32 allow the concrete material to enter within the footing member 22 to provide enhanced stabilization of the footing assembly 20. A plurality of adjustable footing assemblies and corresponding support members may be installed along the underside of a pre-fabricated stair module.

Unless defined otherwise, all technical and scientific terms used herein have the same meaning as commonly understood by one of ordinary skill in the art to which this invention pertains. Although any methods and materials similar or equivalent to those described herein can also be used in the practice or testing of the present invention, the preferred methods and materials are now described.

The invention has been described with reference to an embodiment that illustrates the principles of the invention and is not meant to limit the scope of the invention. Modifications and alterations may occur to others upon reading and understanding the preceding detailed description. It is intended that the scope of the invention be construed as including all modifications and alterations that may occur to others upon reading and understanding the preceding detailed description insofar as they come within the scope of the following claims or equivalents thereof. Various changes may be made without departing from the spirit and scope of the invention.