Title:
FIREPLACE FLUE SEALING DEVICE
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
The invention relates to a fireplace flue sealing device comprising a plate, a shaft mounted onto the plate, a tubular base for releasably receiving the shaft, and a locking mechanism having a locking position and a releasing position. The locking mechanism is positioned in relation to the tubular base and engaged with the shaft such that when the locking mechanism is in the locking position, no motion of the shaft relative to the tubular base is allowed, and when the locking mechanism is in the releasing position, the shaft is movable back and forth relative to the tubular base.



Inventors:
Williams, Michael A. (Douglasville, GA, US)
Application Number:
12/396951
Publication Date:
09/10/2009
Filing Date:
03/03/2009
Primary Class:
International Classes:
F23J13/08
View Patent Images:
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20100043775ARTIFICIAL LOG SET ASSEMBLYFebruary, 2010Phillips et al.
20090122563ADJUSTABLE GRILL LIGHT AND METHODS OF USE THEREOFMay, 2009Ko et al.
20090084376Barbecue cooking apparatus with base having folding shelvesApril, 2009Johnson et al.
20010023694Fireplace with warming shelfSeptember, 2001Gamache



Primary Examiner:
SAVANI, AVINASH A
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
MORRIS, MANNING & MARTIN, LLP (ATLANTA, GA, US)
Claims:
What is claimed is:

1. A fireplace flue sealing device, comprising: (a) a plate having a first surface and an opposite, second surface; (b) a gasket attached to the first surface of the plate; (c) a shaft having a first end and an opposite, second end defining a shaft body portion therebetween, the first end of the shaft being mounted onto the plate such that the shaft body portion of the shaft extends outwards from the second surface of the plate; (d) a tubular base having a first end and an opposite, second end defining a base body portion therebetween, the tubular base being adapted for releasably receiving the shaft body portion of the shaft from the first end of the tubular base; and (e) a locking mechanism having a locking position and a releasing position, the locking mechanism being positioned in relation to the tubular base and engaged with the shaft body portion of the shaft such that when the locking mechanism is in the locking position, no motion of the shaft body portion of the shaft relative to the tubular base is allowed, and when the locking mechanism is in the releasing position, the shaft body portion of the shaft is movable back and forth relative to the tubular base.

2. The fireplace flue sealing device of claim 1, further comprising a cup attached to the first end of the tubular base, the cup defining a bore adapted for releasably receiving the shaft body portion of the shaft.

3. The fireplace flue sealing device of claim 2, wherein the tubular base has a first window having a bottom edge and a second window having a bottom edge formed oppositely on the tubular body portion of the tubular base, the bottom edge of the first window and the first end defining a first distance, H1, therebetween, and the bottom edge of the second window and the first end defining a second distance, H2, therebetween.

4. The fireplace flue sealing device of claim 3, wherein H2>H1.

5. The fireplace flue sealing device of claim 3, wherein the locking mechanism comprises: (a) a locking member placed across the first window and a second window of the tubular base, the locking member defining a bore adapted for releasably receiving the shaft body portion of the shaft; and (b) a resilient spring having a first end and an opposite, second end, configured to be positioned inside the tubular base such that the first end and the second end are in contact with the cup and the locking member, respectively, wherein when the resilient spring is in its extended position, the locking mechanism is in the locking position, and when the resilient spring is in its retracted position, the locking mechanism is in the releasing position.

6. The fireplace flue sealing device of claim 5, wherein in assembly, the second end of the shaft passes, in turn, through the bore of the cup, the resilient spring of the locking mechanism, and the bore of the locking member of the locking mechanism such that the shaft body portion of the shaft is releasably received in the tubular body portion of the tubular base.

7. The fireplace flue sealing device of claim 6, wherein the locking mechanism is normally in the locking position.

8. The fireplace flue sealing device of claim 7, wherein in operation, (a) a force is applied to the locking member of the locking mechanism to cause the resilient spring of the locking mechanism to move from its extended position to its retracted position so that the locking mechanism is in the releasing position; (b) the plate is moved to a desired position by moving the shaft; and (c) the applied force is released from the locking member of the locking mechanism, thereby causing the resilient spring of the locking mechanism to move from its retracted position to its extended position so that the locking mechanism is in the locking position.

9. The fireplace flue sealing device of claim 1, wherein the plate, the shaft, the tubular base and the locking mechanism are made of rigid materials.

10. The fireplace flue sealing device of claim 9, wherein the plate, the shaft, the tubular base and the locking mechanism are made of metals, plastic, wood and/or fiberglass.

Description:

CROSS-REFERENCE TO RELATED PATENT APPLICATION

This application claims priority to and the benefit of, pursuant to 35 U.S.C. §119(e), U.S. provisional patent application Ser. No. 61/068,609, filed Mar. 7, 2008, entitled “Wood Burning Fireplace Energy Loss Preventer,” by Michael A. Williams, the content of which is incorporated herein in its entirety by reference.

Some references, which may include patents, patent applications and various publications, are cited and discussed in the description of this invention. The citation and/or discussion of such references is provided merely to clarify the description of the present invention and is not an admission that any such reference is “prior art” to the invention described herein. All references cited and discussed in this specification are incorporated herein by reference in their entireties and to the same extent as if each reference were individually incorporated by reference.

FIELD OF THE INVENTION

The present invention generally relates to a fireplace, and more particularly, to a flue sealing device to provide sealing at the bottom of a fireplace flue so as to prevent the loss of conditioned air through an unused fireplace and save energy costs.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

Fireplaces are of popular devices for heating in residential and commercial buildings. A fireplace usually has a fireplace opening connected to a chimney flue that is open to the outside of the building. When in use, the waste gas generated from the fireplace passes up through the flue and exits the chimney in a conventional fashion.

When the fireplace is not in use, however, the fireplace opening and chimney flue form a passage through which heated air or cooled air can escape from the interior of the building. Although most fireplaces contain fireplace dampers at the bottom of the flue or immediately above the fireplace opening, these fireplace dampers do not make a perfect seal for the chimney flue, and allow significant loss of heated air during winter and cooled air in summer through the chimney flue.

Numerous innovations for flue seals have been provided for a better seal and thus reduce the amount of heat lost through the chimney flue. For example, U.S. Pat. No. 4,964,438 to Welty discloses a foam air duct plug provided for insertion up into an open end of a fireplace flue during periods of nonuse to prevent or limit the escape of cooled or heated air through the flue in a dwelling, public building or structure thereof. The plug further provides a depending base for ease of removal from the flue when it is determined that the flue should be used.

U.S. Pat. No. 4,762,115 to Penner discloses a device for plugging a chimney flue when not in use. The device comprises an elongate semi-rigid wand which can be maneuvered by manual movement of one end so that the opposed end can be inserted into the chimney flue. The opposed end carries an inflatable balloon which can be inflated to grasp the inner surface of the flue by valve arrangement at the lower end.

However, these fireplace plugs are structurally complicate and very expensive. Another disadvantage of these fireplace plugs is the lack of convenience associated with these plugs during installation.

Therefore, a heretofore unaddressed need still exists in the art to address the aforementioned deficiencies and inadequacies.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

In one aspect, the present invention relates to a fireplace flue sealing device. In one embodiment, the fireplace flue sealing device includes a plate having a first surface and an opposite, second surface, a gasket attached to the first surface of the plate, a shaft having a first end and an opposite, second end defining a shaft body portion therebetween, the first end of the shaft being mounted onto the plate such that the shaft body portion of the shaft extends outwards from the second surface of the plate, and a tubular base having a first end and an opposite, second end defining a base body portion therebetween, the tubular base being adapted for releasably receiving the shaft body portion of the shaft from the first end of the tubular base.

The fireplace flue sealing device also includes a locking mechanism having a locking position and a releasing position, the locking mechanism being positioned in relation to the tubular base and engaged with the shaft body portion of the shaft such that when the locking mechanism is in the locking position, no motion of the shaft body portion of the shaft relative to the tubular base is allowed, and when the locking mechanism is in the releasing position, the shaft body portion of the shaft is movable back and forth relative to the tubular base.

In one embodiment, the fireplace flue sealing device further includes a cup attached to the first end of the tubular base, the cup defining a bore 162 adapted for releasably receiving the shaft body portion of the shaft.

In one embodiment, the tubular base has a first window 141 having a bottom edge 143 and a second window 145 having a bottom edge 147 formed oppositely on the tubular body portion of the tubular base, the bottom edge 143 of the first window 141 and the first end defining a first distance, H1, therebetween, and the bottom edge 145 of the second window 145 and the first end defining a second distance, H2, therebetween, where H2>H1.

The locking mechanism in one embodiment comprises a locking member placed across the first window 141 and a second window 145 of the tubular base, the locking member defining a bore adapted for releasably receiving the shaft body portion of the shaft; and a resilient spring having a first end and an opposite, second end, configured to be positioned inside the tubular base such that the first end and the second end are in contact with the cup and the locking member, respectively. When the resilient spring is in its extended position, the locking mechanism is in the locking position. When the resilient spring is in its retracted position, the locking mechanism is in the releasing position.

In assembly, the second end of the shaft passes, in turn, through the bore 162 of the cup, the resilient spring of the locking mechanism, and the bore of the locking member of the locking mechanism such that the shaft body portion of the shaft is releasably received in the tubular body portion of the tubular base. As such, the locking mechanism is normally in the locking position.

In operation, (a) a force is applied to the locking member of the locking mechanism to cause the resilient spring of the locking mechanism to move from its extended position to its retracted position so that the locking mechanism is in the releasing position; (b)the plate is moved to a desired position by moving the shaft; and (c) the applied force is released from the locking member of the locking mechanism, thereby causing the resilient spring of the locking mechanism to move from its retracted position to its extended position so that the locking mechanism is in the locking position.

The plate, the shaft, the tubular base and the locking mechanism are made of rigid materials. In one embodiment, the plate, the shaft, the tubular base and the locking mechanism are made of metals, plastic, wood and/or fiberglass.

These and other aspects of the present invention will become apparent from the following description of the preferred embodiment taken in conjunction with the following drawings, although variations and modifications therein may be affected without departing from the spirit and scope of the novel concepts of the disclosure.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

The accompanying drawings illustrate one or more embodiments of the invention and, together with the written description, serve to explain the principles of the invention. Wherever possible, the same reference numbers are used throughout the drawings to refer to the same or like elements of an embodiment, and wherein:

FIG. 1 shows a perspective view of a fireplace flue sealing device according to one embodiment of the present invention;

FIG. 2 shows a cross-sectional view of the fireplace flue sealing device shown in FIG. 1;

FIG. 3 shows a partially cross-sectional view of the fireplace flue sealing device shown in FIG. 1; and

FIG. 4 shows another partially cross-sectional view of the fireplace flue sealing device shown in FIG. 1.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION

The present invention is more particularly described in the following examples that are intended as illustrative only since numerous modifications and variations therein will be apparent to those skilled in the art. Various embodiments of the invention are now described in detail. Referring to the drawings, like numbers indicate like parts throughout the views. As used in the description herein and throughout the claims that follow, the meaning of “a,” “an,” and “the” includes plural reference unless the context clearly dictates otherwise. Also, as used in the description herein and throughout the claims that follow, the meaning of “in” includes “in” and “on” unless the context clearly dictates otherwise. As used herein, “around”, “about” or “approximately” shall generally mean within 20 percent, preferably within 10 percent, and more preferably within 5 percent of a given value or range. Numerical quantities given herein are approximate, meaning that the term “around”, “about” or “approximately” can be inferred if not expressly stated.

The description will be made as to the embodiments of the present invention in conjunction with the accompanying drawings in FIGS. 1-4. In accordance with the purposes of this invention, as embodied and broadly described herein, this invention, in one aspect, relates to a fireplace flue sealing device. The fireplace flue sealing device is designed to augment the damper system. It includes a rigid plate with a gasket seal around its perimeter which is brought against the bottom of the fireplace flue to prevent the escape of heated air or cooled air in the interior of a building. The plate is held in place by an adjustable assembly to accommodate fireplaces of different size. The body of the assembly contains a smooth shaft and a locking mechanism that allows for adjustment of height. The device is placed inside the fireplace when no fire is burning and must be removed prior to starting a fire.

Referring to FIG. 1-4, the fireplace flue sealing device 100 includes a plate 110 having a first surface 112 and an opposite, second surface 114, and a gasket 120 attached to the first surface 112 of the plate 110, and a shaft 130 having a first end 132 and an opposite, second end 134 defining a shaft body portion 136 therebetween, the first end 132 of the shaft 130 being mounted onto the plate 110 such that the shaft body portion 136 of the shaft 130 extends outwards from the second surface 114 of the plate 110. In practice, the plate 110 can be in any geometric shapes and sizes that fit the bottom of a fireplace flue to be sealed. The gasket 120 is attached to the plate 110 by glue or the like. The first end 132 of the shaft 130 is mounted onto the plate 110 by any types of mounting means such as welding, glue, threading, or the like. The length of the shaft 130 defined between the first end 132 and the second end 134 is preferably less than a distance between the bottom of a fireplace flue to be sealed and the floor of the fireplace.

The fireplace flue sealing device 100 also includes a tubular base 140 having a first end 142 and an opposite, second end 144 defining a base body portion 146 therebetween. The tubular base 140 is adapted for releasably receiving the shaft body portion 136 of the shaft 130 from the first end 142 of the tubular base 140. As shown in FIGS. 3 and 4, he tubular base 140 has a first window 141 having a bottom edge 143 and a second window 145 having a bottom edge 147 formed oppositely on the tubular body portion 146 of the tubular base 140. The bottom edge 143 of the first window 141 and the first end 142 define a first distance, H1, therebetween. The bottom edge 145 of the second window 145 and the first end 142 define a second distance, H2, therebetween, where H2>H1. The length of the tubular base 140 defined between the first end 142 and the second end 144 is preferably less than a distance between the bottom of a fireplace flue to be sealed and the floor of the fireplace.

In one embodiment, the fireplace flue sealing device 100 further includes a cup 160 attached to the first end 142 of the tubular base 140, the cup 160 defining a bore 162 adapted for releasably receiving the shaft body portion 136 of the shaft 130.

Additionally, the fireplace flue sealing device 100 includes a locking mechanism 150 having a locking position, as shown in FIG. 3, and a releasing position, as shown in FIG. 4. The locking mechanism 150 is positioned in relation to the tubular base 140 and engaged with the shaft body portion 136 of the shaft 130 such that when the locking mechanism 150 is in the locking position, no motion of the shaft body portion 136 of the shaft 130 relative to the tubular base 140 is allowed, and when the locking mechanism 150 is in the releasing position, the shaft body portion 136 of the shaft 130 is movable back and forth relative to the tubular base 140.

The locking mechanism 150 in one embodiment comprises a locking member 151 placed across the first window 141 and a second window 145 of the tubular base 140, and a resilient spring 155 having a first end 156 and an opposite, second end 157 configured to be positioned inside the tubular base 140 such that the first end 156 and the second end 157 are in contact with the cup 160 and the locking member 152, respectively. The locking member 151 defines a bore 152 that is adapted for releasably receiving the shaft body portion 136 of the shaft 130.

In assembly, the second end 134 of the shaft 130 passes, in turn, through the bore 162 of the cup 160, the resilient spring 155 of the locking mechanism 150, and the bore 152 of the locking member 151 of the locking mechanism 150 such that the shaft body portion 136 of the shaft 130 is releasably received in the tubular body portion 146 of the tubular base 140.

As shown in FIG. 3, when the resilient spring 155 is in its extended position, the extension force of the resilient spring 155 pushes the locking member 151 against the bottom edges 143 and 147 of the first and second windows 141 and 145 of the tubular base 140 and causes it to be tilted because H2>H1, i.e., the bottom edges 143 and 147 of the first and second windows 141 and 145 of the tubular base 140 are not leveled. In the case, the shaft body 136 of the shaft 130 is in contact with the edge of the bore 152 of the locking member 151 and no motion of the shaft body portion 136 of the shaft 130 relative to the tubular base 140 is allowed. Accordingly, the locking mechanism 150 is in the locking position.

As shown in FIG. 4, the resilient spring 155 is in its retracted position, which can be achieved by applying a proper amount of a force 170 against the extension force of the resilient spring 155 to the locking member 151. In the case, the locking member 151 is leveled so that the shaft body 136 of the shaft 130 is not in contact with the edge of the bore 152 of the locking member 151 and the shaft body portion 136 of the shaft 130 is freely movable relative to the tubular base 140. Accordingly, the locking mechanism 150 is in the releasing position.

For such an arrangement of the present invention, the locking mechanism 150 is normally in the locking position.

The plate 110, the shaft 130, the tubular base 140 and the locking mechanism 150 are made of rigid materials. In one embodiment, the plate 110, the shaft 130, the tubular base 140 and the locking mechanism 150 are made of metals, plastic, wood and/or fiberglass.

The invented device 100 can be easily installed and removed with one hand holding the tubular base 140 and pushing the locking member 151, and the other hand moving the plate 110 to a desired position. In installation, (a) placing the device 100 in a fireplace with the second end 144 of the tubular base 140 against the fireplace floor, (b) applying a sufficient amount of a force 170 to the locking member 151 of the locking mechanism 150 to cause the resilient spring 155 of the locking mechanism 150 to move from its extended position to its retracted position so that the locking mechanism 150 is in the releasing position, (b) moving/adjusting the shaft 130, thus the plate 110 to a desired position so that the gasket 120 is substantially in contact with the bottom of the fireplace flue to provide sealing, and (d) releasing the applied force 170 from the locking member 151 of the locking mechanism 150, thereby causing the resilient spring 155 of the locking mechanism 150 to move from its retracted position to its extended position so that the locking mechanism 150 is in the locking position.

Before using of the fireplace, the installed device 100 needs being removed from the fireplace. To do so, a force is applied to the locking member 151 of the locking mechanism 150 and causes to be in the releasing position, so that the gasket 120 and the plate 110 are detached from the bottom of the fireplace flue of the fireplace.

The foregoing description of the exemplary embodiments of the invention has been presented only for the purposes of illustration and description and is not intended to be exhaustive or to limit the invention to the precise forms disclosed. Many modifications and variations are possible in light of the above teaching.

The embodiments were chosen and described in order to explain the principles of the invention and their practical application so as to enable others skilled in the art to utilize the invention and various embodiments and with various modifications as are suited to the particular use contemplated. Alternative embodiments will become apparent to those skilled in the art to which the present invention pertains without departing from its spirit and scope. Accordingly, the scope of the present invention is defined by the appended claims rather than the foregoing description and the exemplary embodiments described therein.





 
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