Title:
Floor cleansing system and method for use thereof
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A floor cleaning system and method for use thereof is disclosed for facilitating removal of waste materials. The system includes a floor base, a floor covering, a substrate spacing the floor base and the artificial grass surfacing apart from one another, and at least one fluid-carrying structure. The floor base receives the waste materials. The floor covering is spaced above the floor base, and is at least in part permeable to the waste materials and in liquid communication with the floor base. The fluid-carrying structure is adapted to provide cleaning fluid to the floor base to rinse the waste materials received thereon. The cleaning fluid and waste materials flow along the floor base under the floor covering to facilitate evacuation thereof. The method includes supporting the floor covering spaced above the floor base; exposing the floor covering to the waste materials; passing the waste materials through the floor covering to the floor base; rinsing the waste materials from the floor base with a cleaning fluid; and draining the cleaning fluid and the waste materials from the floor base.



Inventors:
Karmie, Kenneth Alan (Uniontown, OH, US)
Karmie, Dale Edwin (Hartville, OH, US)
Karmie, Brian Andrew (Uniontown, OH, US)
Application Number:
12/150561
Publication Date:
10/29/2009
Filing Date:
04/29/2008
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
134/25.5
International Classes:
A41G1/00; B08B3/04
View Patent Images:



Primary Examiner:
HUSON, JOSHUA DANIEL
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
MARTIN & FERRARO, LLP (HARTVILLE, OH, US)
Claims:
What is claimed is:

1. A floor for use in an animal enclosure, the floor comprising: a floor base being at least in part impermeable to waste materials received thereon; an artificial grass surfacing spaced above said floor base, said artificial grass surfacing being at least in part permeable to pass the waste materials therethrough; and at least one fluid-carrying structure adapted to provide cleaning fluid to said floor base to rinse the waste materials received thereon, wherein the cleaning fluid and the waste materials flow along said floor base under said artificial grass surfacing to facilitate drainage thereof.

2. The floor according to claim 1, wherein the cleaning fluid provided by said at least one fluid-carrying structure is a mixture of water and a cleaning solution.

3. The floor according to claim 1, wherein said at least one fluid-carrying structure is positioned between said floor base and said artificial grass surfacing.

4. The floor according to claim 1, wherein said floor base is sloped from a first elevation to a second elevation lower than said first elevation, and said at least one fluid-carrying structure is positioned proximate said first elevation.

5. The floor according to claim 4, further comprising at least one of a drainage trench and a drain passage for receiving the cleaning fluid provided from said at least one fluid-carrying structure mixed with the waste materials, said at least one of said drainage trench and said drain passage being positioned proximate said second elevation.

6. The floor according to claim 1, further comprising a waste removal zone on said floor base defined between a first elevation and a second elevation lower than said first elevation, said at least one fluid-carrying structure disposed proximate said first elevation, and at least one of a drainage trench and a drain passage disposed proximate said second elevation.

7. The floor according to claim 1, wherein said at least one fluid-carrying structure includes apertures spaced therealong for releasing the cleaning fluid therethrough to spaced locations along said floor base.

8. The floor according to claim 1, further comprising a substrate positioned between said floor base and said artificial grass surfacing, said substrate supporting said artificial grass surfacing above said floor base and having at least one opening for passing the waste materials from said artificial grass surfacing to said floor base.

9. The floor according to claim 8, wherein said substrate has a first side facing said floor base, and a second side facing said artificial grass, said at least one opening extending between said first side and said second side.

10. The floor according to claim 8, wherein said substrate includes a first side facing said floor base including channels extending therealong, said channels allowing passage of the cleaning fluid expelled from said at least one fluid-carrying structure mixed with the waste materials between said floor base and said substrate.

11. A waste removal system for removing waste materials, the waste removal system comprising: a floor base for receiving the waste materials; a floor covering spaced above said floor base, said floor covering adapted to support an animal or human being thereon, and being at least in part permeable to the waste materials and in liquid communication with said floor base; and at least one fluid-carrying structure adapted to provide cleaning fluid to said floor base to rinse the waste materials received thereon, wherein the cleaning fluid and the waste materials flow along said floor base under said floor covering to facilitate evacuation thereof.

12. The system according to claim 11, wherein said at least one fluid-carrying structure is positioned between said floor base and said floor covering.

13. The system according to claim 11, wherein said floor base is sloped from a first elevation to a second elevation lower than said first elevation, and said at least one fluid-carrying structure is positioned proximate said first elevation.

14. The system according to claim 13, further comprising at least one of a drainage trench and a drain passage for receiving the cleaning fluid provided from said at least one fluid-carrying structure mixed with the waste materials, said at least one of said drainage trench and said drain passage being positioned proximate said second elevation.

15. The system according to claim 11, further comprising a waste removal zone on said floor base defined between a first elevation and a second elevation lower than said first elevation, said at least one fluid-carrying structure disposed proximate said first elevation, and at least one of a drainage trench and a drain passage disposed proximate said second elevation.

16. The system according to claim 11, wherein said at least one fluid-carrying structure includes apertures spaced therealong for releasing the cleaning fluid therethrough to spaced locations along said floor base.

17. The system according to claim 11, further comprising a substrate positioned between said floor base and said floor covering, said substrate supporting said floor covering above said floor base and having at least one opening for passing the waste materials from said floor covering to said floor base.

18. The system according to claim 17, wherein said substrate has a first side facing said floor base, and a second side facing said floor covering, said at least one opening extending between said first side and said second side.

19. The system according to claim 17, wherein said substrate includes a first side facing said floor base including channels extending therealong, said channels allowing passage of the cleaning fluid expelled from said at least one fluid-carrying structure mixed with the waste materials between said floor base and said substrate.

20. A method for removing waste materials from flooring, the method comprising: supporting a floor covering spaced above a floor base; exposing the floor covering to the waste materials; passing the waste materials through the floor covering to the floor base; rinsing the waste materials from the floor base with a cleaning fluid; and draining the cleaning fluid and the waste materials from the floor base.

21. The method according to claim 20, further comprising simultaneously wetting the floor base with the cleaning fluid, and maintaining the floor covering dry of the cleaning fluid.

22. The method according to claim 20, wherein a substrate is provided to support the floor covering on the floor base.

23. The method according to claim 22, wherein the substrate includes a first side facing said floor base, a second side facing said floor covering, and at least one opening formed between the first side and the second side, and the waste materials passes through the substrate via the at least one opening.

24. The method according to claim 23, further comprising channeling the cleaning fluid and the waste materials between the floor base and the substrate in channels extending along the first side.

25. The method according to claim 20, further comprising locating at least one fluid-carrying structure to release the cleaning fluid on the floor base.

26. The method according to claim 25, further comprising releasing the cleaning fluid at spaced locations along the at least one fluid-carrying structure.

27. The method according to claim 20 further comprising moving the waste materials in the cleaning fluid from an area defined between a first elevation and a second elevation lower than said first elevation to at least one of a drainage trench and a drain passage adjacent said second elevation.

28. The method according to claim 20, further comprising releasing the cleaning fluid onto the floor base at a first elevation, wherein the cleaning fluid and the waste materials are drained from the floor base at a second elevation lower than said first elevation.

29. The method according to claim 20, further comprising sloping the floor base from a first elevation to a second elevation lower than said first elevation, and providing at least one fluid-carrying structure at said first elevation.

30. The method according to claim 29, further comprising releasing the cleaning fluid from the at least one fluid-carrying structure, and carrying the waste materials in the cleaning fluid from the first elevation to the second elevation.

31. The method according to claim 30, wherein the cleaning fluid and the waste materials are drained from the floor base at the second elevation.

32. The method according to claim 20, further comprising for a specified time releasing the cleaning fluid on the floor base at a rate faster than the cleaning fluid and the waste materials are drained from said floor base to soak said floor base.

Description:

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

1. Field of the Invention

The present invention is generally related to a floor adapted to facilitate removal of waste materials therefrom. More particularly, the present invention is related to a floor having a floor base for receiving unwanted waste liquids and solids, a floor covering for passing the waste materials therethrough, and a built-in rinsing mechanism for facilitating removal of the waste materials from the floor base. More specifically, the present invention is related to a floor having a floor base for receiving waste liquids and solids thereon, a permeable floor covering for supporting human beings and animals and permitting passage of the waste materials therethrough, and a fluid-carrying structure for releasing cleaning fluids to rinse away and facilitate evacuation of the waste materials from the floor base.

2. Description of the Prior Art

Typically, conventional flooring can include a hard semi-impermeable base and a floor covering applied over the base. A padding layer can be provided between the base and the floor covering. Either way, however, waste materials (i.e., unwanted liquids and solids) received on the floor covering, depending on whether the floor covering is permeable, can pass therethrough, or remain on and possibly soak the floor covering. If the waste materials pass through the floor covering, the waste materials then can remain on the base, or, when padding is used, can potentially be trapped between the base and the floor covering by remaining on and possibly soaking the padding. Accordingly, it can be difficult to remove waste materials from conventional flooring.

When conventional flooring is used, for example, in animal enclosures, having the waste materials remain on or possibly soak the floor covering, remain on the base, or be trapped between the base and the floor covering can have deleterious consequences. Animal enclosures are enclosed indoor or outdoor structures for containing and/or sheltering animals therein. Given that the animals reside within the animal enclosures, the floors thereof receive waste materials such as spilled liquid and solid foods, liquids and solids expelled by the animals (e.g., urine and fecal matter), and other liquids or small debris. To facilitate removal of the waste materials, the floors of the animal enclosures usually permit rinsing thereof. A hose sprayer spraying water can be manipulated by a user to rinse the animal waste materials from these surfaces. However, such a rinsing operation is time consuming to the user, requires removal of the animals therefrom, and necessitates wetting the entire floor. Furthermore, if the waste materials are not removed from the floor, the waste materials may cause unhygienic conditions in the animal enclosures.

Therefore, there is a need for an improved floor. Such a floor can have permeable floor surfacing to pass unwanted liquid and solid waste materials therethrough, while having a semi-impermeable floor base to receive the waste materials thereon. Furthermore, a floor can employ a built-in rinsing mechanism for releasing cleaning fluids to rinse away and facilitate evacuation of the waste materials from the floor base.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

The present invention in one preferred embodiment contemplates a waste removal system for removing waste materials, the waste removal system including a floor base for receiving the waste materials, a floor covering spaced above the floor base, the floor covering adapted to support a human being or an animal, and being at least in part permeable to the waste materials and in liquid communication with the floor base, and at least one fluid-carrying structure adapted to provide cleaning fluid to the floor base to rinse the waste materials received thereon, where the cleaning fluid and the waste liquids flow along the floor base under the floor covering to facilitate evacuation thereof.

The present invention in a further preferred embodiment contemplates a floor for use in an animal enclosure, the floor including a floor base being at least in part impermeable to waste materials received thereon, an artificial grass surfacing spaced above the floor base, the artificial grass surfacing being at least in part permeable to pass the waste materials therethrough, and at least one fluid-carrying structure adapted to provide cleaning fluid to the floor base to rinse the waste materials received thereon, where the cleaning fluid and the waste materials flow along the floor base under the artificial grass surfacing to facilitate drainage thereof.

The present invention in another preferred embodiment contemplates a method for removing waste materials from flooring by supporting a floor covering spaced above a floor base, exposing the floor covering to the waste materials, passing the waste materials through the floor covering to the floor base, rinsing the waste materials from the floor base with a cleaning fluid, and draining the cleaning fluid and the waste materials from the floor base.

It is understood that both the foregoing general description and the following detailed description are exemplary and exemplary only, and are not restrictive of the invention as claimed.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

The accompanying drawings, which are incorporated in and constitute a part of the specification, illustrate preferred embodiments of the invention. Together with the description, they serve to explain the objects, advantages and principles of the invention. In the drawings:

FIG. 1 is an elevational view of one embodiment of a waste removal system according to the present invention;

FIG. 2 is a plan fragmentary view of the waste removal system of FIG. 1.

FIG. 3 is a perspective fragmentary view of the waste removal system of FIGS. 1 and 2 during installation;

FIG. 4 is a perspective fragmentary view of another embodiment of a waste removal system according to the present invention; and

FIG. 5 is an elevational view of a cleaning fluid infusion device for use with the waste removal system.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENT

The following description is intended to be representative only and not limiting, and many variations can be anticipated according to these teachings. Reference will now be made in detail to the preferred embodiments of this invention, examples of which are illustrated in the accompanying drawings.

FIGS. 1-3 show one preferred embodiment and FIG. 4 shows another preferred embodiment of a waste removal system according to the present invention. In FIGS. 1-3 and FIG. 4, the preferred embodiments of the waste removal system are generally indicated by the numeral 10, and like numerals are used to indicate similar elements of the embodiments. Waste removal system 10 can serve as flooring for an area exposed to unwanted liquid and solid waste materials. Waste removal system 10 can be used in an indoor or an outdoor setting, and is provided to facilitate removal of the unwanted liquid and solid waste materials received thereon.

For example, waste removal system 10 can be used as flooring for indoor or outdoor animal enclosures. As used below, the words “animal enclosures” generally refer to indoor or outdoor animal containment and sheltering areas. For example, the animal enclosures can include animal containment or sheltering areas at zoos, farms, stables, kennels, shelters, and residential homes.

The animal enclosures at zoos, farms, stables, kennels, and shelters typically include various stalls for containing various animals apart from one another or common areas allowing the animals to more freely move about. Sometimes, single stalls can be provided in separate areas apart from one another, or multiple stalls can be provided in separate fenced partitions within the same area. Waste removal system 10 according to the present invention can serve as the flooring of areas forming single stalls, multiple stalls, or common areas. In doing so, waste removal system 10 can support animals thereon, and can facilitate removal of waste materials such as spilled liquid and solid foods, liquids and solids expelled by the animals (e.g., urine and fecal matter), and other liquids or small debris.

Additionally, waste removal system 10 can also be used as the flooring of indoor or outdoor athletic facilities, as well as residential spaces. For example, waste removal system 10 can serve as the playing surface of the indoor or outdoor athletic facilities. Furthermore, waste removal system 10 can serve as surfaces of residential patios and play areas. In these instances, waste removal system 10 can support human beings thereon, and facilitate removal of unwanted liquid and solid waste materials received thereon. Additional applications of waste removal system 10 will be also be apparent from the below-discussed description thereof.

Generally, the embodiments of waste removal system 10, as shown in FIGS. 1-3 and in FIG. 4 include a floor base (or sub-floor) 12 and a floor covering 14 spaced above floor base 12. Waste removal system 10 also generally includes a substrate 16 and a fluid-carrying structure 18. Substrate 16 can support floor covering 14 on floor base 12. Furthermore, floor covering 14 can be configured to obscure the view of floor base 12, substrate 16, and the waste materials disposed thereunder. For example, floor covering 14 can be adapted to block the view of floor base 12, substrate 16, and the waste materials, and, in doing so, hide the operation of waste removal system 10 from view. As such, waste removal system 10 can maintain an aesthetically pleasing appearance, and avoid unnecessary exposure of a user to the waste materials disposed under floor covering 14.

Substrate 16 spaces floor base 12 and floor covering 14 apart from one another to provide a clearance therebetween. In waste removal system 10 of FIGS. 1-3, fluid-carrying structure 18 is positioned between floor base 12 and floor covering 14 in the clearance afforded by substrate 16. Furthermore, in waste removal system 10 of FIG. 4, fluid-carrying structure 18 is positioned above floor covering 14.

A barrier 20 (shown in FIGS. 1-3) or a lip 21 (shown in FIG. 4) can be provided adjacent one or more edges of waste removal system 10. Barrier 20 can be formed, for example, from planks of pressure-treated lumber and/or planks of moisture-resistant artificial materials marketed under the trademarks TREX® and AZEK®, and can be secured to floor base 12 and sealed therearound to inhibit the waste materials from passing thereby. Furthermore, lip 21 can be formed, for example, as part of floor base 12. Either way, barrier 20 and lip 21 can inhibit the waste materials received on floor base 12 within the area defined by barrier 20 and lip 21 from escaping thereby. For example, barrier 20 and lip 21 can abut the perimeter of the area in which waste removal system 10 is provided to inhibit the waste materials from leaving the area. Furthermore, barrier 20 and lip 21 can also be used for securing floor covering 14. As discussed below, floor covering 14 can be secured to barrier 20 or lip 21 at the edges of waste removal system 10.

Floor base 12 is provided to receive the waste materials, and allow the waste materials to flow therealong. Floor base 12 can be formed from a semi-impermeable hard material provided to inhibit the waste materials from penetrating therethrough. For example, floor base 12 can be constructed of concrete, asphalt, or ceramic. When constructed with these materials, the concrete can be poured and the asphalt can be laid into position on the ground to form floor base 12. Furthermore, ceramic in the form of tiles can be positioned within a setting provided on the ground to form floor base 12. To enhance the impermeability of floor base 12 (when constructed of concrete, asphalt, or ceramic materials), a moisture-resistant sealant can be applied thereon. Furthermore, an impermeable liner 22, as shown in FIG. 1, can be applied over floor base 12 to prevent the waste materials from penetrating through floor base 12. Impermeable liner 22, for example, can be made of a sheet or sheets of polymeric materials such as plastic or rubber applied over floor base 12. Rather than using a semi-impermeable hard material for construction thereof, floor base 12 can also be formed by applying impermeable liner 22 directly over the ground or crushed aggregate covering the ground.

A drainage trench 24 is provided to drain the waste materials received on floor base 12. Although only drainage trench 24 is shown in FIGS. 1-3, multiple trenches can be provided to drain the waste materials received on floor base 12. For example, trenches can be provided proximate the middle and/or or the edges of waste removal system 10. Furthermore, a drain passage 25 can be provided to receive the waste materials accumulated in drainage trench 24. As shown in FIG. 4, rather than being used in combination with drainage trench 24, drain passage 25 can be used solely to receive the waste materials. Furthermore, although only one drain passage is shown in FIG. 4, multiple passages can be provided. For example, drain passages 25 can be provided proximate the center and/or the corners of waste removal system 10.

To facilitate the flow of the waste materials therealong, in a preferred embodiment, floor base 12 can be sloped. As shown in FIG. 1-3, for example, floor base 12 is gradually sloped at a pitch of 1.5% from a first elevation 26 to a second elevation 28 lower than first elevation 26. While a pitch of 1.5% is preferred, floor base 12 can facilitate flow of waste materials thereover with alternate preferred pitches ranging, for example, from 1.0 to 10% and more preferably from 1.25 to 2.5%. An edge of the waste removal system 10, as shown FIGS. 2 and 3, is provided proximate first elevation 26, and drainage trench 24 is provided proximate second elevation 28. Accordingly, the waste materials received on floor base 12 in an area between first elevation 26 and second elevation 28 are directed toward drainage trench 24.

Substrate 16 is positioned on floor base 12 to support floor covering 14. Substrate 16 facilitates passage of the waste materials from floor covering 14 to floor base 12. Substrate 16 can be formed from a unitary piece of polymeric material (shown in FIGS. 1-3). Furthermore, substrate 16 can be formed of metal, plastic, or wood grating (shown in FIG. 4). Substrate 16 can also be formed of pedestals (not shown) formed separately or integrally with floor base 12.

The thickness or height of substrate 16 defines the clearance that floor base 12 and floor covering 14 are spaced apart from one another. For example, the thickness of substrate 16 can be one (1) inch to provide one (1) inch of clearance between floor base 12 and floor covering 14. However, the thickness of substrate 16 should not be so limited. Substrate 16 can have a lesser or greater thickness depending, for example, on the diameter of fluid-carrying structure 18 positioned between floor base 12 and floor covering 14 (shown in FIG. 1).

When formed of the unitary piece of polymeric material, or of the metal, plastic, or wood grating, substrate 16 includes a first side 30 facing floor base 12, and a second side 32 facing floor covering 14. Substrate 16 of FIGS. 1-3 includes various openings 34 therethrough to permit passage of the waste materials from second side 32 to first side 30. Although openings 34 of FIGS. 1-3 are shown having a circular cross-section, openings 34 can have any variety of cross-sectional shapes. For example, openings 34, as shown in FIG. 4, can have a square cross-section. Openings 34 afford passage of the waste materials from floor covering 14 to floor base 12.

Channels (not shown) can be provided in first side 30 of substrate 16 facing floor base 12. The channels can, for example, be formed by molding a shape and/or by removing material from first side 30 of substrate 16. The channels can provide a passage for moving the waste materials between floor base 12 and substrate 16. For example, the channels can be aligned with the slope of floor base 12 to direct the waste materials to drainage trench 24 and/or drain passage 25.

Like substrate 16, the pedestals formed separately or integrally with floor base 12 space floor base 12 and floor covering 14 apart from one another. The pedestals are raised protrusions extending upwardly from floor base 12 for supporting floor covering 14 thereon, and are positioned apart from one another along floor base 12 with gaps therebetween. As such, the pedestals afford passage therebetween of the waste materials from floor covering 14 to floor base 12, and along floor base 12.

Floor covering 14 can, for example, be permeable artificial grass material and carpeting, or other permeable materials. When floor covering 14 is an artificial grass material, as shown in FIGS. 1-4, an artificial grass marketed under the trademark K9GRASS™ can be used. Furthermore, floor covering 14 can be secured at the edges of waste removal system 10, or alternatively be secured to substrate 16. For example, floor covering 14 can be adhered or mechanically fastened to barrier 20, lip 21, and/or substrate 16. By securing floor covering 14 to barrier 20, lip 21, and/or substrate 16, floor covering 14 can be maintained in position relative to floor base 12.

As shown in FIG. 1, the artificial grass material forming floor covering 14 includes a backing 36 and blades 38 extending outwardly therefrom. The density, height, and shape of blades 38 can be configured to be comfortable, while also being durable and easy to clean. Furthermore, backing 36 can be a knitted fabric and/or a unitary piece of polymeric material with openings (not shown) formed therein. The openings formed in backing 36 are smaller than openings 34 formed in substrate 16 of FIGS. 1-3 and of FIG. 4, but should be sized to accommodate passage of the waste materials therethrough. As such, backing 36 can be permeable to liquids, and, if the openings formed therein are large enough, can permit small particulate to pass therethrough. Accordingly, backing 36 can facilitate passage therethrough of the liquid or solid waste materials received on floor covering 14.

As discussed above, fluid-carrying structure 18, as shown in FIGS. 1-3 is positioned between floor base 12 and floor covering 14, and fluid-carrying structure 18, as shown in FIG. 4, is positioned above floor covering 14. Either way, fluid-carrying structure 18 is connected to a supply of cleaning fluid, and provides the cleaning fluid to floor base 12.

The cleaning fluid can be water supplied directly to fluid-carrying structure 18 or mixed in various concentrations with concentrated cleaning solution using, as shown in FIG. 5, an optional infusion unit 40. Infusion unit 40 includes a tank 42 filled with concentrated cleaning fluid supported by a dolly 44. An input line 46 and an output line 47 are connected to an infuser 48 that communicates with the concentrated cleaning fluid in tank 42. Water supplied through input line 46 is mixed with the concentrated cleaning fluid at infuser 48. Thereafter, the cleaning fluid (a mixture of water and the concentrated cleaning fluid) exits infuser 48 through output line 47. To supply waste removal system 10 with the cleaning fluid, output line 47 can be connected to fluid-carrying structure 18.

Fluid-carrying structure 18 can be formed from piping having various lengths extending between floor base 12 and floor covering 14 (shown in FIGS. 1-3) or extending above floor covering 14 (shown in FIG. 4). For example, the piping of fluid-carrying structure 18 can be formed of CPVC (chlorinated polyvinyl chloride) pipe. Furthermore, fluid-carrying structure 18 can include a connection 50 for connecting the piping thereof with the supply of cleaning fluid, and have ends 52 and 53 blocked with end caps mating therewith. For example, connection 50 can connect fluid-carrying structure 18 directly to a water supply or with output line 47 of infusion unit 40.

Various apertures 54 can be spaced at intervals along fluid-carrying structure 18 to release the cleaning fluid at various locations along floor base 12. The configuration of various apertures 54 can determine how the cleaning fluid is released on floor base 12. For example, apertures 54 can be configured to spray or stream the cleaning fluid exiting therefrom onto floor base 12.

Fluid-carrying structure 18 can have various lengths, shapes, and positions to facilitate cleansing of floor base 12. For example, as shown in FIG. 2, fluid-carrying structure 18 can have an L-shaped footprint with two lengths of piping facilitating placement adjacent two edges of waste removal system 10. However, the configuration of fluid-carrying structure 18 should not be so limited. For example, fluid-carrying structure 18 can have lengths of piping facilitating placement adjacent one or more edges, around the perimeter, and/or through the center of waste removal system 10.

Fluid-carrying structure 18 can be positioned proximate the highest elevation of floor base 12. As discussed above, floor base 12 of FIGS. 1-3 is sloped from first elevation 26 at the edges of the waste removal system 10 to drainage trench 24 at second elevation 28. As such, a portion of fluid-carrying structure 18 is positioned proximate first elevation 26 to insure that the cleaning fluid travels from first elevation 26 to second elevation 28 to rinse waste materials therebetween. Accordingly, the area between fluid-carrying structure 18, and drainage trench 24 and/or drain passage 25 defines a waste removal zone 56.

Depending on the size of the area in which waste removal system 10 is provided, waste removal system 10 can be adapted to provide multiple waste removal zones. For example, each of the waste removal zones could include fluid-carrying structure 18 and drainage trench 24 and/or drain passage 25 associated therewith floor base 12 sloping therebetween.

In a preferred embodiment, the supply of cleaning fluid is provided to fluid-carrying structure 18 at a pressure of 5-14 psi and more preferably at a pressure of 7-10 psi, and fluid-carrying structure 18 is adapted accordingly. For example, for lengths of 30-60 feet, the piping forming fluid-carrying structure 18 can have a diameter of three-quarter (¾) inches to accommodate that pressure of the cleaning fluid. Furthermore, apertures 54 would have diameters of one-eighth (⅛) inches, and be spaced 5-12 inches apart from one another and more preferably 10 inches apart from one another to accommodate that pressure of the cleaning fluid. Accordingly, depending on the pressure of the supply of the cleaning fluid and the length of the piping forming fluid-carrying structure 18, the size and spacing of apertures 54 can be varied.

During use of waste removal system 10, the waste materials received on floor covering 14 first pass through the openings formed in backing 36 thereof. Thereafter, the waste materials pass through substrate 16, and are received on floor base 12. Because floor base 12, in a preferred embodiment, includes a slope thereto, the waste materials are directed to drainage trench 24 (shown in FIGS. 1-3) and/or drain passage 25 (shown in FIGS. 1-4).

The cleaning fluid provided by fluid-carrying structure 18 cleanses floor base 12 of the waste materials by rinsing thereof. In doing so, the mixture of the cleaning fluid with the waste materials can be moved (using the force of the cleaning fluid and the slope of floor base 12) toward drainage trench 24 or drain passage 25. As such, the mixture of the cleaning fluid with the waste materials can be evacuated from floor base 12.

By receiving the waste materials on floor base 12 and facilitating drainage therefrom, floor surfacing 14 can be kept substantially dry of the cleaning fluid provided by fluid-carrying structure 18. For example, because fluid-carrying structure 18 of FIGS. 1-3 is provided between floor base 12 and floor covering 14, floor covering 14 in this embodiment of waste removal system 10 need not be wetted with the cleaning fluid to rinse floor base 12 and facilitate evacuation of the waste materials therefrom. Furthermore, because fluid-carrying structure 18 of FIG. 4 is positioned above floor covering 14, floor covering 14 in this embodiment of waste removal system 10 need only be wetted in a confined area adjacent fluid-carrying structure 18. As such, while a user can manipulate a hose sprayer to spray floor covering 14, operation of waste removal system 10 allows floor covering 14 to remain substantially dry if the user so desires.

Waste removal system 10 can be automated by providing a programmable controller (not shown) and an associated valve (not shown) positioned upstream of fluid-carrying structure 18. The programmable controller system can actuate the valve to control flow of cleaning fluid provided to floor base 12 from fluid-carrying structure 18. As such, the programmable controller can be used to define various wash cycles for waste removal system 10.

To define a wash cycle, the programmable controller can be set to provide a specified amount of the cleaning fluid to floor base 12 at specified times for specified durations. For example, the programmable controller can be set to provide a continuous flow (as opposed to an intermittent flow) of cleaning fluid to floor base 12 every morning for twenty (20) minutes.

Furthermore, while floor surfacing 14 can be kept substantially dry of the cleaning fluid, floor surfacing 14 can be soaked with the cleaning fluid during operation using the programmable controller. For example, programmable controller can be configured to control another valve to close drain passage 25, and/or can be set to release the cleaning fluid for a specified time onto floor base 12 at a rate faster than the cleaning fluid and the waste materials are drained therefrom. In doing so, floor covering 14 and floor substrate 16, as well as floor base 12, can be soaked in cleaning fluid before the cleaning fluid and waste materials are drained therefrom.

Fluid-carrying structure 18 can be connected to a supply of air, and/or an additional air-carrying structure (not shown) connected to the supply of air can be provided. Like fluid-carrying structure 18, the air-carrying structure can be provided between floor base 12 and floor covering 14, and/or positioned above floor covering 14. As such, after floor base 12 has been cleansed, for example, air can be directed by fluid-carrying structure 18 and/or the air-carrying structure over floor base 12 to drive residuals (i.e. the mixture of the cleaning fluid with the waste materials) toward drainage trench 24 and/or drain passage 25, as well as facilitate drying of floor base 12. Furthermore, the air supplied from the supply of air can be heated to force evaporation of the residuals so that floor base 12 can be dried quickly.

Other embodiments of the invention will be apparent to those skilled in the art from consideration of the specification and practice of the invention disclosed herein. For example, while described in association animal enclosures, waste removal system 10 can also be used as the flooring of athletic facilities and residential spaces. Accordingly, it is intended that the specification and examples be considered as exemplary only, with a true scope and spirit of the invention being indicated by the following claims.