Title:
Multi-Purpose Vent
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
Disclosed is a foundation vent that provides air ventilation and flood relief for an enclosed area. A screen is included to prevent items such as insects, small animals, debris, and organic matter, including buoyant materials due to a flood, from entering the enclosed area. A removable screen and exterior screen stop allow the owner to easily inspect, maintain, clean, and repair the foundation vent. The foundation vent is also designed as a non-engineered, non-mechanical opening, which allows the air and flood water ratings of the foundation vent to be based upon the actual net clear open area. Such design eliminates the need for a vapor barrier and/or specialized structural engineering of the foundation. The dual operation of the foundation vent as a flood grate also allows rising flood water to penetrate and recede from the enclosed area, which equalizes the hydrostatic pressure on either side of the foundation wall.



Inventors:
Haryslak, William Anthony (Cape May Court House, NJ, US)
Application Number:
12/246738
Publication Date:
04/08/2010
Filing Date:
10/07/2008
Primary Class:
International Classes:
E02B8/00
View Patent Images:



Foreign References:
DE86735C
Primary Examiner:
TOWNS, BRITTANY E
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
FLASTER/GREENBERG P.C. (Philadelphia, PA, US)
Claims:
I claim:

1. An apparatus for air ventilation and passage of flood water comprising: a housing including: at least one interior screen stop, said interior screen stop including at least one interior screen stop recess; at least one housing recess configured to accept a first end of said exterior stop; and at least one housing channel configured to accept a second end of said exterior stop; a screen including at least one screen flange configured for insertion into said at least one interior screen stop recess; and an exterior stop.

2. An apparatus according to claim 1, wherein at least one of the group consisting of said screen, said exterior stop, and combinations thereof is removable from said housing.

3. An apparatus according to claim 1, wherein said apparatus qualifies as a non-engineered opening; and wherein a first rating of said air ventilation and a second rating of said passage of flood water is based upon an actual net clear open area of said apparatus.

4. An apparatus according to claim 1, wherein said at least one interior screen stop is an approximately C-shaped protrusion.

5. An apparatus according to claim 1, wherein said housing includes: at least one perimeter exterior housing flange.

6. An apparatus according to claim 1, wherein at least one of the group consisting of said housing, said screen, said exterior stop, and combinations thereof is at least partially formed from polypropylene.

7. An apparatus according to claim 7, wherein said polypropylene is reinforced with at least one of the group consisting of metal, fiberglass, and combinations thereof.

8. An apparatus according to claim 1, wherein said screen includes at least one compressible section.

9. An apparatus according to claim 9, wherein said compressible section is a foam strip.

10. An apparatus according to claim 1, wherein said housing, said screen, and said exterior stop are square.

11. An apparatus according to claim 1, wherein said exterior stop is at least one of the group consisting of a decorative exterior stop, a louvered exterior stop, and combinations thereof.

12. An apparatus according to claim 1, wherein said housing includes: at least one weep aperture.

13. An apparatus according to claim 1, wherein at least one interior surface of said housing is at least one of the group consisting of tapered, indented, and combinations thereof.

14. An apparatus for air ventilation and passage of flood water comprising: a housing including: a sill, said sill including a sill interior stop, said sill interior stop separating an interior sill section and an exterior sill section, said exterior sill section including an exterior sill section channel adjacent an exterior sill section upwardly facing surface, said exterior sill section upwardly facing surface including a plurality of sill fins; a head, said head including a head interior stop, said head interior stop separating an interior head section and an exterior head section, said exterior head section including an exterior head section recess and an exterior head downwardly facing surface; and two jambs, each of said jambs including a jamb interior stop, each of said jamb interior stops separating an interior jamb section and an exterior jam section; a screen including at least one screen flange; and an exterior stop configured for insertion into said exterior sill section channel and said exterior head section recess.

15. An apparatus according to claim 14, wherein said sill interior stop, said head interior stop, and said jamb interior stops are approximately C-shaped protrusions; wherein said sill interior stop includes a sill interior stop recess; wherein said head interior stop includes a head interior stop recess; wherein said jamb interior stops each include a jamb interior stop recess; and wherein said sill interior stop recess, said head interior stop recess, and said jamb interior stop recesses are configured to accept said at least one screen flange.

16. An apparatus according to claim 14, wherein said exterior sill section upwardly facing surface is tapered.

17. An apparatus according to claim 14, wherein said interior sill section, said interior head section, and said interior jamb sections each include an indented surface.

18. An apparatus for air ventilation and passage of flood water comprising: an exterior stop including at least one exterior stop recess; a screen including at least one screen flange configured for insertion into said at least one exterior stop recess; and a housing including: at least one interior screen stop; at least one housing recess configured to accept a first end of said exterior stop and said screen; and at least one housing channel configured to accept a second end of said exterior stop and said screen.

Description:

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

Embodiments of the present invention generally relate to multi-purpose vents. More specifically, the present invention relates to vents that allow the passage of both air and flood water therethrough.

The use of foundation vents for ventilation of an enclosed under floor area such as a crawlspace, garage, basement, or the like is known. Some such vents include irremovable components permanently installed in the foundation. Other such vents include hinged screens, louvers, or the like to facilitate cleaning or maintenance as well as access to the under floor area.

Flood grates are also known. Such grates are commonly used in areas designated by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (“FEMA”) as flood areas. These grates typically pass through a perimeter foundation wall of an enclosed under floor area to allow rising flood water to penetrate and recede from the enclosed under floor area, which equalizes the hydrostatic pressure on either side of the perimeter foundation wall.

The use of foundation flood vents is mandated by a plurality of building codes including, without limitation, Building Officials and Code Administrators (“BOCA”) codes, International Building Codes (“IBC”), and International Residential Codes (“IRC”). Such codes typically mandate the use of flood grates in areas designated by FEMA as flood areas. Many building codes require the area of a foundation flood vent versus the area of the enclosed under floor area to exceed a predetermined ratio. In many such codes, foundation flood vents free of mechanical or electrical operators may be considered non-engineered or engineered foundation vents, whereas foundation flood vents including such operators must be considered engineered foundation flood vents. The rate of flow through a non-engineered foundation flood vent is the rate of flow through the actual net clear operating area, whereas the rate of flow through an engineered foundation flood vent must be calculated. For example, engineered foundation flood vents typically include screens and/or screen covers that swing open during a flood to allow water to flow therethrough at a rate greater than the rate at which the water would flow through such vent if the screen and/or screen cover remained in a closed state (i.e., the closed stated would result in a lesser specific net area of the vent). In this scenario, the rate of flow through an engineered foundation flood vent would be calculated based upon the net area of the vent in a closed state and the configuration or shape of the opening. The disadvantage of an engineered foundation flood vent is that building codes typically require specialized structural engineering of the foundation if an engineered foundation vent is to be utilized.

The use of foundation air vents is also mandated by a plurality of building codes including, without limitation, BOCA, IBC, and IRC codes. Some such foundation vents known in the art include closeable air vents, e.g., via a manual closure of an integral damper, via automatic control of an integral damper based upon ambient temperature, or the like. When foundation air vents are capable of full closure, many building codes require the use of a vapor barrier along the floor of the enclosed under floor area to reduce the required area of free air ventilation, the latter typically provided by a foundation air vent. When the foundation air vent is to be used as a multi-purpose air and flood vent, the use of a vapor barrier in a flood-prone area can create a hazard during flooding since the plastic can become buoyant, it may rise with the rising flood water, and it may be forced against the foundation wall, potentially covering any flood grates and preventing the passage of flood water therethrough.

BRIEF SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

Briefly stated, in one aspect of the present invention, an apparatus for installation in a foundation wall for air ventilation and passage of flood water is provided. This apparatus includes: a housing including at least one interior screen stop, the interior screen stop including at least one interior screen stop recess, at least one housing recess configured to accept a first end of the exterior stop, and at least one housing channel configured to accept a second end of the exterior stop; a screen including at least one screen flange configured for insertion into the at least one interior screen stop recess; and an exterior stop.

In another aspect of the present invention, an apparatus for installation in a foundation wall for air ventilation and passage of flood water is provided. This apparatus includes: a housing including a sill, the sill including a sill interior stop, the sill interior stop separating an interior sill section and an exterior sill section, the exterior sill section including an exterior sill section channel adjacent an exterior sill section upwardly facing surface, the exterior sill section upwardly facing surface including a plurality of sill fins, a head, the head including a head interior stop, the head interior stop separating an interior head section and an exterior head section, the exterior head section including an exterior head section recess and an exterior head downwardly facing surface, and two jambs, each of the jambs including a jamb interior stop, each of the jamb interior stops separating an interior jamb section and an exterior jam section; a screen including at least one screen flange; and an exterior stop configured for insertion into the exterior sill section channel and the exterior head section recess.

Further provided is an apparatus for installation in a foundation wall for air ventilation and passage of flood water. This apparatus includes: an exterior stop including at least one exterior stop recess; a screen including at least one screen flange configured for insertion into the at least one exterior stop recess; and a housing including at least one interior screen stop, at least one housing recess configured to accept a first end of the exterior stop and the screen, and at least one housing channel configured to accept a second end of the exterior stop and the screen.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE SEVERAL VIEWS OF THE DRAWING(S)

The foregoing summary, as well as the following detailed description of preferred embodiments of the invention, will be better understood when read in conjunction with the appended drawings. For the purpose of illustrating the invention, there is shown in the drawings embodiments which are presently preferred. It should be understood, however, that the invention is not limited to the precise arrangements and instrumentalities shown. In the drawings:

FIG. 1A is an exploded view of the installation of an exemplary foundation vent in a two concrete masonry unit (“CMU”) rough opening in accordance with one embodiment of the present invention;

FIG. 1B is an assembled view of the components depicted in the exploded view of FIG. 1A;

FIG. 2 is a cross-sectional view of the installed foundation vent depicted in FIG. 1B taken along lines 2-2 of FIG. 1B;

FIG. 3 is a cross-sectional view of the installed foundation vent depicted in FIG. 1B taken along lines 3-3 of FIG. 1B;

FIGS. 4A and 4B are perspective views of the front and rear, respectively, of the screen depicted in FIGS. 1A and 1B;

FIG. 5 is a perspective view of the exterior stop depicted in FIGS. 1A and 1B;

FIG. 6 is a perspective view of a decorative exterior stop in accordance with an alternate embodiment of the present invention;

FIG. 7 is a perspective view of a louvered exterior stop in accordance with an alternate embodiment of the present invention;

FIG. 8A is an exploded view of the installation of an alternate exemplary foundation vent in a two concrete masonry unit (“CMU”) rough opening in accordance with one embodiment of the present invention;

FIG. 8B is an assembled view of the components depicted in the exploded view of FIG. 8A;

FIG. 9 is a cross-sectional view of the installed foundation vent depicted in FIG. 8B taken along lines 2-2 of FIG. 8B;

FIG. 10 is a rear perspective view of an alternate exterior stop in accordance with the embodiment of the present invention depicted in FIGS. 8A, 8B, 9, and 11; and

FIG. 11 is a cross-sectional view of the installed foundation vent depicted in FIG. 8B taken along lines 3-3 of FIG. 8B.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION

The present invention is a dual purpose foundation vent that provides both air ventilation and flood relief for an enclosed under floor area (e.g., a garage, basement, crawlspace, etc.). The foundation vent of the present invention allows free passage of flood water from an enclosed under floor area while simultaneously maintaining air movement with the enclosed under floor area such that moisture latent air may be removed from such area. The foundation vent also includes a screen to prevent items such as insects, small animals, and the like, as well as debris and organic matter, from entering the under floor area including buoyant materials carried to the face of the screen during a flood. A removable screen and exterior screen stop allow the owner to easily inspect, maintain, clean, and repair the foundation vent during routine maintenance and to ensure that such vent is in proper working condition (i.e., it is a properly functioning foundation opening). The design further allows damaged components to be easily replaced.

Additionally, the foundation vent of the present invention is designed as a non-engineered, non-mechanical opening, which allows the air and flood water rating of the foundation vent to be based upon the actual net clear open area, rather than basing such rating on an engineered opening calculation. The foundation vent housing defines the gross free ventilation area while providing a mechanically fastened construction component (i.e., a screen and exterior screens stop) that can be integrated into the overall foundation design. Such design eliminates the need for specialized structural engineering of the foundation. Also, the present invention does not include a closable air vent, which eliminates the need for a vapor barrier, which can be a hazard when used in a flood prone location for the reasons discussed above. Furthermore, the design of the multi-purpose foundation vent of the present invention allows it to act as a flood grate that allows rising flood water to penetrate and recede from the enclosed under floor area, which equalizes the hydrostatic pressure on either side of the perimeter foundation wall.

The use of the combination air and flood foundation vent of the present invention reduces the hydrostatic pressure and resulting stresses developed along the faces of the foundation walls during a flood event by allowing the flood water to flow through predetermined wall openings, thereby avoiding collapse and/or undermining of the structure's foundation system. The vent can be rated for a specific area of coverage, installed in a variety of foundation and/or crawl space enclosure walls, and visually inspected, cleaned, and/or replaced in part or whole by way of its construction. The fixed screen also allows air and water to flow naturally through the foundation vent while maintaining a barrier that prevents rodent and insect infiltration as well as accumulation of debris within the foundation's interior and/or the crawl space during a flood event.

Referring first to FIG. 1A, depicted is an exploded view of the installation of vent 100, which is one exemplary embodiment of the foundation vent of the present invention. In the embodiment of the present invention depicted in FIG. 1, vent 100 includes housing 102, screen 104, and exterior stop 106, and it is mounted in an exemplary two CMU rough opening 124. In one aspect of the present invention such as that depicted in FIG. 1, housing 102 includes, inter alia, sill 108, jambs 110, exterior fins 112, sill interior stop 114, sill fins 116, fastener apertures 118, housing flange 120, head 204 (FIG. 2), and head interior stop 206 (FIG. 2).

In some embodiments of the present invention, one or more of the components of housing 102 are formed from polypropylene. Polypropylene allows housing 102 to be molded as a single unit, and it minimizes discoloration caused by ultraviolet rays, aging, and/or moisture. Polypropylene also provides a non-porous surface that resists staining while providing a housing that resists warpage, degradation, and brittleness. However, other materials, including non-moldable materials, may be substituted without departing from the scope of the present invention including, without limitation, cast aluminum, extruded metal sections, and combinations of polypropylene, cast aluminum, and extruded metal sections.

In one exemplary embodiment of the present invention, housing 102 is 16 inches (410 millimeter (“mm”)) high by 16 inches (410 mm) wide by 7⅝ inches (195 mm) deep. Such a size minimizes the potential of entry of foreign objects into the enclosed under floor area, while also providing an access point for purposes such as after-flood clean up and servicing equipment located within the enclosed under floor area. This height of housing 102 is larger than that of typical commercially-available foundation vents. The greater height of foundation vent 100 reduces the number of foundation vents that must be installed in a foundation wall to meet building code requirements and also reduces the hydrostatic pressure exerted against the foundation wall. In addition, the size of the foundation vent of the present invention is designed to meet the building standards for both airflow and water flow into and from an enclosed under floor area. However, other sizes may be substituted without departing from the scope hereof.

Foundation vent 100 further includes exterior fins 112 located along the outwardly facing surfaces of foundation vent 100. Exterior fins 112 increase the rigidity of these outwardly facing surfaces while also providing a consistent face for mating with the interior walls of opening 124. Exterior fins 112 also facilitate drainage of moisture away from foundation vent 100 to prevent or minimize the potential that ice forms thereupon, which would likely result in cracking or other damage to foundation vent 100.

Sill 108 includes interior sill section 108a and exterior sill section 108b. Interior sill section 108a is located in the rearward portion of sill 108 and second sill portion 108b is located in the forward portion of sill 108. These two sections are divided by sill interior stop 114, which in some embodiments of the present invention such as that depicted in FIG. 1, is formed integral to sill 108.

As better illustrated in the cross-sectional side view of foundation vent 100 illustrated in FIG. 2, sill interior stop 114 is an approximately C-shaped protrusion extending upward from the upwardly facing surface of sill 108 and having a length approximately equivalent to the length of sill 108. The interior of the approximately C-shape of sill interior stop 114 forms sill interior stop recess 130, which extends along the length of the forwardly facing surface of sill interior stop 114. Sill interior stop recess 130 provides a channel into which second screen flange 202b may be inserted for secure positioning of screen 104. Although sill interior stop 114 is depicted in FIG. 2 as a component integral to sill 108, alternate embodiments of the present invention are envisioned in which sill interior stop 114 is a separate removable or irremovable component coupled to sill 108. Furthermore, although sill interior stop 114 is an approximately C-shaped protrusion, other forms may be substituted without departing from the scope of the present invention. Virtually any protrusion configuration having any type of recess in at least one portion of its length that is compatible with a corresponding screen flange may be substituted. For example, sill interior stop 114 may be formed as one or more tabs in lieu of one continuous stop.

Similar to sill 108, housing 102 also includes head 204, which includes interior head section 204a and exterior head section 204b. Interior head section 204a is located in the rearward portion of head 204 and second head portion 204b is located in the forward portion of head 204. These two sections are divided by head interior stop 206, which in some embodiments of the present invention such as that depicted in FIG. 2, is formed integral to head 204. Head upwardly facing surface 216 of interior and exterior head sections 204a and 204b, respectively, is slightly tapered upward as head 204 progresses from its rear end to its forward end. Such sloping of head upwardly facing surface 216 accommodates inclusion of exterior fins 112. However, such sloping is not necessary to implement the present invention. Interior head section downwardly facing surface 212a is substantially planar, however, varying non-planar surfaces may be substituted without departing from the scope of the present invention.

Exterior head section 204b includes exterior head section downwardly facing surface 212b, which is located at the forward end of exterior head section 204b, and exterior head section recess 214, which is located at the rear end of exterior head section 204b. Exterior head section downwardly facing surface 212b is tapered downward at an approximately 30 degree angle as it extends from its most forward point to its rearmost point. Such tapering facilitates drainage of precipitation or other moisture. The latter is adjacent second head recess 214, which has a depth approximately equivalent to the rise of exterior head section downwardly facing surface 212b. The width of second head recess 214 is slightly larger than the width of exterior stop 106 to accommodate insertion of exterior stop 106 and/or any components coupled to exterior stop 106 (e.g., compressible section 220) therein. Head upwardly facing surface 216 is slightly tapered upward as head 204 progresses from its rear end to its forward end.

As also illustrated in the cross-sectional side view of foundation vent 100 illustrated in FIG. 2, head interior stop 206 is an approximately C-shaped protrusion extending downward from the downwardly facing surface of head 204 and having a length approximately equivalent to the length of head 204. The interior of the approximately C-shape of head interior stop 206 forms head interior stop recess 218, which extends along the length of the forwardly facing surface of head interior stop 206. Head interior stop recess 218 provides a channel into which first screen flange 202a may be inserted for secure positioning of screen 104. Although head interior stop 206 is depicted in FIG. 2 as a component integral to head 206, alternate embodiments of the present invention are envisioned in which head interior stop 206 is a separate removable or irremovable component coupled to head 206. Furthermore, although head interior stop 206 is an approximately C-shaped protrusion, other forms may be substituted without departing from the scope of the present invention. Virtually any protrusion configuration having any type of recess in at least one portion of its length that is compatible with a corresponding screen flange may be substituted. For example, head interior stop 206 may be formed as one or more tabs in lieu of one continuous stop.

Still referring to FIG. 2, interior sill section upwardly and downwardly facing surfaces 208a and 210a, respectively, of interior sill section are substantially planar, however, varying surfaces may be substituted without departing from the scope of the present invention. Both exterior sill section upwardly and downwardly facing surfaces 208b and 210b, respectively, of exterior sill section 108b are slightly tapered downward as exterior sill section 108b progresses from its rear end to its forward end. Such sloping of exterior sill section upwardly facing surface 208b facilitates drainage of precipitation or other moisture that collects on interior and exterior sill portions 108a and 108b, respectively, toward the exterior of the foundation. Such sloping of exterior sill section downwardly facing surface 210b accommodates inclusion of exterior fins 112. However, such sloping is not necessary to implement the present invention.

As also depicted in FIG. 2, a first housing flange 120 located along the upper exterior edge of housing 102 extends in an upward direction perpendicular to head 204. Such flange extends beyond each end of head 204 for a distance equivalent to the width of housing flange 120. Similarly, a second housing flange 120 located along the lower exterior edge of housing 102 extends in a downward direction perpendicular to sill 108 and such flange extends beyond each end of sill 108 for a distance equivalent to the width of housing flange 120. A perspective front view of these housing flanges 120 is depicted in FIG. 1.

Turning next to FIG. 3, depicted is a cross-sectional view of the installed foundation vent 100 of FIG. 1B taken along lines 3-3 of FIG. 1B. Similar to sill 108 and head 204, housing 102 also includes first and second jambs 110a and 110b, respectively, which are mirror images of each other. First jamb 110a includes interior jamb section 302a and exterior jamb section 302b, and second jamb 110b includes interior jamb section 304a and exterior jamb section 304b. Interior jamb sections 302a and 304a are located in the rearward portions of the respective first and second jambs 110a and 110b, respectively, and exterior jamb sections 302b and 304b are located in the forward portions of first and second jambs 110a and 110b, respectively. Each interior jamb section is divided from its respective exterior jamb section by jamb interior stop 306, which in some embodiments of the present invention such as that depicted in FIG. 3, is formed integral to jamb 110. Outwardly facing surfaces 308 of jambs 110 are slightly tapered outward as the respective jamb 110 progresses from its rearmost point to its most forward point. Such sloping of outwardly facing surfaces 308 accommodates inclusion of exterior fins 112. However, such sloping is not necessary to implement the present invention. Inwardly facing surfaces 310 of interior jamb sections 302a and 304a are substantially planar, however, varying non-planar surfaces may be substituted without departing from the scope of the present invention.

The inwardly facing surfaces of exterior jamb sections 302b and 304b include inwardly facing surfaces 312, which are located at the forward end of the respective exterior jamb section 302b or 304b, and inwardly facing surfaces 314, which are located at the rear end of exterior jamb section 302b or 304b. Inwardly facing surfaces 312 are tapered in an inward direction as the respective exterior jamb section extends from its most forward point to its rearmost point. The rearmost point of inwardly facing surface 312 abuts the most forward point of inwardly facing surface 314, the latter of which is substantially planar and protrudes farther inward than the rearmost point of the adjacent inwardly facing surface 312. The distance between inwardly facing surfaces 314 of exterior jamb sections 302b and 304b is approximately equal to the width of exterior stop 106 to allow such inwardly facing surfaces 314 to physically contact either side of exterior stop 106 when the latter is installed in housing 102.

As also illustrated in the cross-sectional view of foundation vent 100 illustrated in FIG. 3, each jamb interior stop 306 is an approximately C-shaped protrusion extending inward from the inward facing surface of the respective jamb 110 and having a length approximately equivalent to the length of the respective jamb 110. The interior of the approximately C-shape of jamb interior stop 306 forms jamb interior stop recess 318, which extends along the length of the inward facing surface of the respective jamb interior stop 306. Jamb interior stop recesses 318a and 318b provide a channel into which third screen flange 202c and fourth screen flange 202d, respectively, may be inserted for secure positioning of screen 104. Although jamb interior stop 306 is depicted in FIG. 3 as a component integral to its respective jamb 110, alternate embodiments of the present invention are envisioned in which each jamb interior stop 306 is a separate removable or irremovable component coupled to jamb 110. Furthermore, although jamb interior stop 306 is an approximately C-shaped protrusion, other forms may be substituted without departing from the scope of the present invention. Virtually any protrusion configuration having any type of recess in at least one portion of its length that is compatible with a corresponding screen flange may be substituted. For example, jamb interior stop 306 may be formed as one or more tabs in lieu of one continuous stop.

As also depicted in FIG. 3, third and fourth housing flanges 120 located along the side exterior edges of housing 102 extends in an outward direction perpendicular to the respective jamb 110. Each flange extends beyond each end of its respective jamb 110 for a distance equivalent to the width of housing flange 120. A perspective front view of these housing flanges 120 is depicted in FIG. 1.

Referring back to FIG. 1, in another aspect of the present invention, exterior sill section 108b may include one or more sill fins 116, which are designed to hold exterior stop 106 in place. In one embodiment of the present invention, a plurality of sill fins 116 are approximately equally spaced along the length of sill 106 as depicted in FIGS. 1A, 1B, and FIG. 3. Also, as best depicted in the side cross-sectional view of FIG. 2, the upwardly facing surface of each sill fin 116 tapers upward as the sill progresses from its forward end to its rear end. This tapering ensures that a portion of sill fins 116 remains at a lower elevation than the lowest elevation of exterior stop 106, which facilitates drainage (e.g., caused by rain, snow, or the like) to prevent moisture from accumulating between exterior stop 106, screen 104, and sill interior stop 114. Additionally, this tapering creates a raised rearward facing surface 222 (FIG. 2) at the rear end of each sill fin 116 that acts to retain exterior stop 106 within exterior sill section channel 224 created between rearward facing surface 222 and the forward facing surface of screen 104. Rearward facing surface 222 is located at a distance from the forward facing surface of sill interior stop 114 that is slightly greater than the sum of the width of screen 104 and exterior stop 106. This distance accommodates the removable insertion of screen 104 and exterior stops 106 between sill interior stop 114 and sill fins 116. The design of sill fins 116 lifts exterior stop 106 as it is being inserted into housing 102 until the point at which it passes rearward facing surface 222. Upon passing such point, exterior stop 106 drops into exterior sill section channel 224 such that exterior stop 106 exerts rearward pressure on screen 104. This dropping is facilitated by the inclusion of a compressible section, such as compressible section 220, along the upwardly facing surface of exterior stop 206. This compressible section allows exterior stop 106 to be forced upward as it is pressed rearward along the upwardly facing surfaces of sill fins 116 until exterior stop 202 drops into exterior sill section channel 224. Also, the pressure exerted by exterior stop 106 onto screen 104 retains the latter in its desired position until exterior stop 106 is removed from housing 102. The removability of screen 104 and exterior stops 106 facilitates cleaning, repair, and maintenance of foundation vent 100.

In one embodiment of the present invention, housing 102 is installed in rough opening 124 of wall 122, the latter of which is formed of concrete blocks. That is, rough opening 124 for installation of housing 102 is formed by omitting one or more of the concrete blocks during construction of wall 122. For example, in one embodiment of the present invention, housing 102 is sized to fit within a rough opening of 16⅜″ by 16⅜″, which is equivalent to the net area equivalent to approximately two stacked CMUs. That is, approximately two standard sized concrete blocks, or the equivalent thereof (e.g., one whole concrete block and two halves of two additional concrete blocks) may be omitted from the foundation wall during its construction to create a rough opening for housing 102. Additionally, although foundation vent 100 is depicted as having a depth approximately equivalent to the depth of opening 124, foundation vents having varying depths may be substituted without departing from the scope of the present invention. For example, such depth may be a few inches to allow the foundation vent to be installed in a framed wall. Alternatively, the depth of the foundation vent may be less than a few inches to allow it to be installed in a door including, but not limited to, a garage door, an entry door, and the like. Virtually any depth of foundation vent that does not degrade its rigidity may be substituted without departing from the scope hereof. Also, although foundation vent 100 is discussed herein as being installed in a foundation wall (or door), alternate embodiments of the present invention are envisioned in which this vent is installed in a non-foundation wall or door (e.g., an attic wall) without departing from the scope hereof.

Once wall 122 having rough opening 124 is formed using conventional methods known in the art, housing 102 may be installed therein. First, housing 102 is inserted into rough opening 124 until rearward facing surfaces 128 of housing flanges 120 are in contact with the forwardly facing surface of wall 122. Optionally, an adhesive (e.g., a double-sided adhesive) may be placed on the rearward facing surfaces 128 of housing flanges 120 to provide a greater seal between housing flanges 120 and wall 122.

Next, fasteners 126 are passed from the interior of housing 102 through fastener apertures 118 into the portion of wall 122 surrounding rough opening 124. A side view of the installed fasteners 126 is depicted in FIG. 3. In some embodiments of the present invention, fasteners 126 are stainless steel set screws as such material provides good performance in coastal environments. However, other types of fasteners including, without limitation, galvanized, plastic, coated, and/or ridged set screws may be substituted without departing from the scope of the present invention.

In one aspect of the present invention, fastener apertures 118 are countersunk to allow the head of each fastener 126 to be installed at or below the surface of housing 102 through which the respective fastener 126 passes. However, countersunk fastener apertures 118 are not required to implement the present invention.

Thereafter, a leakage prevention material may be applied on or surrounding the intersection of rearward facing surfaces 128 of housing 102 and the forward facing surface of wall 122 in a manner that prevents or minimizes the passage of water, air, insects, or the like therethrough. In one aspect of the present invention, the leakage prevention material is caulk; however, other materials may be substituted including, without limitation, an adhesive-backed foam.

In some methods of installing the foundation vent of the present invention, one or more divots (i.e., small indentations) may be installed on the inwardly facing surfaces of rough opening 124 in locations that align with one or more fastener apertures 118 when housing 102 is inserted into rough opening 124. In one aspect of the present invention, divots may have a depth approximately equivalent to the fasteners to be inserted therein; however, this is not required to incorporate divots in the present invention. The use of divots will typically provide a more secure coupling of housing 102 to wall 122. However, creation of divots is not required to implement the present invention.

After housing 102 has been installed in rough opening 124, screen 104 may be installed in housing 102. In the embodiment of the present invention depicted in FIG. 1, screen 104 is installed by inserting first and second screen flanges 202a and 202b, respectively, into head and sill interior stop recesses 218 and 130, respectively. After screen 104 has been fully inserted, exterior stop 106 is installed by inserting its upper edge into head interior stop recess 214 and passing its lower edge over sill fins 116 until the lower edge falls into the channel between rearward facing surface 222 and the face of screen 104. Prior to the lower edge falling into the channel between rearward facing surface 222 and the face of screen 104, compressible section 220 allows the height of the lower edge of exterior stop 106 to be raised as it passes along sill fins 116.

Turning next to FIGS. 4A and 4B, depicted are front and rear views of screen 104, respectively. Screen 104 may be formed of virtually any material and in any configuration that allows air and water to pass easily therethrough provided that such material complies with all applicable codes. In one exemplary embodiment of the present invention, screen 104 is formed of sheet metal plates having a thickness equal to or greater than 0.047 inches (1.194 mm) thick and including 0.25 inches (6.35 mm) by 0.25 inches (6.35 mm) perforations 408 throughout face 404 of screen 104. Edges 406 of screen 104 are perforation free to provide increased stability of screen 104. Edges 406 are also bent to form screen flanges 202, which provide additional stability to screen 104 in addition to providing a more secure fitting of screen 104 to housing 102 and/or exterior stop 106. However, other materials may be substituted for sheet metal including, without limitation, cast metal and punched steel sheets. Or, for example, woven or welded wire mesh may be coupled to flanges of sheet metal or the like. Also, screens 104 having varying types of perforations may be substituted. Additionally, although screen 104 includes screen flanges 202 capable of insertion into sill, head, and jamb interior stop recesses 130, 218, and 302, alternate embodiments of the present invention are envisioned in which any one or more of screen flanges 202 are capable of insertion into one or more recesses located in exterior stop 106. Furthermore, although screen flanges 202 are depicted in FIGS. 4A and 4B as four independent, non-connected screen flanges, the edges of each screen flange 202 may be modified to extend the full width of screen 104 and, optionally, the edges of each screen flange 202 may be welded to the adjacent screen flanges 202. Or, in another alternate embodiment, each screen flange 202 may be formed as a plurality of tabs or flanges rather than one continuous flange. For example, during manufacturing of a plurality of foundation vents 100, the plurality of tabs may be staggered between each foundation vent 100 such that material waste is minimized.

In the exemplary embodiment of the present invention in which housing 102 is 16 inches (410 mm) by 16 inches (410 mm) by 16 inches (410 mm), a compatible screen 104 may have a height of 15 inches (381 mm), a width of 15 inches (381 mm), and the depth of screen flanges 202 may be 0.375 inches (9.5 mm). However, other sizes may be substituted without departing from the scope hereof.

Referring now to FIG. 5, depicted is a perspective view of exterior stop 106 depicted in FIGS. 1A and 1B. Exterior stop 106 includes four exterior segments 502a-502d in the form of a square. However, other non-square embodiments (e.g., rectangular, circular, diagonal, etc.) may be substituted for use with non-square embodiments of housing 102 and/or screen 104.

In some embodiments of the present invention, exterior stop 106 is formed from polypropylene to allow it to match the aesthetic characteristics of a housing also formed from polypropylene. In some such embodiments, the interior of exterior stop 106 is reinforced with one or more reinforcing materials including, without limitation, fiberglass and metal to increase its rigidity. However, other materials may be substituted without departing from the scope of the present invention including, without limitation, extruded and cast aluminum.

In another aspect of the present invention, exterior stop 106 includes compressible section 220 along the upwardly facing surface of exterior segment 502a. In some embodiments of the present invention, compressible section 220 is an adhesive-backed foam strip measuring 0.25 inches (6.35 mm) wide by 14.5 inches (368 mm) long by 0.25 inches (6.35 mm) high in its uncompressed state. However, alternate compressible sections may be substituted including, without limitation, spring-loaded sections. Or, in alternate embodiments, compressible section 220 may be omitted without departing from the scope of the present invention.

In the exemplary embodiment of the present invention in which housing 102 is 16 inches (410 mm) by 16 inches (410 mm) by 16 inches (410 mm) and screen 104 has a height of 15 inches (381 mm), a width of 15 inches (381 mm), and a depth of 0.375 inches (9.5 mm), exterior stop 106 may be 15.25 inches (387 mm) high by 15.25 inches (387 mm) wide by 0.75 inches (19 mm) deep. Each segment 502a-502d of exterior stop 106 may have a cross-sectional size of 0.75 inches (19 mm) high by 0.75 inches (19 mm) wide. However, other sizes may be substituted without departing from the scope hereof. Furthermore, exterior segments 502 may be hollow or filled without departing from the scope hereof.

Turning now to FIG. 6, depicted is a decorative exterior stop 606 in accordance with an alternate embodiment of the present invention. Decorative exterior stop 606 includes four exterior segments 602 in the form of a square and four interior grill segments 622 in the form of a mathematical addition sign (i.e., “+”). The inclusion of interior grill segments 622 in the square decorative exterior stop 606 creates four equal square openings. However, other non-square embodiments (e.g., rectangular, circular, diagonal, etc.) of exterior segments 602 may be substituted for use with non-square embodiments of housing 102 and/or screen 104. Also, varying configurations of interior grill segments 622 may be substituted including, but not limited to, X-shaped, diagonal, circular, vertical, and horizontal grill segments.

In some embodiments of the present invention, decorative exterior stops 606 and/or interior grill segments 622 are formed from polypropylene to allow it to match the aesthetic characteristics of a housing also formed from polypropylene. In some such embodiments, at least a portion of the interior of decorative exterior stop 606 and/or interior grill segments 622 are reinforced with one or more reinforcing materials including, without limitation, fiberglass and metal to increase its rigidity. However, other materials may be substituted without departing from the scope of the present invention including, without limitation, extruded and cast aluminum.

In another aspect of the present invention, decorative exterior stop 606 includes compressible section 620 along the upwardly facing surface of exterior segment 602a. In some embodiments of the present invention, compressible section 620 is an adhesive-backed foam strip measuring 0.25 inches (6.35 mm) wide by 14.5 inches (368 mm) long by 0.25 inches (6.35 mm) high in its uncompressed state. However, alternate compressible sections may be substituted including, without limitation, spring-loaded sections. Or, in alternate embodiments, compressible section 620 may be omitted without departing from the scope of the present invention.

In the exemplary embodiment of the present invention in which housing 102 is 16 inches (410 mm) by 16 inches (410 mm) by 16 inches (410 mm) and screen 104 has a height of 15 inches (381 mm), a width of 15 inches (381 mm), and a depth of 0.375 inches (9.5 mm), decorate exterior stop 606 may be 15.25 inches (387 mm) high by 15.25 inches (387 mm) wide by 0.75 inches (19 mm) deep. Each exterior segment 602a-602d and each interior grill segment 622a-622d of decorate exterior stop 606 may have a cross-sectional size of 0.75 inches (19 mm) high by 0.75 inches (19 mm) wide. Such sizing creates four equal square openings of 6.5 inches (165 mm) high by 6.5 inches (165 mm) wide. However, other sizes may be substituted without departing from the scope hereof. Furthermore, exterior segments 602 and/or interior grill segments 622 may be hollow or filled without departing from the scope hereof.

Referring now to FIG. 7, depicted is a louvered exterior stop 706 in accordance with an alternate embodiment of the present invention. Louver fins 724 allow the passage of air and flood water through foundation vent 100 while providing a plurality of benefits including, without limitation: deflection of sunlight and precipitation away from screen 104, the interior of housing 102, and the enclosed under floor area served by foundation vent 100; and privacy with regards to the interior of the enclosed under floor area.

Louvered exterior stop 706 includes four exterior segments 702 in the form of a square and one vertical interior grill segment 722. Interior grill segment 722 extends from the upwardly facing surface of exterior segment 702b to the downwardly facing surface of exterior segment 702a such that it bisects exterior segments 702a and 702b. The inclusion of interior grill segment 722 allows a plurality of louver fins 724, having a length slightly less than half the length of louvered exterior stop 706, to be removably or irremovably supported on both ends via coupling of a first end to one of the outwardly facing surfaces of interior grill segment 722 and coupling of a second end to the inwardly facing surface of exterior stop 702c or 702d. In one aspect of the present invention, such coupling will be performed via molding. However, other methods of coupling may be substituted without departing from the scope hereof. However, other non-square embodiments (e.g., rectangular, circular, diagonal, etc.) of exterior segments 702 may be substituted for use with non-square embodiments of housing 102 and/or screen 104. Also, varying configurations of interior grill segment 722 may be substituted. For example, two vertical interior grill segments may be substituted for the single grill segment depicted in FIG. 7. In this scenario, three columns of louver fins are incorporated between each interior grill segment and exterior segments 702c and 702d. Alternatively, interior grill segment 722 may be omitted and louvered exterior stop 706 may include a single column of louvered fins 724 extending from the inwardly facing surface of exterior stop 702c to the inwardly facing surface of exterior stop 702d. Also, although louver fins 724 are shown as a part of louvered exterior stop 706, alternate embodiments of the present invention are envisioned in which louver fins are included on one or more components mounted rearward of screen 104 and/or sill, head, and jamb interior stops 114, 206, and 306, respectively, (i.e., in the interior portion of housing 102). In such an embodiment, louver fins may be attached to the inwardly facing surfaces of sill 108, head 204, and/or jambs 110.

In some embodiments of the present invention, louvered exterior stop 706, interior grill segment 722, and/or louver fins 724 are formed from polypropylene to allow it to match the aesthetic characteristics of a housing also formed from polypropylene. In some such embodiments, at least a portion of the interior of louvered exterior stop 706, interior grill segment 722, and/or louver fins 724 is reinforced with one or more reinforcing materials including, without limitation, fiberglass and metal to increase its rigidity. However, other materials may be substituted without departing from the scope of the present invention. Alternatively, one or more portions of louvered exterior stop 706 may be hollow such that the cavity therein may be filled with a foam, a filler (e.g., an epoxy-based filler), or the like to increase the rigidity thereof.

In another aspect of the present invention, louvered exterior stop 706 includes compressible section 720 along the upwardly facing surface of exterior segment 702a. In some embodiments of the present invention, compressible section 720 is an adhesive-backed foam strip measuring 0.25 inches (6.35 mm) wide by 14.5 inches (368 mm) long by 0.25 inches (6.35 mm) high in its uncompressed state. However, alternate compressible sections may be substituted including, without limitation, spring-loaded sections. Or, in alternate embodiments, compressible section 720 may be omitted without departing from the scope of the present invention.

In the exemplary embodiment of the present invention in which housing 102 is 16 inches (410 mm) by 16 inches (410 mm) by 16 inches (410 mm) and screen 104 has a height of 15 inches (381 mm), a width of 15 inches (381 mm), and a depth of 0.375 inches (9.5 mm), louvered exterior stop 706 may be 15.25 inches (387 mm) high by 15.25 inches (387 mm) wide. Each exterior segment 702a-702d and interior grill segment 722 of louvered exterior stop 706 may have a cross-sectional size of 0.75 inches (19 mm) high by 0.75 inches (19 mm) wide. Additionally, louver fins 724 have a length of 6.5 inches (165 mm) long, a width of 1.5 inches (38 mm), and a thickness of 0.06 inches (1.6 mm). Each louver fin 724 also has a downward slope of approximately 45 degrees extending away from screen 104. The clear spacing between each louver fin 724 is approximately 1 inch (25.4 mm). However, other sizes may be substituted for these components without departing from the scope hereof. Furthermore, exterior segments 702, interior grill segment 722, and/or louver fins 724 may be hollow or filled without departing from the scope hereof.

Now referring to FIGS. 8A and 8B, depicted are an exploded view of the installation of foundation vent 800 and an installed view of foundation vent 800, which is one exemplary alternate embodiment of the foundation vent of the present invention. In the embodiment of the present invention depicted in FIGS. 8A and 8B, all depicted components are identical to the components depicted in FIGS. 1A and 1B as described above with the following exceptions: interior stop recesses 218 have been omitted; exterior stop recesses 930a and 930b (FIG. 9) have been added; screen 104 is installed in housing 102 with its screen flanges 202 facing forward rather than rearward; weep apertures 912 (FIG. 9) have been added; and a rearward portion of interior sill section 108a, interior head section 204a, and interior jamb sections 302a have been removed to form indented downwardly facing head surface 908 (FIG. 9), indented upwardly facing sill surface 910 (FIG. 9), and indented inwardly facing jamb surfaces 1116 (FIG. 11). Such changes are more clearly depicted in FIGS. 9, 10, and 11, the description of which follows.

Referring now to FIG. 9, interior stop recesses 218 have been omitted and exterior stop recesses 930a and 930b have been added to allow screen flanges 202 to be inserted into recess 930 extending along the perimeter of exterior stop 806 in lieu of sill, head, and jamb interior stop recesses 130, 214, and 318, respectively, as depicted in FIGS. 2 and 3. That is, recesses 930a through 930d, as better depicted in the rear view of alternate exterior stop 906 depicted in FIG. 10, are included along the latitudinal midpoint of nearly the entire length of exterior segments 902a-902d. This configuration allows screen 104 to be coupled to exterior stop 106 prior to inserting either component into housing 102.

Furthermore, a plurality of weep apertures 912 has been added along the length of sill 106. Each weep aperture 912 passes through sill interior stop 114. The upwardly facing bottom surface 914 of each weep aperture 912 follows the same slope present in exterior sill section 108b. Such sloping of upwardly facing bottom surface 914 facilitates drainage of precipitation or other moisture that collects on interior and exterior sill portions 108a and 108b, respectively, toward the exterior of the foundation.

As also depicted in FIG. 9, a rearward portion of both interior sill section 108a and interior head section 204a have been removed to form indented downwardly facing head surface 908 and indented upwardly facing sill surface 910, respectively. These indented surfaces provide a larger interior area within housing 802. That is, the distance between indented downwardly facing head surface 908 and indented upwardly facing sill surface 910 is greater than the distance between interior head section downwardly facing surface 212a and interior sill section upwardly facing surface 208a, as depicted in FIG. 2. This larger area accommodates the inclusion of larger components (e.g., louvered sections) rearward of screen 104. In one aspect of the present invention, indented downwardly facing head surface and indented upwardly facing sill surface 908 and 910, respectively, are substantially horizontal and non-sloping, however, other non-horizontal embodiments may be substituted without departing from the scope of the present invention.

Referring finally to FIG. 11, depicted are exterior stop recesses 930c and 930d, which have been added to allow screen flanges 202 to be inserted into recess 930 extending along the perimeter of exterior stop 806 in lieu of sill, head, and jamb interior stop recesses 130, 214, and 318, respectively, as depicted in FIGS. 2 and 3. That is, recesses 930a through 930d, as better depicted in the rear view of alternate exterior stop 806 depicted in FIG. 10, are included along the latitudinal midpoint of nearly the entire length of exterior segments 902a-902d. This configuration allows screen 104 to be coupled to exterior stop 806 prior to inserting either component into housing 802.

Furthermore, FIG. 11 depicts a top view of the plurality of weep apertures 912 that have been added along the length of sill 106. Each weep aperture 912 passes through sill interior stop 114. As depicted, weep apertures 912 pass latitudinally through a portion of interior sill section 106a and sill interior stop 114. Although five substantially rectangular weep apertures 912 are depicted, varying quantities and shapes of weep apertures 912 may be substituted without departing from the scope of the present invention.

As also depicted in FIG. 11, a rearward portion of both interior jamb sections 302a and 304a have been removed to form indented inwardly facing jamb surfaces 1116a and 1116b. These indented surfaces provide a larger interior area within housing 802. That is, the distance between indented inwardly facing jamb surfaces 1116a and 1116b is greater than the distance between inwardly facing surfaces 310a and 310b, as depicted in FIG. 3. This larger area accommodates the inclusion of larger components (e.g., louvered sections) rearward of screen 104.

Any one or more of the components of the foundation vent may have the net clear opening design specifications embossed, or otherwise displayed in a fixed manner, on such component to easily identify the specific ventilation and flood water ratings. However, such indicia are not required to implement the present invention.

It will be appreciated by those skilled in the art that changes could be made to the embodiments described above without departing from the broad inventive concept thereof. It is understood, therefore, that this invention is not limited to the particular embodiments disclosed, but it is intended to cover modifications within the spirit and scope of the present invention as defined by the appended claims.