Title:
REMOVABLE AND REPLACEABLE DRAIN DEBRIS COLLECTOR
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
The invention provided a drain plug system in which the top of the drain plug, or stopper is easily detached from the drain plug itself via a connector. The system further comprises a discrete and easily accessible generally tubular debris collector having a plurality of radial projections, where the collector may be placed about the upper stem of the drain plug. The radial projections may be arranged in one of numerous possible arrangements, and each of the projections may extend in one of multiple different lengths, with a maximum determined by the drain pipe size. With the present system, the user may easily access the debris collector and either clean it or replace it with a fresh one, discarding the used one, without needing to remove the drain plug from a basin drain.



Inventors:
Thompson, Thomas (Aliso Viejo, CA, US)
Application Number:
12/267533
Publication Date:
05/13/2010
Filing Date:
11/07/2008
Primary Class:
International Classes:
E03C1/26
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
PHILLIPS, CHARLES E
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
KNOBBE MARTENS OLSON & BEAR LLP (IRVINE, CA, US)
Claims:
What is claimed is:

1. A drain debris collection system comprising: a drain plug comprising an elongate body configured to extend into the drain of a liquid collection basin, the drain plug body comprising a stem having a shoulder thereon and a first connector at one end of the stem, the drain plug further comprising a seal cap with a corresponding second connector for detachable engagement of the seal cap with the stem; and a debris collector comprising a generally tubular body comprising thereon a plurality of radial projections, the debris collector being configured to be placed over the stem of the drain plug, wherein when the drain plug with debris collector is placed within a basin drain, access may be made to the debris collector without removing the drain plug by simply detaching the seal cap from the stem of the drain plug.

2. The system of claim 1 wherein some of the radial projections extend radially outward further than others.

3. The system of claim 1 wherein the second connector comprises a threaded connection.

4. The system of claim 1 wherein the debris collector body is generally cylindrical.

5. The system of claim 1 wherein the radial projections are not axially aligned.

Description:

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

1. Field of the Invention

The present invention relates generally to plumbing features and, more specifically, to removable and replaceable drain filters for sinks and tubs.

2. Description of the Related Art

There is no doubt a recurring problem with the collection of debris in drains of sinks and tubs. In the average household, the debris consists of hair, gunk and occasionally small jewelry. While many use chemical solutions that work fairly successfully, there are the less squeamish who do not mind the task of physically removing whatever debris accumulates around the drain plug. The configuration of conventional drain plugs have numerous surfaces to collect debris when it falls into the sink drain. Thus, without a separate “collection” component, the person cleaning the drain is left with detaching and removing debris often glued to the drain plug. Not surprisingly, it is messy and sometimes time-consuming.

In the past, there have been suggestions to provide some type of collection or filter component to the drain plug system, such as a basket or spike collar. For example, U.S. Pat. No. 3,959,831 to Hendricks shows a spiked collar that acts as to collect debris as it falls through the drain. The collar is placed about the lower stem of the plug and is not accessible to the user when the drain plug is in place. Similarly, U.S. Pat. No. 4,932,082 to Ridgeway shows a basket that can be secured to the lower stem of the drain plug. Like the Hendricks device, the Ridgeway device is not accessible to the user when the drain plug is in place. Yet another device is described in U.S. Pat. No. 3,972,078 to Maki, which shows an annular coil placed underneath the stopper (cap) of the drain plug to filter out debris before it enters the drain.

All of these proposed devices are limited in their usefulness. Both the Hendricks and F Ridgeway concepts require the user to withdraw the entire drain plug from the drain in order to remove the collected debris from the collection mechanism, whether it be the spiked collar or basket. With most drain plugs, withdrawal from the drain is not an easy process because the bottom of the drain plug stem is often connected to an actuator rod that permits the user to raise and lower the drain plug from a knob above the sink. The user must reach below the sink to disconnect the rod from the stem, and then return to above the sink to remove the F drain plug. So the basket and collar concepts of the prior art are not very practical. The Maki device is also not easily removed without withdrawing the drain plug from the drain. Moreover, it would not be very aesthetically pleasing if left in place for very long because the accumulated debris would be visible and would have to be removed continuously by the user. Thus, an improved drain plug debris collection system is needed.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

The invention provided comprises embodiments for improving upon prior attempts at practical solutions for preventing drain clogs and for recapturing inadvertently dropped jewelry and similar small items from drains. In one embodiment, the invention comprises a drain plug system in which the top of the drain plug, or stopper is easily detached from the drain plug itself with, for example, a threaded male-female connector. The system further comprises a discrete and easily accessible generally tubular debris collector having a plurality of radial projections, where the collector may be placed about the upper stem of the drain plug. The radial projections may be arranged in one of numerous possible arrangements, and each of the projections may extend in one of multiple different lengths, with a maximum determined by the drain pipe size. By combining an easily detachable stopper cap from the drain plug with an accessible and replaceable collection collar, the user is presented with a system that is far more practical than the prior art devices. With the present system, the user may easily access the debris collector and either clean it or replace it with a fresh one, discarding the used one. Eliminating the need to clean the debris collector is particularly appealing to users.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

FIG. 1 shows a schematic side view of one embodiment of a drain plug of the present inventive system.

FIGS. 2A and 2B show schematic views of the replaceable debris collector with radial projections.

FIG. 3 shows a schematic side view of the debris collector of FIGS. 2A-2B placed around the stem of the drain plug of FIG. 1.

FIGS. 4A-C show variations of the collar embodiment of FIGS. 2A-2B.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENT

Referring to FIG. 1, one embodiment of the present invention comprises an improved drain plug debris collection system 10 comprising a drain plug 12 having a drain plug stem 14 extending along a length of the drain plug 12. The drain stem, in this particular case, is defined by a multi-lateral cross-section; for example, a four-walled body, although other cross-sections are contemplated. The stem could be defined with a different cross section if so desired, and can be made of any material. In one embodiment, the stem 14 comprises a plastic material for ease and economics of manufacture.

Positioned along the axial length of the stem 14 is a four-walled shoulder 16 that has a diametric width preferably close to the width of the drain in which the drain plug 12 is intended to be used. At the top end of the stem 14 is preferably a threaded connector 18 (shown in phantom) for receiving a corresponding threaded connection of a plug seal 20 that acts as a stopper when the drain plug is directed downwardly within a basin drain. At the base of the stem 14 is an extension 22 with an opening 26 therein to accept a actuator rod (not shown) therethrough. As with conventional drain plugs, the extension 22 permits locking control of the drain plug 10 from an actuator (not shown) normally provided with many styles of basins (sinks, tubs, etc.). The plug seal 20 is easily detachable from the stem 14 so that access to the drain may be provided without having to remove the plug from the basin drain.

Referring to FIGS. 2A and 2B, the drain plug debris collection system 10 further comprises a debris collector 30 itself comprising, in one embodiment, a generally cylindrical tubular body 32 that is sized to fit easily over the stem 14 of the drain plug 12. It should be noted that the debris collector body 32 may comprise other tubular cross-sectional shapes such as rectilinear and other axial shapes such as tapered. The tubular arrangement permits placement of the debris collector over the stem of the drain plug. The collector maybe constructed of a single piece of a plurality of pieces joined together for placement around the stem 14.

Positioned along the length of the debris collector body 32 are a plurality of rows of radial projections. In one embodiment, the top rows of projections 36 are relatively short so that the debris dropping from the basin into the drain has room to collect out of sight. The bottom rows of projections 38 are longer and extend radially outwardly to just short of the drain wall (when installed) so as to catch any debris falling down the drain. In this particular embodiment, there are eight radial projections in each of the rows 36, 38. The layout of the radial projections along the length and periphery of the debris collector body 32, however, may vary depending upon the intended application (i.e., light duty, heavy duty, residential, industrial, etc.), as shown in FIGS. 4A-C. Moreover, while the projections of the embodiment described herein are shown as being rectilinear in cross-section, other cross-sectional shapes are contemplated as well, including tapered cylinders.

The combined assembly of drain plug 12 and debris collector body 30 are shown in FIG. 3, with the debris collector body 32 shown placed around the drain plug stem 14 and resting upon the drain plug shoulder 16. One can appreciate from this arrangement that by removing the plug seal 20, the user can simply pull the debris collector 30 out of the drain to either clean it or replace it.

Referring to FIGS. 4A and 4B, a debris collector 40 comprising a generally cylindrical body 42 with a plurality of rows of radial projections. As with the embodiment of FIGS. 2A and 2B, there are an upper set of rows 46 of relatively short projections, and a lower set of rows 48 of longer projections. With this embodiment, however, some of the longer projection rows are not axially aligned. This has the benefit of ensuring capture of falling debris without the need to have a large number of projections in each row. Where a large number of projections are placed in each row, for example twenty projections), axial misalignment may not be necessary. Regardless, there are a variety of arrangements possible with the present inventive system. Referring to FIG. 4C, another embodiment of debris collector 50 can be provided comprising a generally cylindrical body 52 with a relatively small number of rows 56 of short projections, and a relatively large number of rows 58 of projections. If desired, all of the projections on the debris collector may be long, or very few may be long. Again, the number and size of projections, and the arrangement on the debris collector depends upon its intended use.

Although embodiments of this invention have been disclosed in the context of certain preferred embodiments and examples, it will be understood by those skilled in the art that the embodiments of the present invention extend beyond the specifically disclosed embodiments to other alternative embodiments and/or uses of the invention and obvious modifications and equivalents thereof. Additionally, it is contemplated that various aspects and features of the invention described can be practiced separately, combined together, or substituted for one another, and that a variety of combination and-subcombinations of the features and aspects can be made and still fall within the scope of the invention. Thus, it is intended that the scope of the present invention herein disclosed should not be limited by the particular disclosed embodiments described above, but should be determined only by a fair reading of the claims.