Title:
HIGH WIND EVENT PRESSURE EQUALIZATION DEVICE
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A pressure equalization device 200 comprises an elongated member 202 arranged and designed to extend between an exterior and an interior of a building 100 and at least one rupture disc 208. The rupture disc 208 may be any appropriate shape and is configured to rupture when an air pressure differential between the exterior and interior of the building exceeds a certain threshold, thereby allowing the exterior and interior air pressures to substantially equalize. The device may contain end caps 205 which may be attached to the elongated member 202 by a friction fit or other suitable method.



Inventors:
Ploeger, Kurt (Beaumont, TX, US)
Application Number:
14/735918
Publication Date:
12/17/2015
Filing Date:
06/10/2015
Assignee:
PLOEGER KURT
Primary Class:
International Classes:
E04B1/92; E04H9/14
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
HIJAZ, OMAR F
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
ANDREWS KURTH KENYON LLP (HOUSTON, TX, US)
Claims:
What is claimed is:

1. A pressure equalization device (200) comprising: a hollow elongated member (202) arranged and designed to extend between an exterior and an interior of a building, said member (202) having an exterior end and an interior end; at least one rupture disc (208) coupled with the elongated member (202), wherein the rupture disc (208) is designed to rupture when an air pressure differential between the exterior and interior exceeds a predetermined air pressure differential, thereby allowing the exterior and interior air pressures of said building to substantially equalize.

2. The device of claim 1, further including an end cap (205) disposed at the exterior end of the elongated member (202).

3. The device of claim 2, wherein the end cap (205) is connected to the elongated member (202) by a friction fit.

4. The device of claim 1, further including an end cap (205) disposed at the interior end of the elongated member (202), wherein the rupture disc (208) is disposed within the end cap (205).

5. The device of claim 1, wherein the pressure equalization device (200) is installed in a wall (101) of a building.

6. The device of claim 1, wherein the elongated member (202) is at least 6 inches long.

7. The device of claim 1, wherein the elongated member (202) has an outer diameter of at least one-half inch.

8. The device of claim 1, further comprising a mounting flange (204) arranged and designed for mounting the pressure equalization device (200) to a wall of a building.

9. The device of claim 8, wherein the mounting flange (204) is an integrally formed component of the elongated member (202).

10. The device of claim 1, wherein the elongated member (202) is made substantially of a polymer material.

11. The device of claim 1, wherein the rupture disc (208) is replaced with a rupture wall (208).

12. The device of claim 1, wherein the rupture disc (208) is disposed at or near an end of the elongated member (202).

13. The device of claim 1, wherein the rupture disc (208) is disposed within the elongated member (202).

14. A pressure equalization device (200) comprising: an elongated member (202) arranged and designed to extend between an exterior and an interior of a building, said member having an exterior end and an interior end; at least one mounting flange (204) affixed to the elongated member (202), wherein the mounting flange (204) is arranged and designed for mounting the pressure equalization device (200) to a wall of a building; at least one end cap (205) arranged and designed to be coupled to an end of the elongated member (202); and, at least one rupture wall (208) disposed at the distal end of the end cap (205), wherein the rupture wall (208) is designed to rupture when an air pressure differential between the exterior and interior of the building exceeds a predetermined air pressure differential, thereby allowing the exterior and interior air pressures of the building to substantially equalize.

15. The device of claim 14, wherein the end cap (205) attaches to the mounting flange (204) by a lip (209) on the end cap (205) that is configured to engage the mounting flange (204).

Description:

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

1. Field Of the Invention

The invention disclosed herein is a device which substantially equalizes air pressures present inside and outside of a building during high wind events, such as hurricanes and tornadoes.

2. Description of the Prior Art

High winds are associated with many bad weather events, such as hurricanes and tornadoes, and affect fixed structures, such as buildings, in a number of ways. One way is often a differential between air pressure within the building and outside. For example, a high wind event may generate a positive pressure event where air pressure outside of a building quickly exceeds or substantially exceeds the air pressure within the building. A negative pressure event is created where air pressure inside of a building quickly exceeds air pressure outside of that building. A combination of positive and negative pressure events can be created, either inside or out. When air pressure ratings of the building's doors and windows are exceeded, they fail, leading to potential loss within the building, or loss of the building itself. A device is needed which is capable of mitigating pressure differentials created between a building's interior and exterior during high wind events. Previous attempts to address this issue have included the incorporation of one-way valves, flapper valves, and breathing tubes. These attempts often allow air to escape from a building or other enclosed space but prevent air from re-entering that building. See U.S. Pat. No. 6,484,459; U.S. Pat. No. 3,570,201; and German Patent DE102005002285. These types of systems may lead to a loss of conditioned interior air any time there is a low pressure weather system in the area surrounding the building. The previous solutions often involve moving parts that may require maintenance or become less effective over time.

3. Identification of the Objects of the Invention

An object of the invention is to provide a device that substantially equalizes exterior air pressure and interior air pressure within a building during inclement weather, particularly high wind events.

Another object of the invention is to provide a low-cost and substantially maintenance free safety device for equalizing exterior air pressure and interior air pressure within a building.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

A pressure equalization device (“PED”), suitable for use in a building or structure that is enclosed or semi-enclosed having an interior environment substantially insulated from an exterior (e.g., outdoor) environment, is disclosed. The PED may be a device that, upon reaching a certain pressure differential threshold, allows substantial equalization of exterior air pressure and interior air pressure within a building during storm conditions.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

FIG. 1 illustrates an embodiment of a pressure equalization device 200 installed in a wall 101 of a building.

FIG. 2 is an exploded view of the pressure equalization device 200.

FIG. 3A is an end view of an end cap 205 to be coupled to an exterior end or interior end of pressure equalization device 200.

FIG. 3B is a side view of an embodiment of end cap 205.

FIG. 4 shows an alternative embodiment of the pressure equalization device 200.

FIG. 5 shows yet another embodiment of the pressure equalization device 200.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION

The following reference numbers are used to designate elements of the invention:

100—Building

101—Wall

104—Outside Building Material

106—Wall Material

107—Ceiling Material

108—Top Plate

110—Rafters

112—Roof Decking

114—Roofing Material

116—Fascia

118—Soffit Material

200—Pressure Equalization Device

202—Elongated Member

203—Central Bore

204—Mounting Flange

205—End Cap

206—End Cap Flange

207—Cap Portion

208—Cap Portion Rupture Disc

209—End Cap Flange Lip

220—Exterior End Cap

222—Interior End Cap

FIG. 1 is a cross-section of a building 100 with a pressure equalization device 200 installed in a wall 101. Wall studs having insulation (not shown) therebetween form a substantially vertical wall structure. Rafters 110 having insulation (not shown) therebetween form a substantially horizontal ceiling structure. Rafters 110 may be attached to a top portion of the wall studs at a top plate 108. On the inside of the building, wall material 106 (e.g., dry wall or paneling) is attached to the wall studs for forming a solid interior wall, and ceiling material 107 is attached to the rafters 110 for forming a solid ceiling. On the outside of the building, siding 104 or other outside building materials (e.g., brick, stone, stucco, etc.) may be attached to or cover the wall studs, forming a solid exterior wall of the building. One or more openings, such as doors and windows (not shown), may be framed and included in the completed walls 101. Roof decking 112 typically extends diagonally upward from ends of the rafters 110 forming a pitched roof structure, and roofing material 114 may be attached to the roof decking 112. Fascia 116 is also often attached on ends of the rafters 110, and soffit material 118 is attached to exterior lower surfaces of the rafters 110. As shown, the wall 101 of a building divides an outside environment from an inside environment within the building.

One or more PEDs 200 may be installed within a wall 101 of a building. Multiple PEDs 200 may also be installed on separate walls 101 of a single building. The PEDs are configured to extend from at least the wall's 101 exterior to its interior, that is, outside to inside, or vice versa. The PEDs 200 may be positioned within the wall 101 to minimize visual appearance from one or both the exterior and interior. For example, the PED 200 may be installed a certain distance from the finished interior ceiling 107, preferably as close as possible, to minimize visual appearance. The PEDs 200 may also be painted or otherwise decorated to reduce visibility.

FIG. 2 illustrates a cross-section of the preferred embodiment of PED 200 which includes an elongated member 202 that is configured to extend from an exterior to an interior of a wall 101. Therefore, the elongated member 202 may be any length depending on the thickness of the wall 101. The elongated member 202 may be any size or shape. Preferably, the elongated member 202 is substantially cylindrical having a central bore 203 extending therethrough. The elongated member 202 may be any outer diameter and have any wall thickness. For example, an outer diameter of the elongated member 202 may be one-half (½) inch, or one (1) inch, or greater. A mounting flange 204 may be disposed around a circumference of the elongated member 202. The mounting flange 204 may also be referred to as an exterior flange, because the mounting flange 204 is generally located on an exterior of the wall 101 when assembled. The mounting flange 204 may be any shape, preferably circular, and have any diameter. The mounting flange 204 may include a plurality of small diameter fastener holes extending through the mounting flange 204 to receive fasteners. The mounting flange 204 may be formed integrally with the elongated member 202 or attached thereto as a separate component by any suitable means.

The PED 200 further includes an exterior end cap 220 and an interior end cap 222. The end caps 220 and 222 each include a cap 205 illustrated in FIGS. 3A and 3B. The exterior end cap 220 and interior end cap 222 are designed to be installed on ends of the elongated member 202. Preferably, an interference or friction fit is provided between the end caps 205 and the ends of the elongated member 202 to prevent the end caps 205 from being easily removed. That is, an inner diameter of the end caps 205 is slightly smaller than an outer diameter of the elongated member 202. Alternatively, an inner diameter of the end caps 205 may be slightly larger than an outer diameter of the elongated member 202 and still achieve a snug fit. The end caps 205 may be machined or molded (e.g., injection-molded, blow-molded), or manufactured using any other process. FIGS. 3A and 3B illustrate the design of an end cap 205. The end cap 205 includes an end cap flange 206 and a cap portion 207 attached to the end cap flange 206. In some embodiments, the end cap flange 206 may include a lip 209 that is configured to engage and fit over the mounting flange 204. The cap portion 207 is generally smaller in diameter than the end cap flange 206 and preferably concentrically positioned on the end cap flange 206. The cap portion 207 is preferably cylindrical and hollow within. The cap portion 207 generally has an inner diameter that is slightly smaller than the outer diameter of the elongated member 202 for an interference fit. The cap portion 207 may include a rupture disc or rupture wall 208 at a distal end. While the current description typically refers to rupture discs 208, it will be appreciated that the rupture disc or wall 208 may be any appropriate shape and is not limited to circular discs. The rupture disc 208 is configured to substantially cover an end of the cap portion 207 thereby enclosing the cap portion 207 on one end. Alternatively, one or more rupture discs 208 may be disposed within and along a length of the elongated member 202.

The rupture disc 208 may be located at a distal end of the cap portion 207. Alternatively, the rupture disc 208 may be located at other locations within the cap portion 207. The rupture disc 208 may be configured to span an area within the cap portion 207 and rupture, break, or burst upon contact by a certain force or pressure. Preferably, the rupture disc 208 is a thin-walled solid surface. For example, the rupture disc 208 may be less than one-sixteenth ( 1/16) inch, or less than one-eighth (⅛) inch, or greater. The disc 208 may be configured to rupture or fail at particular air pressure differentials between the outside and inside air pressures. In one embodiment, the rupture disc 208 is configured to fail when an outside/inside air pressure differential exceeds approximately ten (10) pounds per square foot (psf). In other embodiments, the rupture disc 208 may be configured to fail when an outside/inside air pressure differential exceeds at least twenty (20) psf or thirty (30) psf. Still larger air pressure differentials may be used than the examples above. In one embodiment, the discs 208 may be designed to rupture at an air pressure that is less than air pressure ratings of doors or windows in a building.

As discussed, a rupture disc 208 may be located at the distal end of a cap portion 207 or disposed at an end or within the body of the elongated member 202. FIG. 4 illustrates an embodiment of a PED 200 in which a rupture disc 208 is disposed at the exterior end of the elongated member 202. In this embodiment, the PED 200 may be installed by fastening the mounting flange 204 to the exterior of a wall and sliding the elongated member through a hole cut into the interior wall material 106. A bead of caulk or other sealant may be placed around the elongated member 202 where the member 202 penetrates the wall material 106. This sealant would further secure the PED 200 in place.

FIG. 5 illustrates another alternative embodiment of a PED 200. In this embodiment, both exterior and interior ends of the elongated member 202 remain open. A rupture disc 208 disposed within the elongated member 202 prevents the exchange of interior and exterior air until a pressure differential causes the rupture disc 208 to burst and allows the internal and external air pressures to substantially equalize. This embodiment may be installed in a wall of a building following the steps discussed above.

The PEDs 200 disclosed herein may be constructed of various types of material. In one embodiment, the PED 200 may be a polymer, such as polyvinyl chloride (“PVC”), or others. PEDs 200 may be formed using all the same material. Alternatively, only portions of the PED 200 may be a polymer such as PVC. For example, only the rupture disc 208 may be PVC. That is, different components of the PED 200 may be made of different materials.

PEDs 200 may be installed in existing walls 101 or in new construction. Methods of installing in an existing wall 101 include first drilling a small diameter pilot hole through the wall 101. A larger hole corresponding to an outer diameter of the elongated member 202 of the PED 200 may then be drilled through the wall 101. The PED 200 is installed from the outside of the wall 101 to the inside, although it may also be installed from the inside to the outside in certain instances. After the PED 200 is properly positioned, any sealing material may be applied around the mounting flange 204 of the PED 200. Fasteners may be inserted through holes in the mounting flange 204 to engage the wall 101 and secure the mounting flange 204 to the wall 101.

In one method of installation, an exterior end cap 220 may then be installed onto the elongated member 202. Preferably, the exterior end cap 220 is designed to snap onto and over the end of elongated member 202. An end of the elongated member 202 protruding into the interior may be cut to a desired length relative to the interior wall material 106. Preferably, the end is cut to within less than one inch of the finished interior wall material 106. An interior end cap 222 is then installed onto the elongated member 202. Preferably, the interior end cap 222 is designed to snap onto and over the elongated member 202. Minor touchup work may be performed to either or both the exterior and interior of the wall 101 for aesthetic purposes. The end caps 205 may also be painted or decorated to minimize visibility.

Once the PED 200 is installed in a wall 101, an air pressure differential between the exterior and interior reaching a certain level may be sufficient to rupture the discs 208 on either end of the PED 200. That is, an outside air pressure that exceeds the inside air pressure within the building by a specified amount will rupture the discs 208 of the PED 200, which provides an open conduit for “communication” between exterior and interior pressures. This reduces the pressure differential by allowing exterior and interior air pressures to substantially equalize. For example, a lower air pressure within a building may increase to a level closer to a higher outside pressure. In another example, a higher air pressure within a building may decrease to a level closer to a lower outside pressure. Advantageously, the PED 200 may be designed to rupture at an air pressure lower than air pressure ratings of doors or windows in a building, thereby mitigating damage caused by high wind events.

The claimed subject matter is not to be limited in scope by the specific embodiments described herein. Indeed, various modifications of the invention in addition to those described herein will become apparent to those skilled in the art from the foregoing description. Such modifications are intended to fall within the scope of the appended claims.