US 20040034963 A1
A flexible vacuum hose is coupled to a vacuum tool. The vacuum tool defines an elongated closed housing formed of mirror-image half portions. An elongated aperture passes through the tool housing to form a carrying handle in the upper portion of the housing. The housing further includes a closed end opposite the flexible hose coupler. A generally planar bottom plate is secured to the bottom edge of the housing to form an interior cavity within the housing. The bottom plate defines a plurality of small diameter apertures arranged in a generally uniform pattern upon the bottom plate. Air is drawn out from the interior cavity by the vacuum source producing a diffuse generally uniform vacuum air flow upwardly through the apertures in the bottom plate.
1. A vacuum cleaner tool comprising:
a housing having an interior cavity, a handle, a vacuum hose coupler in communication with said interior cavity and an open lower side having a lower edge; and
a bottom plate having a generally planar bottom surface and a plurality of apertures extending through said bottom plate,
said bottom plate being attached to said lower edge such that said interior cavity is closed and said plurality of apertures are in communication with said interior cavity.
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 1. Field of the Invention
 This application relates generally to vacuum cleaners and particularly to vacuum tool used therewith for cleaning areas such as carpeted stairs.
 2. Background of the Invention
 Vacuum cleaners are well known in the art and have become a basic staple in cleaning equipment. While the basic electric powered vacuum cleaning device has been provided in a virtually endless variety of configurations and designs, for the most part, vacuum cleaners are provided as either upright, canister, or centralized vacuum systems. Despite this substantial variety of structure and design, all vacuum cleaners include basically the same apparatus. A vacuum fan or suction device is driven at a high rate of speed by an electric motor and drive apparatus. The drive apparatus often comprises a flexible drive belt. A vacuum tool, often referred to as a vacuum head, is coupled to the suction side of the vacuum fan. As the fan is driven, air is drawn into the vacuum tool at a sufficient velocity to carry dirt or other material into the vacuum cleaner. A filter and separator is provided within the vacuum unit which is operative upon the stream of moving air and dirt or other material to separate the dirt and other air born material from the air flow. This allows the air flow to be vented outwardly from the vacuum cleaner. The separated dirt or other vacuumed material is accumulated within a designated portion of the vacuum cleaner. In many vacuum cleaners, the dirt accumulator takes the form of a replacable throw-away cartridge or bag.
 One common variant of the vacuum cleaner is provided by an elongated hollow flexible hose which may be operatively coupled at one end to the vacuum source of the vacuum cleaner. The remaining end is configured to operatively couple to a vacuum tool head or other type of vacuum tool. For the most part, the purpose of this variant is to aid the operator in reaching areas of the to-be-cleaned environment which are difficult to access with the entire vacuuming apparatus.
 In a typical home or other building environment, one of the most challenging portions of the environment to be vacuumed is found in carpeted stairs. The multiple levels and small portions of surface area found in a typical carpeted stair renders the use of conventional vacuums such as upright vacuums to be nearly impossible. As a result, conventional vacuuming cleaning of carpeted stairs or the like is carried forward by the above described flexible hoses and tool heads. However, the use of such tools on carpeted stairs have proven to be difficult and inefficient. The type of vacuum tool provided by practitioners in the art utilizes a relatively small generally wedged shaped housing defining an interior cavity and a long narrow vacuum slot. The housing is coupled to the end of the vacuum hose. The basic problem arising in such vacuum tools is found in the tendency for the vacuum suction to draw or force the tool head against the carpet surface during the vacuum process. This suction force increases the resistance or drag encountered by the user as the head is moved across the carpeted stair surface. This problem has proven difficult to overcome in that vacuum cleaner manufacturers realize the need for substantial vacuum air flow for efficient pick-up of dirt and other material while also realizing that the resulting resistance or drag unduly tires the user. Faced with this basic problem, practitioners in the art have attempted to employ various mechanisms which allow the vacuum air flow, or at least a portion of it, to move through the vacuum tool during contact with the carpet surface. This is typically accomplished by forming a plurality of ribs or teeth along the slot portion of the tool or providing other bypass vents within the vacuum system. While bypassing a portion of the vacuum air flow does reduce the drag induced by the vacuum suction, it to some extent reduces the material carrying capacity and capability of the vacuum tool. For the most part, this compromise of competing characteristics of the conventional vacuum tool has remained the best solution heretofore available.
 There remains therefore a continuing need in the art for ever more improved, efficient and easy to use vacuum cleaning tools. In particular, there remains a continuing need in the art for a vacuum tool which effectively and efficiently vacuums carpeted surfaces such as stairs or the like without inducing undue fatigue and effort for the user.
 Accordingly, it is a general object of the present invention to provide and improved vacuum tool. It is a more particular object of the present invention to provide an improved vacuum tool for use in a vacuum cleaner which is efficient and effective in cleaning carpeted stairs or the like. It is a still more particular object of the present invention to provide an improved vacuum tool which effectively and efficiently carries dirt or other material from the vacuumed surface while maintaining relative ease of movement across the surface.
 In accordance with the present invention there is provided
 The features of the present invention, which are believed to be novel, are set forth with particularity in the appended claims. The invention, together with further objects and advantages thereof, may best be understood by reference to the following description taken in conjunction with the accompanying drawings, in the several figures of which like reference numerals identify like elements and in which:
FIG. 1 sets forth a perspective view of a vacuum tool constructed in accordance with the present invention showing the users hand in phantom line depiction;
FIG. 2 sets forth a top plan view of the present invention vacuum tool;
FIG. 3 sets forth a left side view of the present invention vacuum tool;
FIG. 4 sets forth a section view of the present invention vacuum tool taken along section lines 4-4 in FIG. 3;
FIG. 5 sets forth a bottom view of the present invention vacuum tool.
FIG. 1 sets forth a perspective view of a vacuum tool attachment constructed in accordance with the present invention and generally referenced by numeral 10. Vacuum tool 10 is preferably fabricated of a molded plastic material and includes an elongated hollow housing 11 formed of mirror-image half portions 12 and 13. Half portions 12 and 13 are joined along a common seam 14 by conventional attachment methods such as adhesive attachment, sonic or chemical welding or other methods of attachments. Alternatively, housing 11 may fabricated as a single molded or blow molded component should the need for such one piece fabrication arise. Housing 11 further defines a closed end 18, a surface 19 and an elongated aperture 16. Aperture 16 extends entirely through half portions 12 and 13 which are commonly joined within elongated aperture 16 by a common seam 24. The position of elongated aperture 16 with respect to housing 11 forms a convenient handle portion 15 extending above and across elongated aperture 16. A generally cylindrical coupler 21 is formed in half portions 12 and 13 and extends rearwardly from housing 11. Coupler 21 facilitates attachment of a vacuum hose fitting 23 which in turn is secured to a flexible vacuum hose 22. Hose 22 and fitting 23 may be fabricated in accordance with conventional fabrication techniques and will be understood to be coupled to a conventional vacuum cleaner apparatus (not shown) which may comprise virtually any vacuum cleaner source or type.
 Vacuum tool 10 further includes a generally planar generally rectangular bottom plate 17 joined to the lower edge of housing 11 to form a seam 20. The attachment of bottom plate 17 to the lower edge of housing 11 is carried forward using virtually any convenient fabrication techniques such as adhesive attachment, chemical or sonic welding, or the like. The essential function of attachment between bottom plate 17 and housing 11 as well as the attachment between half portions 12 and 13 of housing 11 is the creation of a substantially air-tight sealed seam in which the sole path for air to enter or exit housing 11 is found in coupler 21 and apertures 40 (seen in FIG. 5) formed in bottom plate 17 as set forth therein.
 In operation and with vacuum hose 22 coupled to a source of vacuum, air is drawn upwardly into the interior of housing 11 in the manner set forth below in FIG. 4 and is carried outwardly from vacuum hose 22 via coupler 21 and fitting 23. Of importance to note in FIG. 1 is the convenient shape found in vacuum tool 10. As shown in phantom line depiction of a users pair of hands, the placement of handle 15, aperture 16 and surface 19 facilitates a convenient two handed grasp of vacuum tool 10. This in turn allows excellent control and manipulation of vacuum tool 10 during operation upon a typical carpeted stair or other surface. In addition, the fabrication of handle 15 and the generally flat character of bottom plate 17 allows the user to employ a one handed grasp of handle 15 to guide and manipulate vacuum tool 10 as desired. Accordingly, vacuum tool 10 will be seen to be readily capable of both one handed and two handed operation which in both operations is characterized by the users ability to grip the vacuum tool directly. This is a substantial advantage over most prior art systems which require some gripping of the vacuum hose or vacuum hose coupling to manipulate the tool. In addition, and as will be seen below in greater detail, the generally rectangular bottom shape with slightly angled closed end 18 (better seen in FIG. 2) greatly facilitates both front to back and side to side cleaning motions of the present invention vacuum tool. In accordance with an important aspect of the present invention described below in greater detail, the placement of a plurality of apertures 40 (seen in FIG. 5) which are generally distributed upon the entire undersurface of bottom plate 17 provides substantially improved agitation of the carpet surface being cleaned in response to motion of the present invention vacuum tool. In addition, the large common housing with which all of the apertures are in communication (seen in FIG. 4) as interior cavity 30 provides a substantially uniform vacuum draw for all bottom plate apertures. As a result, the cleaning efficiency of the vacuum tool 10 is greatly improved over the prior art devices.
FIG. 2 sets forth a top view of vacuum tool 10 which, as described above, includes a housing 11 formed of mirror-image half portions 12 and 13. Half portions 12 and 13 are joined along a common seam 14 and a common seam 24 (seen in FIG. 1). Housing 11 defines an elongated aperture 16 extending through housing 11 and forming a bridging handle 15 in the upper portion of the housing. Housing 11 further defines a vacuum hose coupler 21 having a generally cylindrical shape and a generally flat upper surface 19. Housing 11 further defines an angled end 18 which forms a closed end for the cavity within housing 11 and which includes oppositely angled generally mirror-image and surfaces. The use of angled surfaces in closed end 18 facilitates the cleaning within difficult to reach corner portions and the like. A generally planar bottom plate 17 better seen in FIGS. 4 and 5 is secured to the bottom edge of housing 11 in a sealed attachment.
FIG. 3 sets forth a left side view of vacuum tool 10 which, as described above, includes a housing 11 formed of mirror-image half portions 12 and 13. Half portions 12 and 13 are joined along a common seam 14. Half portions 12 and 13 are mutually joined along seam 14 and are further joined to a bottom plate 17 at a seam 20. Housing 11 further defines a handle 15 described above. An interior cavity 30 is formed within the interior of housing 11. The substantial size of interior cavity 30 promotes the uniform airflow through cleaning apertures 40 (seen in FIGS. 4 and 5) which, as described below in greater detail, substantially improve cleaning and material agitation.
FIG. 4 sets forth a section view of vacuum tool 10 taken along section lines 4-4 in FIG. 3. Vacuum tool 10 includes a housing 11 having a half portion 13 and a mirror-image half portion 12 (seen in FIG. 1). It will be understood that half portions 12 and 13 are mirror images of each other joined along a common seam. Accordingly, the descriptions set forth in FIG. 4 will be understood to apply equally well to half portions 13 and the completed combination thereof comprising housing 11 (seen in FIG. 1).
 As described above, housing 11 includes a handle 15 formed above an elongated aperture 16 together with a surface 19. A closed end 18 (better seen in FIG. 2) is formed at the forward end of housing 11 while a generally cylindrically vacuum coupler 21 is formed at the opposite end thereof. A generally planar bottom plate 17 is joined to the bottom edge of housing 11 to complete the enclosure of interior cavity 30. A plurality of vacuum apertures 40 are formed in bottom plate 17 in the manner better seen in FIG. 5. In accordance with an important aspect of the present invention, the use of a substantial number of apertures 40 distributed generally uniformly throughout bottom plate 17 together with the large volume of interior cavity 30 cooperate to provide a substantially uniform airflow upwardly through apertures 40 in the manner indicated by arrows 42. Thus, as the attached vacuum joined to coupler 21 (in the manner shown in FIG. 1) draws air outwardly through coupler 21 from interior cavity 30 in the direction indicated by arrow 41, air is draw upwardly through apertures 40 in the manner shown by arrows 42. Because the volume of interior cavity 30 is very large relative to the apertures formed in bottom plate 17 and coupler 21, a diffusing of air flow takes place as air is drawn outwardly from interior cavity 30. This diffused air flow through the substantial number of apertures 40 provides improved agitation of carpet fiber material and a generally uniform vacuum draw to carry away dirt and other particulate material on the vacuumed carpet. Because of the substantial number of small apertures formed in bottom plate 17, the action of vacuum air draw into interior cavity 30 does not result in the disproportionate increase in friction or resistance which is encountered in prior art devices utilizing elongated slot apertures. The distribution of apertures in bottom plate 17 is formed to provide significant bearing surface between the vacuum apertures to avoid the increased resistance encountered in prior art devices.
 Thus, in accordance with an important aspect of the present invention, the carpet fiber materials in the stair carpeting or other carpeting being vacuumed using tool 10 are substantially agitation as the user moves tool 10 across the surface. In addition, the entire vacuum air flow exiting interior cavity 30 of tool 10 through coupler 21 is used in vacuuming action. Unlike venting or comb structures used in prior art devices to relieve undo resistance of tool movement, the widely distributed small diameter large number of apertures used on bottom plate 17 of tool 10 employ the entire air flow in the material vacuuming process. As a result, no vacuum air is wasted and all vacuum air is drawn upwardly carrying particulate matter such as dirt or the like.
FIG. 5 sets forth a bottom view of vacuum tool 10 which facilitates examination of the distribution of vacuum apertures 40. As described above, vacuum tool 10 includes a bottom plate 17 having a plurality of apertures 40 formed therein. Coupler 21 also formed in housing 11 and described above, extends beyond bottom plate 17. In accordance with an important aspect of the present invention, vacuum apertures 40 and numerous and relatively small diameter which allow the vacuum apertures to be generally uniformly distributed throughout the bottom surface of bottom plate 17. As a result, substantial bearing area between apertures is provided while a great amount of vacuum air in total may be drawn through the plurality of vacuum apertures 40. As a result, the resistance to movement of vacuum tool 10 is substantially reduced while the proportionate part of vacuum air flow employed in particulate removal is maximized. Virtually no vacuum air flow is wasted in the present invention tool. In the preferred fabrication of the present invention, apertures 40 are uniformly distributed throughout the surface of bottom plate 17. In a further preference, the offset spacing of alternate rows of apertures 40 is believed to add further uniformity of air flow into the interior of vacuum tool 10 while providing substantially improved agitation of carpet fiber material.
 What has been shown is an improved vacuum tool for use with virtually any vacuum cleaner through a flexible hose coupling. The improved vacuum tool is capable of manufacture using low cost mass production methods such as blow molding or the like. The tool is readily fabricated of relatively inexpensive plastic materials and is light-weight and durable. The inventive vacuum tool may be used with virtually any vacuum cleaner and may be optimized for particular types of carpeting. For example, it may be preferred in response to different carpet textures to increase the number of vacuum apertures (apertures 40 seen in FIG. 5) or conversely, decrease the number of apertures. Similarly, the optimizing of the inventive vacuum tool may involve adjusting the diameters of vacuum apertures as well as their spacing upon the bottom plate. Thus it will be apparent to those skilled in the art that the present invention vacuum tool is low in cost of manufacture, light-weight and easy to use, capable of modification to improve a particular cleaning or carpet vacuuming operation, and relatively simple to handle and manipulate in either one handed or two handed vacuuming operations.
 While particular embodiments of the invention have been shown and described, it will be obvious to those skilled in the art that changes and modifications may be made without departing from the invention in its broader aspects. Therefore, the aim in the appended claims is to cover all such changes and modifications as fall within the true spirit and scope of the invention.