BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION
This application claims the benefit of U.S. Provisional Application No. 60/492,664, filed Aug. 4, 2003.
This invention relates generally to improvements in filter bags for use with automatic pool cleaning devices, particularly of the type designed for travel within a swimming pool or the like to dislodge and collect debris. More specifically, this invention relates to an improved filter bag of the general type disclosed in U.S. Pat. No. 4,618,420, wherein the filter bag incorporates a zipper closure for facilitated access to debris collected within the filter bag in the course of normal pool cleaner operation. The zipper closure is adapted to be opened quickly and easily to permit disposal of collected debris, followed by re-closure and resumed use of the filter bag in the course of subsequent pool cleaner operation.
Automatic swimming pool cleaners are generally well known in the art for use in maintaining a swimming pool in an overall state of cleanliness. In this regard, residential and commercial swimming pools normally include a standard water filtration system including a main circulation pump and related main filter unit for filtering the pool water. The filtration system is typically operated for several hours on a daily basis to draw water from the pool for flow through the main filter unit and subsequent return circulation to the pool, wherein the filter unit includes an appropriate filter media for collecting and thus removing solid debris such as fine grit and silt, twigs, leaves, insects, and other particulate matter suspended within the pool water. Although such filtration systems function efficiently to collect suspended particulate, it has been recognized that some particulate tends to settle onto submerged pool floor and wall surfaces and thus is not removed by the standard filtration system. Automatic swimming pool cleaners have been developed and are widely used to assist in a more thorough cleaning of the pool by directly collecting such settled matter, and/or by re-suspending the settled matter so that it can be collected by the main filter unit.
More specifically, in one common form, the automatic swimming pool cleaner comprises a relatively compact wheeled housing adapted to travel randomly over submerged floor and wall surfaces of the pool. The cleaner is normally connected by a hose into the standard filtration system, such as by connection to the positive pressure discharge side of the system as described in U.S. Pat. Nos. 5,863,425; 4,558,479; 4,589,986; and 3,822,754. The filtration system provides a water flow to and through the cleaner, wherein this water flow is typically used to create or induce a suction flow through a suction mast for vacuuming grit and debris through the suction mast into a porous mesh filter bag mounted on a downstream end thereof. The water flow through the pool cleaner may also be used to power an hydraulic drive means which causes the cleaner to travel about within the swimming pool. The filter bag is designed for periodic removal from the suction mast of the pool cleaner so that accumulated debris therein can be disposed, followed by re-mounting of the filter bag onto the pool cleaner. In this regard, the filter bag is normally constructed from a material capable of withstanding prolonged exposure to sun, water and pool chemicals in a swimming pool environment.
In a typical filter bag configuration, the filter bag defines a hollow interior with a generally cylindrical open mouth associated with attachment means for removably mounting the filter bag onto an upper end of the pool cleaner suction mast, with the open bag mouth positioned for in-line inflow of water and water-entrained debris from the pool cleaner. In this regard, early filter bag attachment arrangements utilized releasible Velcro-type or so-called hook-and-loop fastener collars, as depicted in U.S. Pat. Nos. 4,618,420; D288,373; 4,575,423; and D294,963. Improved mounting or attachment devices have included a quick-release collar having springable latch tabs for quick-connect-disconnect filter bag mounting as shown by way of example in U.S. Pat. Nos. 4,589,986; 5,863,425; and D409,341. In some of these filter bag designs, the porous mesh filter bag has been removably mounted onto the quick-release collar to accommodate periodic bag replacement without requiring collar replacement. See, for example, U.S. Pat. Nos. 5,863,425; D409,341; D468,067; and copending U.S. Ser. No. 10/400,118, now U.S. Pat. No. 6,740,233.
U.S. Pat. No. 4,618,420 discloses an improved filter bag geometry wherein the hollow interior of the filter bag is subdivided to define a primary flow chamber disposed above the open bag mouth, and a secondary debris collection chamber for collecting and trapping water-entrained debris entering the filter bag. More particularly, an upper region of the primary flow chamber is open in a rearward direction, relative to a normal forward direction of cleaner movement within the swimming pool, for communication with a forward and preferably upper region of the secondary collection chamber. With this geometry, debris flowing upwardly from the suction mast into the bag interior will flow upwardly through the primary flow chamber and tend to displace rearwardly as a result of forward pool cleaner motion so that the debris settles within the rearward debris collection chamber. Debris retention within the rear collection chamber is important to prevent collected debris from falling back through the suction mast when the pool cleaner, normally operated on an intermittent basis, is turned off. A releasible seam comprising Velcro-type fastener strips lines the debris collection chamber and can be opened to permit the captured debris to be emptied therefrom, followed by re-closure and resumed use of the filter bag.
The Velcro-type releasible seam includes interengageable hook-and-loop fastener strips which are difficult for some persons to manipulate. In addition, following repeated opening and re-closure over a period of time, the fastener strips can develop wear which may provide an undesirable frayed or fuzzy appearance. Moreover, the fastener strips are relatively porous structures and thus can become embedded with small debris that is unsightly, can become malodorous, and can interfere with secure re-closure following disposal of the captured debris. Satisfactory cleaning of debris embedded within the fastener strips can be difficult.
- SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION
There exists, therefore, a need for further improvements in and to filter bags for pool cleaners, particularly of the type shown and described in U.S. Pat. No. 4,618,420, wherein an improved filter bag has improved means adapted for periodic opening to facilitate relatively quick and easy disposal of collected debris. The present invention fulfills these needs and provides further related advantages.
In accordance with the invention, an improved filter bag is provided for use with a pool cleaner particularly of the type designed for travel over submerged pool surfaces to dislodge and collect debris. A zipper closure on the filter bag is provided for quick and easy opening to define a relatively large discharge passage through which collected debris can be emptied from the bag for appropriate disposal, followed by quick and easy re-closure for resumed use of the filter bag on the pool cleaner.
In the preferred form, the improved filter bag is constructed generally according to U.S. Pat. No. 4,618,420, to include a hollow interior in combination with an open bag mouth associated with suitable mounting means for mounting the filter bag into an upper or discharge end of a pool cleaner suction mast or the like. The bag mouth thus accommodates flow of water and water-entrained debris from the pool cleaner into the hollow interior of the filter bag. This hollow interior is subdivided into a primary flow chamber disposed generally in-line or above the bag mouth for receiving the flow of water and water-entrained debris from the pool cleaner, and a secondary collection chamber for trapping and collecting the water-entrained debris within the filter bag. The zipper closure is mounted on the filter bag in a position lining the debris collection chamber. A preferred zipper closure comprises a zipper having relatively large and preferably noncorrosive zipper teeth, such as plastic zipper teeth, and a relatively large zipper slide with associated zipper tab or pull tab for facilitated manual zipper operation.
In use, the zipper closure is normally closed during pool cleaner operation with the filter bag thereon to collected debris. When desired or required, the filter bag can be disassembled from the pool cleaner and taken to a suitable debris disposal location, such as a trash receptacle, whereat the zipper closure can be opened quickly and easily to form the relatively large discharge passage through which the collected debris can be dumped into the trash receptacle. The zipper closure can then be re-closed, and the filter bag re-installed onto the pool cleaner for resumed operation.
BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS
Other features and advantages of the invention will become more apparent from the following detailed description taken in conjunction with the accompanying drawings which illustrate, by way of example, the principles of the invention.
The accompanying drawings illustrate the invention. In such drawings:
FIG. 1 is a perspective view of a pool cleaner having an improved filter bag constructed in accordance with the novel features of the invention mounted removably thereon; and
DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENT
FIG. 2 is an enlarged side elevation view of the improved filter bag.
As shown in the exemplary drawings, a filter bag referred to generally in FIGS. 1 and 2 by the reference numeral 10 is provided for use with a pool cleaner 12 (FIG. 1) for collecting particulate debris such as sand and grit particles, leaves, twigs, and the like. The filter bag 10 is removably mounted onto the pool cleaner 12, and includes a zipper closure 14 for quick and easy emptying collected debris from the bag for appropriate disposal.
The improved filter bag 10 of the present invention is designed for use with a conventional automatic swimming pool cleaner of the type adapted for substantially random travel throughout the volume of a swimming pool or the like to pick up and collect particulate debris, and/or to assist in suspending or re-suspending such particulate matter so that it can filtered from the pool water by a main filtration system (not shown). FIG. 1 depicts an exemplary pool cleaner 12 generally in accordance with the pool cleaner shown and described in U.S. Pat. No. D469,589 and copending U.S. Ser. No. 10/397,939, now U.S. Pat. No. 6,665,900, which are incorporated by reference herein. More particularly, the illustrative pool cleaner 12 comprises a relatively compact housing 16 carried on a plurality of wheels 18. An internal drive means (not shown) is provided for causing the pool cleaner 12 to travel about within the pool, traversing submerged pool floor and wall surfaces, with said internal drive means being typically powered hydraulically by a water flow coupled to a cleaner supply mast 20 via a hose 22 coupled to the main pool water filtration system (not shown). In one common form, the water flow is a positive pressure flow for hydraulically driving the internal drive means (not shown) and also for creating or inducing an upward suction or vacuum flow of water through a generally vertically oriented suction mast 24 on the pool cleaner 10 to vacuum particulate matter settled upon submerged pool surfaces. Alternative exemplary pool cleaners conforming generally hereto are shown and described in U.S. Pat. Nos. 5,863,425; 4,558,479; 4,589,986; and 3,822,754, which are also incorporated by reference herein.
The filter bag 10 is adapted for removable mounting onto a downstream or upper end of the suction mast 24, for receiving the upward flow of water and water-entrained debris discharged from the suction mast. In this regard, the filter bag 10 has a porous construction permitting upward flow-through passage of this water flow, with minimal or no significant flow obstruction, for return circulation of this water flow to the body of water within the swimming pool. However, the mesh size of the porous filter bag 10 is chosen to capture the water-entrained particulate debris. When desired, or when the filter bag reaches a condition substantially filled with collected debris, the zipper closure 14 provides a quick and easy means for opening a discharge passage 26 (FIG. 2) of substantial open area for permitting quick and easy emptying of the accumulated debris into a suitable waste or trash receptacle (not shown) or the like. After the debris is dumped from the bag, the zipper closure 14 can be re-closed quickly and easily, followed by re-mounting of the filter bag 10 onto the pool cleaner suction mast 24 for resumed operation.
In general terms, the improved filter bag 10 may have an overall configuration similar to the filter bags shown and described in U.S. Pat. Nos. 4,618,420 and D288,733, which are incorporated by reference herein. More particularly, and in accordance with a preferred form of the invention as shown in the exemplary drawings, the improved filter bag 10 is formed generally from a porous mesh fabric or similar porous material of selected grade and pore size, and suitable for relatively long-term use in a swimming pool environment. The bag material is shaped or fashioned to define a hollow bag interior forming a generally cylindrical and downwardly open mouth 28 at a front and lower end thereof. In this regard, FIG. 2 shows the bag material folded over upon itself to define a pair of overlying side walls or side panels joined by a seamless rear margin 30 having an upper end joined in turn to a forwardly extending seamed upper margin 32 which transitions into or blends with a downwardly extending front margin 34. A lower end of the rear margin 30 is joined to a forwardly extending seamed lower margin 36. The front and lower margins 34 and 36 join in turn to define the open bag mouth 28. The various seamed margins 32, 34 and 36 may be sewn or stitched as depicted in FIG. 2, or alternative seam structures may be formed by adhesive materials, or by direct welding of the bag-forming material. In addition, the bag material may be folded upon itself in other configurations, such as by providing a seamless upper margin as disclosed in U.S. Pat. No. 4,618,420. Moreover, persons skilled in the art will recognize and appreciate filter bag 10 may be constructed from two generally conforming sheets of the bag material, and the entire peripheral margin suitably seamed to define the mouth 28 and the hollow bag interior.
The bag mouth 28 is adapted for removable mounting relative to the upper end of the pool cleaner suction mast 24, by suitable mounting means such as a mounting collar 38 of generally cylindrical shape. This mounting collar 38 may comprise a flexible collar adapted for removable connection to a mounting member of the type shown and described in U.S. Pat, No. 5,863,425 and D409,341, or of the type shown and described in U.S. Pat. No. D468,067 and copending U.S. Ser. No. 10/400,118, now U.S. Pat. No. 6,740,233, all of which are incorporated by reference herein. Alternately, the mounting collar 38 may be constructed according to U.S. Pat. No. 4,589,986, which is also incorporated by reference herein. In each of these configurations, the mounting means is adapted for removably mounting the filter bag 10 with the mouth 28 thereof positioned over the pool cleaner suction mast 24, so that upward flow of water and water-entrained debris passing through the suction mast is directed upwardly into the hollow interior of the filter bag.
In accordance with further aspects of the preferred form of the invention, the hollow interior of the filter bag is subdivided into a primary flow chamber 40 disposed over the open mouth 28, and a secondary debris collection chamber 42. Such subdivision of the bag interior is provided by a divider seam 44 having a lower end joined to the lower margin 36, generally at the terminus thereof with a rear margin of the bag mouth 28, and extending upwardly therefrom to interconnect the side walls or side panels. This divider seam 44 may comprise a sewn or stitched seam, or take alternative forms as previously described with respect to the peripheral seams of the filter bag. An upper end of the divider seam 44 terminates in spaced relation substantially below the upper margin 32, whereby an upper region of the primary flow chamber 40 is in flow communication with an upper region of the secondary collection chamber 42. As depicted in FIG. 2, the upper end of the divider seam 44 may terminate at a point approximately mid-way between the upper margin 32 and the lower margin 36. A support tab 46 (FIG. 1) may be carried by the upper margin 32 for releasible connection to the supply hose 22 by means of a suitable strap or slide ring 48 to assist in retaining the bag 10 is a relatively upright orientation on the pool cleaner 12, particularly when the pool cleaner is turned off.
In use, when the filter bag 10 is mounted onto the pool cleaner 12, the upward water flow with water-entrained debris passing through the suction mast 24 is delivered upwardly through the bag mouth 28 into the primary chamber 40. The upward water flow passes further upwardly through the open mesh bag material for return circulation to the general body of water within the swimming pool. However, the water-entrained debris captured within the bag and tends to guide rearwardly therein over the top of the divider seam 44 and into the rearwardly positioned collection chamber 42, as the pool cleaner 12 travels generally in a forward direction. Within the rear collection chamber 42, the particulate debris settles within the region disposed rearwardly of the divider seam 44, where such debris is captured and prevented from falling back through the bag mouth 28 when the pool cleaner 12 is turned off.
The zipper closure 14 is installed onto the filter bag 10 for defining and normally releasibly closing the discharge passage 26. In the illustrative embodiment, the zipper closure 14 is positioned on one side wall or side panel of the bag 12, at a location spaced from the mouth 28, and also spaced a short distance forwardly from the rear margin 30 and extending generally in parallel with the said rear margin 30 between the upper margin 32 and the lower margin 36. The zipper closure 14 comprises two rows of matingly interlocking zipper teeth 50 each carried by a base strip 52 of fabric or the like which is suitably attached to the bag material as a sewn or other suitably formed seam 54, on opposite sides of the discharge passage 26 which is also depicted a short distance forward from the rear margin 30 and extending generally parallel thereto.
A closure slide 56 carries a relatively large and easily grasped tab 58 for facilitated manual opening and closing of the zipper. While the specific type and style of the zipper closure may vary, one preferred zipper comprises a zipper having relatively large and rugged and preferably noncorrosive teeth, such as plastic zipper teeth. One such zipper is available from the Fastening Products Group of YKK Corporation, Tokyo, Japan, under the product designation Vision 5VS. Other types of slidably connected closures may be used, such as sliding zip lock fasteners. Moreover, the specific mounting location of the zipper closure may be varied, with a preferred location positioning the discharge opening 26 is direct communication with the debris collection chamber 42. However, positioning the zipper closure at one side wall or side panel of the filter bag 10 as shown beneficially facilitates a flat bag configuration when the filter bag is not in use, and further positions the zipper where inadvertent pressure-induced separation of the zipper teeth 50 is minimized or eliminated.
During normal use of the filter bag 10 on the pool cleaner 12 to collected debris, as previously described, the zipper closure 14 is maintained in a closed condition with the rows of zipper teeth 50 interengaged, with the zipper tab 58 and slide 56 at one end such as at the lower end of the zipper teeth. Thus, the discharge passage 26 is closed, and particulate debris is collected within the rear collection chamber 42. When the filter bag 10 is removed from the pool cleaner 12 for emptying of the collected debris, the zipper tab 58 is easily grasped to shift the slide 56 toward an opposite end of the zipper teeth 50, with a corresponding disengagement of those teeth to open the discharge passage 26. In this configuration, the collected debris can be dumped quickly and easily into a suitable trash receptacle or the like. The zipper closure 14 can then be re-closed to close the discharge opening 26, and the filter bag 10 can be re-installed onto the pool cleaner for a subsequent cleaning cycle.
A variety of further modifications and improvements in and to the improved filter bag 10 of the present invention will be apparent to those persons skilled in the art. Accordingly, no limitation on the invention is intended by way of the foregoing description and accompanying drawings, except as set forth in the appended claims.