US 3525426 A
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Description (OCR text may contain errors)
Aug. 25, 1970- J. RMlLLER 3,525.2
DRAIN CLEANING CARTRIDGE Filed Aug. 21. 1968 INVENTORI 734M195 Pf M Q ATTO R N EYS United States Patent 3,525,426 DRAIN CLEANING CARTRIDGE James P. Miller, Box 182, RD. 2, Stockton, NJ. 08559 Filed Aug. 21, 1968, Ser. No. 754,359 Int. Cl. B6511 81/00 US. Cl. 20647 7 Claims ABSTRACT OF THE DISCLOSURE Generally cylindrical cartridge includes front compartment containing drain-cleaning compound, e.g., lye, and rear compartment containing dry water-activatable propellant, e.g., sodium bicarbonate and an acid. Cartridge shell defined by water-soluble material e.g., gelatin.
This invention relates to drain cleaning, and more particularly to a cartridge adapted to be inserted into a clogged drain for the purpose of removing the obstruction therein.
Conventionally, drain-cleaning compounds, such as that sold under the trademark Drano, are supplied in the form of granules packaged in an openable container. When a clogged drain is to be treated, the container is opened, several spoonfuls of granules are deposited in the drain followed by a quantity of water, and the container is reclosed and stored away for future use.
This known technique presents a number of disadvantages, the most important of which arises when the obstruction in the drain is spaced relatively far from the drain opening into which the cleaning compound is placed. Since the drain will either be filled with water up to the point of the obstruction, or it will be filled with water while washing the cleaning compound down to the obstruction, the compound becomes extremely diluted before reaching the obstruction, and hence its drain-cleaning effect is greatly minimized.
Another disadvantage involves the danger in handling drain-cleaning compounds, such as lye. This material is harmful if swallowed, or even if it remains on the skin too long, and therefore extreme care must be employed in manipulating a conventional container of such a compound and in spooning out its contents.
It is an object of the present invention to overcome these problems by providing a device capable of delivering undiluted drain-cleaning compound to a drain obstruction regardless of the location of the obstruction with respect to the drain opening.
It is another object to provide such a device in which the drain-cleaning compound is never exposed to the user, and hence even if handled with a minimum of care no danger to the user is present.
To achieve these objectives, the invention provides a cartridge having front and rear compartments completely closed to the atmosphere. At least the front compartment, but preferably both, is defined by a shell formed of watersoluble material. A drain-cleaning compound is stored within the front compartment, and a water-activatable propellant fills the rear compartment. When the cartridge is to be used, the rear compartment is provided with a small opening and the cartridge is deposited into the drain, front compartment first. The propellant is activated by water in the drain, and drives the cartridge to the obstruction, Thereafter, the shell melts and releases the cleaning compound, full strength, against the obstruction.
Additional features and advantages of the invention will be apparent from the following detailed description in which reference is made to the accompanying drawings.
In the drawings:
3,525,425 Patented Aug. 25, 1970 Ice FIG. 1 is a side elevational View of a drain-cleaning cartridge according to the present invention;
FIG. 2 is a longitudinal cross-sectional view, on an enlarged scale, taken along line 2-2 of FIG. 1; and
FIG. 3 is a longitudinal cross-sectional view through an obstructed drain pipe showing the cartridge in use.
The cartridge 10 chosen to illustrate this invention includes a generally cylindrical shell, which may be formed of two interfitting parts 11 and 12. The interior of the shell is divided by a partition 15 into a front compartment 13 and rear compartment 14. The shell 11, 12 is formed, preferably in its entirety, of a self-sustaining water-soluble material, such as gelatin. As is well known, pharmaceutical capsules have been molded of gelatin, and then provided with an exterior coating of phenyl salicylate to retard the absorption of water by the gelatin. The shell 11, 12 of the present cartridge may be pro duced by the same technique, or any other suitable technique. The partition 15 is also preferably for-med of a water soluble material.
Housed within the front compartment 13 is a draincleaning compound 17, which may be lye, also known as sodium hydroxide (NaOH), or any other material suitable for the purpose. Located within the rear compaitment 14 is a propellant 18, preferably in a dry powdered form. Suitable propellants are mixtures of baking soda, also known as sodium bicarbonate (NaHCO and a dry acid, e.g., citric acid, tartaric acid, potassium acid tartrate, and lactic acid. A ratio of 35 grams of baking soda to 40 grams of the dry acid has been found satisfactory. When such a mixture is combined with water, a large volume of gas is produced.
Initially, the shell parts 11 and 12 are separate. The cartridge may be assembled by filling the front shell part 11 with the cleaning compound 17, filling the rear shell part 12 with the propellant 18, placing the partition 15 into the open end of shell part 11, and engaging the shell parts as shown, the annular seam 19 between these being sealed by any suitable means.
The front end of the front shell part 11 tapers for wardly, as shown, and is formed in its exterior surface with a helical groove 20. The groove 20 causes the carfridge to rotate about its longitudinal axis as it moves throu a water-filled drain pipe, and this rotation together ith the tapered front end aids the forward motion of the cartridge and minimizes wobble. In addition, the cartridge is made to be considerably longer than the internal diameter of the pipe in which it is used, and this factor, together with the tapered nose and groove mentioned above, greatly reduce the chance of the cartridge becoming lodged in the pipe before it reaches the obstruction.
The rear compartment 14 must be opened before the cartridge is placed in a drain, and this could be accomplished simply by piercing the rear shell part 12 with a sharp instrument. However, since the opening should be on the longitudinal axis of the cartridge, for the reason mentioned below, it is preferable to form the rear shell part 12 with a hollow stem 21 arranged along the cartridge axis. The interior of the stern communicates with the interior of the rear compartment 14, but the free end of the stem is closed. At the time of use, the stem 21 is severed at some point along its length, such 'as along the line 22, to open the compartment 14 to the atmosphere.
After opening of the rear compartment 14, as just described, the cartridge is inserted, tapered end first, into a drain pipe 23 clogged by an obstruction 24. If necessary, water is then allowed to flow into the pipe 23. Water enters the rear compartment 14, via the stem 21, and saturates the propellant 18. The latter reacts with the water generating a gas 25, which jets out through the stem 21,
causing the cartridge to move forwardly through the pipe 23. Since the jet 25 extends along the longitudinal axis of the cartridge, the reaction force moves the cartridge, forward along a straight line path. If the Opening from the compartment 14 were not axial, an eccentric force would be applied to the cartridge tending to rotate it end-overend, a type of motion likely to result in the cartridge becoming wedged in the pipe.
When the cartridge reaches the obstruction 24, its forward motion is arrested, although the jet 25 will continue until all the propellant has reacted with the water. The shell 11, 12 is made thick enough so that it does not lose its self-sustaining character in water for at least several minutes. Consequently, the cleaning compound 17 does not contact the Water prior to the time the cartridge reaches the obstruction 24. Ultimately, while the cartridge engages the obstruction, the shell part 11 dissolves releasing the undiluted compound 17 precisely at the point of obstruction in the drain, whereupon the obstruction 24 disintegrates and is washed through to the drain outlet.
It will be appreciated that since the shell 11, 12, and the partition 15, as Well as the cleaner 17 and propellant 18, are water-soluble, the cartridge leaves no residue whatsoever in the drain. However, it may be possible to accomplish the objectives of this invention with a cartridge whose shell is water-soluble only in part. Thus, it is essential only that at least a portion of the shell part 11 be soluble so that the cleaner 17 is freed after the cartridge has been in the drain for a certain period. Furthermore, it will be observed that the cartridge as furnished to the consumer is completely closed and hence may be stored for long periods without adverse effect, and that the cleaning compound 17 is never handled directly by the user since it remains enclosed within the shell until well after the cartridge enters the drain.
The invention has been shown and described in preferred form only, and by Way of example, and many variations may be made in the invention which will still be comprised within its spirit. It is understood, therefore, that the invention is not limited to any specific form or embodiment except insofar as such limitations are included in the appended claims.
What is claimed is:
1. A drain-cleaning cartridge comprising front and rear compartments, the interiors of said compartments being closed to the atmosphere, at least said front compartment being defined by a generally cylindrical shell formed at least in part of self-sustaining water-soluble material, a water-activatable drain-cleaning compound within said shell, and a Water-activatable propellant within said rear compartment, said rear compartment being openable when the cartridge is to be used, whereby when the cartridge with opened rear compartment is inserted into a clogged drain, water entering said rear compartment activates said propellant causing the cartridge to move through the drain until it abuts the obstruction clogging the drain so that when said shell dissolves, said draincleaning compound is released in the immediate vicinity of the obstruction.
2. A drain-cleaning cartridge as defined in claim 1 wherein said shell extends around both of said compartments, and including a partition within said shell separating said compartments.
3. A drain-cleaning cartridge as defined in claim 1 wherein the front end of said shell tapers forwardly, and including a spiral groove formed in the outer surface of said tapered end.
4. .A drain-cleaning cartridge as defined in claim 1 in cluding a stern projecting from said rear compartment along the longitudinal axis of the cartridge, at least one end of said stem communicating with the interior of said rear compartment but the free end of said stern being closed, whereby severing said stem at some point along its length serves to open said rear compartment to the atmosphere.
5. A drain-cleaning cartridge as defined in claim 1 wherein the material forming said shell is gelatin.
6. A drain-cleaning cartridge as defined in claim 1 wherein said drain cleaning compound is composed essentially of lye.
7. A drain-cleaning cartridge as defined in claim 1 wherein said propellant is a mixture of sodium bicarbonate and an acid.
References Cited UNITED STATES PATENTS 786,216 3/ 1905 Homer 15-10430 2,251,080 7/1941 Taber 13422 2,283,780 5/1942 Ahern.
3,190,373 6/1965 Weatherby 206-84 3,199,665 8/1965 Eriksson 206.5 3,283,35 11/1966 Kirk 15-1043 LAVERNE D. GEIGER, Primary Examiner.
. H. DODGE, Assistant Examiner U.C. Cl. X.R.