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Patent Searching and Data


Title:
PLUMBING DEVICES FOR USE WITH BATH WASTE AND OVERFLOW SYSTEMS
Document Type and Number:
WIPO Patent Application WO/2018/039127
Kind Code:
A1
Abstract:
A kit for facilitating attachment of a pipe to a tank according to a first embodiment includes a dram guide and a wrench guide. The wrench guide is configured to be securably adhered to an outer surface of the tank and is further configured to hold the pipe. The wrench guide has first and second ends, and the second end is configured to be inserted into an opening of the pipe when held in the drain guide and the opposing first end is configured to be inserted into the hole in the tank, such that the drain guide may be securably adhered to the outer surface of the tank, and such that the pipe opening is substantially aligned with the hole in the tank. Methods of facilitating attachment of a pipe to a tank, utilizing the kit, are also disclosed.

Inventors:
BUCHAN, Douglas (8252 Ryan Road, Seville, OH, 44273, US)
FUNK, Joshua (202 Evergreen Drive, Lodl, OH, 44254, US)
HEIPP, Shawn (12521 Countryside Drive, Strongsville, OH, 44149, US)
Application Number:
US2017/047812
Publication Date:
March 01, 2018
Filing Date:
August 21, 2017
Export Citation:
Click for automatic bibliography generation   Help
Assignee:
OATEY CO. (20600 Emerald Parkway, Cleveland, OH, 44135, US)
International Classes:
E03C1/22
Domestic Patent References:
WO2016160828A22016-10-06
Foreign References:
US20150089736A12015-04-02
US20100122411A12010-05-20
US6687926B12004-02-10
US6058525A2000-05-09
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
FARSIOU, David, N. et al. (Baker & Hostetler LLP, 2929 Arch StreetCira Centre, 12th Floo, Philadelphia PA, 19104-2891, US)
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Claims:
What is claimed is:

1. A kit for facilitating attachment of a pipe to a tank, the kit comprising:

a drain guide configured to be securably adhered to an outer surface of the tank, the drain guide having a body that includes a holding portion having a semi-circular shape about a first axis Ai that is connected to and spaced from a guiding portion, the holding portion being sized and configured to accommodate a flange of the pipe disposed about an opening in the pipe having an axis Oi, such that when the pipe is seated within the holding portion, the first axis A■ is coaxial with the pipe opening axis€ ; and

a wrench guide having first and second opposing ends that are spaced from one another, the first end defining an engagement feature for mating with a pipe fitting and the second end defining a projection,

wherein the second end of the wrench guide is configured to be inserted into the opening of the pipe and the opposing first end of the wrench guide is configured to be inserted into the hole in the tank at the outer surface so as to define an installation configuration,

wherein in the installation configuration:

1) the drain guide may be securably adhered to the outer surface of the tank, and

2) the pipe opening is substantially aligned with the hole in the tank.

2. The kit of claim 1, wherein the pipe fitting is a spud, and a feature of the spud is configured to mate with the pipe opening.

3. The kit of any of claims 1-2, wherein the wrench guide is elongate along a second axis Ai from the first end to the second end, and wherein the second end further includes a transverse through-hole that extends through the wrench guide along a direction

perpendicular to the second axis A?..

4. The kit of claim 3, wherein the through-hole is configured to receive an elongate tool therethrough such that the tool will facilitate rotation of the wrench guide about the second

5. The kit of any one of claims 1-4, wherein the drain guide comprises a shelf that extends along and between both the holding and guiding portions, the shelf being sized and dimensioned to the flange of the pipe thereon.

6. The kit of claim 5, wherein the shelf at the holding portion includes at least one cutout that is radially spaced from the axis Al, wherein the at least one radially spaced cutout is configured to accommodate a projection on an outer surface of the pipe, such that when the pipe is disposed within the holding portion, the projection will reside within the cutout,

7. The kit of claim 6, wherein the at least one radially spaced cutout comprises three notches that are circumferentially spaced apart about the axis A■,

8. The kit of any of claims 6 or 7, wherein the cutout comprises a circumferential length and an arc angle measured about the axis Α·,, wherein the arc angle is less than or equal to 30°.

9. A drain guide for facilitating attachment of a pipe to a tank, the drain guide comprising a body that includes:

a holding portion having a substantially semi-circular shape that is configured to be aligned with an opening in the tank, the holding portion being sized and configured to retain a flange of a pipe:

a guiding portion integral with the holding portion, the guiding portion having a pair of parallel spaced legs; and

a shelf extending along and between both the holding and guiding portions, the shelf being sized and dimensioned to receive a flange of the pipe, the shelf at the holding portion including at least one cutout,

wherein the at least one cutout is configured to accommodate a projection on an outer surface of the pipe, such that when the pipe is disposed within the holding portion, the projection will reside within the cutout.

10. The drain guide of claim 9, wherein the at least one radially spaced cutout comprises three notches that are circumferentially spaced apart about the holding portion.

11. The drain guide of claim 10, wherein each of the notches further comprise a circumferential length and an arc angle, with respect to an adjacent notch, that is measured about an axis Aj that is associated with the semi-circular holding portion.

12. The drain guide of claim 1 1 , wherein the arc angle is less than or equal to 30°.

13. The drain guide of any one of claims 9-12, wherein the body has a flat, upper tank- facing surface that accommodates an attachment mechanism, the attachment mechanism facilitating securement of the drain guide to an outer surface of the tank near the opening in the tank.

14. The drain guide of claim 13, wherein the attachment mechanism comprises a series of adhesive strips .

15. The dram guide of any one of claims 9-14, wherein the body is incorporated directly into a wall of the tank, such that the body is integral with the tank.

16. The drain guide of any one of claims 9-15, wherein the body further includes a brace mechanism that spans a gap between the parallel and spaced legs, the brace mechanism being configured to abut a portion of the pipe so as to further retain the flange of the pipe within the holding portion of the body of the drain guide.

17. A method of facili tating attachment of a pipe to a tank, the method comprising: inserting a second end of a wrench guide into an opening of the pipe, such that an opposed first end of the wrench guide protrudes outwardly from the opening of the pipe; disposing a flange of the pipe, adjacent the opening, within a semi-circular shaped holding portion of a drain guide, a bottom surface of the flange contacting a shelf of the drain guide;

introducing the protruding first end of the wrench guide into an opening in the tank from an outside portion of the tank so as to securably adhere the drain guide to the outside portion;

removing the wrench guide from the opening in the pipe; and

securing the pipe to the tank by inserting a pipe fitting from an inside portion of the tank through the hole and into the opening in the pipe, wherein a feature of the pipe fitting may engage the opening of the pipe.

18. The method of claim 17, further comprising the step of disposing a drain gasket on an upper surface of the flange of the pipe prior to the introducing step.

19. The method of claim 18, wherein the securing step further includes compressing the drain gasket against the outside portion of the tank so as to create a leak -proof seal between the tank and the pipe.

20. The method of any one of claims 17-19, wherein the securing step is performed by the first end of the drain guide, wherein the first end includes an engagement feature that mates with a corresponding feature of the pipe fitting so as to faci litate the securement of the pipe fitting to the pipe .

Description:
Cross-Reference to Related Applications

[0001] The present application claims priority to U.S. Provisional Application No.

62/377,653 filed August 21, 2016. The contents of that application are hereby incorporated in their entirety by reference.

Technical Field

[0002] The present disclosure relates to plumbing attachment systems for the facilitation of installation, repair, and replacement of plumbing structures. The disclosure also relates to methods of installing the plumbing attachment systems utilizing the disclosed systems and installation tools.

Background

[0003] Plumbing repairs are complex in nature, and typically involve the costly work of a skilled plumbing technician. Oftentimes, plumbing work will require the active involvement of more than one individual due to the nature of the plumbing equipment and required tools. That is, because pipes and pipe attachment pieces need to be held in place while installation is done using an assortment of different tools, installation by a single person is difficult if not entirely impossible. Due to the complexity of the work as well as the need to work in cramped spaces, plumbing work can be extremely time-consuming. 00Θ4] in one aspect, the present invention provides a plumbing attachment system that does not require the use of a plumbing technician. In other aspects, the invention relates to features that simplify installation and permit installation by a singular person in a shortened period of time. In further aspects, the present invention relates to a method of performing an installation of plumbing devices by a singular person under low visibility situations.

[0005] A kit for facilitating attachment of a pipe to a tank according to an embodiment may comprise both a drain guide and a wrench guide. The kit is configured to be securably adhered to an outer surface of the tank so as to conveniently locate a pipe adjacent a hole in the tank and to secure the pipe to the tank. The drain guide has a body that includes a holding portion having a semi-circular shape about a first axis A¾ that is connected to and spaced from a guiding portion. The holding portion is sized and configured to accommodate a flange of the pipe, such flange being disposed about an opening in the pipe. The pipe opening defines an axis Oi, and when the pipe is seated within the holding portion of the drain guide, the first axis Ai is coaxial with the pipe opening axis Oi. The wrench guide has first and second opposing ends that are spaced from one another along a second axis A2. The first end of the wrench guide defines an engagement feature for mating with a pipe fitting and the second end defines a projection that aids in manipulation of the wrench guide. The second end of the wrench guide is configured to be inserted into the opening of the pipe and the opposing first end of the wrench guide is configured to be inserted into the hole in the tank at the outer surface. This may be considered to be an installation configuration, wherein the drain guide may be securably adhered to the outer surface of the tank, and the pipe opening is substantially aligned with the hole in the tank so as to facilitate attachment of the pipe to the tank.

|0006] In further aspects, the pipe fitting may comprise a tub drain spud, which is known in the art. In another aspect, the wrench guide may further include a transverse through-hole that extends through the send end of the wrench guide. The through-hole may receive an elongate tool, such as a screw-driver, such that the elongate tool may be used to aid in manipulation of the wrench guide, such as to aid in rotation of the wrench guide about the axis A2. The drain guide of the kit, in a further respect, may include a shelf that extends along and between the holding portion and the guiding portion, wherein the shelf includes at least one cutout that is radially spaced from the first axis Ai . In some embodiments, the at least one radially spaced cutout may comprise three notches, each notch being

circumferentially spaced from the other notches about the axis Aj, and each notch defining a circumferential length and an arc angle with respect to the first axis Ai . 00Θ7] A drain guide according an embodiment may comprise a body that includes a holding portion and a guiding portion. The holding portion may have a substantially semi-circular shape about an axis Ai that is configured to be aligned with an opening in the tank. The holding portion may also be sized and configured to retain a flange of a pipe. The guiding portion may be integral with the holding portion, and the guiding portion may have a pair of parallel and spaced legs. The body of the drain guide may also include a shelf that extends along and between both the holding and guiding portions, the shelf being sized and dimensioned to receive a flange of the pipe. Hie shelf at the holding portion may include at least one cutout that is radially spaced from the axis As, for example at the holding portion, wherein the at least one cutout is configured to accommodate a projection on an outer surface of the pipe. Therefore, when the pipe is disposed within the holding portion, the projection of the pipe will reside within the cutout. 00Θ8] in further aspects, the at least one radially spaced cutout may comprise three notches that are circumferentiaily spaced apart about the axis Ai. Each of the notches may comprise a circumferential length and an arc angle measured about the axis Ai with respect to an adjacent notch. In a further aspect, the arc angle may be less than or equal to 30°. In another aspect, the body of the drain guide may further include a flat, upper tank-facing surface that accommodates an attachment mechanism, the attachment mechanism facilitating securement (or attachment) of the drain guide to an outer surface of the tank near the opening in the tank. In yet another aspect, the body of the drain guide may also include a brace mechanism that spans a gap between the parallel and spaced legs. The brace mechanism may be structurally configured to abut a portion of the pipe so as to further retain the flange of the pipe within the holding portion of the body of the drain guide.

[0009] A method of facilitating attachment of a pipe to a tank may be accomplished in a series of steps as shown and described. The method may include inserting a second end of a wrench guide into an opening of the pipe such that an opposed first end of the wrench guide protrudes outwardly from the opening of the pipe. The method may further include disposing a flange of the pipe, such flange being adjacent the opening, within a semi-circular shaped holding portion of a drain guide, such that a bottom surface of the flange contacts a shelf of the drain guide. The method may further include introducing the protruding first end of the wrench guide into an opening in the tank from an outside portion of the tank so as to securably adhere the drain guide to the outside portion. The method may also include removing the wrench guide from the opening in the pipe and securing the pipe to the tank by inserting a pipe fitting from an inside portion of the tank through the hole and into the opening in the pipe. The inserting step may further be accomplished by engaging a feature of the pipe fitting with the opening of the pipe. [0010] In a further aspect, the method may further comprise the step of disposing a drain gasket on an upper surface of the flange prior to performing the introducing step. The drain gasket may subsequently be compressed against the outside portion of the tank upon installation of the pipe, so as to create a liquid-proof seal between the tank and the pipe. In yet a further aspect, the securing step may be performed by the first end of the drain guide, wherein the first end includes an engagement feature that mates with a coiresponding feature of the pipe fitting so as to facilitate the securement of the pipe fitting to the pipe.

Brief Description of the Drawings

[0011] Fig. I is a perspective view of a plumbing attachment system in accordance with a first embodiment comprising both a drain assembly and an overflow assembly adjacent to respective points of attachment to a tub/tank.

[0012] Fig, 2 is a detailed view of the drain assembly illustrated in Fig. 1, further comprising a trim kit.

[0013] Fig. 3 is a detailed view of the overflow assembly illustrated in Fig. 1, further comprising an overflow trim.

[0014] Fig. 4 is a detailed view of the drain assembly of Fig. 2.

[0015] Fig. 5 is a perspective view of a pipe-guiding connector (or third hand) according to a first embodiment, configured to guide an elbow pipe to a respective point of attachment to a tub/tank.

[0016] Fig. 6 is a perspecti ve, exploded view of the pipe-guiding connector illustrated in Fig. 5, showing the features of the pipe-guiding connector.

[0017] Fig. 7 is an illustration of a step-by-step installation method for installing the pipe- guiding connector illustrated in Fig. 5 and utilizing it with the drain assembly in Fig. 2.

[0018] Fig, 8A is a perspective view of a pipe -guiding connector (or drain guide) according to a second embodiment, said drain guide shown receiving an elbow pipe having a dram gasket disposed thereon.

[0019] Fig. 8B is a side view of the drain guide of Fig. 8A.

[0020] Fig. 9A is a top perspective view of the drain guide of Fig. 8A-8B. [0021] Fig 9B is a bottom perspective view of the drain guide of Fig. 9 A.

|0Θ22] Fig. 9C is a top plan view of the drain guide of Figs. 9A-9B.

[0023] Fig. 10A is a perspective view of a wrench guide, in accordance with a first embodiment.

[0024] Fig. 10B is a side plan view of the wrench guide of Fig. 10A.

[0025] Fig. IOC is a side sectional view of the wrench guide of Fig. 10A, taken along the lines IOC- IOC as shown in Fig. 10A.

[0026] Fig, 10D is a perspective view of the wrench guide of Figs. lOA-lOC, where the wrench guide is mated with a spud.

[0027] Fig. 10E is a perspective view of the wrench guide of Figs, 10A-10D, wherein an end of the wrench guide has been inserted into an opening of an elbow pipe.

[0028] Fig, 11 A is a side perspective view of a bath waste and overflow system including an overflow assembly and a drain assembly attached to a tank/tub, wherein the system includes the drain guide of Figs. 9A-9C,

[0029] Fig. 11B is a top perspective view of the bath waste and overflow system of Fig, 11 A, wherein the tank/tub is shown in a partially transparent configuration to illustrate the components there beneat .

[0030] Figs. 12A-12D are a step-by step installation method for using the drain guide in combination with the wrench guide to facilitate the attachment of an elbow pipe to a port in the tub/tank.

[0031] Fig. 13 is a perspective view of a plumbing attachment sy stem in accordance with a first embodiment comprising both a drain assembly and an overflow assembly adjacent to respective points of attachment to a tub.

[0032] Fig. 14 is a detailed view of the drain assembly illustrated in Fig. 13, further comprising a trim kit.

[0033] Fig. 15 is a detailed view of the overflow assembly illustrated in Fig. 13, further comprising an overflow trim . [0034] Fig, 16 is a detailed view of the drain assembly of Fig, 14 showing the flexible spud, tub gasket, and drain elbow in greater detail.

|003S] Fig. 17 is a perspective view of the drain assembly of Fig. 14 showing a trim kit and a spud tool, wherein the trim kit has been removed for cleaning of a blockage.

[0036] Fig. 18 is an illustration of a step-by-step installation method for installing any one of the drain assembly or overflow assembly of assembly of Fig. 13, the installation method further comprising the use of a spud tool.

Detailed Description of the Drawings

[0Θ37] Fig. 1 depicts a plumbing attachment system for connecting at least one plumbing construct to a liquid-filled tank (or tub), such as a water tank (25). A typical plumbing construct is configured to provide drainage of liquid from the tank in at least two key locations— a dram and an overflow. As shown in Fig. 1 , the system includes both a dram assembly (1) configured to connect to a bottom (drain portion) of the tank (25) and an overflow assembly (50) configured to connect to a side wail (overflow area) of the tank (25). As illustrated, both assemblies utilize an elbow-shaped pipe (90) (which may also be referred to as a "shoe", "elbow pipe", or "elbow") to connect to additional plumbing constructs, although other pipe orientations, such as a substantially straight pipe, are also contemplated

[0038] With reference now to Figs, 2 and 3, the drain and overflow assemblies (1 and 50, respectively) are shown in greater detail. The drain assembly (1) shown in Fig. 2 generally comprises an attachment assembly (2) and a trim kit (3). The drain assembly (1) generally includes the elbow pipe (90), a gasket (4), and the flexible spud (1.0). As shown, the drain assembly (1) may be installed all together by inserting the assembly (1) upwardly (as shown) through a hole (26) in the tank (25). The trim kit (3) may be installed after the assembly (1) has been inserted into the tank (25). The same is generally true for the overflow assembly (50) shown in Fig. 3 where the assembly (50) is installed into a second hole (27) from outside of the tank (25) and an overflow trim kit (53) is installed into the assembly (50) afterward from inside the tank (25). [0039] The elbow pipe (90), as illustrated, is shown as a typical ninety-degree pipe having an overall shape reminiscent of a right-angle, although one of skill in the art will appreciate that elbow pipes having different angulations are also possible. As described above, although elbow pipe (90) is illustrated with the embodiment, pipes having other orientations, such as straight segment pipes, are also contemplated. Notably, the elbow pipe (90) comprises a pipe body (91) which has a generally circular cross-section throughout, although non-circular cross sections are also contemplated to be within the scope of this disclosure. The elbow pipe (90) may comprise any material known in the art to be suitable for pipes, including metals, plastics, or similar materials.

[0040] The elbow pipe (90) generally defines two straight, cylindrical pipe segments, joined together by a corner segment. Each pipe segment of the elbow pipe extends generally about a respective segment axis of elongation. The elbow pipe has two openings at either end through which liquid may flow into and subsequently out of the pipe.

[0041 ] The drain assembly (1 ) or overflow assembly (50) may be secured to the tank (25) by known means, such as by mounting, clamping, or the like. Applicants' prior disclosure in PCT/US2016/024748, incorporated by reference herein, is instructive, where the assemblies are secured to the tank utilizing a flexible spud (10), as illustrated in Figs, 1.-4.

[0042] Turning now to Figs. 5-6, a pipe-guiding connector (200) according to a first embodiment is illustrated. The pipe-guiding connector (200) serves the function of positioning and aligning a pipe (as illustrated, an elbow pipe (201 )) with a hole of a tank (225) in order to facilitate installation of the elbow pipe (201). To accomplish this (and as will be described in more detail below), the pipe guiding connector (200) comprises an attachment mechanism (202) at an upper tank-facing surface that fixedly attaches the connector to an outer surface of the tank (225) prior to guiding the elbow pipe (201) along the connector (200) and toward the hole of the tank (225). As illustrated, the attachment mechanism (202) is an adhesive strip, but any other suitable attachment means may be used so as to permit the connector (200) to adhere onto the outer surface of the tank (225). In this manner, one of skill in the art may consider the pipe-guiding connector (200) to function as a "third hand " ' because it allows a user to make usage of both hands during installation of the elbow pipe (201) as it is being held in the proper location by the connector (200). [0043] With continuing reference to Figs. 5-6, the connector has a generally horseshoe- shaped body (210) that includes both a pipe-holding portion (2 1) and pipe-guiding portion (212). The pipe-holding portion (211) refers to the location of the connector (200) that corresponds to the location of the hole of the tank (225) once the connector (200) has been mounted to the tank (225), In other words, the elbow pipe (201) will sit in the pipe-holding portion (211) as it is being mounted to the tank (225). The pipe-guiding portion (212) by contrast effectively functions as a guide track along which the elbow pipe (201) may be slid into the pipe-holding portion (211). The body (210) has a shelf (213) that is sized and dimensioned to abut a lower flange su rface (203) of the elbow pipe (201) su ch that the lower flange surface (203) may ride along an upper surface of the shelf (213) from the pipe-guiding portion (212) toward the pipe-holding portion (211).

[0044] The pipe-guiding portion (212) further includes a locking mechanism (214) that engages with the elbow pipe (201) so as to retain the elbow pipe (201) within the pipe- holding portion. As illustrated in Fig. 12 specifically, the locking mechanism (214) may comprise a pair of flexible tabs (214) that extend partially over a portion of the surface of the shelf (213) so as to urge the elbow pipe (201 ) into the pipe-holding portion (212) and further to lock it into place (as will be described in greater detail in the installation method recited below). Although the illustrated embodiment depicts the locking mechanism (214) as a pair of flexible tabs (214), one of skill in the art will readily understand that other locking mechanisms may be used, such as by way of non-limiting examples: springs, ball detents, adhesives, etc.

[0045] Although not illustrated in Figs. 5-6, the connector (200) may further include a removable intermediate portion that integrally connects the upper tank-facing surface and the shelf, such that removal of the intermediate portion separates the upper tank-facing surface from the shelf. As further indicated in the method below, a user may optionally choose to remove the intermediate portion so as to remove a substantial entirety of the guiding connector (200) from the tank (225). Removal of a substantial entirety of the connector (200) may be advantageous after a user has installed the elbow pipe (201).

[0046] A method of installing the pipe-guiding connector (200) is illustrated in Fig. 7, and will now be described in greater detail. As shown in step 1, the connector (200) is adhered onto the outer surface of the tank (225) by means of the adhesive strip (202). [0047] As shown in step 2, the elbow pipe (201) is then slid along the surface of the shelf (213) at the pipe-guiding portion (212) so as to engage with the flexible tabs (214). As shown in the Figure, the flexible tabs (214) flex outwardly as a lower flange surface (203) of the elbow pipe (201) bears against them while the elbow pipe (201) translates along the surface of the shelf (213) at the pipe-guiding portion (212) toward the pipe-holding portion (211). Once the elbow pipe (201) is in the pipe-holding portion (211 ) of the connector (200), the flexible tabs (214) relax and return to their initial position, thereby holding the elbow pipe (201) positionally fixed in the pipe-holding portion (211). The flexible tabs (214) are configured so as to exert a constant inward force while they are flexed outwardly. This inward-directed force helps '"urge" the elbow pipe (201) into the pipe-holding portion (211) and it also helps to retain the elbow pipe (201) therein.

[0048] With continuing reference to Fig. 7 and as shown in steps 3 and 4, a spud (220) may be installed and tightened into the elbow pipe (201) while it is being held in place by the connector (200). As shown particularly in step 4, tightening the spud (220), which as illustrated has complementary threading to match threading in the elbow pipe (201), causes the elbow pipe (201) to translate upwardly (as shown by the arrow in step 4) off of the surface of the shelf (213) at the pipe-holding portion (211) and toward the outer surface of the tank (225). ' The elbow (201) is fully tightened when a gasket (240) disposed on an upper surface of the flange bears against the outer surface of the tank (225),

[0049] As explained above, it is contemplated that the pipe -guiding connector (200) will behave as a "third hand" because it eliminates the need for an assistant or another workaround method to accomplish concurrent plumbing installations. It is further contemplated that the pipe-guiding connector (200) will work with existing elbow pipes (201) or elbow kits that are commonly found in existing constructs. Alternatively, the connector as described could be used with the plumbing attachment system of the first embodiment described in detail above and as shown in Figs. 1-6. The connector (200) may form part of a kit which includes other plumbing assemblies including but not limited to those described above. It is contemplated that the pipe-guiding connector (200) can be quickly and easily installed by a user not skilled in advanced plumbing techniques. It is contemplated that the connector (200) will be a time-saver in that the connector can be installed before finishing up work inside the tub. [0050] A pipe connector (300) according to a second embodiment, hereafter referred to as dram guide (300), is illustrated in Figs. 8A-9C.

[0051] With general reference to Figs. 8A-8B and Figs 11A-11B, the drain guide (300) serves the function of positioning and aligning a pipe (as illustrated, an elbow pipe (301)) with a hole of a tank (325) in order to facili tate installation of the elbow pipe (301) to the tank (325). As shown, the elbow pipe (301) may include a drain gasket (340) disposed on an upper surface of fl ange (303) of the elbow pipe (301), such drain gasket (340) providing a leak -proof seal with an outer surface of a tank (325), to which the elbow pipe (301) is ultimately to be sealed. The drain guide (300) may advantageously be utilized together with a wrench guide (400) (or spud wrench) (see Figs. 10A-10D) to facilitate installation of the elbow pipe (301), as will be described in more detail below. The drain guide (300) and the wrench guide (400) may, together, comprise a kit. Although it is contemplated that the drain guide (300) and wrench guide (400) may be utilized exclusive of one another, the dram guide (300) and the wrench guide (400) may be advantageously utilized together (as described below). Briefly, and in a first aspect, the wrench guide (400) may be utilized with the drain guide (300) under poor visibility conditions to help a user locate the hole in the tank (325) from the outside thereof and position the elbow pipe (301) with respect to the hole. In a second aspect, the wrench guide (400) may be utilized to secure the elbow (301) to the tank (325) at the hole by securing a pipe fitting, such as spud (500) (see, e.g., Fig. 101) and Fig. 12C) to the elbow pipe (301) from the inside of the tank. It will be understood that although a tank (325) is illustrated and described in the structure and methods below, any other suitable liquid-containing vessel (e.g. , a bathtub) may be substituted for the tank (325) without changing the scope of the invention.

[0052] Referring to Figs. 9A-9C, the drain guide (300), like the connector (200), may comprise an attachment mechanism (302) at a flat, upper tank -facing surface, the attachment mechanism (302) facilitating securement of the drain guide (300) to an outer surface of the tank (325). The attachment mechanism (302) as illustrated may include a series of adhesive strips, such as tape, although one of ordinary skill in the art will appreciate that any other suitable attachment mechani sm (302) may be used to securely attach the dram guide (300) to the tank (325), such as glue, polymer adhesives, screws, etc. Alternatively, it is contemplated by the invention that the drain guide (300) may not include an attachment mechanism (302), but will instead be directly incorporated into the outer wall of the tank (325). In other words, in such an embodiment, the tank (325) will include the drain guide (300) or a drain guide-like structure positioned adjacent a hole on the outer surface of the tank (325) where a user may be expected to attach an overflow or a drain assembly. In such an alternative instance, the tank itself could be manufactured to include the dram guide (300), or the drain guide-like structure, without the need for attaching a separately fonned drain guide (300) using an attachment mechanism (302) or the like. In other words, the body (310) of the drain guide (300) would be integral with a wall of the tank (325) adjacent the hole. It is further contemplated that a tank manufacturer could market and produce tanks with the drain guide (300) integrally molded with the tank (325), or otherwise attached to the tank (325), prior to selling the tank (325) to the end-user.

[0053] With continuing reference to Figs. 9A-9C, the drain guide (300) as illustrated has a generally horse shoe -shaped body (310) that includes both a holding portion (311) and a guiding portion (312) that are integrally connected to one another. One of skill in the art will appreciate that although a horseshoe-shaped body (310) is illustrated in the accompanying figures, that other shapes are contemplated as being within the scope of the invention, such as and without limitation, square-shaped, rectangular-shaped, polygonal-shaped, rounded, or triangular. Therefore, neither the shape of the body (310) nor any of its constituent components are limited to or by only the horseshoe shape as illustrated. The holding portion (311) refers to a location of the drain guide (300) that is ultimately to be disposed adjacent the location of the hole of the tank (325) once the drain guide (300) has been secured to the tank (325). In other words, it is intended that the elbow pipe (301) will sit in the holding portion (311) as the drain guide (300) is mounted to the tank (325) such that the holding portion (311 ) will center the opening of the elbow pipe (301) with respect to the hole in the tank (325). Hie guiding portion (312) by contrast may function as a guide track along which some elbow pipes (301) may be slid into the holding portion (311). The guiding portion

(311) further includes a pair of parallel and spaced legs (321, 322), while the holding portion

(312) may be substantially semi-circular in shape, extending about an axis Ai. As shown, the body (310) has a shelf (313) that is sized and dimensioned to abut a lower surface of the flange (303) of the elbow pipe (301) such that the lower surface of the flange (303) may ride along an upper surface of the shelf (313) from the guiding portion (312) toward the holding portion (311). As shown in Fig. 11B and as will be described in greater detail below, the guiding portion (312) extends away from the holding portion (312) and should generally be oriented in the direction through which water is to be carried by the piping system of the waste/Overflow system once the elbow pipe (301) has been installed in the system.

[0054] The guiding portion (312) further includes a securing mechanism (314) that engages with the flange (303) of the elbow pipe (301) so as to retain the elbow pipe (301) within the holding portion (311). As illustrated in Figs. 9A and 9C specifically, the securing mechanism (314) may comprise a pair of tabs (314) that extend inwardly toward a center of the horseshoe-shaped body (310) along the shelf (313). In one aspect, the tabs (314) may be flexible so as to compress outwardly from a relaxed configuration to a compressed configuration as the flange (303) of the elbow pipe (301) slides across the shelf (313) along a first direction Di from the guiding portion (312) toward the holding portion (311), and the tabs may subsequently return to the relaxed configuration once the elbow pipe (301) is fully within the holding portion (311). Flexible tabs may act to urge the elbow pipe (301) into the pipe-holding portion (312) and further to lock it into place. In a second aspect, the tabs (314) may be substantially rigid such that they are resistive to compression and expansion. Such rigid tabs will still retain the elbow pipe (301 ) within the holding portion (31.1) by not permitting the elbow pipe (301) to slide along the shelf (313) from the holding portion (311) into the guiding portion (312). In order to dispose the flange (303) of the elbow pipe (301) within the holding portion (311), one of ordinary skill in the art will appreciate that the elbow pipe (301 ) must be inserted downwardly into the drain guide (300) along a second direction D2 that is substantially perpendicular to the first direction Di. When the flange (303) of the elbow pipe (31) is properly seated within the holding portion (311) (see Fig. 8A), the opening in the elbow pipe (301), which may extend about an axis Oi, will be substantially co-axial with the first axis Ai .

[0055] With particular reference to Figs. 9A and 9C, the shelf (313) includes at least one cutout that is radially spaced from the axis Ai. As illustrated, the at least one cutout may comprise three notches (315) in the shelf (313) near the holding portion (311) of the body (310). The notches (315), as shown, are circumferentially spaced 90°, measured from their respective centers, about the axis Ai, although it is contemplated that other degrees of circumferential spacing may be utilized, that are greater than or less than 90°. The notches (315) are configured to accommodate ribs or other similar projections (not shown) that may be disposed on an outer surface of the elbow pipe (301) beneath the flange (303), such that the elbow pipe (301) will seat fully within the holding portion (311) of the drain guide (300), As shown particularly in Fig. 9C, the notches (315) have a circumferential length about the axis Ai that permits an elbow pipe having ribs or other similar projections to rotate up to an angle within the notches, such degree of rotation corresponding directly to an arc angle (a) for each of the notches as measured from the axis Ai. In an embodiment, the arc angle (a) is less than or equal to 30°, although it will be appreciated that arc angles greater than 30° are also contemplated. It is contemplated that the arc angle (a) may be the same or different for each one of the notches (315). The additional rotation permitted by the arc angle (a) of the notches facilitates making fine-tuned adjustments to the elbow pipe once the drain guide

(300) has been securabiy adhered to the outer wall of the tank (325) near the hole. Such fine- tuned adjustments may include compensating for imperfections in the rotational alignment of the drain guide (300)— -particularly the guiding portion (312)— with respect to the waste/overflow system. Although error compensation of up to 30° is contemplated by the cutouts, it is with in the scope of the invention that the degree of error-compensation m ay exceed 30° in a given application.

[0056] it is contemplated that the drain guide (300) may further include a brace mechanism (not shown) adjacent to and bridging a gap between the parallel and spaced legs (321, 322) of the guiding portion (312). The brace mechanism may function to further retain an elbow pipe

(301) within the holding portion (311) when the elbow pipe (301) has a particularly long bottom portion that extends along the first direction Di. The added weight from the long bottom portion will create a moment arm that will tend to rotate the elbow pipe (301) about an axis AR that is substantially perpendicular to both the first direction Di and the second direction Jh. Such rotation may cause the flange (303) of the elbow pipe (301) to unseat from the shelf (313) at the holding portion (311). Thus, the brace mechanism may comprise a structure that abuts an area of the long bottom portion of the elbow pipe (301) to counteract any rotation about the axis AR. It is contemplated that the brace mechanism may be molded directly into the drain guide (300), or alternatively that it may be sold separately and attachable to the drain guide (300) by known attachment means (e.g., adhesives, snaps, screws, etc).

[0057] With reference now to Figs, 10A-10D a wrench guide (400) (which may also be referred to as a "spud tool") can be used in combination with the drain guide (300) and elbow- pipe (301) to facilitate attachment of the elbow pipe to the tank (325). Generally speaking the wrench guide (400) may serve two basic purposes: 1 ) as a wrench for mating with and tightening a drain spud (500), or other pipe fitting, within the elbow pipe (301), thus securing the elbow pipe (301) to the tank (325), or 2) as a guide tool for assisting a user in locating a port/hole in the tank (325) under limited visibility installations. One of ordinary skill in the art will appreciate that a tub dram spud (500) is a well-known pipe fitting used in plumbing applications in standard bath tubs, but that other types of pipe fittings can be used with the wrench guide (400) according to the invention.

[0058] As illustrated, the wrench guide (400) has a generally elongate body (401) that defines a first end (410) spaced from a second end (420) along an axis of elongation A2. The first end (410) of the wrench guide (400) defines a wrench (411) having four radially spaced notches (412) that extend into a side wall (402) of the wrench guide (400). The four notches (412) are oriented at 90° to one another with respect to the axis of elongation A2. The four notches (412) are designed to mate with the grate of a standard drain spud (e.g. , tub drain spud 500, as shown in Fig, 10D) for installation in a drain of a bath/waste system, or similarly for any other complementary part to be loosened or tightened. Of course, one of ordinary skill in the art that although four notches (412) are illustrated, that any number of notches (412) (or any other engagement feature other than "notches") may be utilized to engage with a corresponding feature of the spud (500) or other pipe fitting without departing from the scope of the invention. The second end (420) of the wrench guide (400) defines a cruciform-shaped projection (421) having four ridges (422) spaced 90° apart about the axis of elongation A2. These ridges (422) may assist manipulation of the wrench guide (400) with a user's hands. Although a cruciform-shaped projection (421) is illustrated in the Figures, it is understood that other shapes and configurations are contemplated as being within the scope of the invention. By way of non-limiting examples, the projection (421) may be circular, square, rectangular, polygonal, or triangular.

[0059] As illustrated in Figs. lOA-l OC, the body (401) of the wrench guide (400) defines a transverse through-hole (425) near the second end (420) that extends through the body (401) of the wrench guide (400) along a direction perpendicular to the axis of elongation A2. The through-hole (425) is configured to receive an elongate tool or other implement, such as a standard screw-driver (not shown), such that the wrench guide (400) can be easily rotated about the axis of elongation A to facilitate rotational adjustment of the spud (500) via the first end of the tool. [0060] Referring now to Fig 10E, the wrench guide (400) can be utilized with the drain guide (300) as a guide tool for assisting a user in more easily locating the tank hole during the installation of a drain or overflow pipe to the tank (325). Fig. 10E illustrates the drain guide (300) and wrench guide (400) assembled together with the elbow pipe (301), so as to facilitate such an installation. Although it will be described in greater detail below with respect to an exemplary method of installation, it is the first end (410) of the wrench guide (400) that has been inserted downwardly along the second direction D2 into an opening of the elbow pipe (301).

|0061] With reference to Figs. 12A-12D, a method of facilitating the installation of an elbo pipe (301) using the drain guide (300) and the wrench guide (400) can best be understood using the following exemplar}' step-by-step process.

[0062] With reference to Fig. 12A, and in a first step, a user would dispose the drain gasket (340) on an upper surface of the flange (303) of the elbow pipe (301) and insert the second end (420) of the wrench guide (400) into the opening of the elbow pipe (301) along the second direction B such that the first end (410) would protrude outward from the pipe's opening (as shown in Fig. 12B). In a second step, the user would dispose a bottom surface of the flange (303) of the elbow pipe (301 ) on the shelf (313) of the drain guide (300) near the holding portion (311) of the horseshoe body. As shown in Fig. 12A, the user would insert the combined dram guide (300) and wrench guide (400) downwardly into the holding portion (311) along the second direction D2. In a third step, the user would apply the attachment mechanism (302) to the flat, upper tank facing surface of the drain guide (300), such as by applying adhesive tape.

[0063] With reference now to Fig. 12B, and in a fourth step, the user would fully insert (or introduce) the first, protruding end (410) of the wrench guide (400) into the hole of the tank (325). As shown in Fig. 12B, such insertion would be along a third direction D3 that is substantially opposite the second direction B?. In a fifth step, the user would apply force to the drain guide (300) along the third direction D3 such that the adhesive material (302) on the top surface of the drain guide (300) would securably adhere onto an outer wall of the tank (325). It is understood that should the user apply an alternative attachment mechanism (302) to the flat, upper tank -facing surface of the drain guide (300), the application of force may be unnecessary. In a sixth step, the user would remove the wrench guide (400) from the elbow pipe (301) from inside the tank (325), As shown in Fig, 12C, the opening of the elbow pipe (301 ) is now properly aligned with the hole of the tank (325).

[0064] With continuing reference to Fig. 12C, and in a seventh step, the user would install the spud (500) or other similar fitting into the elbow pipe (301), through the hole in the tank (325) from the inside of the tank (325), and such installation would be accomplished by mating the notches (412) in the first end (410) of the wrench guide (400) with a

corresponding shape (e.g. , a cruciform shape, not shown) inside the spud (500) or other pipe fitting. With reference to Figs, 12C-12D, the combined wrench guide (400) and spud (500) would be inserted along the third direction D3 into the opening in the elbow pipe (301), and the wrench guide (400) would be rotated about the axis A2 so as to engage threads (501) of the spud (500) with the internal threads (360) of the elbow pipe (301). One of ordinaiy skill in the art will appreciate that although the spud (500) is illustrated as having threads (501), that any other engagement features known in the art may be utilized to securably connect the spud (500) to the opening in the elbow pipe (301).

[0065] With reference now to Fig. 12D, the rotational engagement of the spud (500) with the elbow pipe (301) will cause a flange (502) of the spud (500) to bear against an inside wall of the tank (325) while simultaneously causing the elbow pipe (301) and the drain gasket (340) to bear against the outside wall of the tank (325). The seventh step may be concluded when the spud (500) and the elbow pipe (301) are securely attached to the tank (325).

[0066] The installation method may be finally concluded by withdrawing the wrench guide (400) from the spud (500) from the inside of the tank (325).

[0067] It will be understood that one of skill in the art may accomplish an installation using the drain guide (300), wrench guide (400), and elbow pipe (301) by performing the above- indicated steps out of order, with slight variations (such as combining steps), by skipping steps, or by performing additional steps. Such alternative methods of practicing the installation described above are contemplated within the scope of the invention, specifically because the end-result to be achieved— securing the elbow pipe (301) to the tank (325) near the port— is the same.

[0068] Fig. 13 depicts a plumbing attachment system for connecting at least one plumbing construct to a liquid-filled tank (or tub), such as a water tank (25A). A typical plumbing construct s configured to provide drainage of liquid from the tank in at least two key locations— a drain and an overflow. As shown in Fig, 13, the system includes both a drain assembly (1A) configured to connect to a bottom (drain portion) of the tank (25A) and an overflow assembly (50 A) configured to connect to a side wall (overflow area) of the tank (25A). As illustrated, both assemblies utilize an elbow-shaped pipe (90A) (which may also be referred to as a "shoe", "elbow pipe", or "elbow") to connect to additional plumbing

constructs, although other pipe orientations, such as a substantially straight pipe, are also contemplated. In the embodiment shown in Fig. 13, both the drain assembly (1 A ) and the overflow assembly (50A) comprise a flexible spud (10A), as will be described in greater detail below. In general, the flexible spud (10A) permits simplified installation for the particular assembly being installed as well as liquid-proof sealing properties.

[0069] With reference now to Figs, 14 and 15, the drain and overflow assemblies (1 A and 50A, respectively) are shown in greater detail. The drain assembly (IA) shown in Fig. 14 generally comprises an attachment assembly (2A) and a trim kit (3A). The drain assembly (IA) generally includes the elbow pipe (90A), a gasket (4A), and the flexible spud (10A). As shown and as will be explained in greater detail below, the drain assembly (I A) may be installed all together by inserting the assembly (IA) upwardly (as shown) tlirough a hole (26A) in the tank (25A). The trim kit (3A) may be installed after the assembly (IA) has been inserted into the tank (25A). The same is generally true for the overflow assembly (50A) shown in Fig. 15 where the assembly (50A) is installed into a second hole (27A) from outside of the tank (25A) and an overflow trim kit (53A) is installed into the assembly (50A) afterward from inside the tank (25A). As shown in Figs. 14 and 15, the drain assembly (IA) and the overflow assembly (50A) are substantially identical to one another, except for the difference in trim design and their relative positioning on the tank (25A) . Therefore, the drain assembly (IA) and overflow assembly (50A) may each interchangeably be referred to as a plumbing attachment system. To the extent that succeeding figures relied upon in the description below may relate to either the drain assembly (1 A ) or to the overflow assembly (50A), it will be understood that reference to the "plumbing attachment system" may equally apply to both assemblies equally, except where the two assemblies differ as noted above.

[0070] A plumbing attachment system— which could be used with a drain assembly (I ) or overflow assembly (50A)— is shown in greater detail in Fig, 16. The system generally includes the elbow pipe (90A), the gasket (4A) (or tub gasket), and flexible spud (10A); each of which will be described now in detail.

[0071 j The elbow pipe (90A), as illustrated, is shown as a typical ninety -degree pipe having an overall shape reminiscent of a right-angle, although one of skill in the art will appreciate that elbow pipes having different angulations are also possible. As described above, although elbow pipe (99A) is illustrated with the embodiment, pipes having other orientations, such as straight segment pipes, are also contemplated. Notably, the elbow pipe (90A) comprises a pipe body (91A) which has a generally circular cross-section throughout, although non- circular cross sections are also contemplated to be within the scope of this disclosure. The elbow pipe (90A) may comprise any material known in the art to be suitable for pipes, including metals, plastics, or similar materials.

[0072] The elbow pipe (90A) generally defines two straight, cylindrical pipe segments, joined together at by a comer segment. Each pipe segment of the elbow pipe extends generally about a respective segment axis of elongation. The elbow pipe has two openings at either end through which liquid may flow into and subsequently out of the pipe. As illustrated in Fig. 16, each opening has a circular cross section having an inner diameter reflecting the distance between the inner surfaces at the respective pipe opening. The opening on the top ("the first opening (92A)") is configured to accommodate the flexible spud while the bottom-right opening (''the second opening (93A)") is configured to attach to other pipe constructs (not shown). Near the first opening (92A), the pipe body includes a flange (94A) that projects radially outward from, the first opening (92A) with respect to the segment axis so as to define a substantially flat surface, which, as shown in Fig, 16, accommodates a gasket (4A) (tub gasket). Also near the first opening (92A), the pipe body (91A) includes an attachment mechanism to allow the elbow pipe to attach to the flexible spud. As best shown in Fig, 18, a set of interior threading (95A) extends into the interior surface of the pipe segm ent near the first opening (92A) to accommodate the flexible spud (10A). The form of attachment is not limited to threading in this respect, and one of skill in the art will readily understand that other forms of attachment (including but not limited to press fit or suction) may be used instead of threading. In a particular embodiment and for ease of reference with respect to Figs. 16-18[]„ the use of threading as the attachment mechanism will be further described. As detailed below with respect to the flexile spud (10A), the interior surface threading (95A) of the elbow pipe (90A) complements external threading (19A) on the flexible spud (10A) so as to allow the flexible spud (1.0A) to threadedly engage the elbow pipe (90A) .

|0073] The tub gasket (4A), as illustrated, provides for a liquid-proof seal between an exterior of the tank. (25A) (or tu b) and the elbow pipe when the elbow pipe is assembled and fully tightened with the tank (25A). The gasket (4A) is preferably made of a plastic or rubber material, although one of skill in the art will readily understand that any suitable flexible material know in the art may be used.

|0074] With continuing reference to Fig. 16, the flexible spud (10A) is configured to engage with the elbow pipe (90A) at the first opening (92A). As described further below in greater detail, the flexible spud (10A) is designed to be installed so as to create a liquid-proof seal with the tank (25A), particularly with the interior of the tank (25A). By saying the flexible spud (10A) is "flexible," it is contemplated that the flexible spud (10A) will be able to adjust its size— particularly its maximum outer diameter— in order to facilitate installation of the plumbing system, into the tank (25A) . This will also be described in greater detail below. As shown in the Figure, the flexible spud (10A) has a generally cylindrical spud body (11A) that extends downwardly from a top portion to a bottom portion along a longitudinal central axis (12A). The spud body (11A), as shown in Fig, 16, comprises a structural plastic material, however, one of skill in the art will readily understand that the spud body (11A) can compri se any other appropriate material or combination of materials known in the art. The spud body (11A) includes a hollow bore extending therethrough so as to allow liquid from the tank (once the system is installed) to pass through the hollow bore portion and ultimately through the elbow pipe (90A) from the first opening (92A) toward and through the second opening (93A).

|0075] The spud body (11A) further includes an attachment mechanism intended to interact with the complementary attachment mechanism in the elbow pipe (90A). As described above and for ease of reference to the Figs., this attachment mechanism is illustrated as exterior threading (19A) that extends about the periphery of the spud body (11A). The exterior threading (19A) is sized and dimensioned to threadedly engage the threaded interior (95A) of the elbow pipe (90A) (see Fig, 18). Once the threads are engaged, the flexible spud (10A) may be positionally adjusted relative to the elbow pipe (90A). in particular, when the complementary threads are engaged, rotation of the flexible spud (10A) relati v e to the elbow pipe (90A) will adjust the distance between the flexible spud (10A) and the elbow pipe (90A). The spud body (11A) further includes an engagement feature (13A) that extends into the inner surface of the flexible spud (10A). As partially illustrated in Fig. 16, the engagement feature (13A) is a pair of diametrically opposed slots in the inner surface of the flexible spud (10A) that are configured to engage with complementary engagement feature (89A), illustrated as pin-type projections, of a plumbing tool, such as a spud tool (80A) (see Figs. 17-18), as will be described in greater detail below. Although a pin/slot engagement feature may be described with respect to this and other engagement features described below, one of skill in the art will readily understand that any oilier suitable engagement feature may be substituted that similarly permits detachable locking between the engaged components. As shown in Fig. 16, the slots (13A) extend downward into the inner surface of the flexible spud (10A) and further that they continue circumferentially about a portion (for example ¼ or a quarter) of the circumference of the inner surface.

[0076] As shown in greater detail in Fig. 16, the flexible spud (10A) further includes a flexible ring portion (14A) integrally attached to the spud body (11A) at the top portion. The flexible ring portion (14A) has a maximum outer diameter (measured with respect to the longitudinal central axis (12A)) that is greater than an outer diameter of the spud body (11A) (also measured with respect to the longitudinal central axis (12A)). The flexible ring portion (14A) generally comprises two different materials, although the ring (14A) could similarly comprise a single material or more than two materials as necessary.

[0077] With continued reference to Fig. 16, the flexible ring (14A) comprises a flexible rubber material (15A) disposed about a rigid frame (16A) which comprises a structural plastic material. As shown in the Figure, the rigid frame comprises the same material as the illustrated cylindrical spud body (11 ). One of skill in the art will readily understand that the rigid frame (16A) may alternatively be constructed of a different material or combination of materials as deemed appropriate under the circumstances. Likewise, the flexible rubber material (15A) may alternatively be constructed of a different material so long as the material has flexible properties. As shown, the flexible ring (14A) is integral with the cylindrical spud body (11A) at the top portion. However, one of skill in the art will readily understand that a portion (particularly, the rigid frame (16A)) may be non-integral (i.e., separable) from the spud body (11A) such that it may be interchangeable with other flexible rings (14A) as appropriate or as necessary.

[0078] As shown, the flexible ring portion (15A) defines an outer tapered section (17A) which tapers downwardly and away from the longitudinal central axis (12A). As will be described in further detail below with regard to an installation method (Fig, 18), the tapered outer section (17A) is configured to flex inwardly (toward the axis (12A)) during installation into the tank (25A) so as to temporarily reduce the outer diameter (DIA) of the flexible ring (14A) to a reduced diameter (D2A), until the entirety of the flexible ring (14A) is disposed inside of the tank (25A), at which point the flexible ring (14A) resumes its initial outer diameter (DIA) and its previous shape. When the tapered section (17A) bears upon the inner wall of the tank, the tapered section flexes upwardly to create a liquid-proof seal.

[0079] it is contemplated that the attachment system described above may further include a spud tool and a trim kit. In this regard, the system may form a kit that contains all components and tools to install the plumbing assembly described above and as shown in Fig. 13.

[0080] With reference now to Fig. 17, a plumbing tool, such as spud tool (80A), and trim kit (3 A/53 A) are illustrated according to a first embodiment. Tlie spud tool (80A) comprises an elongate body (81A) that is substantially cylindrical along a tool axis. As shown in the Figure, the spud tool extends between opposed first and second ends (82A, 83A). Tlie elongate body at the first end (82A) comprises an engagement feature (89A) that is

complementary to the engagement feature (13A) contained within the flexible spud (10A), as described above. As illustrated, the engagement feature (89A) is a pair of diametrically opposed pin-type projections that extend radially outward from the elongate body (81A) (with respect to the tool axis) such that tlie projections (89A) are sized and dimensioned to interact with the slots (13A) of the flexible spud (10A). In this manner, and as will be described below with respect to the method of installation, the projections (89A) of the spud tool (80A) may engage with the slots (13A) of the flexible spud (10A) SO as to impart rotational movement about tlie tool axis to thereby cause the flexible spud (10A) to ride along the threading (95A) of the elbow pipe (90A) so as to shorten (i.e. , reduce) or lengthen (i.e., enlarge),as necessary, the distance between the flexible spud (10A) and the elbow pipe (90A). As illustrated in Fig. 17, the elongate body (81A) at the second end (83A) has a smaller cross-sectional dimension than the elongate body (81A) at the first end (82A). In other words, the second end (83A) of the spud tool (80A), as illustrated, is narrower than the first end of the spud tool. The elongate body (81A) at the second end (83A) further comprises an engagement feature (88A) (see Fig. 18) that is complementary to an engagement feature contained within the trim, (not shown, but as described below). As shown in Fig. 18, the engagement feature (88A) at the second end (83A) s a pair of diametrically opposed pin-type projections that extend radially outward from the elongate body (8 A) (with respect to the tool axis).

|0081] The trim kit (3A 53A) (or simply "trim") comprises a generally cylindrical trim body that extends downwardly from a top portion to a bottom portion along a trim axis, the body generally defining an outer cylindrical surface (outer trim surface). The trim has a hollow bore extending along the axis through the trim body, the hollow bore being defined by an inner cylindrical surface (inner trim surface). In the embodiment shown in Fig. 17, the trim body further includes at least one, but preferably two, cross bars (3Ά) that extend across the inner trim surface at the bottom portion. When the trim is installed, the cross bars function as debris filters, which is that they are capable of "catching" debris (such as hair) that would otherwise proceed deeper into the plumbing system with the flow of liquid as described above, potentially causing a clog over an extended period of time . The trim body further includes an outer engagement feature (3" A) defined by the outer trim surface and an inner engagement feature (not shown) defined by the inner trim surface. In a particular embodiment and with reference to Fig. 17, the outer engagement feature (3'Ά) comprises a pair of diametrically opposed pin-type projections that extend radially outward (with respect to the trim axis) from the outer trim surface. These projections (3" A) are configured to engage with the complementary slots (13A) of the flexible spud (10A) (described above) by advancing the projections (3'Ά) of the trim (3 A/53 A) downwardly through the slots of the flexible spud (10A) and further by advancing them rotationally through the circumferential portion of the slot (for example, a quarter turn). In a certain embodiment, the inner engagement feature of the trim (not shown) is a pair of diametrically opposed slots which are configured to engage with the complementary projections at the narrower second end of the spud tool .

[0082] A method of installing the attachment system is illustrated in Fig. 18, and will now? be described in greater detail. As illustrated in step 1, a pre-assembled plumbing assembly (1A/50A) is provided, substantially as described above. It is understood that assembling the preassembled assembly (1A/50A) may be performed by the user prior to installation in the tank (25A) or otherwise, (e.g., by being purchased in the pre-assembled condition).

Regardless of source, the pre-assembly may be accomplished by interconnecting the flexible spud (10A) with the elbow pipe (90A) and the gasket (4A). Thus the pre-assembled assembly (1A/50A) includes the elbow pipe (90A), the gasket (4A), and the flexible spud (10A). The assembly (1A/50A) is inserted along a direction of insertion (upwardly as illustrated by the arrow in the Figure) toward a hole (26A/27A) in the tank (25A) (or tub).

|0083] With continuing reference to Fig. 18, and as illustrated in step 2, the flexible ring portion (14A) of the flexible spud (10A) bears against an outer surface (28A) of the tank at an edge of the hole (26A 27A) so as to cause the flexible ring portion (14A) to flex inwardly toward the body (11A) (also toward the central axis (12A)) of the flexible spud (10A) SO as to temporarily reduce the outer diameter of the flexible ring portion (14 A) from an initial outer diameter (DM) to a reduced diameter (D2A). it should be noted that in its unreduced state, the diameter of the flexible ring portion (DM) is greater than the diameter of the hole (26A/27A) in the tank (25A), whereas in its reduced state, the reduced diameter (DJA) of the flexible ring portion (14A) is substantially equal to (but not greater than) the diameter of the hole

(26A/27A). It is because of the reduction in diameter that the entirety of the flexible ring portion (14A), and hence a desired remainder of the flexible spud body (11A), may pass through the desired hole (26A/27A) and into the interior of the tank. After the entirety of the flexible ring portion (14A) passes into the interior of the tank, the flexible ring portion (14A) flexes outwardly away from the body (11A) (as well as away from the central axis (12A)) of the flexible spud (10A) so as to once again define its original (initial) outer diameter (DM).

[0084] With continuing reference to Fig. 18, and as illustrated in step 3, the engagement feature (89A) (i.e., the pin-type projections) of the first end (82A) of the spud tool (80A) is engaged with the complementary engagement feature (13A) (i.e. , the slots) of the flexible spud (10A). The spud tool (80A) is then rotated about the tool axis so as to cause the flexible spud (10A) to ride along the inner threading (95A) of the elbow pipe (90A) to thereby reduce the distance between the flexible spud (10A) and the elbow pipe (90A) as measured along the direction of insertion. As shown in step 3, the rotation is discontinued when both (1A) an upper surface of the gasket (4 A) abuts the oute surface (28A) of the tank (25 A) adjacent to the hole (26A/27A), and (2A) a bottom of the flexible ring portion (14A) contacts an inner surface (29A) of the tank (25A) SO as to cause the flexible ring portion (14) to flex outwardly from the flexible spud body (11A) (and the central axis (12A)) so as to define an augmented diameter (DSA) that is greater than the its original diameter (DM). The outward flexing of the flexible ring portion (14A) against the inner tank surface (29A) creates a liquid-proof seal with the inner tank surface (29A). The engagement feature (89A) of the first end (82A) of the spud tool (80A) may then be disengaged (i.e. , removed) from the complementary engagement feature (13A) of the flexible spud (10A).

|008S] With continuing reference to Fig. 18, and as illustrated in step 4, the engagement feature (88A) (i.e., the pin-type projections) of the narrower, second end (83A) of the spud tool (80A) may be engaged with the complementary engagement feature (i.e., the slots) (not shown) of the inner surface of the trim (3A/53A). The engaged trim (3A 53A) and spud tool (80A) are then introduced into the flexible spud (10) such that the engagement feature (3'Ά, see Fig. 17) of the outer surface of the trim (i.e., the pin-type projections) is engaged with the engagement feature (88A) of the spud tool (80A). The spud tool (80A) is then rotated so as to cause the engagement feature (3'Ά, see Fig. 17) of the outer surface of the trim (3A/53A) to engage a circumferential portion of the engagement feature of the flexible spud (10A) so as to positionaily fix the trim (3 A/53 A) relative to the flexible spud (10A). Finally, the engagement feature (88A) of the second end (83A) of the spud tool (80A) is disengaged (i. e., removed) from the complementary engagement feature (not shown) of the trim.

|0086] As indicated above, it is contemplated that the plumbing assembly system of the first embodiment will come pre-assembled prior to an insertion method. In other words, the flexible spud (10A) may be pre-inserted into the elbow ? pipe (90A) and the gasket (4A) will be disposed on the flange of the elbow? pipe when a user installs the system.. It is understood, however, that the pre-assembly may be accomplished by the user prior to installation or otherwise, e.g. , by being purchased in the pre-assembled condition. It is also contemplated that during the insertion process, once a user has performed the first inserting step but has not yet performed the first engaging step, the user may hang the pre-assembled assembly from the hole (26A/27A) in the tank (25A), as shown in seep 2. This is advantageous because while the elbow pipe maintains its location inserted in the hole of the tank, a single user may have use of both hands to effectuate other installation tasks, such as but not limited to installing other pipe constructs or parts. It is further contemplated that the spud tool be multifunctional, performing such tasks as installing the attachment systems (as elaborated above), cleaning the drain when it becomes clogged, and quickly changing the trim (3A/53A) as desired by the user. As explained above in regard to the engagement of the trim. (3A/53A) with the flexible spud (10A), it is further contemplated that the trim (3A/53A) may be locked into place in the flexible spud (10A) by performing a quarter turn (i. e. , rotation) during installation so that the trim (3A/53A) will be positionally fixed relative to the flexible spud (10A), although other means of fixing the position of the trim (3A/53 ) are contemplated.