Login| Sign Up| Help| Contact|

Patent Searching and Data


Title:
PLUNGERS, PLUNGER KITS, AND METHODS OF USING THE SAME
Document Type and Number:
WIPO Patent Application WO/2018/229533
Kind Code:
A1
Abstract:
A plunger (100) includes an elongated plunger body (102) comprising a body inlet (104) and a body outlet (106). The plunger (100) also includes a pressure reservoir (116) disposed in the elongated plunger body (102) that is configured to hold a pressurized fluid therein. The pressurized reservoir (116) includes a reservoir inlet (122) that is fluidly coupled to the body inlet (104) and a reservoir outlet (124) that is fluidly coupled to the body outlet (106). The plunger (100) also includes a valve (118) that is fluidly coupled to the body outlet (106) and the reservoir outlet (124). The valve (118) is controllably switchable between an open state and a closed state. The plunger (100) includes an actuator (110) coupled to the valve (118) that is configured to controllably switch the valve (118) between the open state and the closed state. The plunger can be equipped with various releasably mountable nozzles (432, 532, 632, 732, 832), which can also be inflatable to establish a tight seal between the nozzle and a tube.

Inventors:
WANG, Hu (No. 5, 4th Street Beifuhua Village, Da Liuzhen, Town, Wen'an District,Lang Fang City, Hebei 3, 065803, CN)
Application Number:
IB2017/053578
Publication Date:
December 20, 2018
Filing Date:
June 16, 2017
Export Citation:
Click for automatic bibliography generation   Help
Assignee:
ACET VENTURE PARTNERS (2917 Chalfont Lane, Plano, TX, 75023, US)
International Classes:
E03C1/308
Foreign References:
US20150074889A12015-03-19
US2056018A1936-09-29
US1769061A1930-07-01
US20160243596A12016-08-25
GB855370A1960-11-30
Other References:
None
Download PDF:
Claims:
WHAT IS CLAIMED IS:

1. A plunger, comprising: an elongated plunger body including a body inlet and a body outlet; a pressure reservoir disposed in the elongated plunger body that is configured to hold a pressurized fluid therein, the pressure reservoir including a reservoir inlet that is fluidly coupled to the body inlet and a reservoir outlet that is fluidly coupled to the body outlet; a valve fluidly disposed in the elongated plunger body, the valve coupled to the body outlet and the reservoir outlet, the valve controllably switchable between an open state and a closed state, wherein the valve permits the pressurized fluid to flow from the reservoir outlet to the body outlet when the valve is in the open state and prevents the pressurized fluid from flowing from the reservoir outlet to the body outlet when the valve is in the closed state; and an actuator coupled to the valve, the actuator configured to controllably switch the valve between the open state and the closed state.

2. The plunger of claim 1, further comprising a nozzle that includes a nozzle inlet and a nozzle outlet, wherein the nozzle inlet is coupled to the body outlet.

3. The plunger of claim 2, wherein the nozzle defines a conduit extending between the nozzle inlet and the nozzle outlet, the conduit extending at a non-parallel angle relative to an elongated axis of the nozzle inlet.

4. The plunger of claim 2, wherein the nozzle includes an upper portion extending from the nozzle inlet towards the nozzle outlet and a second portion extending from the nozzle outlet towards the nozzle inlet, the upper portion exhibiting a first slope and the bottom portion exhibiting a second slope that is different than the first slope, wherein the first slope is less than the second slope.

5. The plunger of claim 2, wherein the nozzle includes an upper portion extending from the nozzle inlet towards the nozzle outlet and a second portion extending from the nozzle outlet towards the nozzle inlet, the upper portion exhibiting a first slope and the bottom portion exhibiting a second slope that is different than the first slope, wherein the second slope is greater than the first slope.

6. The plunger of claim 2, wherein the nozzle is reversibly coupled to the body outlet.

7. The plunger of claim 1, wherein the body inlet is configured to be attached to a pump that is disposed outside of the elongated plunger body.

8. The plunger of claim 1, further comprising a pump disposed in the elongated plunger body, the pump fluidly coupled to the body inlet and the reservoir inlet.

9. The plunger of claim 1, further comprising a pressure gauge that is coupled to the pressure reservoir.

10. A method of using a plunger, the method comprising: disposing a nozzle outlet of a nozzle adjacent to or in a drain; actuating an actuator that is disposed on an elongated plunger body that is reversibly coupled to the nozzle; and responsive to actuating the actuator, dispensing a pressurized fluid from a pressure reservoir disposed in the elongated plunger body through the nozzle outlet and into the drain.

11. The method of claim 10, wherein disposing a nozzle outlet of a nozzle adjacent to or in a drain includes disposing the nozzle outlet adjacent to or in a toilet drain.

12. The method of claim 10, wherein disposing a nozzle outlet of a nozzle adjacent to or in a drain includes disposing the nozzle outlet adjacent to a sink drain or bathtub drain.

13. The method of claim 10, wherein disposing a nozzle outlet of a nozzle adjacent to or in a drain includes disposing the nozzle outlet in a washbasin drain or a shower drain.

14. The method of claim 10, further comprising reversibly coupling the nozzle to the elongated plunger body.

15. The method of claim 10, further comprising increasing a pressure inside the pressure reservoir using a pump.

16. The method of claim 15, wherein the pump is disposed in the elongated plunger body.

17. The method of claim 15, wherein the pump is disposed outside the elongated plunger body.

18. A plunger kit, comprising: an elongated plunger body comprising a body inlet and a body outlet; a pressure reservoir disposed in the elongated plunger body that is configured to hold a pressurized fluid therein, the pressure reservoir including a reservoir inlet that is fluidly coupled to the body inlet and a reservoir outlet that is fluidly coupled to the body outlet; a valve disposed in the elongated plunger body, the valve fluidly coupled to the body outlet and the reservoir outlet, the valve controllably switchable between an open state and a closed state, wherein the valve permits the pressurized fluid to flow from the reservoir outlet to the body outlet when the valve is in the open state and prevent the pressurized fluid from flowing from the reservoir outlet to the body outlet when the valve is in the closed state; an actuator disposed on the elongated plunger body and coupled to the valve, the actuator configured to controllably switch the valve between the open state and the closed state; and at least one nozzle that is configured to be reversibly coupled to the body outlet.

19. The plunger kit of claim 18, wherein the nozzle includes a conduit extending between a nozzle inlet and a nozzle outlet, the conduit extending at a non-parallel angle relative to a longitudinal axis of the nozzle inlet.

20. The plunger kit of claim 19, wherein the nozzle further includes an inflatable member that is disposed adjacent to or forms at least one exterior surface of the conduit and/or the nozzle outlet, the inflatable member configured to be switchable from an deflated state and an inflated state.

21. The plunger kit of claim 18, wherein an upper portion extending from the nozzle inlet towards the nozzle outlet and a second portion extending from the nozzle outlet towards the nozzle inlet, the upper portion exhibiting a first slope and the bottom portion exhibiting a second slope that is different than the first slope, wherein the first slope is less than the second slope.

22. The plunger kit of claim 18, wherein an upper portion extending from the nozzle inlet towards the nozzle outlet and a second portion extending from the nozzle outlet towards the nozzle inlet, the upper portion exhibiting a first slope and the bottom portion exhibiting a second slope that is different than the first slope, wherein the second slope is greater than the first slope.

Description:
PLUNGERS, PLUNGER KITS, AND METHODS OF USING

THE SAME

TECHNICAL FIELD

The present invention relates to plungers, plunger kits, and methods of using the same.

BACKGROUND

A variety of plungers are available for unclogging drains. For example, most plungers include a suction cup and an elongated shaft (e.g., wooden dowel) extending from the suction cup. Such plungers are operated by positioning the suction cup around a drain followed by a user compressing the suction cup with the elongated shaft. Compressing the suction cup causes a fluid (e.g., air, water) to be forced through the drain, thereby removing or destroying a clog.

A variety of different suction cups are available that are configured to be used with certain types of drains. For example, plungers can include suction cups that are configured to unclog toilet drains, unclog low flow toilet drains, sink drains, shower drains, etc. One problem with the different suction cups is that, while each suction cup is effective at removing a clog from a certain type of drain, the same suction cup may be unable or ineffective at removing a clog from another type of drain.

Thus, users and manufacturers of plungers continue to seek new plungers and new methods of using plungers.

SUMMARY

Embodiments disclosed herein include plungers, methods of using the same, and plunger kits. In an embodiment, a plunger is disclosed. The plunger includes an elongated plunger body having a body inlet and a body outlet. The plunger also includes a pressure reservoir disposed in the elongated plunger body that is configured to hold a pressurized fluid therein. The pressure reservoir includes a reservoir inlet that is fluidly coupled to the body inlet and a reservoir outlet that is fluidly coupled to the body outlet. Additionally, the plunger includes a valve fluidly disposed in the elongated plunger body. The valve is coupled to the body outlet and the reservoir outlet. The valve is controllably switchable between an open state and a closed state. The valve permits the pressurized fluid to flow from the reservoir outlet to the body outlet when the valve is in the open state and prevents the pressurized fluid from flowing from the reservoir outlet to the body outlet when the valve is in the closed state. The plunger further includes an actuator coupled to the valve. The actuator is configured to controllably switch the valve between the open state and the closed state.

In an embodiment, a method of using a plunger is disclosed. The method includes disposing a nozzle outlet of a nozzle adjacent to or in a drain. The method also includes actuating an actuator that is disposed on an elongated plunger body that is reversibly coupled to the nozzle. The method further includes, responsive to actuating the actuator, dispensing a pressurized fluid from a pressure reservoir disposed in the elongated plunger body through the nozzle outlet and into the drain.

In an embodiment, a plunger kit is disclosed. The plunger kit includes an elongated plunger body having a body inlet and a body outlet. The plunger kit also includes a pressure reservoir disposed in the elongated plunger body that is configured to hold a pressurized fluid therein. The pressure reservoir includes a reservoir inlet that is fluidly coupled to the body inlet and a reservoir outlet that is fluidly coupled to the body outlet. Additionally, the plunger kit also includes a valve disposed in the elongated plunger body. The valve is fluidly coupled to the body outlet and the reservoir outlet. The valve is controllably switchable between an open state and a closed state. The valve permits the pressurized fluid to flow from the reservoir outlet to the body outlet when the valve is in the open state and prevents the pressurized fluid from flowing from the reservoir outlet to the body outlet when the valve is in the closed state. The plunger kit further includes an actuator disposed on the elongated plunger body and coupled to the valve. The actuator is configured to controllably switch the valve between the open state and the closed state. The plunger kit further includes at least one nozzle that is configured to be reversibly coupled to the body outlet.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

Features from any of the disclosed embodiments may be used in combination with one another, without limitation. In addition, other features and advantages of the present disclosure will become apparent to those of ordinary skill in the art through consideration of the following detailed description and the accompanying drawings.

The drawings illustrate several embodiments of the present disclosure, wherein identical reference numerals refer to identical or similar elements or features in different views or embodiments shown in the drawings.

FIG. 1 A is an isometric view of a plunger, according to an embodiment.

FIG. IB is a partial cutaway view of the plunger of FIG. 1A that schematically illustrates components that are disposed in an interior of an elongated plunger body of the plunger, according to an embodiment.

FIG. 2 is a partial cutaway view of the plunger of FIG. 1A that schematically illustrates a pump disposed in an interior of an elongated plunger body, according to an embodiment.

FIG. 3 is an isometric view of a plunger that includes a pump spaced from an elongated plunger body, according to an embodiment.

FIG. 4A is an isometric view of a plunger that includes an elongated plunger body coupled (e.g., reversibly coupled) to a nozzle, according to an embodiment.

FIG. 4B is an isometric view of the nozzle shown in FIG. 4A, according to an embodiment.

FIG. 5A is an isometric view of a plunger that includes an elongated plunger body coupled to a nozzle in a deflated state, according to an embodiment.

FIGS. 5B and 5C are isometric view of the nozzle shown in FIG. 5A when the nozzle is in a deflated state and an inflated state, respectively, according to an embodiment.

FIG. 6A is an isometric view of a plunger that includes an elongated plunger body coupled to a nozzle, according to an embodiment.

FIG. 6B is an isometric view of the nozzle shown in FIG. 6A, according to an embodiment.

FIG. 7A is an isometric view of a plunger that includes an elongated plunger body coupled to a nozzle, according to an embodiment.

FIGS. 7B and 7C are isometric and cross-sectional views, respectively, of the nozzle shown in FIG. 7 A, according to an embodiment.

FIG. 8 is an isometric view of a plunger kit, according to an embodiment.

FIG. 9 is a flow chart of an example method of using any of the plungers disclosed herein, according to an embodiment.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION

Embodiments disclosed herein include plungers, methods of using the same, and plunger kits. An example plunger includes an elongated plunger body comprising a body inlet and a body outlet. The plunger also includes a pressure reservoir disposed in the elongated plunger body that is configured to hold a pressurized fluid therein. The pressurized reservoir includes a reservoir inlet that is fluidly coupled to the body inlet and a reservoir outlet that is fluidly coupled to the body outlet. The plunger also includes a valve that is fluidly coupled to the body outlet and the reservoir outlet. The valve is controllably switchable between an open state and a closed state. The valve permits the pressurized fluid to flow from the reservoir outlet to the body outlet when the valve is in the open state and prevents the pressurized fluid from flowing from the reservoir outlet to the body outlet when the valve is in the closed state. The plunger further includes an actuator coupled to the valve that is configured to controllably switch the valve between the open state and the closed state. In an embodiment, the plunger may further include at least one nozzle that is coupled (e.g., reversibly coupled to) the body outlet.

FIG. 1A is an isometric view of a plunger 100, according to an embodiment. The plunger 100 includes an elongated plunger body 102. The elongated plunger body 102 includes a body inlet 104 that is configured to receive a fluid (e.g., air) into the elongated plunger body 102 and a body outlet 106 that is configured to dispense the fluid (e.g., the pressurized fluid) air from the elongated plunger body 102. The elongated plunger body 102 can also include a handle 108. The plunger 100 also includes an actuator 110 that is disposed on the elongated plunger body 102, such as on or near the handle 108. The actuator 110 is configured to be manipulated (e.g., pressed) by a user of the plunger 100 and, responsive to the manipulation, controllably allow or prevent the fluid from being dispensed from the body outlet 106. The plunger 100 can also include a pressure gauge 112 that displays the pressure in a pressure reservoir 116 (FIG. IB). In an embodiment, the elongated plunger body 102 includes a generally cylindrical portion 113. The generally cylindrical portion 113 can exhibit an aspect ratio (e.g., length of the generally cylindrical portion 113 divided by diameter of the generally cylindrical portion 113) of about 3 or more, such as about 4 or more, or about 5 or more. The general shape and aspect ratio of the generally cylindrical portion 113 allows the plunger 100 to access hard to reach drains and/or access drains that are covered by a fluid (e.g., a toilet drain). Additionally, the elongated plunger body 102 can exhibit an aspect ratio (e.g., length of the elongated plunger body 102 measured from the body outlet 106 to a tip of the handle 108 divided by the diameter of the generally cylindrical portion 113) that is greater than 5, such as greater than 6, greater than 7, greater than 8, greater than 9, or greater than 10. The general shape and aspect ratio of the elongated plunger body 102 allows the plunger 100 to access hard to reach drains and/or access drains that are covered by a fluid. It is noted that the aspect ratio of the elongated plunger body 102 does not depend on the width of the elongated plunger body 102 at or near the handle 108 because these portions of the elongated plunger body 102 are unlikely to be inserted into hard to reach places or fluids.

The body inlet 104 is configured to allow a fluid to flow from an exterior of the elongated plunger body 102 into an interior 114 of the elongated plunger body 102. For example, the body inlet 104 can include at least one vent or other opening that allows the fluid to flow into the interior 114 of the elongated plunger body 102, such as when a suction force is applied to the body inlet 104. In an embodiment, the body inlet 104 can be configured to restrict the flow of the fluid into and/or out of the interior 114 of the elongated plunger body 102. For example, the body inlet 104 can include a Schrader valve that is configured to allow the fluid to flow thereto when coupled to a pump that is positioned outside of the elongated plunger body 102 (e.g., pump 330 of FIG. 3).

In an embodiment, the body outlet 106 is configured to be reversibly coupled to a nozzle (e.g., nozzles 432, 532, 632, or 732 of FIGS. 4A-7C). As will be discussed in more detail with regards to FIGS. 4A-7, reversibly coupling the body outlet 106 to a nozzle enables the plunger 100 to be used with a plurality of different types of nozzles. The body outlet 106 can be reversibly coupled to the nozzle using any suitable method. For example, the body outlet 106 may be threadedly coupled to the nozzle. In an embodiment, the body outlet 106 can be configured to reversibly couple to the nozzle using a pin or another suitable technique. In an embodiment, the body outlet 106 is configured to be permanently coupled to the nozzle (e.g., welded to or integrally formed with the nozzle).

In an embodiment, the body outlet 106 forms a male connector (e.g., the body outlet 106 extends outwardly from the rest of the elongated plunger body 102) when the body outlet 106 is configured to be reversibly coupled to a nozzle that includes a female connector. In an embodiment, the body outlet 106 forms a female connector (e.g., the body outlet 106 extends inwardly into the elongated plunger body 102) when the body outlet 106 is configured to be reversibly coupled to a nozzle that includes a male connector.

FIG. IB is a partial cutaway view of the plunger 100 of FIG. 1 A that schematically illustrates components that are disposed in an interior 114 of the elongated plunger body 102, according to an embodiment. For example, FIG. IB illustrates that the plunger 100 includes a pressure reservoir 116, a valve 118, and a plurality of passageways 120 that are disposed in the interior 114 of the elongated plunger body 102. FIG. IB also illustrates that the actuator 110 is coupled to the valve 118 and the pressure gauge 112 is coupled to the pressure reservoir 116.

The pressure reservoir 116 is configured to hold a pressurized fluid therein, such as pressurized air. For example, the pressure reservoir 116 can be configured to hold a pressure that is greater than about 1 kilogram-force per square centimeter (kgf/cm 2 ), such as greater than about 2 kgf/cm 2 , greater than about 4 kgf/cm 2 , greater than about 6 kgf/cm 2 , greater than about 8 kgf/cm 2 , greater than about 10 kgf/cm 2 , greater than about 15 kgf/cm 2 , about 1 kgf/cm 2 to about 5 kgf/cm 2 , about 2.5 kgf/cm 2 to about 7.5 kgf/cm 2 , about 5 kgf/cm 2 to about 10 kgf/cm 2 , or about 7.5 kgf/cm 2 to about 15 kgf/cm 2 . In an embodiment, the pressure reservoir 116 includes the pressurized fluid disposed therein such that the pressure inside the pressure reservoir 116 is equal to any of the pressures disclosed above. In another embodiment, the pressure reservoir 116 is substantially empty such that the pressure inside the pressure reservoir 116 is at or about atmospheric pressure. As used herein, unless otherwise stated, the pressure values disclosed herein refer to the actual pressure in the pressure reservoir 116 or the gauge pressure (e.g., the actual pressure minus atmospheric pressure).

The pressure reservoir 116 defines a reservoir inlet 122. The reservoir inlet 122 is configured to allow fluid to enter the pressure reservoir 116. The reservoir inlet 122 is fluidly coupled to the body inlet 104 such that at least some of the fluid that flows through the body inlet 104 enters the pressure reservoir 116 via the reservoir inlet 122. For example, the plunger 100 can include a first passageway 120a that extends from the body inlet 104 to the reservoir inlet 122.

The body inlet 104, the reservoir inlet 122, the first passageway 120a, or another component of the plunger 100 (e.g., the pump 230 of FIG. 2 or a valve that is distinct from the valve 118) is configured to selectively allow and prevent the flow of the fluid into and out of the pressure reservoir 116. For example, as previously discussed, the body inlet 104 can include a Schrader valve.

The pressure reservoir 116 also includes a reservoir outlet 124. The reservoir outlet 124 is configured to allow a fluid (e.g., pressurized fluid) that is present in the pressure reservoir 116 to exit the pressure reservoir 116. The reservoir outlet 124 is fluidly coupled to the body outlet 106 such that the fluid that flows through the reservoir outlet 124 also flow out the body outlet 106.

The valve 118 is fluidly coupled to the body outlet 106 and the reservoir outlet 124. As such, the valve 118 selectively restricts and permits flow of the fluid from the reservoir outlet 124 to the body outlet 106. For example, the valve 118 is controllably switchable between an open state and a closed state. The valve 118 permits the flow of the fluid when the valve 118 is in the open state and restricts the flow of the fluid when the valve 118 is in the closed state.

In an embodiment, as illustrated, the valve 118 is positioned between and spaced from the body outlet 106 and the reservoir outlet 124. In such an embodiment, the plunger 100 includes a second passageway 120b that extends from the reservoir outlet 124 to the valve 118 thereby fluidly coupling the reservoir outlet 124 to the valve 118, and a third passageway 122c that extends from the valve 118 to the body outlet 106 thereby fluidly coupling the body outlet 106 to the valve 118. In another embodiment, the valve 118 is positioned at (e.g., forms at least a portion of) or adjacent to the reservoir outlet 124. In such an embodiment, the plunger 100 does not include the second passageway 120b. In another embodiment, the valve 118 is positioned at (e.g., forms at least a portion of) or adjacent to the body outlet 106. In such an example, the plunger 100 does not include the third passageway 122c.

The valve 118 can include any suitable type of valve 118. For example, the valve 118 can include at least one of a hydraulic, a pneumatic, a manual, a solenoid, or a motor valve. In another embodiment, the valve 118 can include at least one of a butterfly valve, a ball valve, a gate valve, a check valve, globe valve, or another suitable valve.

The valve 118 controllably switches between the open and closed state responsive to direction from the actuator 110. In particular, the actuator 110 is coupled to the valve 118 such that the actuator 110 can direct the valve 118 to controllably switch between the open and closed state. For example, the actuator 110 is coupled to the valve 118 via at least one wire 126 that extends between the actuator 110 and the valve 118. The wire 126 can be configured to transmit electrical signals between the actuator 110 and the valve 118 that directs the valve 118 to controllably switch from the open and closed states. In another embodiment, the actuator 110 is coupled to the valve 118 using a mechanical device (not shown) that transfers mechanical energy (e.g., mechanical energy caused by manipulating the actuator 110) from the actuator 110 to the valve 118. The mechanical device can include, for example, one or more shafts, one or more levers, one or more gears, etc. that can transfer the mechanical energy. The pressure gauge 112 can be coupled to the pressure reservoir 116 using any suitable mechanism (e.g., using the wire 128).

FIG. 2 is a partial cutaway view of the plunger 200 that schematically illustrates a pump 230 disposed in an interior 214 of an elongated plunger body 202, according to an embodiment. Except as otherwise disclosed herein, the plunger 200 is the same as or substantially similar to the plunger 100 of FIGS. 1A-1B. For example, the elongated plunger body 202 includes a body inlet 204 and a body outlet 206. The plunger 200 also includes a pressurized reservoir 216 disposed in the interior 214 of the elongated plunger body 202. The pressurized reservoir 216 includes a reservoir inlet 222 and a reservoir outlet 224.

The pump 230 is fluidly coupled to the body inlet 204 and reservoir inlet 222. For example, the plunger 200 includes a first passageway 220a that extends from the body inlet 204 to the pump 230 thereby fluidly coupling the pump 230 to the body inlet 204. Similarly, the plunger 200 includes a second passageway 220b that extends from the pump 230 to the reservoir inlet 222 thereby fluidly coupling the pump 230 to the reservoir inlet 222. As such, the pump 230 can suck or draw fluid (e.g., air) from an exterior environment of the plunger 200 via the first passageway 220a and the body inlet 204 and flow the air into the pressure reservoir 216 via the second passageway 220b and the reservoir inlet 222, thereby forming the pressurized fluid. The pump 230 can include any suitable pump. For example, the pump 230 can include one or more of a compressor, a rotary vane pump, a piston pump, a plunger pump, or any other suitable pump.

In an embodiment, the plunger 200 includes a pump actuator that is configured to switch the pump between an on state to an off state. The pump actuator can be the same as or different than the actuator 210.

FIG. 3 is an isometric view of a plunger 300 that includes a pump 330 spaced from and exterior to an elongated plunger body 302, according to an embodiment. Except as otherwise disclosed herein, the plunger 300 is the same as or substantially similar to the plungers 100, 200 of FIGS. 1A-2. For example, the elongated plunger body 302 includes a body inlet 304 and a body outlet 306.

The pump 330 is configured to be fluidly coupled to the body inlet 304. For example, the pump 330 is configured to be reversibly coupled to the body inlet 304. In such an embodiment, the body inlet 304 can include a male or female connector and the pump 330 can include a corresponding female or male connector, respectively. In a more specific embodiment, the body inlet 304 can include a Schrader valve and the pump 330 can include a bike tire pump or another suitable and/or similar pump.

As previously discussed, the elongated plunger bodies disclosed herein are configured to be coupled to different nozzles. For example, the elongated plunger bodies disclosed herein can be reversibly coupled to one or more nozzles. Configuring the elongated plunger bodies to be reversibly coupled to nozzles enables the plungers disclosed herein to be efficiently used with a plurality of different types of drains. FIGS. 4A-7C illustrate examples of different nozzles that may be coupled to the elongated plunger bodies disclosed herein.

FIG. 4A is an isometric view of a plunger 400 that includes an elongated plunger body 402 coupled (e.g., reversibly coupled) to a nozzle 432, according to an embodiment. Except as otherwise disclosed herein the plunger 400 is the same as or similar to the plungers 100, 200, 300 of FIGS. 1A-3. For example, the elongated plunger body 402 of the plunger 400 includes a body inlet 404 and a body outlet 406. FIG. 4B is an isometric view of the nozzle 432 shown in FIG. 4A, according to an embodiment.

The nozzle 432 includes a nozzle inlet 434 that is configured to receive a pressurized fluid, a nozzle outlet 436 that is configured to dispense the pressurized fluid (e.g., the nozzle outlet 436 defines at least one aperture), and a conduit 438 that extends between the nozzle inlet 434 and the nozzle outlet 436.

In an embodiment, the nozzle 432 is configured to unclog toilet drains or other similar drains. As such, the nozzle inlet 434, the nozzle outlet 436, and the conduit 438 may exhibit a shape and a size that is selected to dispense a fluid into such drains. For example, the nozzle inlet 434 may extend longitudinally in a first direction that is parallel or substantially parallel to a longitudinal axis 439 of the elongated plunger body 402. The conduit 438 may extend longitudinally in a second direction that exhibits a non-parallel angle (e.g., oblique angle or perpendicular angle) relative to the first direction of the nozzle inlet 434. The non-parallel angle may be selected based on the bend in the drain, etc. The nozzle outlet 436 may be configured to dispense the pressurized fluid in a direction that is substantially parallel to the second direction of the conduit 438. In another embodiment, the second direction of the conduit 438 may exhibit a parallel angle relative to the first direction of the nozzle inlet 434, such as when the nozzle 432 is configured to be used to unclog sink drains, shower drains, etc.

In an embodiment, the nozzle inlet 434 may exhibit a flexible portion. For example, the nozzle inlet 434 may exhibit a rigid portion that is configured to directly contact the body outlet 406 and the flexible portion may extend between the rigid portion and the conduit 438. The flexible portion may allow the non-parallel angle between the first direction of the nozzle inlet 434 and the second direction of the conduit 438 to vary. As such, the flexible portion may enable the nozzle 432 to be used with a variety of drains that exhibit different bends therein. In an embodiment, the entirety of the nozzle inlet 434 is at least semi-rigid (e.g., the nozzle inlet 434 does not include a flexible portion). In an embodiment, the body outlet 406 includes a flexible portion.

In an embodiment, the nozzle outlet 436 and/or the conduit 438 can be configured to form a seal with the drain such that substantially all of the pressurized fluid flows down the drain (e.g., an at least fluid-tight seal). For example, the nozzle outlet 436 and/or the conduit 438 may exhibit a shape and a size that corresponds to a shape and a size of the drain. In another embodiment, the nozzle outlet 436 and/or the conduit 438 exhibits a tapered shape. In another embodiment, an exterior surface of the nozzle outlet 436 and/or the conduit 438 includes a deformable and resilient material such that pressing the nozzle outlet 436 and/or the conduit 438 against the drain causes the deformable and resilient material to correspond to the shape of the drain.

FIG. 5 A is an isometric view of a plunger 500 that includes an elongated plunger body 502 coupled (e.g., reversibly coupled) to a nozzle 532 in a deflated state, according to an embodiment. FIGS. 5B and 5C are isometric view of the nozzle 532 shown in FIG. 5A when the nozzle 532 is in a deflated state and an inflated state, respectively, according to an embodiment. Except as otherwise disclosed herein, the plunger 500 is the same as or similar to the plungers 100, 200, 300, 400 of FIGS. 1A-4A. For example, the elongated plunger body 502 of the plunger 500 includes a body inlet 504, and a body outlet 506.

The nozzle 532 includes at least one inflatable member 540 that is configured to switch between a deflated state (FIG. 5B) and a (e.g., rubber, latex, etc.) inflated state (FIG. 5C). For example, the inflatable member 540 include a flexible material that defines a chamber (not shown, obscured). The chamber can include an inlet (not shown, obscured) that is fluidly coupled to a fluid source that is configured to dispense a fluid into the chamber thereby inflating the inflatable member 540. The fluid source can include a pump (e.g., pump 230, 330 of FIGS. 2-3 or another pump), a pressure reservoir (e.g., the pressure reservoir 116, 216 of FIGS. 1B-2), or another suitable fluid source.

In an embodiment, the plunger 500 functions by inserting at least a portion of the nozzle 532 into or adjacent to the drain when the inflatable member 540 is in the deflated state. Once the plunger 500 is correctly positioned, the fluid source may inflate the inflatable member 540 thereby transitioning the inflatable member 540 from the deflated state into the inflated state. The inflatable member 540 may form a seal (e.g., an at least substantially fluid-tight seal) against the drain when the inflatable member 540 is in the inflated state. The fluid source may inflate the inflatable member 540 responsive to input from a user of the plunger 500 (e.g., the user manipulates the actuator 510 or another actuator), etc.

FIG. 6A is an isometric view of a plunger 600 that includes an elongated plunger body 602 coupled (e.g., reversibly coupled) to a nozzle 632, according to an embodiment. Except as otherwise disclosed herein the plunger 600 is the same as or similar to the plungers 100, 200, 300, 400, 500 of FIGS. 1A-5A). For example, the elongated plunger body 602 of the plunger 600 includes a body inlet 604 and a body outlet 606. FIG. 6B is an isometric view of the nozzle 632 shown in FIG. 6A, according to an embodiment.

The nozzle 632 can be configured to be used with drains that do not require the nozzle 632 to be disposed therein (e.g., the drains are defined by a surface that can form a seal with nozzle 632), such as sink drains, bathtub drains, or other similar drains. The nozzle 632 includes a nozzle inlet 634 and a nozzle outlet 636. The nozzle 632 also includes at least one exterior surface 642 that extends from a location that is at or near the nozzle inlet 634 to a location that is at or near the nozzle outlet 636. The exterior surface 642 may be defined by a flexible material (e.g., rubber or latex), a semi-rigid material, or a rigid material. The exterior surface 642 defines a diameter that generally increases with distance from the nozzle inlet 634 (e.g., generally increases from the nozzle inlet 634 to the nozzle outlet 636). For example, the exterior surface 642 may generally taper from the nozzle outlet 636 to the nozzle inlet 634. Such a configuration allows the nozzle inlet 634 to couple to the body outlet 406 and the nozzle outlet 636 to fit around the drain.

In an embodiment, the nozzle 632 includes an upper portion 644 and a bottom portion 646 that meet at an intermediate location 648. The upper portion 644 defines the nozzle inlet 634 and extends from the nozzle inlet 634 to the intermediate location 648. The bottom portion 646 defines the nozzle outlet 636 and extends from the nozzle outlet 636 to the intermediate location 648. The exterior surface 642 of the upper portion 644 may extend at a first slope and the exterior surface 642 of the bottom portion 646 may extend at a second slope that is different than the first slope. As shown in FIG. 6B, the first slope is more inclined (e.g., steep) than the second slope. The first slope of the upper portion 644 may focus at least some of the pressurized fluid into the drain and the second slope of the bottom portion 646 may enable the nozzle outlet 636 to cover the drain. In an embodiment, the nozzle 632 includes one or more additional portions that extend between the upper and bottom portions 644, 646. In such an embodiment, the slope of the exterior surface 642 of the additional portions may be different than the first and second slopes. In an embodiment, the nozzle 632 includes only a single portion such that the exterior surface 642 exhibits a substantially constant slope.

FIG. 7A is an isometric view of a plunger 700 that includes an elongated plunger body 702 coupled (e.g., reversibly coupled) to a nozzle 732, according to an embodiment. Except as otherwise disclosed herein, the plunger 700 is the same as or similar to the plungers 100, 200, 300, 400, 500, 600 of FIGS. 1A-6A). For example, the elongated plunger body 702 of the plunger 700 includes a body inlet 704 and a body outlet 706. FIGS. 7B and 7C are isometric and cross-sectional views, respectively, of the nozzle 732 shown in FIG. 7A, according to an embodiment.

The nozzle 732 is configured to be used with drains that do not require the nozzle 732 to be disposed therein (e.g., the drains are defined by a surface that cannot form a seal with nozzle 732), such as a washbasin drain, a shower drain, or a similar drain. The nozzle 732 includes a nozzle inlet 734 and a nozzle outlet 736. The nozzle 732 also includes at least one interior surface 750 that extends from the nozzle inlet 734 to the nozzle outlet 736. The interior surface 750 may be defined by a flexible, semi-rigid, or rigid material. The interior surface 750 exhibits a diameter that is relatively constant between the nozzle inlet 734 and the nozzle outlet 736. The nozzle 732 also includes an exterior surface 742 that extends upwardly from the nozzle outlet 736 (e.g., towards the nozzle inlet 734) and outwardly from the interior surface 750. The exterior surface 742 may be defined by a flexible material, a semi-rigid material, or a rigid material. The exterior surface 742 defines a diameter that generally increases with distance from the nozzle outlet 736. For example, the exterior surface 742 may generally taper from the nozzle inlet 634 to the nozzle outlet 636. Such an exterior surface 742 allows the nozzle 432 to be partially disposed in the drain.

In an embodiment, the nozzle 732 includes an upper portion 744 and a bottom portion 746 that meet at an intermediate location 748. The upper portion 744 extends from an uppermost surface 752 thereof to the intermediate location 748. The bottom portion 746 defines the nozzle outlet 736 and extends from the nozzle outlet 736 to the intermediate location 748. The exterior surface 742 of the bottom portion 746 may extend at a first slope from the nozzle outlet 736 to the intermediate location 748 and the exterior surface 742 of the upper portion 744 may extend at a second slope from the intermediate location 748 to the uppermost surface 752 thereof that is different than the first slope. As shown in FIGS. 7B-7C, the second slope is more inclined (e.g., less) than the first slope. The first slope of the bottom portion 746 enables most (if not all) of the bottom portion 746 to be disposed in the drain and the second slope of the upper portion 744 may enable the second portion 744 to cover the drain. In an embodiment, the nozzle 732 includes one or more additional portions that extend between the upper and bottom portions 744, 746. In such an embodiment, the slope of the exterior surface 742 of the additional portion may be different than the first and second slopes. In an embodiment, the nozzle 732 includes only a single portion such that the exterior surface 742 exhibits a substantially constant slope.

The plunger embodiments disclosed herein may form part of a kit. FIG. 8 is an isometric view of a plunger kit 854, according to an embodiment. The plunger kit 854 may include at least one elongated plunger body 802 that is the same as or similar to any of the elongated plunger bodies disclosed herein. For example, the elongated plunger body 802 may include a body inlet 804, a body outlet 806, a pressure reservoir disposed therein, at least one valve disposed therein, and at least one actuator 810.

The plunger kit 854 also includes at least one nozzle that is configured to be coupled (e.g., reversibly coupled) to the body outlet 806. For example, the plunger kit 854 can include a first nozzle 832a that is the same as or similar to the nozzle 432 of FIG. 4A-4B, a second nozzle 832b that is the same as or similar to the nozzle 632 of FIGS. 6A-6B, a third nozzle 832c that is the same as or similar to the nozzle 732 of FIGS. 7A-7C, another suitable nozzle (e.g., the nozzle 532 of FIGS. 5A-5C), or combinations thereof. In an embodiment, the plunger kit 854 does not initially include a nozzle coupled to the body outlet 806. In an embodiment, the plunger kit 854 initially includes a nozzle coupled to the body outlet 806.

In an embodiment, each of the components of the plunger kit 854 may be disposed in a packaging container (not shown), such as a box, clamshell packaging, or another suitable packaging container. In an embodiment, the components of the plunger kit 854 may be disposed in a plurality of packaging containers.

FIG. 9 is a flow chart of an example method 900 of using any of the plungers disclosed herein, according to an embodiment. The method 900 may include one or more operations, functions, or actions as illustrated in acts 905, 910, or 915. The acts described in the method 900 are for illustration purposes only. For example, the acts of the method 900 may be performed in a different order. In another example, one or more of the acts may be eliminated, divided into two or more acts, modified, supplemented, combined, etc.

Act 905 includes disposing at least a nozzle outlet of a nozzle adjacent to or in a drain. For example, act 905 may include a user gripping a handle of any of the plungers disclosed herein. The plunger includes an elongated plunger body and the nozzle coupled to a body outlet of the elongated plunger body. The user of the plunger may position at least a portion of the nozzle adjacent to or in the drain using the handle. In an embodiment, act 905 may cause the nozzle to form an at least substantially air-tight seal between the nozzle and the drain.

In an embodiment, the nozzle is the same as or substantially similar to the nozzle 432 or 532 of FIGS. 4A-5C. In such an embodiment, act 905 includes at least partially disposing the nozzle 432 or 532 in a toilet drain or a similar drain. In an embodiment, the nozzle is the same as or substantially similar to the nozzle 632 of FIGS. 6A-6B. In such an embodiment, act 905 includes disposing the bottom portion 646 of the nozzle 632 adjacent to (but not in) a sink drain, a bathtub drain, or another similar drain. In an embodiment, the nozzle is the same as or substantially similar to the nozzle 732 of FIGS. 7A-7C. In such an embodiment, act 905 includes disposing at least a portion of the bottom portion 746 and, optionally, a portion of the upper portion 744 in a washbasin drain, a shower drain, or a similar drain.

Act 910 includes actuating an actuator that is disposed on the elongated plunger body that is coupled to the nozzle. For example, act 910 includes the user manipulating (e.g., pressing) the actuator. A valve that is disposed in the elongated plunger body (e.g., valve 118 of FIG. IB) may switch from a closed state to an open state responsive to act 910.

Act 915 includes, responsive to actuating the actuator, dispensing a pressurized fluid from a pressure reservoir, through the nozzle outlet, and into the drain. In an embodiment, act 915 can include dispensing at least substantially all of the pressurized fluid into the drain since the nozzle may form an at least substantially air-tight seal that prevents at least substantially all of the pressurized fluid or any other fluid that is present in the drain from escaping the drain. Act 915 may unclog and or clean the one or more pipes that are coupled to the drain.

The method 900 may also include, prior to act 905, reversibly coupling the nozzle to the body outlet of the elongated plunger body. For example, reversibly coupling the nozzle to the body outlet may include threadedly coupling the nozzle to the body outlet or any other suitable reversible coupling method.

The method 900 may also include forming the pressurized fluid. For example, the method 900 can include flow of a fluid (e.g., air) that is received by the body inlet into the pressure reservoir using a pump. The pump may include a pump that is disposed in the elongated plunger body (e.g., pump 230 of FIG. 2) or that is disposed outside of the elongated plunger body (e.g., pump 330 of FIG. 3).

The method 900 may also include inflating an inflatable member (e.g., the inflatable member 540 of FIGS. 5A-5C). For example, the inflatable member may initially be in a deflated state. However, the inflatable member may be inflated into an inflated state responsive to a user manipulating an actuator (e.g., the actuator 110 of FIGS. 1A-1B or responsive to another actuator). The inflatable member may be inflated with any suitable fluid, such a fluid that is received by the body inlet, the pressurized fluid that is disposed in the pressure reservoir, or another suitable fluid. The inflatable member may form an at least substantially air tight seal with a drain when the inflatable member is in the inflated state and is position adjacent to or at least a portion disposed in the drain. In an embodiment, the inflatable member may be inflated substantially simultaneously with or after act 905 such that the portion of the inflatable member that is disposed in or immediately adjacent to the drain is inflated into a shape that corresponds to the shape of the drain. In an embodiment, the inflatable member is inflated before act 905 and is then pressed against the drain.

While various aspects and embodiments have been disclosed herein, other aspects and embodiments are contemplated. The various aspects and embodiments disclosed herein are for purposes of illustration and are not intended to be limiting.