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Title:
GUTTER PROTECTION AND RAINWATER FILTRATION SYSTEM
Document Type and Number:
WIPO Patent Application WO/2015/025170
Kind Code:
A1
Abstract:
A gutter protection system (10) comprises a water permeable membrane adapted for fitment to a rain gutter (20) so as to extend across the width and at least part of the length of said rain gutter (20), the membrane incorporating one or more filamental elements (4) (with such filamental elements being filaments, fibres, strips, threads, roving or strands) which draw water into or through said membrane. Said filamental elements (4) may be uniformly, or randomly, and loosely laid, and may be incorporated within, or be situated alongside or underneath, an upper fine mesh screen layer (5). Ideally said filamental elements (4) operate to interrupt or redirect water flow on said membrane.

Inventors:
HULL ANGUS (GB)
Application Number:
PCT/GB2014/052571
Publication Date:
February 26, 2015
Filing Date:
August 21, 2014
Export Citation:
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Assignee:
ETTLES UK LTD (GB)
International Classes:
E04D13/076
Foreign References:
US20030046876A12003-03-13
US20010037610A12001-11-08
US20050257432A12005-11-24
US5595027A1997-01-21
US20120144759A12012-06-14
GB2436196A2007-09-19
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
HGF LIMITED (50 West Nile Street, Glasgow Central Scotland G1 2NP, GB)
Download PDF:
Claims:
CLAIMS

1 . A gutter protection system comprising a water permeable membrane adapted for fitment to a rain gutter so as to extend across the width and at least part of the length of said rain gutter, the membrane incorporating at least one filamental element which draws water into or through said membrane.

2. A gutter protection system as claimed in claim 1 wherein said filamental element interrupt or redirect water flow on said membrane.

3. A gutter protection system as claimed in any one of claim 1 or 2 wherein said filamental element has an open area of at least 14%.

4. A gutter protection system as claimed in any of the preceding claims wherein said membrane incorporates a fine mesh screen.

5. A gutter protection system as claimed in any of the preceding claims wherein said membrane exhibits hydrophilic properties.

6. A gutter protection system as claimed in any of the preceding claims wherein said membrane readily wets out.

7. A gutter protection system as claimed in any of the preceding claims wherein said membrane exhibits sorbent or hygroscopic properties.

8. A gutter protection system as claimed in any of the preceding claims wherein said membrane exhibits wicking properties.

9. A gutter protection system as claimed in any of the preceding claims wherein said membrane exhibits oleophilic properties.

10. A gutter protection system as claimed in any of the preceding claims wherein said membrane exhibits self-cleaning properties.

1 1 . A gutter protection system as claimed in any of the preceding claims wherein said membrane incorporates glass, silica, cellulose or poly-vinyl-alcohol based material.

12. A gutter protection system as claimed in any of the preceding claims wherein said membrane is bonded or sealed to, or otherwise held up by, a support matrix.

13. A gutter protection system wherein said system is provided with attachment means for attachment to at least part of the front edge lip of said rain gutter and extending longitudinally thereon. 14. A gutter protection system as claimed in claim 13 wherein said attachment means incorporates one or more housings which accommodate discrete fixings to facilitate the joining of one or more sections of said gutter protection system together.

15. A method of protecting a gutter system against blockage using a gutter protection system as claimed in any one of the preceding claims.

16. A method of harvesting or recycling rainwater using a gutter protection system as claimed in any one of claims 1 -14.

Description:
Gutter Protection and Rainwater Filtration System

FIELD OF THE INVENTION

The present invention relates to a gutter protection and rainwater filtration system in the form of a screen system for preventing the clogging of rain gutters by leaves and debris, and for filtering out rainwater.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

All property owners are subject to the potential inconvenience and damage caused by blocked and overflowing rooftop (and other drainage) gutters. The inevitable debris, such as moss and dirt particles, that gathers on rooftops often migrates into the adjoining gutter. This debris combines with leaves, twigs and other wind-blown material over time to build up in the gutter, thus reducing gutter flow and capacity and blocking the gutter outlets, leading to inconvenient and potentially damaging overflows.

Consequently most property owners are faced with the need to have gutters cleaned out on a regular basis. This work can be a difficult, time consuming and potentially dangerous operation. This work can also be expensive, particularly when there is a necessity, for obvious safety reasons, to erect scaffolding or use a platform to provide adequate roof level access. The problem is particularly acute where the buildings in question are surrounded by trees, with windblown debris being a problem at any time, and falling leaves in late autumn ensuring that the problem recurs annually at least - typically just as rainfall, and hence the potential for flooding, peaks going into the winter months. In an effort to overcome such problems various basic gutter protection systems have been proposed, some of which are currently on the market. Such products typically rely on either (i) a coarse mesh, or (ii) a coarse brush or foam, which sit within the gutter, or (iii) a "reverse curve" type shield, which covers the gutter. Such solutions may provide a temporary or partial solution, but experience has shown that these solutions easily become dislodged, collapse, trap debris and get clogged, thus effectively contributing to the problem they are supposed to alleviate. They are not able to offer effective filtration of rainwater passing through the guttering system.

More sophisticated systems are also available, typically comprising a fine woven mesh material overlying a gutter section. These systems may employ cumbersome, bulky or rigid structures, or have uneven surfaces (which tend to trap debris, thus being counterproductive), in an attempt to redirect water down and through the fine mesh screen. Such systems are more expensive than the simple solutions described above, and tend to be more complex and expensive to install. As such, they have not found favour among some property owners, in particular where cost is a major consideration.

Further, while such fine mesh systems may improve on aspects of the basic systems described above, they are themselves subject to certain shortcomings. The fine mesh may not be self-cleaning, so while large items of debris may not remain in place, smaller particles getting trapped or oily residues leaching from the roof surface can, and do, in time result in a healing over effect for the mesh, thus reducing or stopping the water flow through the system. Even without this reduction in capacity the fine mesh construction has a tendency to behave rather like a waterproof fabric, thus blocking the entry of both debris and rainwater into the guttering below. Rainwater will accordingly sheet straight over the screen to overflow the gutter.

Such fine mesh solutions may also rely on a relatively bulky underlying scrim or pad for support. This scrim or pad will further block the passage of rainwater through the gutter protection system into the gutter below, again resulting in the problem of rainwater sheeting straight over the screen.

The problems of rainwater sheeting straight over the screen to overflow the gutter, and of the screen healing over, become even more acute with the use of smoother, finer mesh materials, such as super fine meshes with an open aperture of less than around 100 microns. Placing the screen at a sufficient angle to effectively shed any debris on the screen also exacerbates the problem of rainwater sheeting straight over the screen.

Finally, the lack of adequate systems for separating out finer particles of debris from the water flowing into the gutter system often restricts the collection and use of gathered rainwater for recycling purposes.

It is an object of at least one aspect of the present invention to obviate or mitigate at least one or more of the aforementioned problems. SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

According to a first aspect of the present invention there is provided a gutter protection system comprising a water permeable membrane adapted for fitment to a rain gutter so as to extend across the width and at least part of the length of said rain gutter, the membrane incorporating one or more filamental elements (with such filamental elements being filaments, fibres, strips, threads, roving or strands) which draw water into or through said membrane. Said filamental elements may be uniformly, or randomly, and loosely laid, and may be incorporated within, or be situated alongside or underneath, an upper fine mesh screen layer. Ideally said filamental elements operate to interrupt or redirect water flow on said membrane.

Said filamental elements ideally have an open area of at least 14%.

Preferably said membrane (or part thereof) has, or exhibits, hydrophilic properties.

In order to improve the performance of said membrane, particularly in moderate to heavy rainfall, preferably said membrane (i) readily wets out; or (ii) exhibits sorbent or hygroscopic properties; or (iii) exhibits wicking properties.

Also, in order to prevent the membrane from becoming blocked, or healing over, due to any oily substances migrating onto the membrane from the roof surface, preferably elements of said membrane exhibit oleophilic properties in order to assist in containing any such oily substances. Also, preferably said membrane exhibits self-cleaning properties. Preferably said membrane (and in particular the filamental elements) incorporates glass, silica, cellulose or polyvinyl-alcohol based material. Such material may be appropriately sized, for example using a silane size, to further improve its existing properties, or to impart the necessary properties thereon.

Preferably said membrane is bonded or sealed in multiple places to, or otherwise held up by, a support matrix, with such matrix ideally being a perforated, semi-flexible member.

Preferably said gutter protection system is provided with a clip-fix attachment means for attachment to at least part of the front edge lip of said rain gutter (including over any edge profiles, gutter fixing clips or supports) and extending longitudinally thereon. Ideally said attachment means comprises a continuous clip system that incorporates one or more housings which accommodate discrete fixings to facilitate the joining of one or more sections of said gutter protection system together. Any gaps between adjoining sections may be further sealed using a high- bond weatherproof tape. According to a second aspect of the present invention there is provided a method of protecting a gutter system against blockage using a gutter protection system as defined above. According to a third aspect of the present invention there is provided a method of filtering rainwater for harvesting or recycling purposes using a system as defined above.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

Embodiments of the present invention will now be described, by way of example only, with reference to the accompanying drawings in which:

Figure 1 is a perspective view of a gutter protection system screen according to an opened up embodiment of the present invention;

Figure 2 is a semi-transparent perspective view of the gutter protection system of Figure 1 illustrating the method of connecting one section of the gutter protection system to another section.

Figure 3 is a perspective view of the gutter protection system of Figure 1 prior to installation, in the context of a roof and roof gutter; and

Figure 4 is a perspective view of the installed gutter protection system of

Figure 1 , in the context of a roof and roof gutter.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION

Referring to the drawings of the present invention a gutter protection system screen 10 is a composite structure shaped and configured to fit over a roof gutter 20 and beneath the edge of a roof surface 30 and comprises a number of components as follows.

The front edge of the screen comprises a clip 1 , which may be resiliently flexible and resiliently deformable, running lengthwise for fastening to the front edge 20a of the gutter 20. The clip 1 may have a front drip edge 2. The clip 1 may incorporate one or more housings 3 which accommodate discrete fixings 3a, for example pins, dowels, rods, tube or inserts, in order to fasten one section of system screen 10 to the next section of screen 10, as illustrated in Figure 2.

The main structure of the screen comprises an underlying support matrix 6, overlaid with, and securely bonded to, a mesh layer 5.

A number of filamental elements 4 extend along the structure and may be either incorporated into the support matrix 6 or mesh layer 5, or inserted and affixed between mesh layer 5 and support matrix 6.

The filamental elements 4 may be complemented by a series of water directing ribs, edges or features 7, to channel water flow into the gutter 20.

Extending beyond the mesh layer 5 and support matrix 6, a resiliently flexible rear edge piece, or a series of resiliently flexible fingers, 8, may be arranged to slide under the roof surface 30 without damaging said roof surface.

Once fitted in position the system screen operates to prevent the accumulation of debris which over time ordinarily clogs gutters, blocks drainage outlets and leads to overflows, whilst at the same time filtering out rainwater.

DESCRIPTION OF OPERATION The system screen has been designed to avoid the problems (including those considered herein) associated with currently, or previously available, gutter protection systems, and in particular super or ultra fine mesh systems. In such fine mesh systems the mesh has a tendency to heal over, and rainwater has a tendency to pass straight over, rather than through, the fine aperture screen to then spill over the gutter.

The present arrangement, in contrast, through its combination of ultra fine mesh layer 5, filamental elements 4, material composition and smooth, flat open aperture support structure works to effectively and efficiently filter large volumes of rainwater running off an adjacent roof to an ultra fine level.

Moreover, the present arrangement continues to work effectively when placed at any angle which largely follows that of the pitch of the adjoining roof surface.

Appropriate material selection in the manufacture of the present arrangement provides a good value, weather resistant solution that is easy to fit.

Thus, the present arrangement enables gutters to remain clear and free flowing for extended periods of time, and the harvesting of rainwater for general use (for example in commercial properties, green space, around the home and garden) is facilitated. This added benefit of rainwater gathering assists in reducing demand for mains water and the treatment of waste water. In turn, this helps to reduce the impact of drought conditions and leads to reduced water and waste water treatment costs (including reduced bills for metered customers), as well as reduced carbon dioxide emissions associated with, and the wider environmental impact of, water supply and waste water treatment.

FURTHER CONSTRUCTION & OPERATIONAL DETAILS

Further details of the construction and operation along with possible modifications and alternatives will now be described.

The filamental elements 4 are preferably made of a durable, weather resistant substance with a strong attraction for water molecules. For example, glass, silica, cellulose or polyvinyl-alcohol based materials have been found to be particularly suitable and effective. Such filamental elements 4 may also be appropriately sized to further improve their existing properties, or to impart the necessary properties thereon. The filamental elements 4 may be incorporated within, or otherwise make contact with, the mesh layer 5. Preferably the filamental elements 4 are fine, and laid in an open structure, in order to provide a slim structure that permits water to pass or flow through system screen 10 as rapidly as possible. For example, for every 10mm of system screen 10 width, between one and three sized glass fibre filamental elements of 1 mm width by 0.1 mm depth are arranged and secured to run in a predominantly lengthwise direction underneath the mesh layer 5, as shown in Figure 1 . The filamental elements may expand, or swell, in size when wet or otherwise exposed to moisture. The mesh layer 5 is preferably made of ultra fine stainless steel mesh (or alternative suitably durable material, such as glass fibre) with an open aperture of 30 microns, or less. However, said aperture can also be a larger aperture mesh, for example 50 to 60 microns, which tends to be a lower cost, better value option. Although durable, the mesh layer 5 looks and feels like a smooth, silk-like fabric. The surface of mesh layer 5 does not exhibit the rough or abrasive properties of less fine meshes, which trap leaves and debris or allow larger particles of debris to pass straight through into the gutter, risking blockage. Said mesh layer 5 either has, or can be coated to have, hydrophilic, sorbent and self-cleaning properties, together with a surface that is as smooth as possible in order to aid the shedding of debris.

The properties of the filamental elements 4 and the mesh layer 5 eliminate, or reduce, the need for the mesh layer 5 (or relevant parts of the mesh layer 5) to be completely pre-wet in order to work effectively and efficiently. The filamental elements 4 also act as an underlying water break, and function to interrupt and slow down the rate that water flows across mesh layer 5. At the same time, the filamental elements 4 effectively draw and redirect rainwater through the system screen 10 and below into the gutter 20. The filamental elements preferably contain any oily residues leaching from the roof surface, which could otherwise over time seal the pores of the screen.

Said properties and characteristics permit a large volume of water to flow down and through the system screen 10. The underlying support matrix 6 may be designed to be non-collapsible in the direction from the front edge clip 1 to the rear edge piece 8, for example through the use of tapered ribs of suitably rigid material.

As indicated, the rear edge piece 8 fits underneath the top surface of the roof, for example traditional roof slates or tiles, without damaging the roof surface. In addition, this edge piece 8 may be sufficiently deformable to fit under ridged roof surfaces (for example, pan-tiles or corrugated roofing). For felted or continuous roof surfaces the edge of the screen can be fixed down using adhesive flashing tape or similar.

The system described above has the potential to provide a number of expected benefits though no particular embodiment may necessarily provide any claimed benefit in any particular installation. These may be summarised as follows.

The relatively simple construction of the system has been designed to fit onto a wide range of different gutter, and roof, types. It provides a user with a cost effective debris free guttering system, with little or no risk of gutter and downpipe blockages and overflows. It significantly reduces the potential for property damage due to clogged guttering.

The system copes with heavy rainfall with little or no sheeting of roof surface run-off water across and beyond the surface of the screen, which typically would happen with any super or ultra fine mesh screen as previously proposed. Various embodiments of the system screen have been tested to filter a continuous water flow of at least 1 ½ times the highest rainfall ever recorded by the Met Office (being 80mm, falling over a 30 minute period, on 26 June 1953 at Eskdalemuir in the UK) flowing off a roof surface which is 30 metres from peak to gutter.

The ultra fine filtration level achieved by the screen ensures that rainwater passing through the system is clean enough to be recycled, harvested and stored in water tanks, butts or containers for general use. The system is suitable for installation and use on a wide range of property and building types, including commercial, residential and domestic properties.

The light, slimline design of the system benefits from ease and speed of installation. It is relatively easy to install for a reasonably competent home DIYer.

The embodiment of the system screen described may comprise discrete 1 to 2 metre sections of system screen, which are joined together for installation. In addition, it is envisaged that the system screen may also be supplied as a longer, continuous, rolled or coiled section (for example, as a single 5 or 10 metre length) which can be fitted as a one-piece solution. The design of the system screen enables it to be rolled up by being made to be sufficiently flexible and resiliently deformable across its length, whilst being sufficiently rigid across its width to prevent the screen collapsing under load. In all cases, system screen sections may be cut to length as required. An appropriate choice of materials (including stainless steel mesh, glass fibre and UV grade plastics) ensures a good degree of UV and weather resistance.

The design provides a maintenance free solution once correctly installed.

The anticipated reduction in the need to undertake the task of regularly cleaning gutters and down pipes is expected to reduce damp and rot problems, at roof level and below, arising from any blockages. Alternative and additional applications are envisaged utilising the same technology. Although this specification contemplates rain gutter protection at roof level, a similar design of system screen also works effectively at a lower level (for instance, for covering and protecting drains at ground level). Also, a down-pipe filter using a similarly designed mesh screen fitted above, or as a cap above, a down- pipe, or covering any water harvesting outlet, could provide easy to install protection. There is also potential to develop the technology further, for example in order to provide a complete, one-piece gutter solution which does not suffer from debris blockages. Further, given the fine filtration levels offered by the present invention, additional treatment of harvested water could lead to potable water collection.

Whilst specific embodiments of the present invention have been described above, it will be appreciated that departures from the described embodiments may still fall within the scope of the present invention. Throughout the description and claims of this specification (including any accompanying claims, abstract and drawings), the words "comprise", "incorporate", "include" "being" and "contain" and variations of them mean "including but not limited to", and they are not intended to (and do not) exclude other feature elements (with feature elements being characteristics, aspects, embodiments, features, elements, components, integers or steps). Throughout the description and claims of this specification, the singular encompasses the plural and vice versa, unless the context otherwise requires. In particular, where the indefinite article is used, the specification is to be understood as contemplating plurality as well as singularity, unless the context requires otherwise.

Feature elements described in conjunction with a particular aspect, embodiment or example of the invention are to be understood to be applicable to any other aspect, embodiment or example described herein unless incompatible therewith. All of the feature elements disclosed in this specification may be combined in any combination, except combinations where at least some of the feature elements are mutually exclusive. The invention is not restricted to the details of any foregoing embodiments. The invention extends to any novel one, or any novel combination, of the feature elements disclosed in this specification. The use of the words "and" or "or" herein, when referring to two or more feature elements, denotes that the items can be taken either together, or any combination together, or as alternatives, unless the context requires otherwise.