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Foundation watering system

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Title: Foundation watering system.
Abstract: A foundation watering system is provided having a water supply, a water distribution system, a hygrometer and a controller that allows water from the water supply to flow into the water distribution system based upon data from the hygrometer. ...


- Dallas, TX, US
Inventor: Carlos Sanchez
USPTO Applicaton #: #20080219768 - Class: 405 37 (USPTO) - 09/11/08 - Class 405 


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The Patent Description & Claims data below is from USPTO Patent Application 20080219768, Foundation watering system.

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Hygrometer   Water Distribution   

This application claims priority and the benefit under 35 U.S.C. §119(e) from U.S. Provisional Patent Application No. 60/905,117 for “Foundation Watering System” filed Mar. 6, 2007, which is hereby incorporated by reference.

BACKGROUND

1. Field of the Invention

The present invention relates generally to systems that provide water to the soil supporting a structure to reduce movement of the structure and in particular to automated systems for providing water.

2. Description of Related Art

Within the building industry, and in particular within the residential building market, there are few choices for a building owner who wants to prevent costly foundation repairs. This begins with the fact that foundations are not easily inspected and tend to fail over a long period of time. Therefore, a weak foundation may not be discovered for decades.

Furthermore, foundations suffer greater stresses in years with large variation in rainfall. Such as a year with a wet winter followed by a long drought. This will cause the soil under the foundation to expand and contract in an uneven manner and add stresses to the foundation structure. In these situations a weak foundation will fail and even a strong foundation may allow for some movement.

A need exists, therefore, for preventive measures to reduce the stresses applied to the foundation by reducing the swelling and contracting of the soil supporting the foundation. A proven method for reducing uneven contracting is to apply water around the edges of a foundation in a way that maintains a consistent moisture level. This is typically achieved by soaker hoses or sprinklers run on a timer system or manually. Other, more complex, systems have been introduced to the market, but most are too costly or complex for the residential user.

All references cited herein are incorporated by reference to the maximum extent allowable by law. To the extent a reference may not be fully incorporated herein, it is incorporated by reference for background purposes and indicative of the knowledge of one of ordinary skill in the art.

BRIEF SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

The problems presented in foundation maintenance are solved by the systems and methods of the present invention. In accordance with one embodiment of the present invention, a water controller is provided. The water controller is attached to a hygrometer, a water supply, and a water distribution system. The hygrometer measures the moisture level in the soil and the controller determines if the moisture level is too low. If the moisture level is too low the controller allows water to flow from the water supply to the water distribution system to increase the moisture level in the soil.

Another embodiment has two zones, allowing the controller to service a larger portion of the foundation. This embodiment has two hygrometers and two separate water distribution systems. This allows a single controller to monitor and maintain the moisture level of two different areas around the foundation.

Other objects, features, and advantages of the present invention will become apparent with reference to the drawings and detailed description that follow.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

FIG. 1 is a perspective view of a foundation watering system;

FIG. 2 is a perspective view of another embodiment of a foundation watering system;

FIG. 3 is a schematic of the system in FIG. 1;

FIG. 4 is a schematic of the system in FIG. 2; and

FIGS. 5A, 5B, and 5C show a foundation watering system in place around a structure.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENT

All references cited herein are incorporated by reference to the maximum extent allowable by law. To the extent a reference may not be fully incorporated herein, it is incorporated by reference for background purposes and indicative of the knowledge of one of ordinary skill in the art.

In the following detailed description of the preferred embodiments, reference is made to the accompanying drawings that form a part hereof, and in which is shown by way of illustration specific preferred embodiments in which the invention may be practiced. These embodiments are described in sufficient detail to enable those skilled in the art to practice the invention, and it is understood that other embodiments may be utilized and that logical mechanical and electrical changes may be made without departing from the spirit or scope of the invention. To avoid detail not necessary to enable those skilled in the art to practice the invention, the description may omit certain information known to those skilled in the art. The following detailed description is, therefore, not to be taken in a limiting sense, and the scope of the present invention is defined only by the appended claims.

FIG. 1 is perspective view of a foundation watering system 10 showing a controller 12 connected to a supply hose 14, a distribution hose 16, and a hygrometer 18. Controller 12 has a housing 20 with a supply inlet 22 and at least one distribution outlet 24, although two are shown. On housing 20 is the input/output system 26. Input/output system 26 includes a display 28 as an output device and input means such as a knob 32 or buttons 30. The input/output system 26 allows the user to control the foundation watering system and make adjustments as needed. The operation of the input/output system 26 is described in more detail below. Also within the housing 20 is a valve control system 34 and valve 36.

Hygrometer 18 is shown attached to the bottom of housing 20. Supply inlet 22 is on the rear housing 20 while distribution outlets 24 are positioned on the sides. The inlet 22 is provided with a female hose connection 38 while the outlets 24 are provided with male hose connections 40 to facilitate the use of common garden hoses in as supply hose 14 and distribution hoses 16. Any alternative hose connection system can be used with appropriate adjustment, such as quick release connectors or stab connectors.

Distribution hose 16 may be a common hose attached to a sprinkler system or may be a soaker hose. The purpose of distribution hose 16 is to apply water to the soil around the foundation and this goal can be met through a variety of means now known and to be developed, such as soaker hoses, sprinklers, micro sprinklers, bubblers, or other irrigation means.

Also shown in FIG. 1 is solar panel 46. Solar panel 46 may be used as a power source for controller 12. Solar panel 46 may be used to recharge a battery 42.

FIG. 2 is a perspective view of another embodiment of a foundation watering system having two zones. In practice this embodiment is like two standard controllers with a shared inlet 22 and battery 42. Another difference is that hygrometers 18 may be spaced away from controller 12 with the use of leads 44. Leads 44 allow hygrometers to be placed near the center of the distribution system. For example, if distribution hose 16 is a twenty foot soaker hose then lead 44 would allow hygrometer 18 to be placed ten feet away from the controller 12 at the midpoint of distribution hose 16.

FIG. 2 does not show a solar panel 46 integrated into housing 20. Nonetheless a solar panel 46 may be added to the controller in FIG. 2 either by connection of a remote solar panel 46 or by rearranging the input/output 26 on the top of controller 12.

FIG. 3 is a schematic of the system in FIG. 1 showing the operation of the controller 12. Valve control system 34 receives moisture readings from hygrometer 18 and power from battery 42. Input/output system 26 allows the user to view the readings from hygrometer 18 on display 28 in useful units after conversion of the signal by valve control system 34. Input/output system 26 also allows user to set a trigger level that would initiate a watering. The watering could then continue until the hygrometer 18 indicates that a sufficient moisture level has been achieved, or could continue for a set time. In a preferred embodiment the watering would continue until either the moisture level was above the trigger level or a specified set time was reached with a rest time before any subsequent watering could be initiated.

FIG. 4 is a schematic of the system in FIG. 2 showing that a shared water supply 14 and battery 42 allows the controller to service two distinct areas or zones. Each zone operates as described above with reference to FIG. 3.

FIGS. 5A, 5B, and 5C show a foundation watering system in place around a structure. In this view the controller 12 from FIG. 2 is used to provide foundation moisture control for a structure. Distribution hoses 16 are shown adjacent to the structure. Leads 44 are shown running parallel to distribution hoses 16 so that hygrometers 18 are in the area treated by distribution hoses 16. Of note is the non-disruptive nature of the installation. Controller 12 is simply placed on the ground within hose reach of a water supply and the distribution hoses 16 are laid out from the controller 12 to run along the area to be treated. Leads 44 are run to the area to be treated and hygrometers 18 are placed in the ground in the area to be treated.

While one advantage of the current system is its simplicity, other features may be added such as a wireless transmitter between a hygrometer 18 and controller 12 based on known wireless technology, or even a centralized display and control system wirelessly connected to multiple controllers for simple monitoring and adjustment. These additions can be made with off the shelf wireless systems without changing the spirit of the invention.

Another modification that will not change the nature of the invention is a customized housing in a decorative shape appropriate to the surroundings. For a garden environment this may be a stone, statute, or some other decorative element appropriate to the environment.

The primary advantage of the present invention is to provide a customized yet simple solution to the average homeowner wanting to maintain consistent moisture levels under a foundation. By placing controllers around the foundation a user can both monitor the moisture levels around the foundation and program the controllers to maintain a particular moisture level in the soil around the foundation. This is particularly useful where one side of the foundation may be shaded while the soil on another side of the foundation has extended sun exposure.

Even though many of the examples discussed herein are applications of the present invention in residential foundation maintenance, the present invention also can be applied to other types of structures, such as non-residential foundations.

It should be apparent from the foregoing that an invention having significant advantages has been provided. While the invention is shown in only a few of its forms, it is not just limited but is susceptible to various changes and modifications without departing from the spirit thereof. For example, leads 44 may be replaced by a wireless connection now known or later developed.

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stats Patent Info
Application #
US 20080219768 A1
Publish Date
09/11/2008
Document #
12043002
File Date
03/05/2008
USPTO Class
405 37
Other USPTO Classes
405229, 4053024
International Class
/
Drawings
5


Hygrometer
Water Distribution


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