Apparatus and Methods for Temporarily Sealing a Pipe
1. An apparatus for creating a seal on the end of an open pipe comprising:
- a body, said body including a threaded end, said threaded end surrounding a grommet cavity, said grommet cavity located external to and adjacent a recess;
a grommet, said grommet shaped substantially identical to a shape of said grommet cavity, said grommet seated in said grommet cavity;
a washer seated upon a floor of said substantially cylindrical recess; and
a nut, said nut including a cavity, said cavity inversely threaded to mate with said threaded end, said nut threaded to said threaded end.
Apparatus and methods for temporarily sealing a pipe including apparatus and methods for creating a temporary airtight seal at the open end of a pipe in a plumbing or refrigeration system. One such apparatus includes a body, grommet, washer, and a nut. Multiple airtight seals are created including a first primary seal between an exterior of the pipe and the grommet and a secondary seal between the open end of the pipe and the washer. The grommet does not require teeth and the apparatus does not require adhesive, sealant, or any other type of similar materials. Use of the apparatus and methods greatly minimizes and/or eliminates the potential for marring or otherwise distorting the open end of the pipe, thereby facilitating reuse of same.
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Patent #US 10,458,590 B2
Current AssigneeMikhail Viehmeyer
Sponsoring EntityShlomo Attia
Patent #US 6,378,915 B1
Current AssigneePlasson Limited
Sponsoring EntityPlasson Limited
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Current AssigneeDPR Futures LLC
Sponsoring EntityDPR Futures LLC
- 1. An apparatus for creating a seal on the end of an open pipe comprising:
a body, said body including a threaded end, said threaded end surrounding a grommet cavity, said grommet cavity located external to and adjacent a recess; a grommet, said grommet shaped substantially identical to a shape of said grommet cavity, said grommet seated in said grommet cavity; a washer seated upon a floor of said substantially cylindrical recess; and a nut, said nut including a cavity, said cavity inversely threaded to mate with said threaded end, said nut threaded to said threaded end.
- View Dependent Claims (2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12)
Embodiments of the present invention generally relate to apparatus and methods for temporarily sealing a pipe. More specifically, the present invention relates to apparatus and methods for creating a temporary airtight seal at the open end of a pipe in a plumbing or refrigeration system.
Refrigeration systems are typically comprised of an evaporator that vaporizes liquid refrigerant to cool the surrounding environment; a compressor that highly pressurizes the recently evaporated refrigerant; and a condenser that returns the refrigerant to a liquid state. Each of these components is typically connected by pipes or other fluid conduits. The entire system is airtight (i.e., no air from the outside environment can enter the system). Refrigeration systems must be airtight so that: pressure is maintained in the various pipe lines; no refrigerant leaks out of the refrigeration system; and no air or other contaminants from the surrounding environment enters the pipes.
Refrigerants utilized in refrigeration systems are typically liquid compounds with appropriate thermodynamic properties to undergo a phase change from liquid to gas in order to cool the surrounding environment. As refrigerant evaporates, it absorbs heat energy from the environment thereby decreasing the temperature of the environment. Many compounds are known in the art that possess the thermodynamic properties appropriate for use in a refrigeration system. One such compound is chlorodifluoromethane, which is also known as HFCF-22 or R-22. However, this compound and other similar compounds are believed to have negative environmental effects such as ozone depletion. Therefore, use of chlorodifluoromethane and other compounds with similar environmental consequences is being reduced or eliminated, and alternative compounds that do not effect the same environmental consequences are being utilized. One such new replacement refrigerant is R410A, which is also known as AZ-20 or Puron, and it is a mixture of compounds including the synthetic oil polyoester. The chemical nature of this mixture causes the refrigerant to be highly hygroscopic. That is, R410A refrigerant strongly attracts and absorbs water molecules from the surrounding environment.
As refrigerants that are believed to have negative environmental consequences are no longer being manufactured and will eventually become unavailable for purchase or use, existing refrigeration systems incorporating these outdated refrigerants will eventually require an upgrade to accommodate the newer refrigerants. That is, to repair a refrigeration system that incorporates an unavailable refrigerant, it may be necessary to replace the existing condenser with a new condenser compatible with currently available refrigerants. This process involves cutting the existing pipe lines; removing the old condenser; and installing a new condenser and evaporator that utilize the new refrigerant.
Cutting pipes may also be required if pipes and fluid conduits become damaged or corroded. For example, a pipe may become corroded over time due to surrounding environmental conditions. Additionally, existing plumbing lines are sometimes accessed in order to add new fluid lines for system additions. Regardless of the reason, pipes and other fluid conduits are typically serviced by removing a portion of the conduit (e.g., the portion of the conduit that is damaged) and replacing it with a new piece of conduit.
In a refrigeration system, the open end of the pipe that has been cut must be sealed quickly in order to prevent air and water contamination and to quickly recreate the airtight system. This is even more critical with newer hygroscopic refrigerants, which are more susceptible to contamination due to their strong attraction of water from the surrounding environment. That is, if a hygroscopic refrigerant such as R410A is utilized in the refrigeration system, water moisture in air that enters a refrigeration system is quickly absorbed by the refrigerant oil, thereby causing contamination. When the system is reassembled, the lines and/or existing components which contain the hygroscopic polyoester oil must now be thoroughly cleaned through a process known in the art as nitrogen purging and triple evacuating, a very time consuming effort. Such contamination effects other negative consequences including, but not limited to: reduced cooling performance; malfunction of the evaporator; increased compressor noise; and/or compressor failure.
In non-hygroscopic systems, any contamination due to the entry of air into the refrigeration system may be remedied by vacuum purging the air prior to use of the system. However, since a hygroscopic refrigerant is contaminated by both water and air, it generally must be discarded and replaced by new refrigerant as water cannot be removed as easily as air. Therefore, sealing the open end of a cut pipe in a relatively short time frame is even more critical for hygroscopic systems to prevent the time and cost associated with refrigerant replacement.
One method commonly known in the art for temporarily sealing the open end of a pipe is to pinch it closed and then braze the edges together. That is, the metal walls of the pipe are compressed until the opening created by the cut is closed. An airtight seal is then created by joining the edges of the metal walls via heating of a filler metal alloy to a temperature at which the filler metal alloy melts and flows between the pinched edges of the fluid conduit as is commonly known in the art. Such a method effectively creates an airtight seal at the open end of the cut pipe. However, as is commonly known in the art, this method can take a relatively long period of time to implement and results in formation of oxidation residue on the interior surface of the fluid conduit. Additionally, upon connection of the sealed fluid conduit with other components, the portion of the fluid conduit affected by the airtight seal (i.e., the portion of the fluid conduit that is pinched closed and brazed to create an airtight seal) must be removed prior to connection of other components. The removal process is time consuming and can result in excessive refrigerant contamination.
Another way to create a temporary air-tight seal on the open end of a pipe is to couple an apparatus to the outer diameter of the pipe that grips the outer surface of the pipe via a plurality of teeth. That is, such a method grips the outer surface of the pipe with the teeth of the apparatus with sufficient strength to maintain an elevated internal pressure in the pipe and an air-tight seal between the interior of the pipe and the surrounding environment. As the internal pressure of the pipe is increased, the force with which the teeth grip the outer surface of the pipe increases. While providing an air-tight seal for the open end of a pipe, the teeth may also scar or mar the outer surface of the pipe, thereby necessitating removal of the pipe end to maintain the integrity of the piping and/or refrigeration system.
Also known in the art, a temporary air-tight seal may be created on the open end of a pipe via coupling of an apparatus to the open end of a pipe and then securing the apparatus via adhesion of the apparatus to the outer surface of the pipe. That is, an adhesive is applied to the one or more of the internal surfaces of the apparatus such that the surfaces will contact and adhere to the outer surface of the pipe upon installation of the apparatus. While providing an air-tight seal for the open end of a pipe, use of an adhesive prevents easy and/or rapid removal of such an apparatus from the open end of a pipe. It can also necessitate removal of the pipe end to maintain the integrity of the piping and/or refrigeration system.
Briefly stated, in one aspect of the present invention, an apparatus for creating a seal on the end of an open pipe is provided. The apparatus includes: a body, the body including a threaded end, the threaded end surrounding a grommet cavity, the grommet cavity located external to and adjacent a recess; a grommet, the grommet shaped substantially identical to a shape of the grommet cavity, the grommet seated in the grommet cavity; a washer seated upon a floor of the substantially cylindrical recess; and a nut, the nut including a cavity, the cavity inversely threaded to mate with the threaded end, the nut threaded to the threaded end.
The foregoing summary, as well as the following detailed description of preferred embodiments of the invention, will be better understood when read in conjunction with the appended drawings. For the purpose of illustrating the invention, there is shown in the drawings embodiments which are presently preferred. It should be understood, however, that the invention is not limited to the precise arrangements and instrumentalities shown. In the drawings:
Certain terminology may be used in the following description for convenience only and is not limiting. The words “lower” and “upper” and “top” and “bottom” designate directions in the drawings to which reference is made. The terminology includes the words above specifically mentioned, derivatives thereof and words of similar import.
Where a term is provided in the singular, the inventors also contemplate aspects of the invention described by the plural of that term. As used in this specification and in the appended claims, the singular forms “a”, “an” and “the” include plural references unless the context clearly dictates otherwise, e.g., “a cap” may include a plurality of caps. Thus, for example, a reference to “a method” includes one or more methods, and/or steps of the type described herein and/or which will become apparent to those persons skilled in the art upon reading this disclosure.
Unless defined otherwise, all technical and scientific terms used herein have the same meaning as commonly understood by one of ordinary skill in the art to which this invention belongs. Although any methods and materials similar or equivalent to those described herein can be used in the practice or testing of the present invention, the preferred methods, constructs and materials are now described. All publications mentioned herein are incorporated herein by reference in their entirety. Where there are discrepancies in terms and definitions used in references that are incorporated by reference, the terms used in this application shall have the definitions given herein.
Referring first to
Also, cap assembly 100 can be quickly coupled to a refrigerant pipe. The speed of installation is beneficial, for example, when replacing a portion of an existing refrigerant pipe or replacing an outdated refrigerant/condenser with a newer refrigerant/condenser. To do this, the refrigerant is first removed from the system. Then, the pipe is cut in the proximity of the component to be repaired or replaced. As soon as possible after the pipe is cut, an airtight seal is applied to the open ends created by the cuts to minimize contamination of the refrigerant. Contamination can occur because, in systems utilizing R410-A, or any Hydrofluorocarbon (“HFC”) refrigerant that utilizes a polyester oil, the refrigerant oil (i.e., the polyoester) in the system is hygroscopic. That is, it removes water from the surrounding atmosphere. Therefore, as air enters the cut end of the pipe and contacts the refrigerant oil that remains in the system after the refrigerant has been removed for repair or component replacement, moisture is removed from the ambient air and absorbed by the refrigerant oil thereby causing contamination thereof. Refrigerant oil that has been contaminated with moisture cannot be used in a refrigeration system and must be either cleaned or replaced. Therefore, installing the cap assembly on a cut end of a pipe in a relatively short time frame, reduces the amount of air contamination within the refrigerant oil, which allows the refrigerant oil to be reused.
Turning now to
Turning now to
Still referring to
Exterior wall 420 includes wrench surfaces 426, as best seen in the bottom view of
Although the depicted body 108 is made of anodized aluminum, other materials may be substituted without departing from the scope of the present invention including, but not limited to, polyvinyl chloride, acrylonitrile butadiene styrene, brass, or stainless steel.
Referring now to
When cap assembly 102 is assembled as discussed in greater detail below, washer 106 is compressed between floor 416 of recess 412 and the bottommost surface 454 of the open end of exemplary refrigerant pipe 202. This position and compression allows the ring-shaped washer to completely contact the ring-shaped outer wall of exemplary refrigerant pipe 202 such that washer 106 cushions the open end of refrigerant pipe 202 to prevent, or minimize, damage thereto caused by recess 412. It also forms a substantially airtight secondary seal between the open end of refrigerant pipe 202 and body 108 and/or cap assembly 100.
Referring again to
At its topmost end, inner wall 432 intersects in a substantially perpendicular manner with upwardly facing surface 444. Upwardly facing surface 444 is substantially horizontal. At the outermost perimeter of surface 444, it intersects in a substantial perpendicular manner with outwardly facing surface 446. As best seen in
Grommet 104 is molded to the free form state illustrated in
Surface 702 proceeds radially outward in a substantially horizontal manner until outer perimeter 704. At outer perimeter 704, surface 702 intersects with outwardly facing surface 706, the latter of which converges radially inward and axially downward at an angle of approximately 30 degrees until edge 708. At edge 708, outwardly facing surface 714 transitions in a substantially perpendicular manner to downwardly facing surface 718. Substantially horizontal downwardly facing surface 718 proceeds radially inward until it intersects with the bottom most end of inner wall 450.
Referring lastly to
Process 900 then proceeds to 904, at which a pipe such as exemplary pipe 202 is cut. The pipe may be cut using a pipe cutter or any other suitable method or tool as is commonly known in the art. Whatever means used to cut the pipe, it should be performed in a relatively short time frame in order to minimize air contamination as discussed above. After pipe 202 is cut, the following steps are performed relatively quickly to minimize contamination of the refrigerant.
Next, at step 906, a nut (e.g., nut 102) is installed on the open end of a pipe such as pipe 202. In our exemplary embodiment, nut 102 is installed on pipe 202 by sliding the open end of pipe 202 through aperture 430 until it exits threaded cavity 452 to a sufficient distance to allow the other components of cap assembly 100 to also be passed over the open end of pipe 202. That is, upwardly facing surface 444 is farther from the open end of the pipe than threaded cavity 452. Again, this step should be completed quickly to minimize air contamination.
Next, at step 908, grommet 104 is installed on the open end of pipe 202. Grommet 104 is installed on pipe 202 by sliding the open end of pipe 202 through aperture 456 of grommet 104 to a sufficient distance to allow the other components of cap assembly 100 to also be passed over the open end of pipe 202. That is, grommet 104 is oriented so that upwardly facing surface 702 is farther from the open end of pipe 202 than downwardly facing surface 716. When installing grommet 104, in addition to allowing sufficient distance for the other components of cap assembly 100 to be passed over the open end of the pipe, grommet 104 should be located as close to its final position as possible to allow it to easily slide into grommet cavity 460 of body 108 in the next step. Again, this step should be completed quickly to minimize air contamination.
Next at 910, body 108 is installed on the open end of pipe 202. As previously discussed above, washer 106 is contained in recess 412 and rests on floor 416 of recess 412. Body 108 is installed by sliding the smaller diameter open end 458 of body 108 over the open end of pipe 202 until the bottommost surface 454 of pipe 202 contacts washer 106. That is, the open end of pipe 202 slides inside recess 412 until it contacts washer 106 contained therein. Simultaneously, grommet cavity 460 of body 108 encases grommet 104 previously fitted to pipe 202 in a manner that contact is made between surfaces 706, 710, 714, and 718 of grommet 104 and walls 404 and 410 of body 108, thereby creating a primary airtight seal between the refrigerant system and the outside environment. Grommet 104 forms a compression fitting for pipe 202, and its material allows it to flex and form this primary airtight seal which may later be easily released without damaging pipe 202. Additionally, as body 108 is installed, body 108 may force grommet 104 away from the open end of pipe 202 as required to achieve proper fit. That is, the pressure applied by body 108 as it is passed over the open end of pipe 202 forces grommet 104 to move further away from the open end of pipe 202 as needed until the bottommost surface 454 of pipe 202 contacts washer 106. The contacting of washer 106 by surface 454 of pipe 202 may cause a secondary airtight seal to be created between the refrigerant system and the outside environment as further discussed above. In this manner, the possibility of refrigerant contamination is reduced or completely eliminated. In some alternate embodiments of the present invention, the surface 454 of pipe 202 compresses washer 106 in addition to contacting washer 106 to form a tighter seal.
Process 900 then proceeds to 912 at which threads 418 of the exterior wall 420 of body 108 are coupled with threads 440 of the inversely threaded cavity 452 of nut 102. The threads are coupled by rotating nut 102 in a clockwise direction relative to the position of body 108. Nut 102 can be rotated by hand, by a wrench, or via a combination thereof. To couple nut 102 and body 108, opposing inside surfaces of the head of a wrench engage planar wrench surfaces 426 of body 108. This allows an installer of cap assembly 100 to hold body 108 in a stationary position while nut 102 is threaded onto body 108. If nut 104 is tightened by a wrench, planar wrench surfaces 448 of nut 102 may also be engaged by opposing inside surfaces of the head of a second wrench to allow nut 102 to be rotated via rotation of the arm of the wrench while body 108 is maintained in a stationary position via the first wrench. That is, body 108 is maintained in a static position while nut 102 is rotated. Alternatively, any other method for engaging the threads of nut 102 and body 108 can be substituted without departing from the scope of the present invention. As nut 102 is coupled to body 108, downwardly facing surface 434 of nut 102 contacts and compresses upwardly facing surface 702 of grommet 104.
As nut 102 and body 108 are coupled, the space therebetween is reduced causing compression of grommet 104 by the inner surfaces of nut 102 and body 108. As grommet 104 is compressed, pressure is exerted on the outer wall 428 of exemplary pipe 202. That is, the pressure exerted on surfaces 702, 706, 710, 714, and 718 of grommet 104 by the inner surfaces of the other components of cap assembly 100 causes pressure to be exerted on the outer wall 428 of pipe 202 by internal wall 450 of the grommet. The pressure exerted on outer wall 428 of pipe 202 clenches the end of pipe 202; thereby preventing cap assembly 100 from being dislodged. In this manner, cap assembly 100 is securely retained on the open end of pipe 202 without damaging the pipe in any manner. That is, the elastomeric nature of the material of grommet 104 does not contaminate, deform, or mar internal surface 462 or external surface 428 of pipe 202 in any manner as 104 includes no teeth and does not require welding or adhesive for installation thereof.
In addition to clenching the open end of pipe 202, the pressure exerted by the threading of nut 102 and body 108 creates the primary airtight seal. This airtight seal between the surrounding atmosphere and the inside of pipe 202 is the primary method of preventing contamination.
After the bottommost surface 454 of exemplary pipe 202 contacts washer 106 in step 908 and/or nut 102 is completely threaded on to body 108, a secondary airtight seal may be created. The threading of nut 102 to body 108 as well as the compression of pipe 202 by grommet 104 couples cap assembly 100 to pipe 202 in a manner that prevents accidental dislodgement of 100 from 202. In this manner, the internal pressure in pipe 202 may be maintained and the potential of refrigerant contamination due to the external atmosphere is minimized or eliminated.
It will be appreciated by those skilled in the art that changes could be made to the embodiments described above without departing from the broad inventive concept thereof. It is understood, therefore, that this invention is not limited to the particular embodiments disclosed, but it is intended to cover modifications within the spirit and scope of the present invention as defined by the appended claims.