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United States Patent Application 20170350131
Kind Code A1
Ayala; Andrew December 7, 2017

Adjustable Splash Block

Abstract

A splash block of the type that sits on the ground below a gutter downspout and diverts water away from the foundation of the building. The splash block includes, in some embodiments, adjustable legs to ensure the correct pitch for the splash block that will effectively direct water away from the building foundation, along with stakes and a strap to help maintain that pitch throughout the operating life of the block. In some embodiments, the splash block uses a flow control gate for controlling and slowing water flow in order to limit the impact of water on the landscaping as it exits the splash block.


Inventors: Ayala; Andrew; (Westport, CT)
Applicant:
Name City State Country Type

Ayala; Andrew

Westport

CT

US
Family ID: 1000002682486
Appl. No.: 15/615247
Filed: June 6, 2017


Related U.S. Patent Documents

Application NumberFiling DatePatent Number
62346502Jun 6, 2016

Current U.S. Class: 1/1
Current CPC Class: E04D 13/08 20130101; E03F 1/002 20130101; E04D 2013/0806 20130101; E04D 2013/0813 20130101; E04D 13/064 20130101
International Class: E04D 13/08 20060101 E04D013/08; E03F 1/00 20060101 E03F001/00; E04D 13/064 20060101 E04D013/064

Claims



1. A splash block, comprising: a base, comprising side walls, a front portion, and a rear portion; at least one support leg attached to the base for raising the height of the rear portion of the base relative to the front portion of the base; wherein the support leg has a first position in which the support leg supports the rear portion and a second position in which the support leg does not support the rear portion.

2. The splash block of claim 1, wherein the at least one support leg comprises a first leg portion attached to the base by a hinge.

3. The splash block of claim 2, wherein the at least one support leg further comprises a second portion attached to the first portion in a telescoping relationship, and wherein the second portion has at least one extended position relative to the first portion in which the second portion increases the length of the support leg by a first amount and a retracted position in which the second portion does not increase the length of the support leg or increases the length of the support leg by a second amount that is less than the first amount.

4. The splash block of claim 3, wherein the at least one support leg further comprises a third portion attached to the second portion, the third portion adapted to move relative to the second portion so that the length of the support leg can be increased and decreased.

5. The splash block of claim 4, wherein the third portion of the at least one support leg is attached to the second portion in a threaded relationship.

6. The splash block of claim 1, further comprising a first support leg and a second support leg, wherein the first support leg is attached adjacent to a first rear corner of the base and the second support leg is attached adjacent to a second rear corner of the base.

7. The splash block of claim 1, further comprising at least one stake attached adjacent to the front portion of the base in a hinging relationship.

8. The splash block of claim 1, further comprising a flow control gate adjacent to the front portion of the base adapted to restrict the flow of fluid exiting the splash block.

9. The splash block of claim 8, wherein the flow control gate comprises a sluice gate and at least one tension control system adapted to control the force required to open the sluice gate.

10. The splash block of claim 8, wherein the flow control gate comprises a front wall and a plurality of holes formed in the front wall, through which fluid can flow.

11. A splash block, comprising: a base, comprising a front portion and a rear portion; side walls that direct fluid flow along the base; and a flow control gate adjacent to the front portion of the base adapted to restrict the flow of fluid exiting the splash block.

12. The splash block of claim 11, wherein the flow control gate comprises a sluice gate and at least one tension control system adapted to control the force required to open the sluice gate.

13. The splash block of claim 12, wherein the tension control system comprises a spring attached on one end to the sluice gate and attached on a second end to a knob adapted to control the tension of the spring.

14. The splash block of claim 11, wherein the flow control gate comprises a front wall and a plurality of holes formed in the front wall through which fluid can flow.

15. The splash block of claim 14, wherein the plurality of holes comprises a lower row of holes each having a first size and a second row of holes above the first row of holes and having a second size that is larger than the first size.

16. The splash block of claim 11, further comprising at least one support leg attached to the base adapted to raise the height of the rear portion of the base relative to the front portion of the base and having a first position in which the support leg supports the rear portion and a second position in which the support leg does not support the rear portion.

17. The splash block of claim 11, further comprising at least one stake attached adjacent to the front portion of the base in a hinging relationship.

18. A splash block, comprising: a base, comprising a front portion and a rear portion; side walls that direct fluid flow along the base from the rear portion to the front portion; at least one support leg attached to the base for raising the height of the rear portion of the base relative to the front portion of the base, the support leg comprising a first position in which the support leg supports the rear portion and a second position in which the support leg does not support the rear portion; and a flow control gate adjacent to the front portion of the base adapted to restrict the flow of fluid exiting the splash block.

19. The splash block of claim 18, wherein the at least one support leg comprises a first portion hingedly attached to the base and a second portion attached to the first portion in a telescoping relationship for adjusting the length of the at least one support leg.

20. The splash block of claim 18, wherein the flow control gate comprises a front wall and a plurality of holes formed in the front wall through which fluid can flow.
Description



FIELD OF THE INVENTION

[0001] The present disclosure relates generally to devices for use in diverting rainwater away from the foundation of a home or commercial budding. More particularly, this disclosure relates to a splash block used in association with an external gutter downspout.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

[0002] The primary purpose of the present invention is to help prevent erosion at or water intrusion into the foundations of buildings. Splash blocks are widely used to divert rainwater from gutter downspouts away from a building envelope since such water could enter into basements and damage personal property and ultimately undermine the structural stability of the foundation. Splash blocks are common at residential homes, apartment communities, commercial buildings, and any other building where roof drains or other rainfall collection devices are not integral to the building structure or where external downspouts are not connected to an underground drainage system. A splash block is a device that sits on the ground below a gutter downspout and generally consists of a pan, trough, or base with walls on the rear and sides and an opening at the front for the water to exit.

[0003] Existing splash block products are dependent on the topography of the ground where they are placed to provide the correct pitch to direct water away from the building. If the landscaping adjacent to the foundation is not properly pitched so that water will flow downhill away from the building, the water that flows down the downspout from the gutters will likely flow back towards the building, even with an existing splash block in place. Moreover, in many cases, splash blocks are inserted reactively, after continued water flow from gutter downspouts has already eroded the ground at the foundation, causing a lower elevation at the foundation. This placement pitches the splash block towards the building, rendering it useless. In some cases, stones, or other materials are used to prop up the existing products to correct this issue and provide a positive pitch so that water is diverted away from the foundation, but those materials are typically unstable or unreliable. In the event the correct pitch is able to be achieved, maintaining that pitch is difficult due to external forces that commonly come into contact with the splash block, which can include wind, water, animals, landscapers, or children.

[0004] Another issue associated with traditional splash blocks relates to erosion of the ground near the end of the splash block out of which the water exits. If the splash block is pitched correctly, the velocity of the water flow can become high enough during a heavy storm to cause damage to the landscaping or yard immediately after flowing off the splash block. A similar result occurs at the foundation when no splash block or other diverter is used: the water erodes the landscaping. When a traditional splash block is used at the correct pitch, the foundation may be saved, but the damage caused by water erosion has just been displaced to a point further from the budding. Existing products can be turned around backwards by the users to use the rear wall of the splash block as a weir to slow the water from exiting. If the splash block is not pitched correctly, however, turning the splash block around results in a more direct flow of water into the building's foundation.

[0005] A number of splash block and flow diverter products have been offered that attempt to address one or more of the problems discussed above. For example, U.S. Pat. No. 3,636,830 discloses a splash block-type drain trough with support legs that have anchoring teeth. The legs have a fixed size such that the pitch of the trough is dictated by the pitch of the ground on which it is placed. Accordingly, it cannot compensate for reverse pitches in a landscape that will cause water to flow back against the foundation of a budding. The trough also has openings near the front portion of the trough for starting the water soaking into the ground. The trough has no feature to restrict the flow of water such that heavy flows can cause damage to the landscaping in the area of the trough.

[0006] U.S. Pat. No. 5,358,007 discloses a downspout extension device that also has flow diversion protrusions intended to divert water flow into a fan-shape pattern. Similarly, U.S. Pat. No. 8,602,066 discloses a conduit extension for downspouts that includes reinforcing ribs that may divert flow. Neither of these devices are able to adequately restrict the flow of water during periods of heavy flow to resist damage to the landscaping. Further, both of these devices require direct attachment to the gutter drain system.

[0007] What is needed, therefore, is a splash block that can compensate for a various pitches in the landscape surrounding a building foundation. That is, a splash block with adjustable pitch is needed. What is also needed is a splash block that can restrict the flow of water during periods of heavy flow that may damage the surrounding landscape. Further, such a splash block should be simple and inexpensive to manufacture and use. Such a splash block should be reusable in a variety of installations without requiring the purchase of a replacement block.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

[0008] Some embodiments of the present invention comprise a splash block with adjustable legs that extend from underneath the base, which allow the user to adjust the pitch to ensure that water is diverted away from the foundation of a building. Some embodiments also include adjustable stakes and a strap to stabilize the splash block to help ensure that pitch is maintained over the life of the product.

[0009] Some embodiments of the present invention comprise a splash block with a fluid flow control gate which will slow the velocity at which the water exits the splash block to reduce damage and/or erosion to the landscaping at the exit point.

[0010] According to a first embodiment of the present invention, a splash block is provided that comprises a base and at least one support leg attached to the base. The base comprises side walls, a front portion, and a rear portion and the support leg is for raising the height of the rear portion of the base relative to the front portion of the base. The support leg has a first position in which the support leg supports the rear portion and a second position in which the support leg does not support the rear portion.

[0011] In some embodiments, the at least one support leg comprises a first leg portion attached to the base by a hinge. In some embodiments, the at least one support leg further comprises a second portion attached to the first portion in a telescoping relationship, and the second portion has at least one extended position relative to the first portion in which the second portion increases the length of the support leg by a first amount and a retracted position in which the second portion does not increase the length of the support leg or increases the length of the support leg by a second amount that is less than the first amount. In some embodiments, the at least one support leg further comprises a third portion attached to the second portion, the third portion adapted to move relative to the second portion so that the length of the support leg can be increased and decreased. In some embodiments, the third portion of the at least one support leg is attached to the second portion in a threaded relationship.

[0012] In some embodiments, the splash block further comprises a first support leg and a second support leg, where the first support leg is attached adjacent to a first rear corner of the base and the second support leg is attached adjacent to a second rear corner of the base. In some embodiments, the splash block further comprises at least one stake attached adjacent to the front portion of the base in a hinging relationship.

[0013] In some embodiments, the splash block further comprises a flow control gate adjacent to the front portion of the base adapted to restrict the flow of fluid exiting the splash block. In some embodiments, the flow control gate comprises a sluice gate and at least one tension control system adapted to control the force required to open the sluice gate. In other embodiments, the flow control gate comprises a front wall and a plurality of holes formed in the front wall, through which fluid can flow.

[0014] According to a second embodiment of the present invention, a splash block is provided that comprises a base, side walls, and a flow control gate. The base comprises a front portion and a rear portion and the side walls direct fluid flow along the base. The flow control gate is adjacent to the front portion of the base and is adapted to restrict the flow of fluid exiting the splash block.

[0015] In some embodiments, the flow control gate comprises a sluice gate and at least one tension control system adapted to control the force required to open the sluice gate. In some embodiments, the tension control system comprises a spring attached on one end to the sluice gate and attached on a second end to a knob adapted to control the tension of the spring. In some embodiments, the flow control gate comprises a front wall and a plurality of holes formed in the front wall through which fluid can flow. In some embodiments, the plurality of holes comprises a lower row of holes each having a first size and a second row of holes above the first row of holes and having a second size that is larger than the first size. In some embodiments, the plurality of holes comprises five rows of holes, wherein the size of the holes in each row increases with increasing elevation above the base.

[0016] In some embodiments, the splash block further comprises at least one support leg attached to the base adapted to raise the height of the rear portion of the base relative to the front portion of the base and having a first position in which the support leg supports the rear portion and a second position in which the support leg does not support the rear portion. In some embodiments, the splash block further comprises at least one stake attached adjacent to the front portion of the base in a hinging relationship.

[0017] According to a third embodiment of the present invention, a splash block is provided that comprises a base, comprising a front portion and a rear portion; side walls that direct fluid flow along the base from the rear portion to the front portion; at least one support leg attached to the base for raising the height of the rear portion of the base relative to the front portion of the base, the support leg comprising a first position in which the support leg supports the rear portion and a second position in which the support leg does not support the rear portion; and a flow control gate adjacent to the front portion of the base adapted to restrict the flow of fluid exiting the splash block.

[0018] In some embodiments, the at least one support leg comprises a first portion hingedly attached to the base and a second portion attached to the first portion in a telescoping relationship for adjusting the length of the at least one support leg. In some embodiments, the flow control gate comprises a front wall and a plurality of holes formed in the front wall through which fluid can flow.

[0019] Additional information and details about these and other embodiments of the present invention will now be described in relation to the attached drawings.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

[0020] FIG. 1 shows a front elevation view of an embodiment of the present invention.

[0021] FIG. 2 shows an underside view of the embodiment of FIG. 1.

[0022] FIG. 3 shows a close-up view of a rear portion of the underside of the embodiment of FIG. 1.

[0023] FIG. 4 shows a close-up view of a front portion of the underside of the embodiment of FIG, 1.

[0024] FIG. 5 shows a rear elevation view of the embodiment of FIG. 1.

[0025] FIG. 6 is a perspective view of the embodiment of FIG. 1 installed on a downspout at the foundation of a building.

[0026] FIG. 7 shows a front elevation view of an alternative embodiment of the present invention.

[0027] FIG. 8 is a close-up view of a portion of the embodiment of FIG.

[0028] FIG. 9 is a second close-up view of a portion of the embodiment of FIG. 7.

[0029] FIG. 10 is a rear view of the embodiment of FIG. 7.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION

[0030] FIGS. 1-6 show a splash block 1 according to a first embodiment of the present invention. The splash block 1 includes a trough or base 2 and a front portion 6. The base 2 also has opposing lateral side walls 3 and a rear portion 5. The side walls 3 extend from the rear portion 5 of the base 2 toward the front portion 6. The splash block 1 is adapted to be inserted underneath a gutter downspout such that the final elbow of the downspout sits in or on the rear portion 5, which, in this embodiment, comprises an opening between the sidewalls 3. The splash block 1 also includes an adjustable strap 15 that is connectable to attachment pegs 16 for securing the base 2 to the downspout. When the splash block 1 is installed at a correct pitch, water from the downspout flows over the base 2 from the rear to the front portion 6. The angle of the base 2 with respect to the downspout is determined by a combination of the topography of the ground on which the splash block 1 sits and the adjustable support legs 7.

[0031] The embodiment shown in FIG. 1 includes a flow control gate 9 adjacent to the front portion 6. In this embodiment, the gate 9 is a front wall with a number of weep holes 21 formed therein. The flow control gate takes other forms in other embodiments. In some embodiments, the gate 9 includes movable parts, such as a sluice gate as in the embodiment of FIGS. 7-10, as opposed to the fixed gate with openings as in the embodiment of FIGS. 1-6. The function of this gate is described in additional detail below.

[0032] FIGS. 1, 2 and 3 show the adjustable support legs 7 of the splash block 1. In this embodiment, the legs 7 are connected to base 2 adjacent to the corners of the rear portion 5 in a hinging relationship so that the legs 7 can rotate out from the bottom. FIG. 2 shows one of the legs in a first, extended position and the other leg in a second, stowed position. The legs 7 allow the user to set the correct pitch to ensure that water will be diverted away from the foundation of the building. If the landscaping on which the splash block 1 will sit already has the correct pitch, the legs may simply be folded underneath the splash block 1, so that they are stowed into recessed portions of the base and not used. If the landscape pitch is incorrect, the legs 7 may be flipped out and, in this embodiment, have their length extended due to their telescoping features. This enables the user to optimize the pitch of the splash block 1 relative to the topography for each location.

[0033] In the embodiment shown in FIGS. 1-6, the adjustable legs 7 have a first portion 22 that is hingedly attached to the rear portion 4 of the base 2 via a pin 23. The pin 23 is arranged as a hinge around which the leg 7 rotates between a first position, in which the leg 7 extends downward to support the rear portion 5 of the base 2, and second position, in which the leg 7 is stowed underneath the base 2 and not used to support the base 2. In other embodiments, the first portion is attached by a bolt, rivet, axle, or any other type of hinge.

[0034] The support leg 7 further comprises a second portion 24 that engages with the first portion 22 in a telescoping relationship. In the embodiment shown, the second portion 24 is sized to fit inside the first portion 22 but, in other embodiments, the second portion fits on the outside of the first portion. In the embodiment shown, the first portion 22 has a number of holes 25 for use with a button spring clip mechanism 19 that is integral with the lower portion 24. The mechanism 19 is used to lock the telescoping legs at discrete heights. When a user wishes to increase the length of one of the support legs 7, he or she simply depresses the button and pulls the second portion 24 until the button engages another hole 25 at the desired position. Each of the holes 25 below the topmost hole represents an extended position in which the length of the leg 7 is increased, while the topmost hole 25 represents a retracted position in which the second portion provides minimal or no increase of the length of the leg 7. If a user wished to use the first portion 22 by itself, he or she could simply remove the second portion 24 of the support leg 7.

[0035] In other embodiments, other means for varying the lengths of the legs 7 are used, including a threaded shank that is twisted to increase or decrease the length of the legs. In that embodiment, a first portion of the leg is attached in a hinging relationship to the base, and a second portion of the leg is attached in a threaded relationship to the first portion. The user can increase the length of the leg by twisting the second portion relative to the first portion. To shorten the leg, the user twists the second portion in the opposite direction. In some embodiments, the first portion includes a hollow cylindrical opening containing the inner threading, while the second portion includes a rod part with the corresponding outer threading. In other embodiments, the threading relationship is opposite. In still other embodiments, telescoping rods with a cam-style lock, or other twist lock, or a lever lock, are used as the support legs. A variety of different means to secure telescoping rods at various positions are employed in other embodiments.

[0036] The embodiment of FIGS. 1-6 also includes threaded feet 8 that are used to achieve a fine adjustment between the discrete intervals of the button spring clip mechanism 19. In this embodiment, the feet 8 have a threaded rod that can be screwed into a correspondingly-threaded hole in the bottom of the second portion 24 of the leg 7. By twisting each foot 8, the length of each leg 7 and, consequently, the height of the rear portion 5 of the base 2 can be adjusted between the discrete levels of the button mechanism 19.

[0037] One advantage of this embodiment of the present invention is that, if the ground topography is irregular, each of the two legs 7 can be adjusted independently. A user can account for dips or rises in the landscaping which would otherwise cause the splash block to lean to one side or become unstable. Wider feet 20 at the bottom of the legs 7 and/or on the foot 8 may further aid stability.

[0038] The feature or features that enable height adjustment of the rear portion 5 of the splash block 1 to allow a user-selected pitch are a novel implementation for a splash block and help ensure that water flows out of front portion 6. The legs 7, fine adjustment feet 8 and button mechanism 19 can be made of any suitable material. In preferred embodiments, however, they are formed of lightweight, corrosion resistant metal like aluminum or galvanized steel, or of extruded or molded plastic.

[0039] In other embodiments, the support legs comprise only a single component hingedly attached to the base and that does not include height adjustment features. In still other embodiments, the support legs each comprise one leg portion component and one adjustable height foot, such as foot 8.

[0040] In other embodiments, the base has only a single adjustable support leg with a wide enough foot to stably support the entire base. In such designs, the support leg can be connected to the base by a single hinge or by multiple hinges at multiple points. The foot of the leg is large enough such that the base is adequately supported. Such a design is often easier to set up because it is easier to adjust three legs to support a platform (such as the base 2) without a wobbly condition. Those of skill in the art will understand that numerous design alternatives exist without departing from the spirit of the invention.

[0041] FIGS, 1, 2, and 4 show stakes 13 located adjacent the front portion 6 of the splash block 1. Stakes 13 help prevent the splash block 1 from movement by external forces, to aid in maintaining pitch. External forces could include natural forces, like excessive wind or rain, or unnatural forces like human interaction from children, landscapers or their equipment. In the embodiment shown, there are twin stakes 13 which rotate out from the underside of the base 2, in a similar fashion to the legs 7, and have arrowheads 14 along its length to help keep it from coming back up out of the ground once it has been inserted. The stakes 13 can be adjusted at varying angles and rubber mallet can be used on the front top of the side walls 3 to aid in driving the stakes 13 into the ground. Once the stakes 13 are set, the legs 7 can be adjusted to the correct pitch. In other embodiments, there is only a single stake at a position adjacent to the front portion 6. In other embodiments, the stake is designed to be driven through a hole in the base 2 or side walls 3. The stake is preferably made of a corrosion resistant metal, like aluminum, stainless, or galvanized steel.

[0042] FIGS. 1, 2, and 6 show an adjustable strap 15 that allows the user to secure the splash block 1 to the elbow typically installed at the bottom of downspouts, using pegs 16. FIG. 6 shows the splash block 1 secured to a downspout using the strap 15. In this embodiment, the pegs 16 are on the side walls 3 near the rear portion 5 of the splash block 1, but in other embodiments, are placed in the rear of the floor of the base 2 to accommodate the elbow sitting in the trough of the base 2. The arrangement of the pegs on the floor of the base can further secure the splash block 1 in place from movement by external forces. In this embodiment, the strap has three sets of holes corresponding to the three standard downspout sizes currently in use in the United States: 2''.times.3'', 3''.times.4'' and 4''.times.5''. The user can select the holes to use that correspond to the size of the downspout at a given location and insert the pegs 16 through the selected holes to secure the splash block 1 to the downspout. In some embodiments, the pegs 16 are a part of the molded or extruded plastic base 2 and the strap 15 is made from rubber. Stability is important in maintaining the correct pitch and ultimately ensuring water is diverted effectively from the foundation for long periods of time without additional user adjustment. Thus, the stakes 13 and strap 15 are important for ensuring that the pitch of the splash block is maintained after initial installation.

[0043] FIGS. 1, 4, 5, and 6 show also show the flow control features of the first embodiment of the present invention. The splash block 1 includes a flow control gate 9 that can restrict the flow of runoff exiting the front portion 6 of the splash block 1. In some embodiments, the gate 9 reduces the volume of fluid that exits in a given period of time (Le., slows the velocity at which the water exits the splash block 1). This prevents or reduces the wash-out or erosion of the landscaping at the exit point, as is a common problem with existing splash block products. In particular, conventional splash blocks commonly have a wider open end that seeks to disperse water over a wider area, but heavy water flow exiting the open end of the base can still wash away surrounding ground material due to the velocity of the water at exit. Such heavy water flow can create swales or ruts in established lawns, erode soil away from plantings, and over time, deteriorate building materials such as masonry and asphalt. That issue is further exacerbated if the pitch of the base is increased, which is what the present disclosure aims to do, making water flow control that much more important.

[0044] In the embodiment shown in FIGS. 1-6, the front portion 6 includes a gate 9 that comprises a wall with a plurality of holes 21 formed in it.

[0045] In this embodiment, the holes are generally square, but other shapes are used in other embodiments according to the designer's preference for the performance of the splash block. In this embodiment, the size of the holes 21 increases with increasing elevation from the trough of the base 2. The holes 21 that are in the lowest of the rows are the smallest, and the holes in each successively higher row get larger. This particular arrangement provides gradually higher flow rates as the amount of runoff increases. The embodiment shown includes five total rows of holes, with 39 holes in each row. That is, as the amount of runoff increases, the level of water in the base 2 will increase so that the higher rows of holes 21 begin to permit water to flow out of the base. As the volume of runoff increases, therefore, the splash block 1 of this embodiment permits gradually higher flow rates for water exiting the front portion of the block. In other embodiments, elongated holes, or slots, are used instead of the rows of square holes 21 shown in the figures or round holes. In some embodiments, the elongated holes are arranged with their long dimension essentially vertical and increase in size from the base 2 to the top of the wall. This design also permits increasing flow out of the block as the volume of runoff increases. In other embodiments, elongated holes, or slots, are arranged with their long dimension essentially horizontal and are disposed on the wall in the area in which the holes 21 are shown in FIGS. 1-6. In one embodiments, the slots have a height similar to the height of the holes 21, so that the size of the slots increases with increasing elevation from the base. The result is, again, increasing flow out of the splash block as the volume of runoff increases.

[0046] FIGS. 7, 8, 9, and 10 show a second embodiment of the present invention comprising splash block 101. Like the first embodiment, the splash block 101 includes a base 102 with side walls 103 and a rear portion 105 and a front portion 106. The block 101 also includes adjustable support legs 107, stakes 113, and adjustable strap 115 and corresponding pegs 116. The stakes 113 also includes arrowheads 114 for anchoring the stakes in the ground. The second embodiment differs from the first primarily in the type of flow control system used. In this embodiment, the block 101 includes a more traditional sluice gate 109 that uses a tension control system 120 for controlling the force with which the gate 109 will restrict water flow (i.e., the force required to open the gate).

[0047] FIGS. 8 and 9 show close-up views of the front portion 106 of the splash block 101 to provide a detailed view of the tension control system 120 and the sluice gate 109. FIG. 8 shows a view looking back from the front portion 106 toward the rear portion 105, while FIG. 9 shows a view looking from the rear portion 105 towards the front portion 106. The sluice gate is attached to the side walls in a hinging relationship with an axle (not shown) near the bottom of the gate. The sluice gate 109 includes a gate tab 110 for attachment to a tension spring 112 that holds the gate upright against a stop 117. The tension spring 112 is connected to a tension control knob 111, which permits the user to adjust the amount of tension in the spring 112 by turning the knob. The tension control knob 111 comprises a threaded shank that can screw into a threaded hole in the top of one of the side walls 113 of the splash block 101. On the shank is a hole that the tension spring 112 hooks into. The user can then turn the knob 111 which will increase the tension on the spring 112 by wrapping more of the end of the spring around the shank. Twisting the knob 111 the other direction will unwrap the end of the spring and decrease tension.

[0048] The sluice gate 109 and tension control system 120 function to keep the water in the base 102 of the splash block 101 until the pressure of the water becomes great enough to push the gate 109 open and allow the water to exit the splash block 101 at front portion 106. Increasing the tension acting on the sluice gate 109 increases the restriction of flow on the water--meaning that less water moves out of the front portion 106 per unit time. With this system it is also possible to use the sluice gate 109 as a weir by setting the tension high enough so that the gate does not open under the pressure of the water. In this situation, the flow of water is restricted because the only way for water to exit is by flowing over the top of the gate 109 as water collects in the base 102. This will achieve a similar result as the sluice method by slowing the water flow and allowing a graduated amount to be disbursed as more water enters the base 102.

[0049] In other embodiments, the sluice gate includes a hinge point near the top portion of the sluice gate, such that fluid exiting the block pushes against the bottom of the gate to open it. The sluice gate includes an axle near the top of the gate which acts as the hinge point, and the gate is weighted so that it provides a restriction to the flow of water in place of the tension control spring.

[0050] The tension spring 112 is preferably made of a corrosion-resistant material, like aluminum, stainless steel, or galvanized steel. The knob 111 is preferably molded of plastic or rubber over the head of the attached shank, which is preferably forged and machined of a corrosion-resistant metal.

[0051] Importantly, the tension spring in the embodiment of FIGS. 7-9 is selected such that its maximum tension corresponds to the operating range of the supporting legs 107 to ensure that that water does not backflow through the rear portion 105. That is, the tension applied to the sluice gate is such that the flow restriction is not so great in comparison to the pitch of the splash block as to cause water to flow out of the rear portion 105 instead of the front portion 106.

[0052] In other embodiments that incorporate a sluice gate, the tension control system could include a tension spring connected to an adjustable lever and pegs integral to the splash block at predetermined distances from the gate to correlate to a few standard tension settings. In other embodiments, user control is eliminated completely by using an in-line tension spring along the axle about which the axle hinges, or a weighted gate as discussed above that uses gravity to offset the pressure of the water instead of externally supplied tension.

[0053] In this embodiment, control of the sluice gate tension is largely manual. The user is able to set the tension control with knob 111 as frequently as he or she desires. This gives the user the ability to select the correct level of tension for each splash block location, as different locations may encounter varying degrees of water flow. The amount of water flow varies based on the size of the roof, the size of the gutters, the number and size of the downspouts, and the exposure of that roof and gutter to the elements. While users can change the settings as many times as they want, the intention is to set a tension that is appropriate to that location once when first installing the splash block 1 and then simply allowing it to operate without further intervention. It is conceivable that if users are aware of an impending storm that is expected to deliver above average rainfall, that they could adjust the tension setting before the storm, but not necessary. In other embodiments, the control of sluice gates is pre-selected, to save the user time.

[0054] Referring to FIGS. 7 and 10, multiple splash blocks 101 can be connected in series using the keyhole slots 118 on the front portion 106 and peg attachments 119 (shown in FIG. 10) on the rear portion 105. Such an arrangement enables water to be diverted further from a building foundation. In this embodiment, the keyhole slots 118 have been designed to be large enough to account for the first splash block in the series to be at an angle, which would require that the peg attachments enter the slots 118 obliquely. This design is advantageous in situations that require rainfall runoff to be moved a longer distance to the site drainage areas.

[0055] It should be understood that the foregoing is illustrative and not limiting, and that obvious modifications may be made by those skilled in the art without departing from the spirit of the invention. Accordingly, reference should be made primarily to the accompanying claims, rather than the foregoing specification, to determine the scope of the invention.

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