US20040237445A1 - Materials and methods for constructing a block wall - Google Patents

Materials and methods for constructing a block wall Download PDF

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Publication number
US20040237445A1
US20040237445A1 US10/769,954 US76995404A US2004237445A1 US 20040237445 A1 US20040237445 A1 US 20040237445A1 US 76995404 A US76995404 A US 76995404A US 2004237445 A1 US2004237445 A1 US 2004237445A1
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block
blocks
construction
courses
course
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US10/769,954
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John Kliethermes
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Kliethermes John C.
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Priority to US10/769,954 priority patent/US20040237445A1/en
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    • EFIXED CONSTRUCTIONS
    • E04BUILDING
    • E04CSTRUCTURAL ELEMENTS; BUILDING MATERIALS
    • E04C1/00Building elements of block or other shape for the construction of parts of buildings
    • E04C1/39Building elements of block or other shape for the construction of parts of buildings characterised by special adaptations, e.g. serving for locating conduits, for forming soffits, cornices, or shelves, for fixing wall-plates or door-frames, for claustra
    • E04C1/395Building elements of block or other shape for the construction of parts of buildings characterised by special adaptations, e.g. serving for locating conduits, for forming soffits, cornices, or shelves, for fixing wall-plates or door-frames, for claustra for claustra, fences, planting walls, e.g. sound-absorbing
    • EFIXED CONSTRUCTIONS
    • E02HYDRAULIC ENGINEERING; FOUNDATIONS; SOIL SHIFTING
    • E02DFOUNDATIONS; EXCAVATIONS; EMBANKMENTS; UNDERGROUND OR UNDERWATER STRUCTURES
    • E02D29/00Independent underground or underwater structures; Retaining walls
    • E02D29/02Retaining or protecting walls
    • E02D29/0225Retaining or protecting walls comprising retention means in the backfill
    • E02D29/0233Retaining or protecting walls comprising retention means in the backfill the retention means being anchors
    • EFIXED CONSTRUCTIONS
    • E04BUILDING
    • E04BGENERAL BUILDING CONSTRUCTIONS; WALLS, e.g. PARTITIONS; ROOFS; FLOORS; CEILINGS; INSULATION OR OTHER PROTECTION OF BUILDINGS
    • E04B2/00Walls, e.g. partitions, for buildings; Wall construction with regard to insulation; Connections specially adapted to walls
    • E04B2/02Walls, e.g. partitions, for buildings; Wall construction with regard to insulation; Connections specially adapted to walls built-up from layers of building elements
    • E04B2002/0256Special features of building elements
    • E04B2002/0263Building elements for making angled walls

Abstract

A construction block for use with other like construction blocks to build a retaining wall. The block has substantially parallel top and bottom surfaces, and two substantially parallel sides. The front of the block is “bullet shaped,” with a front nose surface being substantially perpendicular to the top, bottom, and side surfaces. Angled front sides join the nose surface to the sides, forming a 45° angle with the front and side surfaces. The rear portion of the block is generally a mirror of the front portion, with a rear surface that is substantially parallel to the front nose surface and substantially perpendicular to the top, bottom, and side surfaces. Angled rear “tail” surfaces connect the side surfaces to the rear surface at a 45° angle. The edges where the top surface joins the side and front surfaces may be beveled. At least one hole is located in the front portion of the block, passing vertically through the block from the top surface through the bottom surface. At least one hole may additionally be located in the rear portion of the block. The rear hole may be open to the rear rather than being fully closed. Multiple front holes and multiple rear holes may be provided.

Description

  • This application claims priority from applicant's copending application Ser. No. 60/444,067, which is incorporated herein by reference in its entirety.[0001]
  • FIELD OF THE INVENTION
  • The present invention relates generally to block wall systems, and more particularly to a construction block for use interlocked with other like construction blocks to build a wall. Methods of constructing walls with the inventive construction block are also disclosed. [0002]
  • BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION
  • Retaining walls have long been constructed from a variety of common building elements such as railroad ties, timber, bricks and stones. In recent years, construction blocks have been developed which are specifically adapted for the construction of retaining walls. The design of these construction blocks is often intricate and far removed from the simple concrete rectangular shaped blocks long used in the construction of warehouses, basements and the like. For example, current retaining wall construction blocks do not require mortar between the blocks, instead employing various interlocking arrangements and often times used in conjunction with the adjacent land to provide a decorative, yet strong retaining wall. [0003]
  • The degree of skill required to build a retaining wall depends on the particular design of the block. For example, when building a retaining wall it is desirable for the stacked blocks to be set back from one another, thereby resulting in a canted, rather than vertical, wall which fully supports the adjacent earthen structure. The most simple of blocks require the skill of an artisan to provide the proper setback when building the retaining wall. Other blocks include frontal ridges or a tongue-in-groove construction for locating like blocks a fixed distance back from one another to provide a predetermined amount of setback. Still other blocks include holes extending through the block so that when stacked upon other like blocks, anchoring pins may be inserted through the aligned holes to result in a strengthened wall. See, for example, U.S. Pat. No. 4,996,813. [0004]
  • There is always a need for an improved retaining wall block design. For example it would be advantageous if a plurality of blocks could be set in place before they are attached to a foundation. However, current concrete molded blocks and methods for their use require that vertical enforcing elements be installed in the foundation before the blocks are stacked. This method is laborious since each block must be lifted over the vertical rods connecting the block to the courses below. It also slows construction in that care must be taken to ensure that the vertical enforcing elements are properly aligned within the foundation before the blocks can be installed to form the finished wall. [0005]
  • Rather than requiring the need for a plumb bond or level to ensure proper alignment of each block it would be advantageous to supply a simple means for properly aligning each block without the need for resort to these tools as each block is placed. Retaining walls constructed using currently available molded concrete blocks require the time consuming and skill intensive alignment of each member to ensure that the blocks are properly aligned to construct a robust and visually pleasing finished wall. Therefore, it would also be desirable if the blocks were constructed such that a wall could be constructed of these blocks using simpler more efficient methods for aligning the blocks. [0006]
  • Retaining walls are often constructed in a setback (canted) manner such that successively higher courses are set back away from the face of the course beneath it. This may be done for structural or aesthetic reasons. Current molded concrete blocks and methods for using these to build canted walls requires considerable skill and time to ensure that the finished wall is structurally sound and presents a visually pleasing uniform face. Therefore, it would be desirable for the blocks used to build canted walls to be complete with a simple means of ensuring their attachment to adjacent courses and to be readily and uniformly offset by design, without recourse to time-consuming and skill intensive labor. [0007]
  • It is often advantageous and even necessary that walls constructed at least in part by concrete molded blocks can be anchored to adjacent bodies such as the earth behind the wall or a concrete wall behind the block wall. This is especially important with retaining walls wherein at least one purpose for the wall is to hold back earth abutting the back of the retaining wall. With most concrete molded blocks used to construct retaining walls, the courses may be ‘tied’ to the earth behind the wall by wire or other means placed between selected courses of block. These earth ties are generally held in the wall solely by friction between the tie and the courses of block it is engaged with on the wall side. This system relies on the weight of the courses of block above the tied layer to ensure that the ties do not slip out from between the block. Ties inserted further up the height of a given wall will have fewer courses of overlying block holding them in place. The further up the wall such ties are used the more vulnerable the tie will be to failure. That is, earth ties currently used with molded concrete block walls, become less reliable at precisely the location in the wall where the ties may be most necessary. Therefore, it would be advantageous if a molded concrete block were made and used such that earth ties could be more effectively attached to any course of blocks with an increase in security over existing blocks and molded concrete wall systems. [0008]
  • It may be advantageous to secure a retaining wall to a portion of earth situated beyond the natural slope of the earth held back by the wall. The natural slope of a given material is at least partially determined by the coefficient of friction of the material comprising the material. Retaining walls often used to hold earth in place located stable slope of the earth and the back of the wall. Currently used molded concrete blocks and retaining walls constructed using these bocks provide no ready means for securing the wall to sections of earth far enough behind the wall to ensure the integrity of the wall. Therefore it would advantageous is a molded block and methods for constructing wall of these blocks provided a means of anchoring at least a portion of such a wall to sections of the earth far enough behind the back of the wall to ensure the wall's structural integrity. [0009]
  • Current molded concrete blocks, and methods for using these blocks to construct retaining walls, are too labor intensive, increasing the cost of such structures. Currently available molded concrete block retaining walls are often not robust enough to adequately resist the lateral forces imposed on the walls. This is especially true over a long period of time and upon exposure of the wall to additional forces such as, wind, rain, snow, freeze-thaw cycles, shaking, and additional loads imposed by for example an adjacent road or other structure, to name a few. [0010]
  • Some retaining wall systems employ three or more different block designs in the construction of a retaining wall. In U.S. Pat. No. 4,996,813, a common sound block was disclosed which could be used for both the straight sections and the corner sections of a retaining wall. Yet other common block designs are desirable as well. For example, it is desirable to have a common construction block which both interlocks with and adjusts relative to adjacent like blocks to form both straight and setback walls. [0011]
  • With these thoughts in mind, an improved retaining wall block is needed. The block should be of a common design and should interlock with other like construction blocks to form a retaining wall. Preferably, the block should be easily produced using standard concrete molding techniques and masonry machinery. Ideally, the block would be abutted to adjacent like blocks to form both straight and setback walls. Such blocks should be readily aligned, both within and between courses. These blocks should be easily attached to the earth or foundation beneath the bottom most course of the wall. These blocks should be suitable for the construction of reinforced walls adequately anchored to other blocks with the wall and to structures adjacent to the wall such as the earth or other walls, such as concrete walls, adjacent to the molded block wall. [0012]
  • SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION
  • Briefly describing one embodiment of the present invention, there is provided a construction block for use with other like construction blocks to build a retaining wall. The block has substantially parallel top and bottom surfaces, and two substantially parallel sides, with the sides being substantially perpendicular to the top and bottom surfaces. The front of the block is “bullet shaped,” with a front nose surface being substantially perpendicular to the top, bottom, and side surfaces. Angled front sides join the nose surface to the sides, forming a 45° angle with the front and side surfaces. The rear portion of the block is generally a mirror of the front portion, with a rear surface that is substantially parallel to the front nose surface and substantially perpendicular to the top, bottom, and side surfaces. Angled rear “tail” surfaces connect the side surfaces to the rear surface at a 45° angle. The edges where the top surface joins the side and front surfaces may be beveled. [0013]
  • At least one hole is located in the front portion of the block, passing vertically through the block from the top surface through the bottom surface. Preferably, at least one hole is additionally located in the rear portion of the block. The rear hole may be open to the rear rather than being fully closed. Multiple front holes and multiple rear holes may be provided. [0014]
  • In one aspect of the present invention the block has one or more grooves in one or more of its surfaces to facilitate anchoring the block. In another embodiment the block has one or more cut out portions to facilitate anchoring the block. [0015]
  • Walls, including retaining walls, may be constructed from the blocks by placing multiple blocks front-to-end or side-to-side. The fact that the rear surfaces correspond in shape (i.e., mirror) to the front surface of the block facilitates the front-to-end placement. With the disclosed shape the front portion of one block fits snugly into the rear portion of the adjacent block. Courses of block may be laid, one upon the other, to construct a wall. Successive courses may be laid with the blocks facing the same direction as the blocks in the course immediately below it, or they may be laid with the blocks facing in the opposite direction as the blocks in the course immediately below it. With either method, the blocks may be arranged such that the hole(s) of each block line up with the hole(s) of the block immediately below it. When the blocks are so aligned, successive courses may be tied together by running stabilizing members through the holes and securing the stabilizing members to the uppermost and lowermost blocks (or to something above the uppermost block or below the lowermost block). The courses may be aligned by aligning the holes in the blocks, such as, for example, with a rigid tool or vertical-stabilizing element extending through a plurality of courses. [0016]
  • Canted, or “setback” walls may be constructed from these blocks by stacking a succeeding course such that it covers only a portion of the course below it. When the blocks have a multiplicity of holes arranged either front-to-back or side-to-side, the holes may be aligned such that successive courses can be tied together through their holes. When three holes are provided in each block, a course may thus be tied to two courses above the block, and two courses below the block. This makes for a particularly strong wall. [0017]
  • The optional grooves in one surface of the block, such as, for example, in the top surface, may be used to hold a stabilizing element, such as a horizontal stabilizing element. When the block has beveled edges a similar result may be obtained using the beveled surface. [0018]
  • In one embodiment of the invention, vertical stabilizers are affixed to the earth or foundation beneath the first course of block comprising the wall. Vertical stabilizers may be rigid members such as metal rods and the like, or flexible member such as metal or composite cables. These vertical-stabilizers may extend between a plurality of courses including from the foundation to the top most course of the wall. They may be grouted into place. Vertical-stabilizers may also be connected to horizontal stabilizers such as those running between blocks with a given course and/or to ties connecting the wall to adjacent structures such as the earth or other walls. [0019]
  • In one embodiment of the present invention, vertical-stabilizers are added to the completed walls or completed portions of wall after succeeding courses of blocks are already layered upon one another. A plate longer than the width of an oblong hole in a wall block but shorter than the long axis of the oblong hole is affixed to a rod. The rod is inserted through the oblong holes in at least one course of block, and is then turned such that the long axis of the plate engages the narrow section of the lower surface of a lower course of block. Once engaged the rod may be tensioned by placing an upward force on the rod causing the plate on the rod to engage the bottom surface of the lower course of block. This method is especially useful when it is desirable to increase the integrity of the wall by connecting the courses vertically. [0020]
  • In another embodiment of the invention, rods with end plates, or soil screws are affixed to the one end of a rod. The rods are then inserted through the oblong holes in at least one course of block and turned into the earth beneath the lowest course of block comprising the wall. Once securely engaged to the earth the upper portions of these rods may be tensioned against an upper surface of a block. This method is especially useful when there is no concrete foundation beneath the first course of block and it is desirable to install a plurality of courses before securing these courses to one another by use of a vertical-stabilizer. [0021]
  • One embodiment of the invention provides molds for making concrete blocks with variable surface characteristics. Molds are made with removable elements that allow a mold with the same over-all outside shape to produce blocks with different surfaces. For example the upper portion of the mold can be fitted with inserts that produce a block with a chamfered edge. In another embodiment a mold for producing two molded concrete blocks in the same mold can be fitted with a triangle shaped insert that produces a pair of blocks that when split have a total of six smooth front end faces. [0022]
  • In another embodiment of the invention the multi-block mold body is not fitted with the triangle adapter. The mold configured in this manner will produce two blocks that have a side running the entire length of the block and a shorter parallel side joining the front most face and short side. Such blocks may be split to form blocks with two forward transitional faces. Blocks produced by spitting-out the second face joining the forward face and side the split-out side face will have a textured joining face. [0023]
  • Further objects and advantages of the preferred embodiments will become apparent from the following drawings and written description. [0024]
  • BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS.
  • FIGS. 1A, 1B and [0025] 1C illustrate a top view, a front perspective view, and a rear perspective view of one block made in accordance with one embodiment of the invention.
  • FIG. 2A illustrates a top view of two blocks abutting one another in accordance with one embodiment of the invention. [0026]
  • FIG. 2B illustrates a top view of three blocks abutting one another in accordance with another embodiment of the invention. [0027]
  • FIG. 3 illustrates perspective views of blocks made in accordance with the invention in different courses overlying one another. [0028]
  • FIG. 4 illustrates a perspective view of multiple courses of a wall, showing a vertical reinforcement element. [0029]
  • FIG. 5 illustrates a side view of wall constructed from blocks made in accordance with the invention showing two forms of vertical reinforcement. [0030]
  • FIG. 6 illustrates a perspective view a block attached to a reinforcing element. [0031]
  • FIGS. 7A, 7B, and [0032] 7C illustrates a method for providing a vertical stabilizing element through multiple courses of blocks.
  • FIG. 8 illustrates a vertical stabilizing element made of multiple, coupled threaded rods. [0033]
  • FIG. 9 illustrates a block of the present invention being anchored to a foundation. [0034]
  • FIG. 10 illustrates a top view of multiple blocks used to make a FIG. 11 illustrates a top view of two blocks forming a bend in accordance with one embodiment of the invention. [0035]
  • FIG. 12 illustrates a top view of two blocks forming a 90° corner in accordance with one embodiment of the invention. [0036]
  • FIG. 13 illustrates blocks in adjacent courses that face in opposite directions yet form a 45° bend in a wall. [0037]
  • FIG. 14 illustrates a top view of a block having multiple holes in the front half of the block. [0038]
  • FIG. 15 illustrates a sectional view of a canted wall showing the presence of vertical reinforcing elements within the wall. [0039]
  • FIG. 16 illustrates a perspective view of a block of the present invention, showing the presence of a channel for positioning a support member. [0040]
  • FIG. 17 illustrates blocks using lateral supports made in accordance with one embodiment of the invention. [0041]
  • FIG. 18 illustrates a block having multiple holes in the front half of the block, and using lateral supports to stabilize the block. [0042]
  • FIG. 19 illustrates a top view of blocks with a front to back groove made in accordance with one embodiment of the invention. [0043]
  • FIG. 20 illustrates a block wall engaged with a grid to stabilize the element. [0044]
  • FIG. 21 illustrates a block having a cut out in the side of the block. [0045]
  • FIG. 22 illustrates angle irons that may be used with the block of FIG. 21. [0046]
  • FIGS. 23-27 illustrate alternative embodiments of certain aspects of the present invention. [0047]
  • FIG. 28 illustrates alternative embodiments for positioning multiple blocks to form columns, parapets, or turns in a wall. [0048]
  • DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENTS
  • For purposes of promoting an understanding of the principles of the invention, reference will now be made to preferred embodiments, and specific language will be used to describe the same. It will nevertheless be understood that no limitation of the scope of the invention is thereby intended, such alterations, and further modifications in the illustrated device, and such further applications of the principles of the invention as illustrated therein being contemplated as would normally occur to one skilled in the are to which the invention relates. [0049]
  • Referring now to the drawings, FIG. 1 shows a construction block according to one embodiment of the present invention. Construction block [0050] 10 has a substantially planar top surface 11 and a substantially planar bottom surface 13 that is parallel to top surface 11. The block has two side surfaces 12 a and 12 b that are substantially parallel to one another and substantially perpendicular to the top and bottom surfaces.
  • The front of the block has a nose portion extending beyond the side surfaces and ending in a front surface [0051] 14. Front angle surfaces 16 help define the nose by joining side surfaces 12 a and 12 b to front surface 14, preferably at a 45° angle.
  • The back of the block is shaped so as to accept the front of a corresponding block. Accordingly, the back of the block includes rear surface [0052] 15, which is connected to side surfaces 12 a and 12 b by rear angle surfaces 17. One or more of the edges, and particularly the edges where the top surface abuts a side or nose surface, may be beveled or chamfered, as shown by edges 12 c, 14 c, and 16 c.
  • There is at least one hole through the block, such as front hole [0053] 18 shown in FIGS. 1A-1C. In one preferred embodiment, there are multiple holes, which may be arranged in substantially any manner. Preferably, one of the holes is located at the rear of the block, intersecting rear surface 15. Such a hole 19 may be open to the back, as shown in FIG. 1. Preferably the holes extend completely through the block, from the top surface to the bottom surface. In the most preferred embodiments one or more of the holes is oblong as shown in FIGS. 1A-1C.
  • The blocks may be sized so as to be handled by an individual when constructing a wall, such as the size generally associated with common concrete blocks, although larger or smaller blocks may also be constructed. In one preferred embodiment the block is about 24 inches long, 18 inches wide, and 8 inches high. In another preferred embodiment the block is about 18 inches long, 12 inches wide, and 6 inches high. [0054]
  • The blocks may be made from any material appropriate for use in a construction project. Preferred blocks are made of concrete. [0055]
  • The blocks may be assembled together to form a wall or other construction project by placing multiple blocks end-to-end or side-to-side. For example, FIG. 2A shows two blocks abutted in a front-to-back orientation in accordance with in one embodiment of the invention. Blocks [0056] 20 a and 20 b are positioned front to rear to form a pair of abutted blocks. Blocks 20 a and 20 b are positioned such that the front surface 24 b of block 20 b abuts the rear surface 25 a of block 20 a. The front angled surfaces 26 b of block 20 b abut the rear angled surfaces 27 a of block 20 a. In one preferred embodiment of the invention the nose 24 b of block 20 b abutting the rear 25 a of block 20 a forms a semi-oblong space 29 extending from the top of the pair to the bottom of the pair. A plurality of blocks may be positioned nose to end such as the blocks in FIG. 2A to form courses of any desired length.
  • Alternatively, multiple blocks [0057] 20 a, 20 b, 20 c, etc., may be laid side-to-side as shown in FIG. 2B to form a course of a wall.
  • Regardless of whether courses of blocks are formed by placing blocks front-to-end or side-to-side, it is to be appreciated that courses of blocks can be layered to build a wall or other construction project. For example, FIG. 3 shows one embodiment of the invention wherein courses of blocks are layered upon one another to form a wall. Any number of courses of blocks can be layered upon one another. In one embodiment the front to back alignment of blocks in adjacent courses alternates from course to course. In another embodiment of the invention the front to back alignment of blocks within a course is the same in all courses. It is also within the scope of the invention to use both course orientations within the same wall. [0058]
  • In one preferred embodiment of the invention, holes [0059] 18 and/or 19 in at least adjacent courses are aligned as shown in FIG. 3. When the holes are aligned, a tool sized and shaped to fit into the hole may be driven through aligned holes in consecutive adjacent courses forcing blocks with a given course and between adjacent courses into a snug and planar fit.
  • Vertical, horizontal, and lateral stability are always of concern in wall construction, and especially in the construction of retaining walls. This is particularly true in mortarless wall construction. Currently available mortarless wall systems use simple friction between courses to stabilize walls or on a system of course to course lips and grooves to reduce vertical or lateral shifting between courses within a wall. [0060]
  • One technique sometimes used the construction of mortorless retaining wall is to insert vertical rods in the foundation beneath the lowest course of block in a wall. Blocks with some form of void in the block body are then lifted over the top of the fixed vertical rods and set in place. The technique is both skill and labor intensive. The rods must be properly spaced when the foundation is poured to correspond to voids in the construction blocks. And once course building begins, blocks must be lifted over the top of each vertical rod greatly increasing the labor and expense of constructing wall using this technique. Clearly then, there is a need for a system of retaining wall construction that is less labor and skill intensive and creates in finished wall with greater stability than the mortarless systems currently in use. [0061]
  • The present invention provides molded blocks that have features that aid in securing courses made with these blocks to other corresponding courses, resulting in finished walls with excellent vertical stability. For example, FIG. 4 shows overlying courses of blocks that may be secured to one another in accordance with one embodiment of the invention. Vertical supporting elements [0062] 40 are inserted through the aligned oblong spaces 48 and/or 49 running through courses of blocks to add strength and stability to structures formed from the blocks. Once in place the vertical reinforcing elements can be joined to the blocks by adding grout to the oblong spaces, thus further securing reinforcing element 40.
  • In one aspect of the invention a plurality of blocks are positioned in layered courses of blocks and joined together with vertical reinforcing elements [0063] 50 to form walls as illustrated in FIG. 5. The vertical reinforcing elements 50 may extend through all the courses of block in a wall, through select courses of block in the wall as shown by reinforcing elements 55, or any combination thereof.
  • Those skilled in the art will recognize that the installation of virtually any vertical stabilizers between any number of courses within a wall will add stability to the wall. It is within the scope of the invention to use vertical stabilizers/reinforcing elements to join any set of adjacent courses or any plurality of layered courses made with the inventive blocks, and to insert these elements wherever and whenever it is advantageous to do so. [0064]
  • In another embodiment of the invention, the vertical stabilizers may be fixed to a concrete foundation beneath the lowest course of blocks, or to earth or stone beneath the first course of blocks. In such embodiments the vertical reinforcing elements may extend up through only part of the first course, through all of the courses in the wall, or through any intermediate number of courses in the wall. [0065]
  • Vertical reinforcing elements also referred to herein as vertical stabilizers for the practice of this invention includes metal or composite rods, bars, straps, cables, and the like. Vertical stabilizers suitable for the practice of this invention also include, sand, gravel, cement, glue, grout, and the like that can be set into oblong spaces in adjacent courses. While the invention is illustrated primarily using blocks [0066] 10, it is also within the scope of the invention to use any block with oblong spaces through adjacent courses and the same corresponding front to back shape as block 10.
  • Referring now to FIG. 6, a construction block may be provided with a device for attaching a vertical reinforcing element made in accordance with one embodiment of the invention. Accordingly, construction block [0067] 60 includes a securing device 61 deigned to attach to a vertical-reinforcing element 62. In the illustrated embodiment securing device 61 comprises a plate 64 attached on one side to block 60 and the other side to threaded nut 66. The vertical element 62 is a threaded rod that is joined to block 60 by turning the rod 62 into nut 66. The plate 64 may be joined to the block by any suitable means known in the art for joining blocks and supports such as gluing using for example epoxy glue, nailing, riveting, screwing, or casting the plate as part of the molded block.
  • In one preferred embodiment of the invention, block [0068] 60 is used as a first, lowermost course. The course of blocks 60 are preferably set in or on a concrete foundation, or in or on a layer of prepared earth or stone. Once in place, corresponding courses of block are layered above blocks 60. After any number of courses are installed, a vertical stabilizer rod 62 may be inserted through the oblong spaces in overlying courses and engaged to device 66. This allows the wall to be constructed without having to lift succeeding courses of block over an upstanding vertical stabilizer. As may be appreciated though, vertical-reinforcing device 62 may be attached to block 60 before overlying courses are constructed.
  • In another embodiment of the invention the locking device of block [0069] 60 is a loop and the verticals support device is cable or strap with a hook that is inserted through oblong spaces in the courses overlying the loop and attached to the loop. Once the hook on the cable is engaged to the loop the cable can be tensioned from above, drawing the intervening courses closer together, thereby strengthening the wall.
  • Referring now to FIGS. 7A, 7B and [0070] 7C, a device for securing a vertical reinforcing element may comprise an oblong plate at one end of the reinforcing element. In that embodiment plate 71 for engaging the bottom surface of a block 70 is affixed to a vertical-stabilizer 72. The plate 71 is sized and shaped so that it can be inserted through the oblong spaces 78 in successive courses of blocks. Because an oblong hole 78 is longer along one axis than the other, plate 71 can be sized and shaped such that when the plate is inserted through an oblong space in a course of blocks and turned (preferably by about 90°) it will engage the lower face of block 70. Thus, vertical-reinforcing element 72 can be tensioned to compress intervening courses of blocks. Compressed courses are more stable then non-compressed courses and vertical compression of course can also be used to secure horizontal and lateral stabilizing elements to create a wall with an integrated stabilizing system.
  • Referring now to FIG. 8, a modular vertical stabilizer may be provided according to another embodiment of the present invention. In such an embodiment, a vertical reinforcing element comprises bars [0071] 80, bar couplers/connectors 88, and a tensioning mechanism. Bars 80 and connectors 88 are threaded into one another to create continuous vertical stabilizer of any advantageous length. The reinforcing element may also include threaded nuts 82 for securing and positioning couplers 88. In some embodiments an anchor plate 86 may also be included. Anchor plate 86 may be secured with anchor nut 84 and/or top nut 85. The stabilizer can be tensioned turning the anchor nut 84 against anchor plate 86.
  • Walls built with these vertical-reinforcing elements can be stabilized in sections as the wall is being built. This reduces the risk that a wall will topple while it is under construction. It also provides a means of adding vertical reinforcing element to a wall without the need for lifting blocks in succeeding courses over vertical rods extending upward from lower courses. [0072]
  • Referring now to FIG. 9, a stabilizing element [0073] 92 may extend through the lowermost block in a course of blocks and may be anchored into the ground/foundation 96. The oblong spaces in the blocks may be used as a template to drill holes in the foundation 96 for the insertion of vertical-stabilizers into the foundation. Vertical reinforcing elements 92 extending up to any advantageous height may be inserted into the foundation.
  • In still another preferred embodiment of the invention, after holes [0074] 94 are drilled in the foundation 96 a cartridge of epoxy is left in each hole. Succeeding courses of blocks are then layered over the foundation, taking care to align oblong spaces in each course with corresponding spaces in adjacent courses and the holes 94 drilled in the foundation. Once a number of aligned courses are in place, a vertical stabilizer 92 is inserted through spaces 98 in the blocks and is “drilled” down into foundation holes 94, rupturing the cartridge of epoxy and activating the epoxy to effectively glue vertical-stabilizer 92 to foundation 96. The rest of the vertical-stabilizer 90 is joined to blocks in the wall by grout in spaces 98. This method allows courses to be joined to one another and eliminates the need to lift blocks in new courses over vertical support elements that are protruding upwards from lower courses. It also frees the oblong spaces in each course to be used to align the blocks within the courses.
  • It is well known in the art that undulating walls and walls with internal and external corners are more stable then simple straight walls of equivalent design. Accordingly, the blocks of the present invention may be used to build undulating walls and/or to build columns or pilasters into walls, thus enhancing wall strength and stability. In addition to adding strength and stability to walls, undulations may be used to conceal adjacent structures such as concrete pilasters or columns, or for essentially aesthetic purposes. [0075]
  • Referring now to FIG. 10, walls having 45-degree turns/corners can be made in accordance with one embodiment of the invention. In particular, blocks [0076] 100 a, 100 b, and 100 c may be placed such that front angled surface 106 b abuts rear surface 105 a of the block ahead of it, while front surface 104 b abuts rear angled surface 107 a. This allows block 100 b to be placed at a 45° angle with respect to block 100 a. To return the wall to its original orientation, block 100 c may be placed such that front angled surface 106 c abuts rear surface 105 b of the block ahead of it, while front surface 104 c abuts rear angled surface 107 b. This allows block 100 c to be placed at a 45° angle with respect to block 100 b, returning the orientation of block 100 c to the orientation of block 100 a. The width and length of the offset can be varied to create an undulation of any desired size. Moreover, any number of undulations may be built into a wall using this technique, constrained only by the length of the wall and the dimensions of the block.
  • Oblong spaces in overlapping courses of blocks laid at a 45-degree angle may overlay one another as was shown for straight walls above. Vertical reinforcing elements may then be inserted through adjacent oblong spaces in the courses with 45-degree corners to join these courses to one another. [0077]
  • In still another embodiment of the invention the front of a block can be rounded by removing material from corners [0078] 111 a and/or 111 b of a block. The front of a rounded block can be abutted to the back of any other block to form any angle up to and including 45 degrees. The front of a rounded block can also be abutted to the back of a block modified as shown below to form any angle up to 90 degrees.
  • In another embodiment of the invention a combination of blocks may be used to form a 90-degree corner FIG. 12. To form such an angle, one of the tail “fins” [0079] 121 is removed from block 120 a as shown in FIG. 12. This forms a block with parallel sides having differing lengths, and allows a second block 120 b to be positioned behind the modified block 120 a such that one side 122 of block 120 b abuts the rear portion 125 a of block 120 a. Front angled surface 126 b abuts rear angled surface 127 a as shown in the Figure.
  • It is to be appreciated that blocks may be positioned to provide a 45° angle or a 90° angle in a wall even when the courses of blocks do not all run in the same direction. As shown in FIG. 13, holes [0080] 18 in adjacent courses may still line up when an undulation in a wall is provided.
  • Referring now to FIG. 14, construction block [0081] 140 includes sides 142, front surface 144, front angled surface 146, rear surface 145, and rear angled surface 147. Opening 149 is included in rear surface 145, and holes 148 a, 148 b, and 148 c are included in the front half of the block. Most preferably, holes 148 a, 148 b, and 148 c are equally spaced oblong holes running through the block from the top surface through the bottom. As with prior embodiments, block 140 may have chamfered edges as shown.
  • In one embodiment of the present invention, blocks [0082] 10 are used to construct walls with a flat face substantially as previously described. Alternatively, a canted or setback wall may be constructed as shown, for example, in FIG. 15. In that Figure, blocks 150 a, etc., within each course are positioned front to back such that the front of one block abuts the back of preceding block in the course as shown in FIG. 2. Adjacent courses 152 a, 153 a, etc., may be offset, preferably to the side of each block, by positioning successive courses such that the outer hole 158 b of an upper course is positioned over the center hole 158 a of the course immediately below it. Then, reinforcing elements 155 may be positioned through holes 158. Tying the course together with the vertical reinforcing elements 155 allows the canted wall to remain exceptionally strong.
  • It is one object of this invention to provide materials and methods for the construction of walls for use as sound barriers or retaining walls that do not require the use of mortar. One feature of the blocks of the present invention is that they may be used to construct an integrated wall system that is effectively stabilized against vertical, horizontal, lateral and shear forces, including such forces that may be produced by wind and/or earth. [0083]
  • Referring now to FIG. 16, block [0084] 160 may include a channel 163 in top surface 161. In the illustrated embodiment channel 163 extends laterally, although channels in other directions may also or alternatively be provided. When such a channel is included a stabilizer may extend from oblong space 168 to the outside of the block. Thus, the inventive blocks may be joined to adjacent structures such as other walls or earth.
  • Walls made with the inventive blocks may be simultaneously strengthened vertically by inserting vertical reinforcing elements through spaces [0085] 168 in adjacent courses at the same time that lateral stabilizers are used. The vertical and lateral stabilizers can be used with virtually any of the blocks illustrated herein, wherever and whenever such vertical and/or lateral supports find advantageous use. Integrated wall stabilization is particularly important the construction of retaining walls which may be used to contain tens of thousands or pounds of earth and therefore require extensive reinforcing.
  • As shown in FIG. 17, a lateral reinforcing element may be placed in a lateral channel [0086] 163 and engaged to a vertical support element extending through space 168 at one end, while the other end is attached to a support some distance from the wall. It is understood that block 160 having a support channel can be inserted any place in any wall wherein it is advantageous to do so. Accordingly, with the blocks of the present invention it is possible to secure individual blocks, and/or whole walls comprised at least in part of such blocks, to adjacent lateral structures such as other walls or the earth.
  • In one preferred embodiment the adjacent structure may be a bond beam placed far enough behind the retaining wall that the earth wherein the bond beam is place is stable. Retaining walls are used to hold back materials such as soil. Any given material, including soils of various compositions has a natural slope, determined in part by the material's coefficient of friction. Soil in front of the natural slope of the material will slide away to expose the stable slope. A bond beam connected to soil behind the soil's stable slope and connected to the wall provides increased stability for the wall. Such a beam maybe of any length and may be constructed of from a variety of materials including metal, concrete, reinforced concrete, wood, and the like. A single bond beam or a plurality of bond beams may be placed by design in the wall to increase the lateral stability of the wall. [0087]
  • Referring now to FIG. 18, a construction block [0088] 180 may be designed for increased horizontal and or lateral stability by providing multiple holes 188. Accordingly, block 180 may include holes 188 a, 188 b, and 188 c as shown in the Figure. Lateral support element 181 may extend from any of those holes to the outside of the block. Other holes may then be used with vertical support members as illustrated above.
  • In another embodiment of the present invention illustrated in FIG. 19, a horizontal-stabilizer [0089] 191 may be placed in a groove 193 that extends through a multiplicity of blocks 190 a, 190 b, etc. Horizontal stabilizers 195 may then extend through a plurality of blocks, joining all of them together in the horizontal direction. Horizontal stabilizers 195 may also be held in place by use of any means known in the art for fixing supports to blocks such as nails, screws, rivets, glue, for example epoxy glue, or grout.
  • It is to be appreciated that all blocks in a course may be joined together by a horizontal stabilizer running the entire width of the wall. The horizontal stabilizer may then be fixed to the outside edges of the wall and tensioned to increase the frictional contact between the blocks within the same course. Suitable horizontal-stabilizers may include metal or composite rods, bars, straps, cables, and the like. Grooves [0090] 183 can be filled with materials like concrete, cement or grout to join the blocks together if desired.
  • In still another embodiment of the invention, grooves in the top face of a block can be used to join the block to a lateral support. For example, wire mesh or the like can be set into a groove and extended into the adjacent earth or another wall. A lateral stabilizer set in a groove within a molded block will be more securely attached to the block than the same lateral stabilizer placed on the surface of a block and held in place only by friction between adjacent and the upper and lower blocks. [0091]
  • Referring now to FIG. 20, a means for joining a lateral support [0092] 280 to a course of molded blocks 284 may be made in accordance with one embodiment the present invention. A portion of a grid 201 is set into the earth or a concrete wall behind a molded block wall and a portion of grid 201 is joined to a block wall through adjacent courses in the wall.
  • In one preferred embodiment bars [0093] 202 on grid 201 are positioned in spaces created by chamfered edges 12 c, 14 c, 16 c, etc., on blocks 10. Grid 201 extending across the surface of a block and positioned in chamfered edges is harder to disengage from the wall than is a grid joined to the wall by inserting the grid only between adjacent courses of block.
  • Referring now to FIG. 21, a block [0094] 210 that facilitates connecting the block to vertical and lateral supports may be made in accordance with one embodiment of the present invention. Block 210 has a space 211 in one side to better accommodate lateral and/or vertical supports. Lateral supports for use with this invention may be in the form of an angle iron as illustrated in FIG. 22 used to engage vertical and/or horizontal supports extending through space 211.
  • In another embodiment of the invention, a lateral reinforcing element is placed in space [0095] 211 and engaged to a vertical support element extending through the space and connecting the block to adjacent courses. Further, space 21 accommodating both a lateral and vertical support can be filled with grout or concrete for added strength.
  • It is understood that block [0096] 210 can be inserted any place in any wall wherein it is advantageous to do so, and particularly where appropriate to facilitate connection of lateral and vertical connections between the wall and adjacent structures. Blocks 210 with a void in the side can also be inserted in any course abutting either similar blocks or blocks such as block 10 described above.
  • In one embodiment of the invention, space [0097] 211 in the side of the block away from the face of the wall may be filled with concrete to create a contiguous column of concrete extending up any number of courses of the wall. Blocks 210 thus may find advantageous use when block structures are used as permanent forming structures to pour concrete walls, columns or pilasters.
  • It is to be appreciated that the inventive blocks provide significant advantages by virtue of their ability to be stabilized in any or all of the vertical, horizontal, and lateral directions. The vertical support members discussed above are particularly useful for stabilizing successive courses together, while the nose-in-tail shape of the blocks, along with the lateral and/or horizontal stabilizers, are particularly effective for lateral and/or horizontal stabilization. As previously indicated, vertical, lateral and horizontal stabilization may be achieved simultaneously when more than one stabilizing feature is used. [0098]
  • While the invention has been illustrated and described in detail in the foregoing description, the same is to be considered as illustrative and not restrictive in character, it being understood that only the preferred embodiment has been shown and described and that all changes and modifications that come within the spirit of the invention are desired to be protected. Additional embodiments and details relating to the present invention are disclosed in applicant's copending provisional patent application, including the disclosure document titled “Disclosure Relating to Materials and Methods for Constructing a Block Wall,” filed therewith and incorporated herein by reference in its entirety. [0099]

Claims (3)

What is claimed is:
1. A construction element for use with other construction elements to build a wall, said construction element comprising;
a) a top surface and a bottom surface, said top and bottom surfaces being substantially parallel to one another;
b) two substantially parallel side surfaces, said side surfaces being substantially perpendicular to said top and bottom surfaces;
c) a front nose portion comprising a front surface that is substantially perpendicular to the top, bottom, and side surfaces, and a pair of front angled surfaces joining the front surface to the side surfaces, wherein said front angled surfaces form a 45° angle with respect to the front and side surfaces;
e) a rear portion that is generally a mirror of the front portion, said rear portion comprising a rear surface that is substantially parallel to the front nose surface and substantially perpendicular to the top, bottom, and side surfaces, and a pair of rear angled surfaces joining the rear surface to the side surfaces, wherein said rear angled surfaces form a 45° angle with respect to the rear and side surfaces; and
f) at least one hole extending through the block, wherein said hole passes vertically through the block from the top surface through the bottom surface.
2. A method of building a wall, said method comprising:
a) providing a multiplicity of construction elements for use with other construction elements to build a wall, each of said multiplicity of construction element comprising;
i) a top surface and a bottom surface, said top and bottom surfaces being substantially parallel to one another;
ii) two substantially parallel side surfaces, said side surfaces being substantially perpendicular to said top and bottom surfaces;
iii) a front nose portion comprising a front surface that is substantially perpendicular to the top, bottom, and side surfaces, and a pair of front angled surfaces joining the front surface to the side surfaces, wherein said front angled surfaces form a 45° angle with respect to the front and side surfaces;
iv) a rear portion that is generally a mirror of the front portion, said rear portion comprising a rear surface that is substantially parallel to the front nose surface and substantially perpendicular to the top, bottom, and side surfaces, and a pair of rear angled surfaces joining the rear surface to the side surfaces, wherein said rear angled surfaces form a 45° angle with respect to the rear and side surfaces; and
v) at least one hole extending through the block, wherein said hole passes vertically through the block from the top surface through the bottom surface;
b) positioning one of said construction elements in a location desired to build a wall;
c) positioning a second of said construction elements such that the front nose portion of the second construction element fits in the rear portion of the first construction element;
d) positioning additional construction elements such that the nose of additional elements fits into the rear portion of a prior element to build a first course of construction elements;
e) positioning additional construction elements on top of said first course of construction elements in a like manner to build a second course of construction elements, wherein a hole in each of said construction elements is vertically aligned with a hole in a construction element in an adjacent course;
f) providing a vertical stabilizing element in a series of aligned holes to stabilize the adjacent courses of construction elements.
3. A method of building a wall, said method comprising:
a) providing a multiplicity of construction elements for use with other construction elements to build a wall, each of said multiplicity of construction element comprising;
i) a top surface and a bottom surface, said top and bottom surfaces being substantially parallel to one another;
ii) two substantially parallel side surfaces, said side surfaces being substantially perpendicular to said top and bottom surfaces;
iii) a front nose portion comprising a front surface that is substantially perpendicular to the top, bottom, and side surfaces, and a pair of front angled surfaces joining the front surface to the side surfaces, wherein said front angled surfaces form a 45° angle with respect to the front and side surfaces;
iv) a rear portion that is generally a mirror of the front portion, said rear portion comprising a rear surface that is substantially parallel to the front nose surface and substantially perpendicular to the top, bottom, and side surfaces, and a pair of rear angled surfaces joining the rear surface to the side surfaces, wherein said rear angled surfaces form a 45° angle with respect to the rear and side surfaces; and
v) at least one hole extending through the block, wherein said hole passes vertically through the block from the top surface through the bottom surface;
b) positioning one of said construction elements in a location desired to build a wall;
c) positioning a second of said construction elements such that the front nose portion of the second construction element fits in the rear portion of the first construction element;
d) positioning additional construction elements such that the nose of additional elements fits into the rear portion of a prior element to build a first course of construction elements;
e) positioning additional construction elements on top of said first course of construction elements in a like manner to build a second course of construction elements, wherein a hole in each of said construction elements is vertically aligned with a hole in a construction element in an adjacent course;
f) connecting a lateral stabilizing element to at least one of said construction elements to stabilize said construction element.
US10/769,954 2003-01-31 2004-02-02 Materials and methods for constructing a block wall Abandoned US20040237445A1 (en)

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US12/100,692 US20080184648A1 (en) 2003-01-31 2008-04-10 Materials and methods for constructing a block wall
US12/838,639 US20100313513A1 (en) 2003-01-31 2010-07-19 Materials and methods for constructing a block wall

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US10584502B2 (en) 2016-09-09 2020-03-10 Excel Project Management Ltd. Arch-support system
US20190003142A1 (en) * 2017-06-28 2019-01-03 H&K Group, Inc. Block Retaining Wall with Micro-Pile Soldier Piles
WO2019083728A1 (en) * 2017-10-26 2019-05-02 William Donnelly Interlocking blocks
WO2019161468A1 (en) * 2018-02-21 2019-08-29 Schuetz Jardim Marcelo Building made of prefabricated bricks and method for constructing said building
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US20100313513A1 (en) 2010-12-16

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