A slim, ergonomic spray head includes a shell that defines a smooth tubular shape. A body is disposed in the shell and includes two water passages disposed in spaced-apart relation, forming an opening therebetween. A diverter for selecting between an aerator and a sprayer includes a piston and a trigger actuator that are completely contained within the smooth tubular shape. The engagement of the piston and actuator is located in the opening between the passages. The body further includes an outlet that directs an outflow of water along the longitudinal axis of the body. By matching the tubular shape to the shape of a faucet, the spray head appears to be an extension of the faucet, rather than a conventional bulky pull-out sprayer, providing a more pleasing appearance.
 The present invention relates to spray heads, and particularly to spray heads coupled to faucets. More particularly, the invention relates to spray heads that extend from the end of the faucet and generally continue with the same diameter as the faucet, eliminating the need for an enlarged outlet end.BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION
 Spray heads have been known in the art for years and include two types. The first type of spray head is mounted to a sink deck at a distance from a faucet. Known as sidesprays, these spray heads were coupled to the faucet by a hose and allowed a user to direct a spray of water to various parts of the sink that could not be reached by the faucet. A typical installation is illustrated in U.S. Design Pat. No. 390,915 to Futo et al.
 The second type of spray head is mounted to the distal end of the faucet. This type of spray head is usually threaded into the distal end of the faucet and includes a member that moves axially between a first position that provides an aerated stream of water, and a second position that provides a spray of water. This type of installation is disclosed in U.S. Pat. No. 4,221,337 to Shames et al. The advantage of this type of spray head is that it eliminates the need for an extra hole in the sink deck or frees an existing hole for another use, such as a soap dispenser or air gap. One disadvantage of this type of spray head is that it is unable to direct a spray to many parts of the sink. Another disadvantage is that once the spray mode is selected, the user must manually reselect the aerated stream mode.
 In more recent times, spray heads have been integrated with the faucet to combine the advantages of both. These integrated spray heads pull out of the faucet and allow a user to direct a spray at any part of the sink while freeing a hole for other uses. Unfortunately, these integrated spray heads are generally larger than the spout of the faucet due to the mechanism required to change between the aerated stream and the spray. These enlarged spray heads have proven disadvantageous when trying to design attractive faucets. Another disadvantage with conventional integrated spray heads is that once the spray function is selected, the user must continue to hold the actuator in position to retain the function. If the user releases the actuator, the spray head reverts to the aerated stream, which can be inconvenient.SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION
 The present invention overcomes the above-cited disadvantages and others by providing a compact pull-out spray head that can fit within the diameter of the spout and automatically retains the spray head in the spray mode without requiring the user to continually hold the actuator.
 A spray head according to the present invention comprises a flexible conduit for coupling the spray head to a faucet, a shell coupled to the conduit, and an aerator coupled to the shell for providing an aerator mode of operation. A spray ring is disposed between the aerator and the shell for providing a spray mode of operation, wherein the spray ring cooperates with the shell to provide a plurality of fluid channels. The spray head further includes a diverter that has a piston and actuator. The actuator moves the piston between a first position, wherein the spray head operates in the aerator mode of operation, and a second position, wherein the spray head operates in the sprayer mode of operation.
 According to one aspect of the invention, the spray ring includes a plurality of grooves that cooperate with the shell to define the plurality of fluid channels. The spray ring is coupled to the aerator to form a unit, such that the spray ring and aerator are removable from the shell as a unit to facilitate cleaning of the spray ring and the aerator.
 The body includes two fluid supply passages in fluid communication with the conduit and disposed in spaced-apart relation forming an opening therebetween. The diverter is disposed between the passages and the aerator and sprayer. In the first position, the diverter diverts a stream of fluid from the passages to the aerator, and in the second position, the diverter diverts a stream of fluid from the passages to the sprayer.
 According to another aspect of the invention, the spray head includes a shell having a cutout and a resilient cover disposed in the cutout. The cover is generally flush with the shell to form a tubular shape defining an interior volume. The body and diverter are disposed in the shell, and the aerator/sprayer assembly has an outlet for a flow of fluid, with the outlet directing the flow of fluid along the longitudinal axis of the body.
 Other features and advantages of the invention will become apparent from the following portion of this specification and from the accompanying drawings, which illustrate a presently preferred embodiment incorporating the principles of the invention.BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS
 FIG. 1 is a front view of a faucet incorporating a spray head according to the present invention.
 FIG. 2 is a side view of the faucet of FIG. 1.
 FIG. 3 is a section view taken through a spray head according to the present invention with the piston position to provide an aerated stream of water.
 FIG. 4 is a section view taken through a spray head according to the present invention with the piston position to provide a spray of water.
 FIG. 5 is a side view of a body and diverter for use with the spray head of FIG. 3.
 FIG. 6 is a top view of the body and diverter of FIG. 5.
 FIG. 7 is a front view of the body of FIG. 5.
 FIG. 8 is a section view taken through the body of FIG. 7.
 FIG. 9 is a side view of the diverter housing of the present invention.
 FIG. 10 is an end view of the diverter housing of FIG. 9.
 FIG. 11 is a section view taken through the diverter housing of FIG. 9.
 FIG. 12 is a partially broken away side view of an aerator housing for use with the spray head of FIG. 3.
 FIG. 13 is a plan view of a spray ring for use with the aerator housing of FIG. 12.
 FIG. 14 is section view taken through the aerator housing and spray ring.
 FIG. 15 is a plan view of a screen unit of an aerator insert for use with the spray head of FIG. 3.
 FIG. 16 is a section view taken through the screen unit of FIG. 15.
 FIG. 17 is a side view of a housing for receiving the screen unit of FIG. 15.
 FIG. 18 is a side view of an aerator removal tool.
 FIG. 19 is a section view taken along line 19-19 in FIG. 18.DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS
 A spray head 10 is illustrated in FIGS. 1 and 2 in situ with a faucet assembly 12. The spray head 10, which is coupled to a control valve 14 by means of a flexible hose 13, preferably pulls out of the faucet spout 16 to allow a user to direct a spray of water to any area of a sink.
 The spray head 10, as illustrated in FIG. 3, includes an outer shell 18, a body 20, a diverter assembly 22 coupled to the body 20, and an aerator/sprayer assembly 24 coupled to the diverter assembly 22.
 The outer shell 18 is a curved tubular member with a cutout 30 to provide user access to an actuator for the diverter assembly 22. The cutout 30 receives a flexible cover 32 that attaches to the shell 18 so as to continue the general tubular shape of the shell 18, thereby providing a more aesthetically pleasing appearance. The outer shell 18 includes a clip 16 configured to engage and retain the body 20.
 The body 20 is illustrated in FIGS. 5-8. The body 20 includes an inlet 36 and a diverter support 38, with a pair of parallel water passages 40 extending therebetween. The diverter support 38 includes a pair of parallel alignment ridges 46, an annular disc 58, a central bushing 60 for receiving a diverter piston 62 (FIG. 4), and an annular flange 64. The parallel water passages 40 include inlet openings 42 (only one shown in FIG. 8) in the inlet 36 and outlet openings 44 in the diverter support 38 (FIG. 7). Each passage 40 carries a flange 48 that includes a pin-receiving bore 50.
 The body 20 further includes an opening 52, best seen in FIG. 6, defined by the diverter support 38, the parallel water passages 40 and the inlet 36. As illustrated in FIG. 3, the diverter actuator 54 is disposed in the opening 52 and retained by a pivot pin 53 extending between the pin-receiving bores 50 formed in the flanges 48. The diverter actuator 54 engages the diverter piston 62 in the opening 52. The fact that the actuator/piston engagement occurs in the opening 52 allows the actuator 54 to remain within the shell 18, with the flexible cover 32 providing a slim design that has heretofore been unavailable.
 The diverter assembly 22 includes the diverter support 38, a diverter housing 66 coupled to the diverter support 38, the diverter piston 62, and a diverter seat 68. The diverter housing 66, illustrated in FIGS. 9-11, includes an axis 69, a base 70, and an externally threaded cylindrical sidewall 72 extending from the base 70. The base 70 includes a pair of parallel alignment grooves 74 configured to engage the alignment ridges 46, a central opening 76 disposed between the grooves 74 and aligned with the axis 69, and a pair of openings 78 offset from the axis 69 and parallel thereto. The openings 78 align with the water passage outlet openings 44 in the diverter support 38. The base 70 further includes an annular groove 82 configured to engage the annular flange 64 on the diverter support 38, a transverse through bore 84, and upper and lower outwardly extending flanges 86, 88. The upper and lower flanges 86, 88 are configured to receive an o-ring 90 (FIG. 3). The through bore 84 extends between the openings 78 and, as illustrated in FIG. 10, the openings 78 extend beyond the axial location of the through bore 84. Thus, water entering the housing 66 through the openings 78 must flow in the “upstream” direction through the central opening 76 to get to the through bore 84.
 The diverter piston 62 includes a shaft seal 96, typically an o-ring, and a diverter piston 98. The diverter piston 98 is disposed between the opening 76 and the diverter seat 68 and is spring-biased against the central opening 76 as illustrated in FIG. 3. In this position, the water flows into the diverter assembly 22 through the openings 78 and out through the aerator 102 as indicated by the arrows 99. In FIG. 4, the diverter piston 98 is disposed against the diverter seat 68, thereby blocking the flow of water to the aerator 102. Instead, the water flows into the central opening 76 to the through bore 84 and radially outwardly to a flow channel between the outer shell 18 and the aerator/sprayer assembly 24 as indicated by arrows 101 providing a spray. In the spray position, water pressure retains the diverter piston 98 in position against the diverter seat 68, enabling the user to release pressure on the actuator 54. When the user turns off the water, the spring biasing automatically returns the diverter piston 98 to close the central opening 76 to reestablish an aerated stream of water.
 Preferably, the diverter support 38 is molded integrally with the inlet 36 and passages 40 of the body 20. The diverter housing 68 is preferably attached to the diverter support 38 by ultrasonic welding. However, the housing 68 can be attached to the support 38 by gluing, bonding, or the use of adhesives or the like.
 The aerator/sprayer assembly 24 includes an aerator housing 100, an aerator insert 102 (FIGS. 15-17), a spray ring 104 and an aerator seal 106 (FIG. 3). The housing 100, illustrated in FIGS. 12 and 14, includes a longitudinally extending central aperture 108, having an inlet 110 and an outlet 112, and an external annular groove 114. The central aperture 108 includes an internally threaded section 116 and a shoulder 118. The threaded section 116 is configured to engage the external threads of the diverter housing 66, while the shoulder 118 is sized to receive the aerator insert 102. The spray ring 104, illustrated in FIGS. 13-14, is a truncated cone with a central aperture 120 and a plurality of axially extending grooves 122 evenly disposed around the circumference of the ring 104. The ring 104 is designed to engage the shell 18, with the grooves 122 and shell cooperating to provide water channels for the spray function of the spray head 10. The housing 100 further includes a plurality of axially extending notches 126 evenly disposed about the outlet 112.
 The aerator insert 102 includes a screen unit 130 and an air channel unit 132. The screen unit includes an annular ring 136 and a conical inlet screen 138 attached to the ring 136. The ring 136 further includes an outwardly extending flange 140. The air channel unit 132 includes a cylindrical wall 142 with a plurality of air channels 144 disposed evenly around the wall 142. Each air channel 144 terminates at an opening 146 through the wall 142. The screen unit 130 is operatively disposed in the air channel unit 132 with the flange 140 resting on the top edge of the cylindrical wall 142 and extending radially outwardly from the wall 142.
 An aerator removal tool 148, illustrated in FIGS. 18-19, includes a socket 150 and a handle 152. The socket 150 includes a sidewall 156 and a plurality of teeth 158 extending inwardly from the socket sidewall 156. The teeth 158 are configured and spaced about the sidewall 156 to engage the notches 126 formed around the outlet 112 of the aerator housing 100. Advantageously, the aerator removal tool 150 removes both the aerator and sprayer at the same time for cleaning. Heretofore, a user had to remove the aerator and sprayer separately which can be inconvenient.
 The present invention has been described with respect to a preferred embodiment. However, it will be obvious to one of ordinary skill in the art that modifications can be made to the described embodiment without departing from the scope of the invention. For example, while the shell/cover combination has been described as tubular and is illustrated as a curvilinear cylinder, the tubular shape could have an eliptical, oval, or polygonal cross section, or combinations thereof, without departing from the scope of the claims. One feature of the invention is that the cover is flush with, and continues the shape of, the shell without adding bulges or protuberances, making the spray head a smooth extension of the spout. Of course, the spray head could also be used as a sidespray.
1. A spray head comprising:
- a flexible conduit for coupling the spray head to a faucet;
- a shell coupled to the conduit;
- an aerator coupled to the shell for providing an aerator mode of operation;
- a spray ring disposed between the aerator and the shell for providing a spray mode of operation, the spray ring cooperating with the shell to provide a plurality of fluid channels; and
- a diverter including a piston and actuator, the actuator moving the piston between a first position and a second position, the spray head operating in the aerator mode of operation when the piston is in the first position and in the spray mode of operation when the piston is in the second position.
2. The spray head of claim 1 wherein the ring includes a plurality of grooves that cooperate with the shell to define the plurality of fluid channels.
3. The spray head of claim 1 wherein the spray ring is coupled to the aerator to form a unit, the spray ring and aerator being removable from the shell as a unit to facilitate cleaning of the spray ring and the aerator.
4. A spray head comprising:
- a flexible conduit for coupling the spray head to a faucet;
- a shell;
- two fluid supply passages in fluid communication with the conduit and disposed in spaced-apart relation;
- an aerator;
- a sprayer; and
- a diverter assembly disposed between the passages and the aerator and sprayer, the diverter being moveable between a first position and a second position, the diverter diverting a stream of fluid from the passages to the aerator when in the first position and to the sprayer when in the second position.
5. The spray head of claim 4 wherein the diverter includes a piston, the piston being retained in the second position by fluid pressure and returning to the first position in response to removal of the fluid pressure.
6. An ergonomic spray head comprising:
- a shell having a cutout;
- a resilient cover disposed in the cutout and generally flush with the shell to form a tubular shape and define an interior volume;
- a body coupled to the shell and having a longitudinal axis;
- an aerator/sprayer assembly coupled to the body, the aerator/sprayer assembly having an inlet and an outlet for a flow of fluid, the outlet directing the flow of fluid along the longitudinal axis of the body; and
- a diverter for diverting a stream of fluid to the aerator or to the sprayer, the diverter including a piston adapted to move generally along the longitudinal axis of the body between a first position and a second position.
7. The spray head of claim 6 wherein the diverter further includes an actuator and the body includes an inlet and an outlet and two fluid passages extending between the inlet and the outlet, the passages being disposed in spaced apart relation and cooperating with the inlet and the outlet to define an opening, the actuator being coupled to the piston in the opening.
International Classification: E03C001/08;