As a state, Utah boasts one of the most attractive year-round climates in the United States, with a comfort index of 69 — well above the national average of 54. Yet winters in Utah can still prove challenging, especially for those in parts of the state that receive heavier amounts of snow. In such regions, keeping your driveway safe and accessible can prove a Herculean task.
Fortunately, homeowner’s no longer need to break their backs manually shoveling snow. Driveway snow-melt systems provide an effortless solution to the yearly task of snow clearing. If you would like to learn more about the types of snow-melt systems available today, keep reading. This article outlines three different styles currently on the market.
- Hydronic Radiant Heating
You may already be familiar with the concept of radiant heating systems, which can be found in many homes. Radiant heating systems do away with furnaces and forced air vents. Instead, heat flows into the home through a network of PEX piping installed in or just beneath the floor. Hydronic systems circulate a heated mixture of water and glycol through the piping.
The exact same principles used in outdoor hydronic systems also apply to driveway snow-melt systems. A boiler heats the mixture of water and glycol, which manifolds then circulate through the sub-driveway piping. The heat generated by this system easily melts existing snow and ice, while ensuring that any snow that continues to fall on the driveway will melt instantly.
Hydronic radiant heating systems can work with a variety of different driveway materials, including concrete, asphalt, and stone pavers. That said, contractors almost always install such systems when building a new driveway from scratch. Those who want to retrofit an existing driveway should consider one of the two options below instead.
- Electric Radiant Heating
Electric radiant heating systems work in much the same way as hydronic systems, taking a sub-surface approach to heat distribution. As you may have already guessed, the key difference involves the source of the heat. Electric systems generate heat by circulating electricity through special cables buried in the driveway.
Electric radiant heating systems have an advantage when it comes to installation costs. Unlike hydronic systems, you won’t need to invest in costly components like boilers and manifolds. That said, in some cases, the operating costs of a hydronic system may prove somewhat lower than an equivalent electric system.
Electric radiant snow melt systems offer another key benefit in that contractors can retrofit existing driveways with such systems. This process involves first designing a system appropriate to your region’s needs. Then the contractor marks your driveway with chalk where the cables will go, before cutting into the driveway using a saw cutting machine.
In this manner, the contractor creates grooves with precisely the right size for housing the heating cable. With the cables in place, the contractor then places protective backer rods in the grooves, and uses sealant to fill in any remaining void spaces.
- Electric Snow-Melt Mats
Homeowners don’t always have the option of installing a new driveway or retrofitting an existing one. In the meantime, you can still get the benefits of radiant heating systems using electric snow-melt mats. These mats work in virtually the same way as embedded electrical radiant systems, except that they sit directly on top of your driveway.
Simply unroll the mat, attach it to a power source, and let it do its job. The heating cables thread through a mesh designed to keep them in a stable position. The heavy-duty nature of snow-melt mats means that you can drive directly over them without risking damage.
Snow-melt systems make wintertime driveway maintenance a lot easier. For more information about selecting the right type of system for your home, contact Centerville’s experts at Custom Comfort Plumbing, Heating & Cooling LLC.
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