Underground Snow Melt Systems: Home Improvement Idea of the Day2/12/2021
The long months of winter often leave homeowners dreading the task of shoveling their driveways and walkways to clear snow away to improve safety and accessibility. Here in Bend, we can have snow from October until May in some extreme seasons. Most people shovel snow by hand, while others have snowblowers. But the home improvement that intrigues me the most this time of year is an underground installation to automatically melt snow away. Steep driveways and walkways are dangerous when covered in snow and ice. It can be time consuming to shovel snow and scatter ice over walkways. With an automatic snow removal system, you can spend more time enjoying winter with less stress!
Most underground snowmelt systems are constructed with the ability to melt snow at a rate of about one inch per hour. The systems can be installed under new concrete or asphalt driveways, sidewalks, walkways or pavers. Existing driveways and sidewalks also may be retrofitted for radiant heat systems. A snowmelt system uses a series of tubes that are filled with an antifreeze solution and includes a sensor that can detect temperature and moisture changes.When snow starts falling, the system will automatically turn on and start warming the pavement, preventing snow from sticking. Snowmelt systems also include a manual setting in order to bypass the sensor, if desired.
With an underground snowmelt system, the antifreeze solution increases the temperature of the pavement to about 35-40 degrees F, using a system that supplies 150 BTUs (British Thermal Units) per square feet of surface area. This should melt falling snow at a rate of about 1 inch per hour under "typical" winter conditions.
While some homeowners might try to take on a snow melting system as a DIY home improvement project, your best bet is to hire a professional. Installation of an underground snowmelt system will require both a concrete/asphalt contractor and an electrician. Once you install an underground snowmelt system, it is practically maintenance-free. Operation costs are low (electrical power) and are more than offset by an increase in the longevity of your driveway, patio or walkways. Damage from shovels or salt and other chemicals are avoided with a snowmelt system. In addition, the system is more eco-friendly!
Unlike snowblowers, an automatic snow removal system operates noiselessly and without fumes. With automatic turn-on features, you can literally awaken in the morning to cleared driveways and sidewalks. When you don't have to worry about visitors or family members slipping and falling in front of your home, winter is a much less stressful season!