Winters bring with them snow-blocked driveways and porches that can pose safety hazards. One has to shovel repeatedly, use de-icing salt, or pay up to $400 for snow removal services every time snow builds up. Given such circumstances, your home can benefit immensely from heated driveways. Heated driveways use radiant floor heating systems that warm your floor’s concrete or asphalt to melt snow and clear the area. Let's first look at the two types of driveway heating systems:
Heated driveways can be of two types, where both systems utilize different networks of heating elements to melt the snow.
These use electrically heated metal rods under your pavements. In electric coil heated driveways, an electric current runs through corrosion-resistant materials such as mats or cables to generate heat. You can control its temperature using a thermostat. In such an electric system, you can also use solar power as an alternate energy source.
Hydronic or heated water systems utilize PEX (Cross-Linked Polyethylene) tubing that zigzags beneath the driveway’s surface. They use a boiler to heat a mixture of water and antifreeze to circulate through tubings and warm up the asphalt and pavement to remove the snow. The initial installation cost of these systems is higher due to the use of a boiler.
Let's look into the benefits of Installing a heated driveway.
As you no longer need to shovel snow and keep your pavement frost-free, you can prevent falls and minimize fracture and hypothermia risks. Heated driveways also help you avoid legal issues: slips and falls can also affect passersby, and they can file a negligence lawsuit against you in case of an injury. Municipalities can also fine you if your walkway isn’t clear after a snowstorm.
You require chemicals like de-icer (ice melt), rock salt, or calcium chloride to melt snow the conventional way. Rocksalt contains cyanide, a potent poison that can kill nearby plants and pose a health hazard to pets and kids who may accidentally consume it. It can also lead to discolored, cracked, and crumbling concrete and deteriorate the undersides of vehicles. So, opting for heated driveways will reduce your reliance on de-icing chemicals.
Firstly, you’ll save on the costs of hiring snow removal services repeatedly. Secondly, you’ll save on repair costs. As water from snow melts, freezes, and thaws as it enters porous concrete, you can expect to see cracks forming regularly, so you’ll have to repair them often.
A heated driveway prevents cracks by keeping the temperature above the freezing point and protecting against the freeze-and-thaw cycle. This keeps your driveway structurally sound, and you don’t have to fix it repeatedly. These features also increase the market value of your home.
Let’s look into the potential expenses involved in installing a heated driveway.
To install a heated driveway, you often need to tear out the old one. You will need a licensed contractor throughout the process. Your utility bills also increase as heated driveways use significant electricity and gas. The operating cost will vary based on the type of system and the location. Snow removal services might be cheaper if you live in an area with high utility costs.
While maintenance is often unnecessary, you may need system repair if your driveway heating system was installed incorrectly. In case of malfunctions in the radiant heating pad, PEX tubing, or an electric wire, you may need to tear up the driveway to unearth the system.
You can mitigate these risks by ensuring you’re hiring professionals to install the system. This will allow it to last up to 20 years, given you follow the loading limits to prevent damage. Professionals will also offer you warranties which you can utilize if anything goes wrong.
Heated driveways will save you a lot of headaches and time when clearing up your surface from snow and ice. They will add value and convenience to your home and are an excellent investment.
Costs can vary with the area; research your fuel and electricity costs and consider your budget and future plans for the house before choosing a system. You should hire an experienced contractor to prevent mishaps and ensure foolproof installation.