snow melt coils in my walkway and driveway

ruddydogJune 1, 2008

I have to replace my walkway and driveway and want to get snowmelt coils. I don't know who to call. I live in Massachusetts and I don't think it has caught on here. Does anyone know where I would start?

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A moment with Google turned up this company, which claims to sell in all 50 states.

    Bookmark   June 1, 2008 at 6:16AM
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Snowmelt coils are nothing new in Massachusetts. Back in the early 80's I worked for a Motel in Chicopee, Mass that was built in the 50's and they had snowmelt coils under the walkway and driveway at the main entrance. Many of the banks and commercial buildings have snowmelt coils in their walkways.

Any masonry contractor that normally does commercial flatwork should be able to install them.

    Bookmark   June 1, 2008 at 1:49PM
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If you can afford the electric bill go for it.

    Bookmark   June 3, 2008 at 8:30PM
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Much as I hate shovelling snow etc, I cannot think of a more obscene waste of energy, sorry. Within our lifetimes, unless there's a huge technological breakthrough or we radically change our ways, there will be mass starvation throughout the world, people in cold climates will regularly freeze to death, and we will, to coin a phrase, "live in interesting times" - if the heat was a genuine byproduct of, say, one of those wood burning furnaces, I'd say go for it, but trying to heat the great outdoors seems an obscene waste of energy.

    Bookmark   June 12, 2008 at 3:45AM
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This same prediction was made in 1950 by Robert Heinlein. "In the year 2000 the population of the U.S. will be 500 million and we will all get a little hungry." We just passed the 300 million mark a year or two ago and we are growing corn to burn in our vehicles, so much for predictions.

    Bookmark   June 12, 2008 at 9:48PM
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Actually, if you'd been following the news I'd say those predictions are coming true, Heinlein didn't forsee the general decline in Western populations, then, the Pill probably wasn't on the market yet, either. Food prices are going up sharply, because of the rising cost of oil, and the diversion of food production (corn) into ethanol production.

With oil prices the way they are, freezing deaths in cold climates amongst the poor, elderly etc are going to go up. Things are going to get ugly.

    Bookmark   June 17, 2008 at 1:27AM
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I doubt that such systems are a massive energy suck for two reasons.

First, you turn them on only when snow is in the forecast. Even in a snowy area like Mass. that's not more than, say 2 weeks a year, maybe 3 weeks.

Second, you're not heating the driveway to 70 degrees. The systems heat it to slightly above freezing--enough to melt the snow, but not much more. So that means maybe a 10-15 degree increase in the temperature.

If you would use a snowblower instead to clear the snow, that's not exactly "green" either.

    Bookmark   June 17, 2008 at 5:20PM
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Your point regarding snowblowers is a good one. We have to overthink these things lest we are just shifting, or worsening the environmental impact, and small gasoline engines are far worse polluters than most modern cars.

One thought is, if this system just subtley melts the snow, just above freezing as you say (I wonder if that's hard on concrete, it might have to be formulated specially) I wonder if there'd be more risk of ice forming.

My 'snowblower' is a high velocity electric yard blower. I have a very steep driveway and do shovel it, but if I get out there quick enough and the snow's not too wet, the blower does a great job. It will even break up ice quite well if it's not too thick, I think what happens is the high velocity air 'hardens' the ice by cooling through evaporation, and the air gets under and lifts it.

I would thoroughly recommend this method for driveway and path clearing, I bought a Toro model that claimed it was the highest air speed of any gas or electric model - something like 120-140 kM/h.

    Bookmark   June 17, 2008 at 7:37PM
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If the driveway is heated to above 32 degrees, why would there be a risk of ice forming? The only way for that to happen would be if the snow were falling too fast for the heating to melt the snow, which is certainly a possibility (see, for example, Lambeau field, which has a heating system but nonetheless gets overwhelmed by heavy snow).

    Bookmark   June 20, 2008 at 1:46PM
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I have liatened to all the comments on the snow melt coils for my driveway and I have decided I do not want to contribute to the energy crisis. For now I'll pray for global warming,


    Bookmark   June 21, 2008 at 11:04AM
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Heimert, I was thinking not so much of the ice forming on the melt areas, but directly to the side of them, the water has to go somewhere so I was wondering if it would tend to form rather nasty ice immediately to the side...if the snow was kept below the level of the path or drive, it might run off, but eventually it's going to build up, and then the water will have nowhere to run. In that case, then the snowmelt coils would have to run continually to prevent the ice.

Ruddydog, sorry to rain on your parade but I think it's wise decision, besides, I can't imagine how expensive they would be to run. I would advise, however, you do your homework on what building regs require for steel reinforcing, and correct air entrainment (small air bubbles intentionally introduced into the concrete to make it better able to stand freeze/thaw without cracking) and make sure whoever does the driveway for you follows those regulations.

    Bookmark   June 22, 2008 at 3:29AM
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Well instead of concrete use pavement. Then you can use ice melt products without ruining the cement.... If you put down before ice is formed it helps keep ahead of the snow/ice situation. The black of the product helps in raising it's own temperature thus melting off quicker. Used a lot in the snowy parts of Oregon. Please don't insult us by saying we don't get snow either... HAHA I would galdly compare snow with any of you. Won't even talk about icy conditions.

    Bookmark   June 23, 2008 at 6:30PM
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Well the snowmelt product makers all CLAIM (and I guess one has to ponder the environmental impact of that stuff too, especially introducing salt into a freshwater ecosystem) their stuff is ok if used on concrete poured/formulated to Canadian Standard x in terms of air-entrainment etc, however, here in Kamloops/the wild west, I have yet to see much in the way of concrete that isn't cracked or spalling (if that's the right word) severely...we see spec homes whose basement slab is cracking due to settlement/sliding down the himm before the place is even finished...

    Bookmark   June 24, 2008 at 12:51AM
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