Have you ever considered installing a heated driveway?
It’s a particularly nice addition to a new build. While the initial cost isn’t trivial, in the long term they are much cheaper to run than you might expect.
Instant Plumbing & Heating
We provide installation, repair and maintenance for driveway and garage heating systems.
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Even with chinooks, you can expect to shovel a lot of snow during a winter in Calgary. As a result:
While a significant investment, heated driveways and garages are becoming increasingly popular as a way to avoid stress during winter. With a heated driveway system, sensors can automatically detect snowfall and turn on and off accordingly. All you have to do is enjoy the results!
For those of us who may struggle with the shovel – or who want elderly relatives to put theirs away – getting rid of snow accumulation really is as easy as flicking a switch. Imagine never having to shovel again – it can happen. And don’t underestimate the peace of mind for the elderly or disabled. A heated driveway doesn’t just prevent snow build-up, it also prevents ice from forming, leading to a more secure surface for everyone.
There are two popular methods. One method is in-floor radiant heat that uses hot water. It’s similar to the electric option but, instead of coils, it’s a collection of tubes that transports the hot water. While it’s more expensive to install, water-based in-floor radiant heat costs less over time.
The second is in-floor radiant heat that uses electric currents. It generates heat along a series of coils located underneath the driveway. Electric-based heating has a lower initial cost but tends to use more energy.
Additional factors for pricing include:
For a heated driveway, we suggest scheduling a yearly check-up. On your own, you can also check the liquid glycol level in the axiom tank. This keeps the pipes from freezing. If the level is low, you can add a glycol and water mix, to keep your system running smoothly. We will also top up your tank when we stop by for annual maintenance.
There are a few things you can check yourself even before we come to check on your system for annual maintenance. The main objective here is to ensure that your pipes are not going to freeze at any point, so the first thing you should do is check the liquid glycol level in the axiom tank. You’ll find this in the boiler room. The axiom tank sits on the floor, has a green top, and is connected to the boiler.
If your glycol level goes too low, the system pressure will drop and your pump can dry up, which can allow the system to freeze — not a problem you want to deal with in the dead of winter! We will also check the glycol level when we come out for maintenance.
Top up the axiom tank with a glycol & water mix if it’s getting anywhere near the minimum level. If you got your glycol from us it will be pre-mixed.
You can also have a look to see that the controller is working by simply checking that the lights are on, and check the sensor outside (the little disc that sits flush with the concrete on the driveway) to make sure it’s not scratched.
When we come to check the system, we will take it for a test run to ensure that all pumps and controls are running smoothly and also check the glycol and the disc sensor.
Boiler Based Hydronic Heat
Strategic heating of the pavement is way safer than shovelling, cheaper and faster than paying for snow removal, and your driveway’s always clear! There are a lot more heated driveways around than people think; most of the access ways to public parking are heated, especially entry ramps to underground structures.
The time to add heat to a driveway is when you’re repaving, refinishing, or building a new home. In new developments, the City may require a driveway to be heated if it has more than a certain slope.
Insulation, Tubing & Paving
A layer of ground insulation and loops of tubing are laid in first, and then there’s a little extra concrete in the pour– usually three inches instead of two.
Oxygen Barrier PEX is used for the tubing. This tubing has a special external polymer coating that prevents diffusion of oxygen molecules into the lines to forestall corrosion of metal inside the system (fittings and parts like pumps, air purgers, fill valves, boiler heating elements, etc.). This is not only crucial to the longevity of the metal parts but also keeps the lines clear of oxide deposits.
The Tekmar brand control system includes snow melt sensors that sense both the outdoor temperature and moisture on the pavement, so the heat will shut off once the pavement is dry. We carefully calibrate the controls so that your driveway stays clear without wasting money on idle heat.
These systems run quite cool– the temperature of the pavement only needs to be raised to 40°F (4.4°C) to stop snow accumulation. There’s no point in making it any hotter; doing so would only waste energy and possibly crack the concrete.
We do heat loss calculations on the driveway to determine the required specifications of the boiler, and we usually install IBC brand condensing units made in Burnaby BC. These can be located in the garage or basement, and are typically wall-mounted units about the size of a suitcase. Final installation costs will vary greatly from home to home, but the long term operating cost is likely to be a good deal less than what you would pay for snow removal.
Every heating system requires regular upkeep, and we are your go-to for service on these systems– we do a lot of them! This entails annual maintenance checks of the boiler combustion, calibration of the control system, and monitoring fluid level and quality. We’ll make sure the water/glycol mix is right so the pipes never freeze, and check the pH levels to ensure longevity of all internal parts.
If you already have a heated driveway, we urge you to stay on top of maintenance. Long term neglect of these systems can lead to expensive repairs, or abandoning the system altogether; the cost of annual service is negligible by comparison. We’re your hydronic heating experts– give us a call!
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