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.
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!