Every winter, home and business owners in colder regions face the difficult task of snow removal. Digging out your car and clearing the sidewalk and driveway is backbreaking work. But not getting it done means you may not be able to get to work or that customers may not be able to get to your business. You could even face fines and liability issues. That’s why it’s worthwhile considering a heated driveway or walkway to help reduce the problems!
Benefits of a Heated Driveway or Sidewalk
The first and most important benefit of a heated surface is that it helps minimize physical stress. Anyone who’s ever had to shovel snow or break up ice knows the strain it puts on your back and arms. It’s exhausting work – and it can be dangerous as well. In the USA alone, over 100 people die of cardiac events related to shoveling snow each year. Anything that can eliminate some of that hard work is going to be a welcome relief.
Another benefit is convenience. When you have someplace to be, getting your car out of the driveway is important. Whether it’s getting off to work or heading to the airport for a nice vacation in warmer climes, we need to be able to move. We could get started really early to shovel. We could hire someone but never know when they’re going to arrive. Or we could have the advantage of that heated system that’s going to do the job for us.
Another reason heated driveways make sense is that they can protect you legally and lower the risk of becoming liable for slips and falls. Many cities and towns require that your sidewalks be cleared of snow within a certain amount of time after the storm stops. Both homeowners and business owners could end up being sued if someone slips and falls on an icy surface. The first can lead to fines, and the second to lawsuits – neither of which you want to deal with.
If you’re a business owner, an icy or snow-packed entrance to your office or store can have a huge effect on your bottom line, too. Clients and customers won’t be able to get to the door! Taking care of it with shovels or even snowblowers or plows takes more time. So a heated sidewalk helps keep business running as normal.
One final benefit is that a heated driveway system helps keep your driveway and walkways looking great. Snow plows, snow blowers, and even shovels can chip the surface and leave a hard-to-repair mark. But melting the snow instead of pushing it away eliminates that risk.
How A Heated Driveway System Works
Heated driveway systems work on a simple principle: create heat under a concrete surface that will warm the surface above the freezing point and melt whatever snow or ice falls.
There are two basic types of heated driveway system. One uses electric elements that heat up and the other uses small water pipes. Both radiate heat that passes through to the surface of the driveway, keeping it above freezing.
Hot water systems are usually more expensive to install but can be cheaper to run. The cost can depend on a variety of factors. If you already having a boiler in your home, it may be possible to draw water from there. That will depend on the size of the boiler, however. If you don’t have a boiler or the one you have isn’t sufficient, you’d have to add another just to serve the driveway system.
Automatic Systems Are A Huge Advantage
The world’s becoming more and more automated all the time. “Smart homes” are no longer a thing of the future – they’re here already. And a heated driveway system that has its “smarts” built in is a huge advantage.
The more basic type of system requires you to turn it on yourself. That can be fine – as long as you remember to do it and are home when you need it. But most of us are going to suffer from a lapse of memory from time to time and forget to get the system started. Or maybe the storm hits sooner than expected and we’re not where we need to be. Imagine heading back from a wonderful trip to sunny Florida and knowing you’re going to have trouble getting into your driveway when you get home!
An automatic system, on the other hand, will start itself. It’s not necessary to tie it into the “Internet of Things”, although that’s surely coming. However, by simply monitoring the temperature and humidity, the system can start itself when needed.
One of the greatest features is that the system can warm up even before the snow starts falling. That way it begins to work right away.
This is especially important if you expect more than a light snow. If the snow is thicker on a cold surface, the system could warm up and start melting the bottom layer, but the snow could actually form a layer of insulation, preventing the top from melting – just like an igloo works. So a system that knows to start up and have the ground warm in advance is a huge advantage.
If you have a manual system, you’ll want to remember to start it before the snow falls, too, for the same reasons!
A heated driveway or sidewalk system can save you a lot of heavy work, lower the risk of injuries to passersby, and keep your surfaces intact longer. While it can be a considerable one-time expense, it will pay for itself over time. There’s no need to suffer from ice and snow; let it melt away instead!
About the Author
Bill Michaels works for Patterned Concrete as a digital outreach specialist. The company is an expert and pioneer in stamped concrete since 1972. It has grown from its Toronto-area roots to have franchises across North America. If you’re a concrete mason and interested in stamped concrete work, get in touch for info on how to become a part of the family!