anyone here use... heating loops in concrete driveway/sidewalk?

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We're out here in flyover country where the snows are deep and cold, and getting real, real, tired of shoveling out the driveway and clearing the sidewalk.
Even with a contractor handling it, that often means waiting a day or so because of their other work.
So... we'll be needing some concrete work on the driveway in a few years, and I was looking into tapping off our home heating boiler (baseboard, hot water circulating) and running some loops in the concrete.
It would add between five hundred and a thousand to the basic concrete work, and cost, perhaps, ten dollars for the extra natural gas each time we'd use it.
It would also mean changing/adding an antifreeze mix to the boiler loop, which might reduce efficiency a notch (there's lots of argument...) and thus cost us another hundred, maybe, ech winter. Maybe.
So it's economically plausable.
Anyone have experience, thoughts, cautions, or even "you're absolutely crazy" warnings?
Thanks.
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On 04/20/2015 11:31 AM, danny burstein wrote:

Way back when energy was cheap, the Gas company here in town had heated sidewalks and it worked well.
I think that it would cost a lot more than you think it would because if the Gas company here can no longer afford to do so it's got to be expensive.
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On Monday, April 20, 2015 at 12:31:22 PM UTC-4, danny burstein wrote:

The $500 to $1000 additional cost sounds low to me. Not only do you have the piping that has to go in the concrete, but you have plumbing back to the boiler, controller of some kind, etc.
The $10 cost for the energy to melt deep snow in a cold place, also sounds low to me, even if it's nat gas. Where did that number come from? I don't have experience using such a system, but I would think it would typically go on as snow begins to fall and it would have to keep the driveway above freezing for the duration. That would be a big concern, what it costs to run it when it's needed.
Also, can the existing boiler handle the increased load? Typically systems are sized to the house, with some reserve, based on the coldest days. If you then add in a whole new load, temps in the house may suffer, but maybe that's OK. Like if the system runs at night mostly.
I guess it could work out and be worth it. But I just use a $750 snow blower that's 20 years old. I do a 75 ft driveway plus larger parking apron typically in 15 mins for a snow of 5". If it's a big one, over a foot, probably takes 30 mins or so. If I could clear that with hydronic for $10 or $20, each time, it would be worth it on an operating cost basis. But then I have a furnace.....
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It's only a 20 foot run from the edge of the driveway to the boiler, and then figure 150 or so feet of coiled, err, whatever the flexible pipe is made of.
Actually make it a couple of smaller loops, but same concept.

I'm basing it on the amount of hot water I used one day when I _had to_ clear the driveway and shoveling wasn't an option. Used up the tank and had to wait for the water to reheat a bunch of times... but all in all it was about two hours. Water heater is something like 20,000 BTU/hr, so give or take a therm, ala a hundred cubic feet (more or less), which was umm, one or two dollars.
So I figure ten dollars of heat into the concrete should be a reasnoable back of envelope number.
(yes, some goes into the ground, etc., etc.)

System is spec'ed for, yes, a hundred degree differential between outdoor (it gets way subzero here) and indoor.
We retrofitted a higher efficiency, modulated controlled boiler five years ago. It typically runs at 25 percent (apparently its lowest setting) with a 30 or so percent duty cycle. Only time it's hit near 100 percent is when we've been gone and let the ouse drop to 50 degrees..

Alas, Father Time has gotten to us...
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On Monday, April 20, 2015 at 1:27:20 PM UTC-4, danny burstein wrote:

What is the area of the driveway?
.> I'm basing it on the amount of hot water I used one day

I would think there must be some resource online from the companies that sell this stuff that would give you a better estimate. But I take it from the above that the driveway area is also small.
Sounds like it could be a viable option.
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On 4/20/2015 1:27 PM, danny burstein wrote:

On the edge of my old failing memory, I think at the bus garage with the heated parking lot, the snow would turn to vapor, and so melt and run off wasn't an issue.
- . Christopher A. Young learn more about Jesus . www.lds.org . .
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It takes at least 1200 BTU to melt ice to 1 gallon of water. At 15 cents per kWh thats, about 5 cents of electricity per gallon of water melted. If you want it done in 1 hour, you need 350 Watts per gallon.
It takes at least 8000 BTU to evaporate 1 gallon of water to vapor. At 15 cents per kWh thats about 36 cents of electricity per gallon of water evaporated.
If you want it done in 1 hour, you need about 2300 Watts per gallon.
How many gallons of water do you suppose we are talking about on a typical driveway? It takes a lot more energy (about 7x) to evaporate the water than it does to melt the ice.
Mark
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Does snow melt quicker than a block of ice?
I would tend to think so since it's mostly air space. Just like a bag of crushed ice melts faster than a solid block of ice. Increased surface area.
Also, since it takes roughly 10 inches of snow to equal 1 inch of water (melted down), it seems like the run off would be minimal. Certainly no more than a typical rain shower.
Ideally, the driveway heating would be turned on when the snow starts so it never has a chance to build up in the first place. It would melt as soon as it hit the driveway.
Of course, even if you manage to keep your driveway completely clear, you'll still have snow out on the street. Even if the street is plowed, they're probably not going to clear the road right up to your driveway.
I live in a rural area and the snow plow usually creates a large berm of snow right at the top of our driveway. Some winters that berm has been as high as four feet. Even if my driveway was clear I would have to dig my way through the snow berm.
The best option is to simply avoid driving anywhere when it snows. Take a day off, or work from home if you can. Obviously, that's not an option for most people.
Otherwise, a snowblower has worked best for me. I started with a small electric model which worked great for the sidewalks and areas around the house. But I had to get a gas powered snow blower for my 200ft driveway and that berm at the top.
Thanks to a changing climate, we haven't had a significant snow fall in the last few years. I never even used the snow blower this winter.
Anthony Watson www.mountainsoftware.com www.watsondiy.com
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On Tuesday, April 21, 2015 at 10:48:40 AM UTC-4, HerHusband wrote:

That't the important issue, that 1 gallon of water will make a lot of snow. Also, somehow Mark segued into using costs for electric. OP has a boiler, IDK if it's gas or oil, but either would be significantly less to operate.
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On 4/21/2015 11:00 AM, trader_4 wrote:

A cubic foot of snow can range from 5# to 25#. You can roughly figure a 6" snow is a half gallon per square foot. 600 Btu per sq. ft. A 35' x 9' driveway would need a minimum of 189,000 Btu 138.000 Btu per gallon of oil.
Add to that, the loses to the ground and the time getting the thermal mass up to temperature. The lower the ambient, the more energy needed.
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On 4/21/2015 10:47 AM, HerHusband wrote:

This is true.

How does that work? If I get 12" of snow and take the day off, does it just disappear by next morning? This winter, I'd be stuck for about three months waiting for it to melt.
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| > The best option is to simply avoid driving anywhere when it snows. Take a | > day off, or work from home if you can. Obviously, that's not an option for | > most people. | | How does that work? If I get 12" of snow and take the day off, does it | just disappear by next morning? This winter, I'd be stuck for about | three months waiting for it to melt. |
I'm surprised how many people here seem to find it unreasonable to consider shoveling snow. Does everyone havea bad back? I kind of enjoy it. It's good exercise. If you get 12" you're probably not going anywhere, anyway. So why not get out and shovel?
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On Tuesday, April 21, 2015 at 12:27:58 PM UTC-4, Mayayana wrote:

No joy here to do 75ft of driveway, plus wider area in front of 2 car garage..... And if you're out of shape, which many of us are, it's a good way to have a heart attack. OP apparently is in the Midwest where cold and lots of snow are common too.
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Mayayana wrote:
i think it's a huge waste of energy and resources... but some people have to have the drive clear each time it snows. we're lucky that neither of us has that issue. when it snows hard here we wait it out and then shovel when we can get to it.
one major problem i see is that heating the slab wastes a lot of energy into the ground so it would have to be very well insulated and engineered not to crack and as of yet i've not seen any concrete drive that doesn't eventually crack. one big truck driving on it and away it goes.
can't see such a major expense being worth it. for the money, hire someone or get a decent snow blower (some have heated cabs, radios, etc.).
...

yeah, fresh air, good exercise, etc.
usually we shovel all winter when it does snow. this past winter was rather wimpy, we had only one time that it was bad and it just happened that both of us were sick. so we called someone to plow for us. i did go out and try to shovel it a few times but after about 20 minutes i was done.
in previous years i've shoveled a few feet of snow, just take it in shifts and don't worry about taking a break.
with both of us in relatively decent condition we both like to shovel, but i can see how some folks would have a tough time of it.
my experiences with those few who've put in the heated walks is that they are ok until they get the fuel bill. after that they turn them off.
problems with settling, cracking, wasted energy, etc.
a good snow blower will take care of it with much less expense. finding neighborhood kids willing to make a few $ or handymen with extra time. if i were in the city i'd be out looking for places to shovel myself. digging is one of the best exercises for my back...
songbird
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Per songbird:

I wonder what somebody living up in lake-effect-snow country (like Watertown, NY) would have to say about this.
The one time I was up there, the only bare road that I saw was a rough circle where the two main streets of town crossed.
AFIK, they did not plow up there. Instead they would run road graders to smooth out the snow on the roads.
And I never saw anybody stuck or having problems....
In a book called "Paradise Below Zero" by a guy named Calvin Rutstrom, the author says that their retirement home is in snow country and they have a second main entrance some feet off the ground which they switch over to using once the snow gets high enough. And they just go everywhere via snowmobile.
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On 4/21/2015 12:31 PM, Mayayana wrote:

I used to shovel, now I use a machine to blow it. I understand what you are saying about shoveling, but many of us, as we get older, find it more difficult every year. Good exercise at 50 is much less fun at 65 or 70 or more.
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I used to enjoy it when I was in my 30's, but it sure seems like a lot more work now that I'm in my 50's. :)
20 years ago I always shoveled our 200 foot driveway by hand. With 8" or more of snow it would typically take about four hours to clear the driveway and get the cars ready to go. Obviously, that's not something you do before heading to work. It was reserved for those times when we had to run to town to get groceries or other supplies.
Even with my gas powered snow blower it can take 30-45 minutes to clear our driveway.
Anthony Watson www.mountainsoftware.com www.watsondiy.com
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Per Mayayana:

If somebody is not accustomed to hard work/exercise, I would think that shoveling snow poses a significant risk.
More so than most activities because it's the kind of thing where you keep going no matter what - "Just get it done...".
If I'm in shape, no problem... but if I've been sedentary for months prior....
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On 4/21/2015 12:01 PM, Ed Pawlowski wrote:

All the snow from the street will be plowed into the end of your driveway?
- . Christopher A. Young learn more about Jesus . www.lds.org . .
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On 4/21/2015 3:19 PM, Stormin Mormon wrote:

Not all, just half. The other half goes to the other side. The plow comes to within about 18" of the curb tossing snow onto my property as it goes.
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