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?
Knowledge may be power, but communications is the key
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.
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
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.....
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...
Knowledge may be power, but communications is the key
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.
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
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.
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
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.
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.
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
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.
| > The best option is to simply avoid driving anywhere when it snows. Take
| > day off, or work from home if you can. Obviously, that's not an option
| > 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?
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.
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
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,
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
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.
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.
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
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
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