thawing an iced up driveway?

I've got a montreal-style bilevel home where the driveway runs down and towards the house at a good slope. I have retaining walls on either side where the driveway goes below grade.
In the springtime, as the temps get warm enough to let the sun melt snow/ice at the top of the driveway and the grass, it runs down the driveway as gravity would have it do....but as it gets past the retaining walls (where the sun cannot get to, at any time of the day) it re-freezes.
sort of like an ice dam on a roof, but at the base of my driveway. I had to use an air-chisel and break away large pieces of ice in the early spring to keep it clear....
I am thinking about laying down a set of roof de-icing cables across the area to keep it thawed permanently. any thoughts? is it ok to be driving on these wires? I know they dont' get "hot" per se, barely warm I know...but will I be doing damage to them by driving on them?? are there any more appropriate products for such a task?
bmoney
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On Sat, 08 Jan 2005 20:05:02 GMT, "Hamilton Audio"

Don't think these cables are ment to be driven over. So can be very, very dangerous.

Some options for deicing/desnowing: http://www.urlbee.com?498
Never thought about the heat lamps...
later,
tom @ www.CarFleaMarket.com
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On Sat, 08 Jan 2005 16:27:52 -0500, snipped-for-privacy@intertainia.com wrote:

I would think they would not hold up to driving on either. I'd use a GFI outlet to protect yourself if you do use them. I do not know of any permanent solution other than tearing up the driveway and installing heating coils under the pavement. Otherwise, buy lots of sand/salt or chemical deicer.
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I did the chemical de-icer last year and it helped....but did irreversible damage to the concrete trough drain in front of the garage pad....basically destroyed it. it needed redo-ing, and was a great excuse. but now that its fresh concrete ($500 and a full days work later) I don't want to again for a long time! so the salt is out of the question.
the element of removing it once its created isnt really a problem. my air chisel hitting on the right angle peels it up reasonably well. but its painful crappy work i'd rather not do.
the previous owner left me a long length of pre-terminated single strand heating cable that is used to leave in the trough drain to keep it flowing during the several weeks of spring where freeze-thaw cycles cause it to build up ice and block up. it works pretty well....I wonder if I could get some of this to drive over?
i wonder if I could rig up a permanent (but flexible) structure to tie the roof de-icing cables to in a good pattern that I could lay on the ice during the day...just move the structure/wires before entering the garage at nite. seems to me the little bit of pain in the a$$ this incurs up front will limit the need for really painful ice chipping later....anybody have any wicked thoughts on a foldable or collapsible structure i could tie the wires to in a grid pattern? I was thinking a piece of heavier gauge hardware cloth? just roll it up after...since all the wires will be tie-wrapped to it solidly....
bmoney
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On Sun, 09 Jan 2005 01:36:49 GMT, "Hamilton Audio"

Thats the problem with salt. In front of my walkin garage door I made a small walkway out of natural rock from my own property. Last winter that thing got all iced up and I slipped, smacking my head on the door. Thats when I poured salt on it. In spring several of the rocks had chips coming off the top surface. They just sort of peeled off. I dont understand why salt reacts like that on stone and cement, but it does.
I hate to say it, but I think your only permanent is to rip up all the concrete and install heating coils under it. I do wonder how indoor-outdoor carpeting would work?
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Hamilton Audio wrote:

No, you will damage the wires. They don't expect cars to drove over them on the roof. :-)

--
Joseph Meehan

26 + 6 = 1 It's Irish Math
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On Sat, 08 Jan 2005 23:43:15 GMT, "Joseph Meehan"

But ar rated for sleigh and deer traffic. :-p

later,
tom @ www.CarFleaMarket.com
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Hamilton Audio wrote:

You might try scraping off the snow down to translucent ice, and shining a 250W heat lamp (or 2) on it. That might heat the concrete up enough underneath the ice that you can chip it loose with a heavy ice scraper.
I was gonna try that with my driveway (we had 1/2" of freezing rain last week), but it was warm enough today, and a *little* sunshine, that I was able to chop most of it loose pretty easy.
Best regards, Bob
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I put a drain at the low point of my driveway.
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I would put a drain or at least a holding basin where the water collects. That means you may need to cut a piece of the driveway out. I doubt the deicing wires will provide enough power, unless the area is small.
On Sat, 08 Jan 2005 20:05:02 GMT, "Hamilton Audio"

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apparently I wasn't clear - I do have an extremely effective trough drain right in front of the garage pad, and it works wonders.
the problem is that the driveway dips below grade (towards the house). this means that snow/ice melting in the sun at the top of the driveway runs down the driveway and by the time it gets to the bottom, its below grade and away from the sun entirely - so it re-freezes. VERY MUCH like an ice dam on a roof. The water just spills over itself and in time an ice flow of a few inches thick develops.
there has got to be some sort of heated wire solution for this....I'll just keep looking.
b
wrote:

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Wonder if you can have a plumber rig a drain on the sunny section of the driveway? So the water drains at a warm spot, instead of trying to flow down to a cold spot?
--

Christopher A. Young
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Hamilton Audio wrote:

Some random thoughts:
Might it be possible to shade the top part of the driveway so it doesn't melt?The situation is analogous to ice dams on the roof, where the solution is to insulate the attic floor so the snow doesn't melt and run down.
How about cutting grooves in the drive so the meltwater is channeled to the sides and along gutters into the drain?
Instead of salt or granular ice melters, how about a liquid such as they use at airports? Windshield washer antifreeze is perhaps a handy equivalent. I'm thinking of some kind of automated mechanism that sprays bursts over the area at intervals.
Hardware stores sell propane-powered firesticks for melting snow (and killing weeds). I would not for a second entertain the notion of an unattended gizmo built around such a thing, but it's probably the handiest way to melt the ice once it's there.
I like the idea of heatlamps, as has already been mentioned. This would simulate sunshine all the way down the driveway. Probably most effective if you pre-warmed the dark driveway before the snow and ice covered it. Propane-fired torchieres such as for patios would probably work well if you had space for one.
I think I'd be saving my pennies for a buried heater system. Chip C Toronto
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Hamilton Audio wrote:

Just looked into this:
http://www.warmzone.com/SnowMelting/snowmelting.asp They can retrofit your existing driveway to melt snow/ice.
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On 12 Jan 2005 05:51:41 -0800, snipped-for-privacy@yahoo.com wrote:

Wow! Even roof deicer too.
later,
tom @ www.CarFleaMarket.com
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