When [Ronald Walters] was building a new house, he decided he didn’t want to shovel snow anymore. So he built a snow melt system under his new driveway. He knew the system would be expensive to operate, but he reasoned it was cheaper than back surgery and much cheaper than having a heart attack.
The system uses PEX pipe on rebar and insulation that is all set down before the concrete in the driveway. An instant-on water heater produces the heat that melts the snow and ice off [Ronald’s] driveway with no shoveling required. The working fluid includes anti-freeze, of course, and there is a set of pumps, flow valves, and flow meters to keep everything flowing when the system is in operation.
You might wonder why you need so much hardware just to push some hot water under concrete. Remember, if you heat concrete too fast, it will crack. By controlling the flow rate, the input temperature, and the temperature of the return fluid, [Ronald] can monitor the rate of heating to prevent problems.
The system has over 1,400 feet of PEX in eight separate loops. Since it would be hard to repair anything under the concrete, each loop has no breaks or joints. The system’s been keeping [Ronald’s] drive clear for ten years.
This project would be difficult to adapt to an existing driveway, but maybe not impossible. However, you can always opt for a robot snowblower. Of course, you could just learn to love the snow and play high-voltage music until it clears on its own.
Thanks to [Alexander Riccio] for the tip!