Will your hydronic snow melt system be ready when winter comes and the snow starts to fall? There is an alternative to constant shoveling and de-icing.
Some homeowners and businesses are keeping their concrete driveways and other exterior walkways maintenance-free by installing ice and snow melt systems.
Not only do these in-slab hydronic snowmelt systems eliminate plowing, backbreaking shoveling, and icy spills, they prevent potential damage to the concrete caused by snow-removal equipment and corrosive de-icers.
How Snow Melt Systems Work
The heat element is either hydronic tubing or electric wires. This heat element is embedded in concrete to transfer its heat energy to the slab.
This type of system also requires a set of sensors to detect outside air temperature and moisture.These sensors will communicate with your system to determine if the snowmelt system needs to be turned on. The system does the shoveling for you.
You will also need a heat source. For hydronic applications you will need a boiler or water heater.These can be propane, gas, fuel oil, wood or any other available fuel source in your area.Lastly, you will need a hydronic control panel to make the system work.
In a hydronic snow melt system provided by Eagle Mountain, the heating element is a closed-loop tubing made of a flexible polymer (typically a cross-linked polyethylene also known as Pex). This tubing circulates a mixture of hot water and propylene glycol (antifreeze), much like the mixture used in a car radiator. The fluid is warmed to temperatures of 140F to 180F to provide sufficient heat for snow melting.
The tubing ranges in diameter from 1/2 to 3/4 inch and is flexible enough to bend into various layout patterns. It’s also designed to have a long service life. The tubing resists chemicals and corrosion and does not become soft at high operating temperatures or brittle at low outdoor temperatures. Most installations have the tubing on 6-inch centers, which conveniently corresponds with the 6-inch grid pattern of welded wire reinforcing.
Heat Source for Snowmelt Systems
You need a heat source that will supply enough heat to sufficiently melt the snow and ice. Snowmelt systems require an average of 100-150 BTUH per square foot. This number may change due to a variety of design factors, but it will give you an idea of the energy required for hydronic snowmelt systems.
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