Winter time can bring the back breaking task of shoveling snow from your driveway just to be able to go to work. Ice can be a serious hazard and using ice melting chemicals is costly can destroy walkway and driveway materials, the landscaping around the driveway and can be tracked into the house, damaging floors.
Figure 1 - Driveway with snow melted using radiant heating
There is a way to remove unwanted snow and ice without shoveling or using chemicals, as shown in Figure 1.
Figure 2 - Walkway with melted snow where radiant heating has been installed
Figure 3 - Positioning of radiant heating cables in concrete slab
Electric heating cables embedded into driveways, walkways (Figure 2) and porches will melt snow and ice. The areas will be clean and safe.
The heating wire used to raise the heat of the driveway or walkway is called
Mineral Insulated Cable. It can be embedded or installed below many different types of materials; concrete, asphalt, gypsum and mortar based materials.
The mineral insulated cable is installed in a loops, crisscrossing the area to be heated, as shown in Figure 3. The exact separation of wires and loops is part of the engineering of the system. It is very dependent on the wattage needed in your geographic area.
It is not necessary to put heating cables throughout an entire area. As an example some homeowners will only place heating cables under the area where vehicle tires would make tracks. Although this saves on material during the time of the installation. The actual melt cost is not reduced dramatically as the entire surface of the driveway or walkway is attempting to maintain an even temperature.
Figure 4 - Mineral heating cable woven into fiberglass mesh
The mineral cable is woven into a plastic or fiberglass mesh so that the loops will remain at a constant distance, making installation easier, see Figure 4. The mesh does not provide any additional heating properties.
In retrofit applications, where concrete has channels cut, cables are not woven into a mesh backing, but laid in the channels in a similar loop fashion.
In the preceding picture heating cable is being installed under an asphalt coating. The mesh and the heating cable can be seen. In this case the entire driveway is not being heated, only the area where the vehicle tires will make contact with the surface.