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Ask the Contractor: Heated Driveway Carries Cost but Melts Snow

12 Nov 2018 8:59 AM | Sandy Griffis (Administrator)

Last week we received a call from a homeowner who was interested in installing a heated driveway. They have a rather steep drive with no direct sunlight. Here are some items to consider if you are interested in a heated driveway.

There are two options; electric and/or installing a boiler. The electric option is made up of heat cables, and the boiler option uses hot water that is pumped through PEX tubing. An automatic sensor can also be installed that detects snow and ice, which would then activate the system.

There are pros and cons to both systems. For example, electric can be more efficient, heat the surface quicker and take less maintenance, while the boiler system can be a little more costly to purchase and install and require more maintenance.

With winter storms and freezing temperatures, steep driveways and sidewalks do create a hazard, and we all know the hard work of shoveling. Heated driveways offer a great benefit for the assurance of a safer environment and no more sore muscles. Another positive impact of heated driveways is the increased longevity of the concrete. Heated driveways are resistant to corrosion because ice melt material is no longer required.

Also keep in mind you must take into account the cost of tear out/haul-off and re-pour of concrete for the drive, so depending on the amount of concrete required there will be this additional expense for concrete. One can always look at pavers vs. concrete for a cost comparison.

Proper design for a heated driveway is critically important from layout to coverage, and local weather must be taken into consideration. One can always look at the installation of pavers vs. concrete as well.

And last but not least, do not forget the unattended consequences of a heated driveway. From cute deer and rabbits to javelina and skunks, these animals like warm areas to snuggle into at night. Heated driveways have been known to invite the critters over for a warm night’s sleep.
Heated driveways do have a single advantage and that is NO SNOW REMOVAL, and with some of the snow falls we have experienced throughout the years, this is no small matter for some homeowners. Although we do not live in a region that gets showered with heavy snow every winter, if a homeowner has limited mobility and no neighborhood kids who want to earn a little cash, installing a heated driveway will certainly allow a homeowner to endure the winter with safe passageway to and from the home without ever having to pick up a snow shovel.

Heated driveways are actually a radiant heat flooring system, and with the flip of a switch from inside the home the snow melts away. If you want a heated driveway, you don’t necessarily need to install a whole new driveway because sometimes the tubing can be run under your current one. I can be a smart idea to upgrade to a heated driveway if you are considering replacing your current driveway.

Remember the convenience of a heated driveway, in terms of time savings and labor reduction, is a major attraction, but it is important to keep in mind the cost factor and return on investment. Weigh the factors that might make a heated driveway worth it or not worth it. So remember to ask yourself: Is a heated driveway right for me?

Deciding whether or not a heated driveway is “worth it” involves not only weighing the cost but also balancing that cost against the value derived. Remember some factors that may tip the balance include: if you are already putting in a new driveway anyway, you de facto save on heated driveway installation expenses; we have relatively low electric rates, so the possibility of being a good candidate for electric coil heating is there; and it would be wise to check with your homeowner insurance representative – is there a cost savings for mitigating slips and falls on your property with a heated driveway?

Good-bye risk of slips and falls, good-bye snow shovel, good-bye ice melt, good-bye salt-related damage to concrete driveways.

Remember to tune in to YCCA’s “Hammer Time” twice each weekend Saturday and Sunday morning 7:00 am on KQNA 1130 am/99.9 fm/95.5fm or the web kqna.com. Listen to Sandy and Mike talk about the construction industry and meet your local community partners. A wildly fun local show.


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