Using PEX Tubing In A Snow Melting System

Owning a house in America has always been an integral part of the American dream.  However, with the pride of ownership come such everyday issues and concerns such as house upkeep and maintenance.  While taking out garbage bins once a week might be somewhat of a nuisance, there are few things that homeowners dislike more than shoveling snow.  As shoveling is not only time consuming, but is also physically intensive in labor, many homeowners opt to hire outside help to do the job, resulting in hundreds of dollars of extra expenses during an average Northeastern winter. Needless to say, until the snow is removed, it creates a slip and fall hazard, resulting in unnecessary liability for the homeowner.

One of the most efficient ways of dealing with snow around the house in a simple and completely automated way is by installing a snow melting system.  Such system works by radiantly heating up walkways and driveways, causing the snow to melt.

A typical hydronic snow melting system consists of PEX tubing, evenly laid out underneath the surface, and a heat source (water heater or boiler).  When hot water runs through the PEX tube, it gives off heat and warms the surface (be it concrete, asphalt, brick, tiles or other material), which causes snow to melt.  The layout of PEX tubing and water flow is directly correlated to the speed of snow melting.  The closer the tubing loops are to each other and the larger the flow is, the more heat is radiated. An average distance between tubes in a snow melting system is 10."

Variables such as surface thickness, tubing size, insulation, and depth of tubing installation depend mainly on area size and materials used and are to be set on case by case basis.

Aside from the initial cost of installation, the system is inexpensive in exploitation, mainly because it’s used only when it snows: usually a maximum of no more than 10 times in a year.  As far as advantages of snow melting system, beyond the obvious reduction of physical labor and liability, such a system also reduces damage to surface usually caused by expansion of freezing water.

There are two main methods of activating a snow melting system.  A typical on/off switch is the most basic and inexpensive way.  However, it can only work when the homeowner is at home, awake and aware of the snow.  The second method involves installing a special sensor, which detects temperature and moisture, and which will turn the system on automatically once it starts snowing.  A drainage pipe should be in place to drain the melted snow.