Hydronic Snow Melt Systems: Say Goodbye to Shovels

There is an alternative to constant shoveling and de-icing.

Even in moderate climates such as East-Tennessee, orientation and shading over your entrance may encourage snow and ice accumulation on your drive, stairs and walkways. Our snow melting products are designed to help protect family, friends or customers.

Many homeowners and businesses in the Knoxville metro area 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. They also drastically reduce liability in commercial applications due to slip and fall lawsuits.

Our radiant heat snow melting systems provide safe walking surfaces on sidewalks, stairs, porches, entrances, driveways, loading docks and steep surfaces without the hassle of traditional snow removal methods. If it’s concrete, asphalt, pavers, or an existing surface, A & C Trades’ versatile snow melting systems will provide the perfect and longest lasting solution for any challenge. Our custom designed solutions are without limitations. All systems are designed to ASHRAE standards using snow melting data by region to give our customers the most efficient snow melting system available. We do not standardize our systems.

How Snow Melt Systems Work

In a hydronic snow melt system the heating element is a closed-loop tubing made of a flexible polymer (typically a cross-linked polyethylene also known as “Pex”). This heat element is embedded in the concrete or asphalt to transfer its heat energy to the slab.  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.

Sensors to detect outside air temperature and moisture are embedded in the slab. These sensors will communicate with your system to determine if the snowmelt system needs to be turned on and will activate the system automatically. The sensors only activate when moisture is present AND the outdoor temperature is below freezing.

The sensors eliminate the need for the system to be running simply when air temperature drops below freezing and, therefore, make the system very energy efficient.  In essence, the system does the snow shoveling for you.

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.

To meet this BTUH requirement you will need a boiler (geothermal, natural gas, fuel oil, propane or even wood) or you can use a high-efficiency water heater. These can be installed within your home or building structure and are connected below ground to the snowmelt field.