Before discussing the pros and cons of a heated driveway, you should know what a heated driveway is and how it works. You should also know what it costs and if it worth the expense. Read on to learn more about heated driveways.
What is a Heated Driveway?
This is a radiant heat flooring system and is very beneficial for those that live in a snowy climate.
When the temperature drops outside, antifreeze and heated water are pumped in the tubing so any snow on the driveway will be melted.
If you want to change your regular driveway into a heated one, you may not need to install a new driveway.
Sometimes the tubing can just be run under your existing driveway.
When considering a heated driveway, on average it costs $12 to $23 per square foot but prices can vary according to the work you need to be done.
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In addition to heated driveways, this system can be used in other outdoor places like a patio.
The radiant heating that comes from this system has been popular in commercial settings such as a mall or restaurant walkway for more than 25 years.
For residential use, it only started trending for about 15 years.
Pros of a Heated Driveway
No one likes to have to get out and shovel snow several times a year to get out of their driveway.
Some cannot shovel snow or cannot get someone to do it. This is when a heated driveway would be a great idea.
All you have to do is turn on a switch inside your home or garage and soon the snow will melt away.
Having a heated driveway will save you hours from shoveling snow and it will be easier on the body. No more bundling up to go out and shovel snow.
- No more pulled muscles from shoveling snow or numb toes and fingers
- If you were hiring someone to professionally remove the snow or someone from the neighborhood, you could save $25 to $75 per hour depending on where you live.
- You will help to prevent the deterioration of the surface of your asphalt or concrete driveway from the repeated use of rock salt and ice-melt chemicals. These can also kill any plants nearby and damage the underside of your car. With a heated driveway, it will safely melt the ice and snow without damaging the environment, your car, or your driveway.
- If your driveway surface is exposed to sub-zero temps for a long time, it can be damaged and will not last as long. Concrete is naturally porous. When the water from the melted snow freezes on the driveway it can lead to the development of cracks and surface spalling. With a heated driveway, the temperature can remain above freezing.
- You will have peace of mind because there will be fewer risks of someone falling and being injured and filing a negligence lawsuit.
- It will also increase the fair market value of your home when you sell your home.
Cons of a Heated Driveway
- With a heated driveway, it will not melt the ice and snow on the walkways or steps so you should be prepared to keep shoveling them or you can also install radiant heat there.
- Generally, when you put in a heated driveway, you will have to tear out the old driveway and pouring another one. This can be very expensive. In some cases, a contractor may be able to install the radiant heating system over the driveway you have by using a resurfacing technique. The downside is that if you use this technique it could void the warranty that comes with the radiant heating materials.
- The utility bills will increase because you have to use gas or electricity to operate the heated driveway. In some cases, it may be more beneficial financially to hire someone to remove the snow if you live in an area where utility bills are already high.
- It is pricy and professional installation is required. To get the work done, you will have to hire a licensed contractor. It is not a DIY project. If you have to have the old driveway removed you will have to pay $13,000 to $16,000, maybe more. It will all depend on the size of the driveway. If you have the radiant heating system installed with a newly constructed driveway or the driveway you are replacing is small, you could save $3,000 to $5,000.
- If the system malfunctions, to repair it might mean tearing out part or all of the driveway. To help reduce this risk, hire a contractor that specializes in heated driveway installation.
- Concrete driveways can be stressed by the hydronic tubes if the heat is not distributed evenly.
Types of Heating Systems for Heated Driveways
When choosing to have a heated driveway, there are two systems that a homeowner can choose from;
- Hydronic systems: With this heated driveway system it will involve installing beneath the surface of the driveway resilient PEX tubing. The tubing will fill with a non-freezing solution that will then start to circulate through a boiler. The boiler will usually be housed in the garage so it can maintain a consistently warm temperature. This system does not use much electricity.
- Electric systems: Mats and heating cables are woven together in a grid pattern and then embedded beneath the driveway surface. This would keep your driveway free of ice and snow. The woven mats are designed to resist corrosion and damage. It is often higher than a hydronic system.
After your radiant system is installed correctly it should not require any special maintenance.
You can treat your driveway as if it were a regular driveway with one exception.
You should not allow heavy trucks such as concrete mixers to pull in your driveway as it could crack the radiant heating system.
With the hydronic system, you will have to have the boiler inspected according to the warranty, which is generally one year.
When it is installed correctly, it should last 15 to 20 years.