Waterheater/snow melt

Discussion in 'Plumbing Forum, Professional & DIY Advice, Tips & ' started by jphillips, Nov 13, 2006.

  1. jphillips

    jphillips New Member

    Messages:
    2
    Under pavement snow melter. I am thinking about using an electric water heater and running a line to a pump and having that connected to a manifold that will run 25 to 30 lines of funny pipe installed underneath a paver drive way. I will then run the lines back to another manifold and back into the waterheater. While running it should pump the warm liquid under the pavers and melt the snow and keep it clear year round. Is it possible to use antifreeze instead of water and heat it to the minimum? (vacation mode) (don't know how hot that is?) Just didn't know if anyone has ever had antifreeze in a water heater before, or if I should use a boiler. Any one have any thoughts on the this?
  2. Cass

    Cass Plumber

    Messages:
    5,980
    Location:
    Ohio
    I would suggest you purchase a pavement snow melting system and install it according to the MFG. directions and use whatever liquid it should have. If you don't you run the risk of a very expensive tear up fixing what ever problems you run into and having the cost to operate it skyrocket over what it should be which won't be cheap to begin with.
    Last edited: Nov 14, 2006
  3. hj

    hj Moderator & Master Plumber Staff Member

    Messages:
    26,251
    Location:
    Cave Creek, Arizona
    Under pavement snow melter. I am thinking about using an electric water heater and running a line to a pump and having that connected to a manifold that will run 25 to 30 lines of funny pipe installed underneath a paver drive way. I will then run the lines back to another manifold and back into the waterheater. While running it should pump the warm liquid under the pavers and melt the snow and keep it clear year round. Is it possible to use antifreeze instead of water and heat it to the minimum? (vacation mode) (don't know how hot that is?) Just didn't know if anyone has ever had antifreeze in a water heater before, or if I should use a boiler. Any one have any thoughts on the this

    Anyone who has thought of doing it this way probably changed their mind after about a half hour of real consideration.
    1. "Funny pipe" will not handle warm water.
    2. An electric, or any domestic, water heater will not have the bTU capacity to melt an entire driveway.
    3. Unless you use antifreeze you will be repairing broken lines continually.
    4. The operating costs will be astronomical to run the heater 24 hours a day, which is what would be required when it snows, even though it would not do a very good job of melting.
    5. Putting it under pavers, on top of the ground means that you would have to heat the bricks first, while at the same time most of the heat would be escaping into the ground and trying to thaw the dirt.
  4. jadnashua

    jadnashua Retired Defense Industry Engineer xxx

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    21,804
    Location:
    New England
    You'd need to add insulation and water membrane under the driveway and figure somewhere around 8-15 BTU/hour per square foot, depending on how fast you want the thing to melt snow. A typical HW tank produces maybe 30K BTU/hour, but when you run it with antifreeze, you loose 20% of the heat transfer capability, so it would be equivalent to 24K. not a very big area that could be heated sufficiently, plus, it's not designed for it. Much better to get a boiler designed for continuous operations and engineer it right.
  5. Gary Swart

    Gary Swart In the Trades

    Messages:
    7,302
    Location:
    Yakima WA
    I'm thinking snow blower. Even if you can devise a system and make it work to melt the snow, you will have to continue to apply heat until the surface is dry or you'll have a skating rink! A single stage snow blower such as the Toro, will easily clear this area. It has rubber blades and will not mess up the pavers.
  6. Verdeboy

    Verdeboy In the Trades

    Messages:
    2,051
    Hire a neighborhood kid to shovel your drive. It'll save on your back, reduce global warming, give the kid some self-worth, and save you money in the long run.
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