We all have mixed feelings about snow at this time of year. On the one hand it’s such a beautiful sight, and on the other hand it brings with it the dreaded task of shoveling. Much as we might like to ignore it, we really have a responsibility to get the snow out of our driveways, pathways and doorsteps.
But there is good news! There are ways to clear your driveway and melt ice without even touching a shovel; here are some of the “shoveling alternatives” that you might wish to consider:
If you’ve ever looked longingly at snowblowers in the store, here are some things to keep in mind:
• They work effectively for light snow, but not thick, heavy snow.
• They are considerably easier to use than a shovel!
• They are bulky and require a large space for storage.
• Like any piece of equipment, snowblowers require regular maintenance.
2. Truck-mounted snowplow
If you own a truck, it’s possible to buy a snowplow and connect it to your vehicle. This is a great way to quickly clear a large area, and it’s definitely more powerful than a snowblower. But connecting a snowplow to your truck is expensive and cumbersome. If you’re going to go to that extent, it really only makes sense if you have a long driveway, or want to be a good neighbor and clear everyone’s driveway on your street.
3. Heated driveways or snow melt systems
A snow melt system is composed of tubes that are buried beneath the driveway, patio, pathways or any part of your outdoor space. Heated water is pumped into the tubes so that they radiate heat from underneath, melting surface ice. The water pumped into the tubes is mixed with an anti-freeze ingredient called glycol. The snow melt system also includes drainage that catches run-off water and channels it away from your driveway.
Snow melt systems can be manual, automatic or semi-automatic. Here are the features of each:
This system is operated by pushing an on/off button; it is the least efficient system.
Because the system starts from cold, it takes some time to generate sufficient heat, and will not melt ice as quickly as its automatic counterparts.
If several layers of ice have had the chance to accumulate while the system is inactive, it can take some time to completely clear.
An automatic melting system runs continuously at a low level, until the snow starts to thicken and its sensors tell it to start operating at full throttle. With an automatic snow melting system, snow never has a chance to accumulate and harden into ice.
Of course, it’s important to remember to disable the system when the weather is warm outside.
A semi-automatic system must be manually switched on, but it usually has a timer which will automatically switch the system off after a pre-set period of time.
The upfront cost of installing a radiant snow melt system is typically in the region of $10 -$15 per square foot, although there are several factors that affect the price, such as the type of control system you choose (whether it’s manual or automatic) or whether it will be connected to your home heating system or as a standalone system.
Operating costs will usually range from $0.10 – $0.50 per square foot per year, depending on several factors such as your location and the amount of snow.
4. Hire a professional snow removal service.
Of course, a fourth and extremely convenient alternative is to employ a professional snow removal service. Whatever the weather you can rest assured that your drive and pathways will be kept clear and safe at all times.