Winnipeg has one of the most brutal winters in Canada. Our winters are so cold and harsh that we’ve adopted the nickname “Winterpeg” and it has stuck. Many people have different ideas of what they consider “bad” about a winter. For some it’s the cold temperature, for some it’s the wind, and for some it’s the snow. Whichever of these factors you consider the culprit of a bad winter, Winnipeg has them all.

Unfortunately, this causes problems for the homeowner when it comes to maintaining their property. The snow means shoveling must occur, yet the cold and wind make shoveling a less attractive activity. Some take this as the push to hire a snow removal service like Hero Snow Removal Winnipeg to remove the snow for them. This can be an excellent option for a hands off approach to property maintenance, and wake up to a freshly plowed driveway by morning. It does come at a cost and it’s tough to get right down to the concrete while not damaging the concrete in the process.

For a snow removal service to get right down to the concrete throughout the whole season they have 1 of 2 options. The service provider can either scrape hard with heavy duty equipment or use a melting agent like salt. Snow and ice can be packed as hard as concrete, so if it is being scraped hard enough to be lifted FROM concrete, how friendly does that activity sound to the concrete itself? Answer: Not very friendly especially with repeated service. It’s well known that the other alternative of salt is highly corrosive. This will pit and cause severe damage on a driveway and the more it is used the more the damage. For this reason Hero Snow Removal doesn’t use salt or heavy equipment with our services. However, there are customers who wish to have their driveway scraped to pavement and not have to do the work themselves.

For this there is the solution of heated driveways.

Heated driveways are achieved by heating the actual pavement and melting the snow that falls and accumulates on it. This is usually achieved by an electric system or a hydronic system. Both systems are installed before the driveway is poured.

In an electric system, electric heating coils are laid below the driveway and the concrete is poured on top of it. When it snows the system can be turned on and electrical resistance in the coils heats the driveway which melts the snow. This option is a common one however the price of electricity to heat such a large area can be expensive. Also, being limited to using one source of energy can limit the applications and creativity of the system.

In a hydronic, or water based system, PEX pipes are laid before the concrete is poured. In order to heat the driveway, boiling water is pumped through the pipes which heats the concrete and melts the snow. Of course, winter is cold so the pipes need to have adequate antifreeze so that the pipes don’t freeze and burst when they are not being used.

The heat for the water is generated from a central boiler which can be run off of virtually anything. It can be run off of electricity, natural gas, propane, firewood, pellets, sunflower husks, or even waste engine oil. If it can burn, chances are it can be used to fuel a boiler. This makes the applications and source fuel highly versatile in this type of system which is a good thing considering the heat requirement to melt solid snow and ice. The downside to a hydronic system is that loops should not exceed 600 feet with 300-400 feet being the more conservative maximum. Remember this is for a loop, which means 600 feet actually means 300 feet of heated distance (300 feet from the boiler, and 300 feet back to the boiler). So extra long driveways can be a challenge with this route.

Regardless of the system type, a heated driveway can offer some great advantages in creating a hands off solution to your snow removal solutions. While Hero offers an excellent snow removal service, we simply can’t compete with a heated driveway and are not afraid to admit that. Of course a heated driveway does come with a considerable up front cost which can scare many people away. If cost is not an option or the benefits outweigh the cost, maybe a heated driveway is something you should consider as a tool to fight Winnipeg’s winters.

Our only tip is to plan it into a new build instead of ripping up on old driveway and foundation to install it. The quality and cost of the install will be much more favorable. Consult a competent service provider for more info.