Installing a Snow Melting System
Installing the System:
On our project we were converting a covered and open porch into a closed, heated mudroom. Part of this project was to build masonry steps connecting the new mudroom to the existing blue-stone walkway.
The existing blue-stone was in great shape and was aesthetically pleasing. It was decided that we would carefully pull up the blue-stone and store them temporarily while we built the mudroom, steps and installed the WarmlyYours snow melt system.
Building the Steps:
We chose to build a concrete block landing and step and use a veneer stone to cover the sides of the landing and step risers. The cables are easier to install with a block foundation.
Prior to building the steps we needed to dig and pour a concrete a footing 48-inches deep, below the fronts line. Re-bar and wire mesh was added to this footing for strength.
The step treads would receive the heating cables and topped with 1” to 1-1/2″ bed of mortar and capped with 1-1/2″ thick blue stone treads.
Preparing the Walkway for Snow Melt Cables:
We re-excavated and graded the walkway base and made sure there was a good pitched to drain water away from the steps. To do this we added and tamped layers of gravel in 1” lifts until we had a minimum of 3″ or firm, thick compacted gravel base. Prior to doing this we installed a 4” PVC conduit under the walkway for future lighting or irrigation additions.
We measured the location of the conduit and wrote that information near the electrical circuit breakers for future reference.
This conduit allows future work to be done without having to lift the blue stone and risking damage to the heating cables.
Installing the Snow Melt Heating Cables:
The WarmlyYours heating cable has a 20′ section of cold wire.
This wire is what you use to run through the floor system of the mudroom and to the control panel.
These cables are terminated with 20’ (6.1m) long standard cold leads. The cold lead is not heated and is used to enter into the building and attach to the control.
We ran our cold lead wires through the mudrooms new floor joist system and into the basement to the electrical service panel.
The snow melt system requires one dedicated 30 amp 240 VAC breaker.
The electrician chose to wire this project for 240 volts. 240 volts allows you to cover more area with the available amps.
All electrical connections are made by an licensed electrician. The electrician will run also conduit to the snow sensor.
Prior to installation and periodically during installation make sure to check the Ohms, per manufacturers recommendation, to ensure that the cable is not damaged.
We needed a way to secure our snow melt cable and keep its shape under the walkway. To do this we installed a 6” x 6” wire grid over the gravel base.
The heating cable was then installed in a serpentine pattern, and was secured to the mesh with plastic tie wraps.
I took precautions not to overlap the cables at any point to avoid possibly overheating the cables.
Minimum spacing of the cable s 3″ and the maximum spacing is 12“.
I installed the cable at a depth not deeper than 2-1/2″ from the top of blue-stone. The snow melting heating cable rests in a 1-inch bed of sand.
On the stair treads we installed galvanized stucco type mesh to the landing and step with fasteners embedded into the green mortar to hold the mesh down.
For fasteners you can use tap-con screws, galvanized nails of power shot fasteners. The heat cables were secured to the mesh with tie wraps.
Installing the Blue-stone Walk:
After installing the heating cable we reinstalled the blue-stone walkway on top of two inches of level sand.
CONSTRUCTION TIP –
When removing the walkway we used our iPhone to take a video of the blue-stone pattern. When the time came to re-install the existing walkway this video proved helpful with matching the pieces / pattern.
We used a rubber mallet to tap each piece securely in the sand, checking each stone for level and a consistent gap between stones for an attractive look. The blue-stone joints were filled with a colored plyometric sand to complete the walkway.
The system has an aerial mounted snow sensor that attaches to the exterior of the house and a low voltage wire runs back to the Warmly Yours relay panel.
The Snow Sensor detects falling or blowing snow at temperatures below 38°F (3.3°C).
This snow sensor is probably the most cost effective automatic snow detection as opposed to turning the system on and leaving it on…. wasting electricity. The sensor can be mounted as far away as 2,000 feet.
The Warmly yours Snow Melt Control, when used with the aerial snow sensor and in slab sensor, automatically installing a snow melting system controls snow/ice melting heaters, ensuring minimum operating costs.
The system has an adjustable hold-on timer that keeps the heater operation on for 3 hours after snowfall stops to ensure complete melting and drying of the walkway.
The advantages and benefits of having a snow melting system are obvious. Probably the biggest advantage of all is to the safety of family and visitors to your home or business.