The Pros and Cons of a Heated Driveway

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Heated driveways help prevent a need for excessive shoveling.
Heated driveways help prevent a need for excessive shoveling. (Image: Michael Blann/Photodisc/Getty Images)

If ice is a common problem on your property during the winter, consider getting a heated driveway. Coils or mesh are placed under the driveway's surface and then hot water and antifreeze pumps into them when snow and ice start to accumulate. The heat filters up to the surface and melts the ice. Consider the advantages and disadvantages if you're thinking of buying a heated driveway system.

Convenience

One of the biggest advantages of a heated driveway is how simple the system is to use and the amount of work it saves you once it is installed. Many systems turn on through a single switch and ice and snow start melting within minutes. This saves you hours of work during the winter season if you normally spend a lot of time shoveling, and it also saves you the discomfort of standing out in the cold for an extended period of time while working on ice removal.

Safety

Slip and fall accidents can cause serious injury, and ice is a major contributing factor in many falling accidents. One small patch of ice is all it takes to lose your footing and ice is often difficult to see. Heated driveways eliminate this risk by ensuring ice doesn't accumulate on the driveway, so you don't slip on it. Another danger with ice and snow is the risk of back or joint injuries from excessive shoveling. Ice and snow are heavy, and heated driveways help limit the amount of ice weight you have to move around during the winter season.

Installation and Maintenance

One problem with heated driveways is that the system is difficult to install. Your existing driveway usually needs to be ripped up entirely and redone from scratch so the system can be laid down near the surface. While some driveways can get away with a heated driveway installation with just a resurfacing afterward, this is not typical. Likewise, if the coils or mesh underneath malfunctions or needs replacement, the driveway has to be torn up again to gain access to the individual components.

Expense

The labor involved in tearing up a driveway, installing a heated system and then re-laying the driveway surface adds significantly to the cost. The price will vary depending on where you live, the size of your driveway and what your driveway is made of, but it's certainly more expensive than just keeping the driveway you already have and shoveling when the snow falls. The heated driveway is also only useful in cold weather, so when deciding to install one, calculate how much value you get from something that at best is only needed for a few months per year.

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