photos © Jonna Reilly Photography

Warm up to High-Tech Snow Removal

Warm up to High-Tech Snow Removal

Where’s the snow? It’s mid-December and the white stuff is nowhere in sight. For kids and snow removal services, that’s awful news. For many others, it’s a welcome break from traffic snarls and shoveling hassles that snow creates.

But some homeowners are warming up to the idea of letting technology lessen the burden of snow removal. They are installing radiant heat in outdoor stairs, patios, gutters, sidewalks, walkways and driveways.

There are generally two types of radiant heat systems – hydronic and electric.  Hydronic systems use hard plastic tubing filled with water.  A boiler heats the water, which then travels through the tubing and transfers heat to the desired location.  Hydronic tubing is commonly found embedded in concrete foundation slabs to heat the lower levels of homes.  It is also sometimes placed under limestone front steps, within sidewalks, under driveways, or beneath stone patios.

Hydronic radiant systems are usually activated in one of two ways.  Remote moisture and temperature sensors can automatically turn the radiant boilers on when it snows.  Alternatively, a thermostat placed indoors can activate the system, which is tied to the exterior tubing.snow-melt

Electric radiant systems do not use water or tubing, but rather electric mats placed under similar surfaces.  They do not require a boiler and instead tap into the building’s electrical panel.  Electric systems can be activated manually with a switch, or automatically by external sensors – similar to hydronic systems.  Either way, you can dash out the front door without having to grab your shovel.

Another way to beat Mother Nature is to place electric radiant heat cables in your gutters and downspouts.  These cables warm up just enough to melt the snow and ice that accumulate in the gutters, allowing the water to run off the roof and down the downspouts.  This prevents one of winter’s nastiest problems – ice dams. Ice dams form along a roof’s edge and block melting snow from draining off the roof. The water that pools behind the ridge of ice can leak into a home and damage walls and ceilings.

Radiant heat systems range in price from a few hundred dollars to a few thousand dollars, depending on the surface area you want to cover.

Last year Chicago was pummeled with 82 inches of snow. It was only the second time in the city’s history we endured more than 80 inches of accumulation, according to the federal government. Have a snow removal plan in place when 2015 brings another winter blast.

The best holiday gift could be selling your home or condo or buying a new one.  Contact Jim Miller and JM Partners at 773.617.6638 or