A Concord Carpenter’s Top Tips for Installing a Snow Melting System

In last Friday’s WarmlyYours Radiant blog , Robert Robillard, carpenter and remodeling expert, as well as editor of AConcordCarpenter.com, shared his experience installing a snow melting system under a bluestone walkway for a home in Concord, Mass. Robillard has documented the installation in a series of videos on his website along with the article “Snow Melting For Residential Remodeling Projects” .

This week, Robillard shares some helpful tips he learned in the process that can help make your snow melting installation go smoothly.

1. Plan ahead.

When laying the foundation, install a 3” to 4” diameter PVC pipe under the walkway about 8 feet from the house. This simple step can prevent headaches down the road if the homeowner decides to later add an invisible fence, outdoor lighting, irrigation systems, or other landscape options that require power. Having the PVC pipe in place can eliminate the need to find costly workarounds or to pull up and completely redo the walkway and snow melting system.

2. Take a picture.

When working with an existing walkway of stone or brick pavers, Use your cell phone to take video of the walkway design to make it easier to recreate when replacing the stone after installation of the snow melting system.use the video camera on your smartphone to record the original configuration and design pattern. As you remove the stone or bricks, carefully set them aside in an organized manner to make it easier to recreate the pattern and match up textures or colors during reinstallation.

3. Create a smooth transition.

Robillard devised a clever technique to run the snow melting cable between the steps. He used a Bosch grinder with a diamond blade to grind away the corners of the concrete block steps, which created a channel for the snow melting cable between the concrete and the bluestone veneer corner blocks.

4. Zip it up.

Once the base has been laid down and the wire mesh has been put in place, use zip ties to fasten the cable to the steel mesh. plastic ties provide a fast and easy way to hold the cable in place.

Plastic zip ties provide a quick and convenient way to secure the snow melting cable.

5. Check your work.

When you are about three-quarters of the way through the installation, do a dry run, laying out the cable to the end of the project. This will ensure you have enough cable to make it to the end of the walkway. You can adjust your spacing slightly if needed. Checking your progress part way through the installation will save you the time and hassle of redoing it at the end if you discover that your spacing was off and run short on cable.

6. Educate the client.

Robillard says that it is absolutely essential to make sure the homeowner understands the capability of the system and how to use it. “The system will work great, but it needs to be allowed to work great,” he says. Turning on the system ahead of time when a big snowfall event is predicted allows it to stay ahead of heavy snowfall rates. While the system doesn’t require much maintenance, homeowners do need to be aware that they (or the contractors they hire) need to be careful when working around it to avoid damaging it while working on landscaping or other projects.

Find more of Robillard’s helpful advice and watch videos of the snow melting system installation at AConcordCarpenter.com. On the website, he shares his know-how and experience with a wide range of construction and home improvement projects, including a series of videos about a bathroom remodeling project that incorporates radiant heat.

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