Radiant Snow Melt System in Markham Totaling 15,000 foot²
The new owner of this mansion in Markham contracted us to install a radiant snow melt system in Markham for his house, from the road all the way to the garage. In itself it is not a novel request except the sheer size of the area being over 15,000 foot². To complicate things, the construction is completed in two distinct phases. First the 11,000 foot² area next to the public road, in front of the giant planter, in front of the house and the steps leading up to the front door, the roadway to the West side of the house to the garages. Once that is up and running the 4,500 foot² road leading from the front of the property to the East side of the house. This meant that we had to install all the supplies and returns to all first and second phase radiant manifolds at once otherwise the slab in front of the house would have been in our way.
Snow melt by the numbers
After laying out the system we decided on 9 manifold locations strategically placed along the slabs. The radiant snow melt system manifolds will be installed in-ground, protected by valve boxes. The heat requirements for the hydronic snow melt are up to a staggering 2.33 MILLION BTUs per hour. To be able meet this demand we decided on 2 x 1,200 MBTUh Laars Mascot Neotherm LC boilers. Each of these beasts will slurp gas from a 2″ supply and belch through 6″ Schedule 636 vents. The system will hold more than 3,000 liters of 50% propylene glycol. There will be two snow melt sensors and controls in place, one in front of the house, the other in front of the garages. We managed to spec all electrical components to be single phase since the house is not 3 phase wired. We will use our own Schuller Radiant Heating Snow Melt Manifolds since they are designed with maximum flow in mind. Not only their trunks are 1-1/4″ but the also the connections to the trunks. We will use SharkBite 3/4″ O² Barrier Tubing laid down on HotRock Panel Insulation. Needless to say this system had to be planned out to the last fitting. The margin for error on a large system like this is zero.
The Boiler Room’s Mechanical Plans
The hydronic radiant snow melt system’s boiler room’s mechanical plans.
Laying down the supply and return tubing for the snow melt manifolds
This video should give an idea about the size of this place. All the snow melt manifolds need a solid supply of hot glycol to effectively melt the snow. The 1-1/4″ tubing will need to be insulated to retain as much of that heat from the boiler to the slab as possible.
The first load of HeatLink tubing and Tundra insulation is delivered on site.
George from GasGuys.ca is going to be helping us on this radiant snow melt system project. Him and Tibor are unloading the truck.
We need to get all of the supplies and returns into the boiler room next to the garages through the footing and wall. Rebars in the concrete prevent us to simply drill through, cutting the side is the only way in.
Tibor has just the right tool for the job. He disappears behind a cloud of dust. He had a mask on but still… Not a pleasant exercise. He thinks if you are not bleeding and/or sweating you are not working hard enough.
Tibor marks the path of the trench with spray paint. The trench will need to be wide enough to hold the insulated supply and return lines for the snow melt manifolds.
Tibor is ready to go crazy with the little excavator digging the trench for this radiant snow melt system in Markham.
Soon he turns the place into a WWI reenactment. Zee Germans are coming.
George and Tibor get the uncoiler in position to reel out the tubing from the 300′ coils. They are only interrupted by random loads of Pumpkin Spice Lattes.
Once all the digging was over we could stretch those coils of 1-1/4″ tubing and dress them up for winter. Then it was time for them to be interned.
We had help from Tibor Sr. He is a force of nature. He is in better shape at 65 than many teenagers. Without him we may have ended up underground ourselves.
With all the pipes in the trench it is time to backfill. The Entente have won the war.
It was 9.15 pm by the time we have done for the day. Tibor froze sitting on that little digger all day.
9 pairs of tubes running between 26′ and 290′ will carry the antifreeze from the boiler room to the snow melt manifolds.
A second bunch of tubing is laid on top of the gravel connecting another four manifold locations to the snow melt boilers. The day of the first slab’s concrete pouring has arrived. The concrete will be pumped to the most distant point; in front of the garage. The concrete guys took extreme caution not to damage our pipes.
In the next 6 hours mixer after mixer delivered 130′ of concrete which was used to form the primary slab. This slab is what the insulation will be placed upon.
Of course the weather didn’t cooperate, these guys worked through pouring rain for the first slab.We complained about the weather all day, only to find ourselves in even worse circumstances the next week.
When it was over we had our primary slab. 3 days later it was time to lay down the HotRock Panel Insulation and the 3/4″ SharkBite tubing. At 9″ spacing that meant 15,000′ tubing over 11,000 foot² insulation.
Just as we started the wind was picking up. At its peak we battled 80 km/h gusts. There was no time to rest as we had 4 days to lay down all pipes and insulation and pressurize the tubes for the second pour. We thought the weather could not get any less accommodating. We were wrong once again. This radiant snow melt system was fighting us tooth and nail.
That is a lot of insulation. At the end we got lucky as the snow melt area had an easy layout and we didn’t have to make many irregular insulation pieces to cover it
When it was time to do the pipes the clouds above sprung a serious leak. When we felt water running down our butts we went for a change of clothing and to buy boating jackets and pants. This is Tibor doing a Papa Smurf impression.
This is me on the right doing my Breaking Bad routine minus the mask. I had matching boating pants and rubber boots. Tibor’s dignity lasted 15 minutes past this selfie then he donned rain pants himself. And we were only at the 2,000 foot² mark!!!
The fun continued until we could not see any more. The rain stopped but the temperature started to drop fast. We had to finish the 1’200 foot² area in the front the next day and the forecast called for snow. Happy happy joy joy.
Tibor and Hamed are doing the very front as you can see the orange pipes on the uncoiler in the distance. It is snowing like crazy and we are all numb with the cold. This is the final stretch, the pour is tomorrow.
I am pressurizing all 9 areas one by one soaking wet and frozen. Each loop is taking about 20 minutes to reach 140 Psi. Moral is at an all time low. We finally done it.
“How do you eat an elephant?” Simple: “One bite at a time.”
The day of the second pour has arrived. This slab will act as the radiator that stores the heat needed to melt the snow above. The concrete guys wanted me to “Turn on the pipes” to melt the ice off the insulation. When I explained that without boilers, hydronics and glycol that is not happening they resorted to manually pick ice off the surface and salting it.
The same set of concrete guys showed up and the pour quickly proceeded. Despite being very cold they worked without taking breaks. By 2.30 pm they were done.
These pumps are amazingly powerful. They pumped concrete the same effortless way at any distance.
Once they were done closest to the house they moved on to the front. The radiant tubing sticks through the forms to where the manifolds will eventually go into the ground.
With this the most difficult part of this Markham radiant snow melt system has concluded. Once the boilers and hydronics parts arrive we tackle the boiler room. Stay tuned for part two on this heated driveway project.
If you have a similar project in mind please don’t hesitate to contact us.