Perhaps the most difficult part of winter is snow removal around the house. While the driveway does take up a majority of our shoveling or snow removing efforts, walkways and stairs are no short task.
Rather than shoveling, spending hours outside and possibly throwing out your back, many homeowners are biting the bullet and purchasing snow melting mats. These mats are safe, easy to install and of course, provide safe passage into the home.
Continue reading to see all there is to know about snow melting mats.
When it comes to automatic snow melting, HeatTrak is the brand to know. They are the premier ice-melting manufacturer and you would be hard pressed to not find their products in a hardware store near you. Much of the information below relates to their snow melting products, as they are the dominant player in the industry.
Snow Melter Advantages
Other than the obvious, there are plenty of reasons to buy and install snow melting mats outside your home.
Unlike a few other snow melting systems, snow melting mats are placed above the surface so there is no need for complicated installation. All you have to do is place the mat on your entrance, stairs or walkway and plug it in. If you get multiple, you can connect the mats to prevent multiple extension cords.
As such, you can also move and place the mat as much as you want. If you want to save money and only purchase one or two mats, you can swap it between the front and back doors based on your visitors.
To no surprise, snow-free, water-resistant walkways and stairs are safer then wet, snowy surfaces. They are made to handle ample amounts of snow as well as surrounding water once the snow has melted. It would take a lot of shoveling and salt to provide as safe a surface.
After safety, a key advantage of adding snow melting mats versus typical snow removal is cleanliness inside. When you throw salt or calcium chloride on your driveway, walkway and stairs, it has a tendency to make its way inside the home. Additionally, calcium chloride can eat away at sidewalks while melting mats will do no such harm.
Most snow melting mats can last for years and many offer guaranteed warranties for as little as two years. HeatTrak’s melting mats are durable because the electrically operated heating elements are sandwiched between two protective surfaces of non-slip rubber. As a result, no snow or water can penetrate the heating source, extending the lifespan of the mat.
As I already said, you can move the mats from surface to surface. Fortunately, you can place most melting mats on:
- Wood Decks
Note: Refer to your manual to be sure your melting mat is safe on your desired surface.
Snow Melting Mat Options
While we wish we could use melting mats on our yards, driveways and more, there are certain limitations. When it comes to above-surface melting mats, you are pretty much limited to stairs, walkways and entrances. However, thanks to a few connections between the walkway and stair versions, your options can expand.
Most homeowners place their snow melter walkway mats leading up to the front door or from the back entrance into the backyard. According to HeatTrak, you can connect up to five snow melting mats to run along a walkway. With the standard 20”X60”, you can create a safe 25’ walkway with just one power unit.
Those of you with multiple stairs leading up to the front or back doors will greatly benefit from heated stair mats. Given that the stairs are the most dangerous, and usually most slippery parts of your home exterior, it pays to be extra cautious.
The standard stair mat runs 10”X30”. If you choose to purchase both stair and walkway mats, you can connect up to three stair mats to four walkway mats. While many homeowners keep their mats close together, you can purchase extenders if you’re placing your walkway mats farther away from the stair mats.
If you really want to minimize cost and keep things simple, go with an entrance mat. As the name suggests, entrance mats are placed right outside the front or back door. It’s the last step you take before entering your home so it pays to have a clean and safe surface.
There are a wide variety of sizes to choose from, but common sizes are:
To see the layouts of each mat, please watch the video below.
Melting Mat Prices
Like any home remodeling project, price plays a dominant role. Of course, the total cost of your snow melting “project” will depend on your needs. Some homes have five stairs leading to the front door. Other homes have flat entrances. Some homes have long walkways. Others do not.
The prices below are from the HeatTrak website. Bear in mind, you may be able to find cheaper alternatives of the same brand at your local Home Depot.
- 20”X60” Walkway Mat - $139.95
- Stair Mat - $59.95
- Entrance Mat - $129.95
Now, by comparison, paying for snow removal services is more expensive. I realize snow removal tends to include the driveway and street entrance, but while it’s not apples to apples, it’s the most appropriate comparison to go by.
According to our snow removal cost estimator, the average price to remove snow is $189.
Final Snow Melting Mat Tips
If you are convinced that snow melts are right for your home, there are just a few final tips one should keep in mind before the final purchase.
- Do not cover the snow melting mats when in use.
- Do not use indoors.
- Do not put on driveways. Cars will destroy the mat.
- Try to turn the snow mats on at least 30 minutes before heavy snow.
- Keep mat on even after snowfall desists to prevent frozen puddles.
- Snow mats may not function when the temperature drops below 5°F.
Snow melting mats are not cheap, but they are durable, provide a safer pathway, clean and prevent you from going out each day and shoveling your stairs, walkways and entrances.
If you prefer the old fashioned route and prefer local snow removal services, click here and connect with up to four snow removal pros near you.