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Turning a set of stairs into a heating element? Answered

Hi All,

My thought was this, I live in New England and of course there is a lot of snow and ice in the winter.  I am going to have an exterior stair that leads to the third floor of my house and keeping them snow and ice free in the winter will be  a major PITA!  I have looked at a lot of different heating products but none seem optimal.  I was thinking, after remembering small heating elements, similar to the coil you could just put into a glass of water to heat it, why couldn't I just turn the steps into a low temp heating element powered from the house's electricity?

Is this totally absurd or should it be possible?  Any ides?





4 years ago

Placing a steep roof over your exterior stairs is immanently more practical !

I live in Reno, the gateway to magnificent skiing.

One of the ski resorts had a heavy parking lot snow load each year
They put a jet engine on a tractor platform to use exhaust to clear the snow.

For about 50 feet............................

Then the melted snow turned to an iced glaze that deepened and 
successfully reflected the jet engine heat thereafter rendering the
iced lot useless for the season..

UN-intended consequences struck again  :-)


4 years ago

You would loose a lot of expensive heat, unless its solar or wind. You could use pipe heating tape, the stuff that prevents pipes from freezing, something like Frostex. At 3 watts per foot the power usage is going to climb pretty fast.  It is not really designed to melt ice off but rather to prevent pipes from freezing.
Did you ever think of putting a canopy over the stairs to keep them free of water/ice. Or just enclose them with plastic sheeting like a greenhouse enclosure. That type of solution would not involve wasting lots of kilowatts. 

I think a better option would be an outdoor radiant floor heating option. Be it electric or using hot water from your water heater. But electric systems may not be a good option out doors unless you can seal them from the weather. Ideally you'll want the system embedded into or under the stairs. Most products are designed to go under a tile floor. Others are made this to go under a laminate floor.

Follow up, I forgot to mention, I'm sure it doesn't need to be said, but the stairs will be metal. I'm planning on using a product called faststairs for the stringers/hangers and then I have my option for the steps/treads. The steps would be the only thing that technically needed to be the heating element portion.