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  1. #1
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    Jan 2008
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    Milwaukee, wI, usa.
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    Any ideas for heating outdoor wheelchair ramp?

    Hi All,
    My wife uses a wheelchair, And as we live in Wisconsin, she is kind of stuck in the house during the winter due to the snow and ice.
    I am going to rebuild the current ramp this spring ( 24 ft straight run from the back door to the garage, 48 inches at top down to ground level) currently the deck of the ramp is 3/4 plywood on 2 x 6 framing. I was thinking of trying to heat the new one somehow to avoid the snow and ice on the ramp. ( shoveling digs into the wood, no matter HOW careful you are and leads to replacing the decking every year) I have checked out the basic in-floor heating and roof de-icing cable and according to the techs at the factory they don't produce enough heat to penetrate the thickness of the plywood. Thinner plywood is not an option because her electric whelchair weighs 400 pounds by itself.
    Any thoughts?

  2. #2
    Member
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    Sep 2004
    Location
    Huntington Beach, California, USA.
    Posts
    9,322

    RE: Any ideas for heating outdoor wheelchair ramp?

    Ron,
    I'm sitting here thinking about the plywood issue. My first thought was to route groves in the surface of the plywood, install the heating cable into the grove and then epoxy the cable in place.

    Too much work!

    Then I thought, rug, I/O carpet, fake turf and put the cable under the covering. It might take more energy than it's worth.

    Then I thought maybe an epoxy, applied like paint on the surface of the plywood but mix in some of that pure white (marble?) play sand. When smoothed out and cured, the surface would be non-slip AND something that you could run a shovel over.


  3. #3
    Member
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    Dec 1969
    Location
    Bradford, Vermont, MerryCanna.
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    18,751

    RE: Any ideas for heating outdoor wheelchair ramp?

    I'm pretty close to Rich on it... except I'd use the heavy base of plywood as a bottom course, then a serpentine layer of your heating element topped by a very thin layer of - say - 1/4" hardwood plywood. Exterior grade, obviously, sealed to death, and coated with polyurethane mixed with crushed walnut shells.

    If you can do a good job of laying the heating element into the base layer of plywood (or even wood solids), you could more simply overcoat with galvanized steel. That makes for terrific heat transfer - not as good as alumin(i)um, but alumin(i)um is hydrophilic (which you do NOT want here).

    Heck, after you've inlaid the heating element, fill with floor leveler & then overcoat with galvanized steel. Keep the steel in fairly short (eight feet or less) segments so it doesn't wrinkle in the summer warmth.

    -- Tim --

    Member of the
    Robert "Limey" Bolton Memorial
    International
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  4. #4
    Member
    Join Date
    Aug 2005
    Location
    Finland.
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    462

    RE: Any ideas for heating outdoor wheelchair ramp?

    Would it be possible to build the ramp from concrete? Over here concrete is the normal material for heated wheelchair ramps. Then you can cast in some electric heating cables a little below the surface. Tie them to the reinforcement bars and watch out so that the cables do not cross anywhere, or otherwise they will burn.
    I think it would be a good idea to connect the heating to an on /off swith besides the door, at comfortable height for her. Often it takes only a quite short while of heating to remove what is left when the ramp has been shovelled.

    I work in construction, but have no direct experience of wheelchairs.

  5. #5
    Member
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    Oct 2003
    Location
    Uniontown, Ohio, USA.
    Posts
    136

    RE: Any ideas for heating outdoor wheelchair ramp?

    It will be expensive but the best way is in floor radiant powered by hot water. The deck would have to be a sandwich of 2" rigid foam, the pex tubing and then the exterior deck. They make a subfloor system to capture the pex tubing and support the flooring. A simple hot water tank will power the system. I would contact a plumbing contractor (funny the heating contractors don't do in-floor radiant heat, the plumbing contractors do)and get his ideas on how to do it and an estimate of the cost.
    As with all radiant systems it will be a recirculating system using a type of antifreeze so you don't have to worry about the system freezing up and bursting.

  6. #6
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    Jun 2005
    Location
    Windsor, CT, USA.
    Posts
    309

    RE: Any ideas for heating outdoor wheelchair ramp?

    Can you cover it with a roof and sides, similar to a covered bridge? You could add some windows or even us the translucent corrigated fiberglass panels used to cover patios. The net cost would be a lot less than replacing the decking every year. The skateboarders use a material called something like "Skatelite" as a final layer on their outdoor ramps and bowels. It could work.

  7. #7
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    Nov 2005
    Location
    Morden, Manitoba, Canada.
    Posts
    2,974

    RE: Any ideas for heating outdoor wheelchair ramp?

    My thought was concrete as well, with a textured stone-like finish on top of it to provide traction on ice...that way you don't have to worry about heating it...

    The added cost of the concrete construction would be somewhat offset by the fact that there'd be no need to heat it...

    Andrew

  8. #8
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    Feb 2006
    Location
    Sundance, Wyoming, USA.
    Posts
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    RE: Any ideas for heating outdoor wheelchair ramp?

    Looks like most of the bases have been covered for heated building.

    I have redwood decks and walkways all around my house, we use plastic shovels for shoveling the snow off (no metal edge). (Sundance, Wyoming, we get our share of snow) hasn't hurt the decks in 20 years. Little Superdeck transparent stain every 3 or 4 years.

    ~Mike

  9. #9
    Member
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    Dec 2001
    Location
    Lewistown, Pa., U.S.A..
    Posts
    163

    RE: Any ideas for heating outdoor wheelchair ramp?

    What kind of heat system does your house use? If it is hot water system you could add a loop.

    mark61

  10. #10
    Member
    Join Date
    Aug 2005
    Location
    Finland.
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    462

    RE: Any ideas for heating outdoor wheelchair ramp?

    To heat it with a loop from the house heating system is a very bad idea. The water in the pipe will likely freeze some day and the pipe will crack. Further nobody wants to heat the ramp all the time. If there is no snow or ice on the ramp you must be able to turn the heat off. Keeping the ramp heated continuosly year round means many tractor trailer loads of firewood per year, or the equivalent in other fuels.

    The advantages of an electrically heated concrete ramp are:
    -Easy to turn the heat on and off.
    -Freezing is no problem
    -Lasts long
    Theese ramps have been built for 20 years by now, so it can be called a proven standard solution.

    Concrete moulds are easy to make and the reinforcement bars are not difficult to install either. It might be a good idea to hire somebody for a few hours to trowel the surface if you have never done it before.

    Sorry if I am a bit rude, but I think that some of you makes this overly complicated.

    Edited to correct spelling.

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