Radar Concrete Scanning

Scanning a floor at a hydroelectric power plant with concrete scanning radar.

Radar-based concrete scanning is the state of the art in concrete inspection technology, and provides the accurate results that you need when dealing with structures buried in concrete.

Our concrete scanning system locates structures embedded within concrete slabs prior to drilling, cutting or coring, to a depth of 24 inches or more. A 32" x 32" area of concrete can be inspected and its contents accurately marked in just five minutes. Only single-sided access is needed to perform concrete scans (as opposed to X-ray inspection, which requires access to both sides), and thousands of square feet can be scanned in a single day. Faster, safer, and less expensive than traditional X-ray radiography, radar concrete scanning is the best method available for determining what objects lie inside concrete slabs – and exactly where they are.

Radar-based concrete scanning is much better – and much cheaper – than the old X-ray radiography method of locating obstructions in concrete for a number of reasons:

  • Concrete scanning is quick to set up and only needs access to one side of the slab; X-ray setup can take hours, and it requires access to both sides of the slab.
  • Data is collected rapidly with concrete scanning, and scans are available for viewing immediately; radiography takes time – and expensive film – to shoot, and then requires development before it can be viewed.
  • Concrete scan data and images are digital and copies can easily be sent to anyone who needs them; X-rays are on film and must be physically passed around or copied at great expense.
  • Concrete scanning uses harmless, non-ionizing radio waves to gather data; radiography uses X-rays, which present a radiation hazard requiring the evacuation of the worksite.
  • Exact location and depth measurements of any objects within the slab are immediately available with concrete scanning; radiography requires careful measurements and calculations of the developed films to obtain location and depth data.
Scanning a concrete floor at the Portland Jetport - the overlay graphic shows what the concrete scan data looks like.

This picture shows Glen scanning a section of concrete floor at the Portland International Jetport. This particular section of the Jetport is warmed by radiant-floor heat pipes buried within the concrete: it's very comfortable heat, but the heat pipes make it tricky to work in the concrete without hitting anything. When the need arose to cut some cores into the concrete, we came in with our concrete scanner and found a safe place to core that dodged all of the radiant heat pipes and rebar.

For years, the only way to perform subsurface structure location on concrete was to use X-ray radiography. Trouble is, X-ray concrete inspection requires lengthy preparation, the evacuation of the work site, and a great deal of time to actually shoot, develop and interpret the films. Not only does this limit how much area can be covered in a day, it drives the price up. Using our portable concrete scanning unit, we can quickly survey a large area at any time, with no radiation exposure risks and no need to clear crews from the site. Plus, we can immediately mark right on the concrete where obstructions lie and where the clear paths through the slab are. It's the fastest way we know of to dig safely through concrete.

For example, we were recently contacted by a property manager. The manager was concerned that the basement of one of his buildings might have had a sewer manhole in it, which had since been covered over with concrete. Finding the buried manhole would have been impossible using X-ray radiography since there was no access below the floor. But we made quick work of finding the manhole cover with our concrete scanner.

At another site (shown above), we were asked to locate and chart out a wire mesh embedded in a concrete floor. The customer wanted to bore through the floor, but without hitting any of the wire mesh. With the concrete scanner, we were able to draw accurate guide marks indicating exactly where the wire mesh lay in the concrete, and the customer was able to bore through the floor without disturbing the mesh.

In a nutshell, our concrete imaging service provides:

  • Quick and accurate inspection of concrete floors, walls, decks, slabs, tunnels, balconies and garages.
  • Location of rebar, tension cables, conduits, voids, PVC pipes, and measurement of concrete slab thickness.
  • Longer drill and coring bit life by avoiding cutting through rebar.
  • Capability to inspect thousands of square feet of concrete per day.
  • Location of targets to a depth of 24 inches or more in concrete.
  • More speed, more safety and more profit!

With this system, we are literally looking through a concrete slab, and we can tell inch-by-inch what's inside. With a typical rebar structure like this in a slab, the accurate data we provide saves time and money: it prolongs drill and coring bit life by avoiding cutting through the steel rebar, and it prevents hitting embedded utilities in the slab.

If you're considering having us perform concrete scanning for you, please have a look at our concrete scanning requirements to make sure that your site will be ready for us when we arrive.

Some scan examples:

The two red lines in the center of this scan are electrical conduits.

The large red area shown here is an electrical junction box.

Here we can see the outline of a light fixture attached to the far side of this parking garage floor.

And here is our scan of a floor in the Portland Jetport, with both the obstructions and the safe coring area marked.