Saw cutting or core drilling into concrete slabs can pose a great deal of safety issues for your projects  and your team if you are unaware of what dangers are lurking within the concrete slab.  Anytime a project calls for concrete to be cut or drilled, you have the potential to damage the following if you don’t take the time to scan concrete first.

Why You Should Scan Concrete Before Cutting or Drilling

You could accidentally damage the following:

Post tension cables

Post tension cables or tendons strengthen concrete slabs is a method of concrete reinforcement that is anchored and tensioned after the concrete is poured.  Since these cables are under a significant amount of tension, striking them can result in considerable structural damage to the project site and injury to site personnel.  One method of locating post tension cables is using ground penetrating radar.  GPR technology allows post tension cables to be marked out quickly and accurately, delivering results in real time.

Steel Rebar Reinforcement

Rebar and wire mesh are used in concrete to reinforce the tensile strength of the concrete.  Striking or cutting rebar can reduce the structural integrity of the slab.  To locate and avoid steel reinforcement in concrete slabs, have a GPR concrete scan or concrete xray performed prior to any cutting or core drilling activities.


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Concrete Imaging with GPR


Electrical Conduits

Cutting into any live electrical lines poses a potential life threatening risks to the saw-cutting or core drill operator.  Additionally, disruption of active power lines can cause power outages resulting in lost revenue for any businesses affected.  Electrical conduits can be challenging to locate in certain concrete slab types. For example, electrical lines located in pan deck style concrete slabs are often found in the bottom troughs of the pan decking.  Using ground penetrating radar technology will allow you to stay clear of these bottom troughs by identifying both the top and bottom channels of the pan deck.


Communication Lines

When dealing with multi-story buildings, another potential concern is avoiding hidden communication lines. Using ground penetrating radar can locate these targets in the concrete, helping contractors avoid costly repairs and lost production time.


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Locating Utilities in Concrete


Fire Sprinkler Lines

When core drilling into a suspended slab,  it is just as important to know what is the concrete slab as what is just underneath the slab.  Fire sprinkler lines are attached to the underside of the suspended concrete slab and are susceptible to being cut if the core driller is unaware of their existence.  Concrete GPR scanning allows the detection of sub-slab conduits to ensure safe concrete cutting and coring is achieved.  

Fire Alarm

Cutting into a active fire alarm line can trigger an alarm to notify an entire multi-story building, likely leading to a precautionary evacuation of the entire building.  Avoid work place disruption and repair costs by always having any concrete slab scanned with ground penetrating radar prior to drilling or cutting.

Technology Choices

There are several non destructive testing technologies available to avoid some or all of the potential problems identified above.  The locate company will decide which technology will work best for your project.   In some cases the best solution is to combine the use of multiple NDT technologies to best accomplish your project goals.

Ground Penetrating Radar


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3D Concrete GPR Scanning

The use of GPR concrete scanning has increased significantly in recent years thanks to the accuracy and reliability of this technology.  GPR concrete surveys also offer real-time results, allowing multiple scans to be performed in short order. Findings can be marked in a shorter amount of time when compared to a traditional concrete xray cost.  Another advantage ground penetrating radar has over concrete x-ray is the ability to scan concrete foundations for conduits and reinforcement where you don’t have access to both sides of the concrete slab.

Concrete Xray

Working in a similar fashion to a traditional xray, radiography technology requires site personal to be cleared to avoid exposure to the radiation hazard.  This process to scan concrete can be effective on suspended slabs, but due to required development time, it can be significantly slower and more costly when compared to ground penetrating radar concrete scanning.


Ferro Scan

Detects the presence of ferromagnetic materials, principally iron and steel-embedded material in concrete.  The downside of using Ferro scanning is the restriction of only being able to locate to a depth of approximately six inches, coupled with ineffective plastic conduit locating.


Need to hire a contractor to perform post tension cable or rebar locating services?

Encompass Inspections is an industry leader in ground penetrating radar services, offering next day service for most projects across the US.  Encompass Inspections was founded in 2010, and routinely performs several thousand ground penetrating radar scans on a yearly basis.  With a nationwide reach, Encompass Inspections is a GPR company that can provide experienced local technicians for your next project. To avoid potential injuries and project damages, call us today 888-599-9557. For a complete list of services we offer please visit our website at


GPR Concrete Scanning Services Sample Images

Concrete Scanning
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Safety Trained Concrete GPR Techs in house
Concrete Radar Rebar Finder
Rebar Mapping using GPR