Why Should I Scan Concrete Before Drilling?

Man drilling concrete

Concrete and wall drilling can be dangerous for workers. In addition, it can result in huge additional costs if you do not know what is inside the concrete. Therefore, before you do your concrete drilling work, it is essential to detect any objects buried within.

Why Should I Scan Concrete Before Drilling?

During the process of construction, concrete cutting and drilling are essential. However, such activities can damage various underground utilities such as ducts and infrastructure if not executed carefully. That’s why a concrete slab scanning is needed to detect these utilities so that concrete drilling processes or core drilling can be done in a more directed manner.

Concrete slab scanning saves time and money, while reducing the risk of damage during a construction project. By mapping and locating the exact area of the utilities, you can be sure you won’t experience delays due to damage caused by a lack of subsurface expertise. Among the most commonly used tools for concrete slab scanning is GPR.

What is GPR?

Ground-penetrating radar (GPR) is used in many areas to observe man-made and natural features. Ground-penetrating radar can scan the concrete, detecting underground tanks, metallic and non-metallic pipes, power lines, detect underground conduits such as water pipes, rebar, and post-tensioning cables inside.

Ground-penetrating radar waves are equal to those of a cell phone or Wi-Fi network, while X-rays require a clearance of 50 feet before being used for safety reasons. In general, GPR is the most cost effective option and the fastest method to scan concrete before drilling.

The principle of using radio waves to determine internal soil structures has been known for a long time. Among the first works in this field, the use of radio echo sounders to determine the thickness of ice layers in Antarctica and the Arctic and to measure the thickness of glaciers is undoubtedly the greatest success. Ground-penetrating radar detection in non-glacial areas was initiated in the early 1970s. The first achievements focused on work on permafrost soils.

The benefits of using GPR

GPR is safe

Safety is a critical factor on any construction site. There are many hazards that you strive to protect your workers from, such as heat stroke, sun exposure, cold, and toxic dust, to name just a handful. However, the beams from an X-ray scanner can be potentially dangerous to your workers and bystanders.

GPR is much safer. When using X-rays, only certified radiologists can operate them and everyone around the machine must wear personal protective equipment.

Ground-penetrating radar is highly effective

Although the need for these services increases, the funds available to pay for them are hard to come by. Having the ability and reputation to do a thorough job without repeat visits or errors is a real competitive advantage. Speed is good, but efficiency is better. A high-quality GPR is able to provide this advantage. Vendors should tailor their efforts to site conditions, performing reconnaissance scans to decide where and if a more comprehensive scan is needed.

Concrete slab scanning in difficult sites

Because of their small size, GPR sensors can be used in tight spaces and in any orientation on floors, walls and ceilings. GPR is applied from the exposed surface and is able to identify features in slabs on the ground. It can even pinpoint voids in surrounding materials. Large areas can be mapped efficiently by deploying GPR sensors on a cart or vehicle-drawn platform.

GPR is easy to use

Through a series of consecutive scans, the operator can obtain comprehensive data on the target area. On-board software then translates this data into a digital image, providing a map of underground structures, voids and other anomalies.

Because the actual imagery generally looks like black and white statics or colored bands, with anomalies represented by hyperbolas, the data must be interpreted by GPR experts before it can be used. However, this can easily be done in real time, allowing parties to immediately flag areas of interest or concern.

It can be used anywhere

Ground penetrating radar is so advanced that it can penetrate most materials with ease. This allows for accurate and detailed results that give a clear indication of exactly what lies beneath a particular site. This versatility allows it to be used almost anywhere.


We have considerable experience in mapping highly urbanized cities, sensitive sites, and areas of historical interest. We also provide traffic management solutions to support the life cycle of utility projects. If you would like to learn more about our services, contact us today.