Why Ground Penetrating Radar Must Be Used Before Cutting into Concrete

Written by Joshua Braunstein on . Posted in Concrete, Ground Penetrating Radar

Imagine a situation where a construction team has been called into a warehouse to cut concrete for the purpose of installing new plumbing or electrical lines underground. Or imagine a condominium owner is having a remodel performed and is relocating a toilet and needs to core into the floor. Or, a business is preparing to install a floor outlet for a new conference table directly into a concrete surface.

These are all situations where a Ground Penetrating Radar team should – or some would argue must – be called to search for embedded material before cutting into concrete. All of these situations require someone to drill a hole or cut a trench in concrete. Anytime this action takes a place, there is a risk of slashing structural re-enforcements such as electrical conduits, post-tension cables or reinforcing bars (also known as rebar).

Ground Penetrating Radar can eliminate that risk by giving the construction team an accurate description of what’s in or under the concrete and determining where it’s safe to cut. The technology uses high-frequency radio waves to produce a continuous cross-sectional image of what the human eye cannot see. Pulses of electromagnetic energy are sent into the area being examined, where they reflect off any objects below the surface.

How risky is it to avoid this step and assume where you are cutting is safe? Very risky. While conduits are supposed to be under the concrete, the reality is that often they are not. It is not uncommon for a construction project to go awry when a crew cuts into concrete and slashes electrical wires that were installed incorrectly, just inches from the surface. Such an action can cause an entire building to lose power. Cutting concrete into uncharted areas can also result in damages to rebar and water pipes.

While cutting concrete presents a significant risk, cutting post-tension cables can be even more dangerous. These too can sometimes be found right below the surface. When a post-tension cable snaps, it can cause the building to lose structural integrity and debris can go flying into the air, making anyone in or near the worksite at risk of injury.

When working on a construction project, no one can afford these types of errors. Fortunately, Ground Penetrating Radar eliminates the guess work and contributes to the project being completed on time, on budget and without any costly surprises.


Joshua Braunstein

With a quarter-century of experience as an electrician, Joshua has seen it all. Today, as a leader in the field of radar imaging, he is able to see things his clients never imagined possible.