Working with existing concrete is a part of nearly every construction project, whether it’s a new building or a renovation. When you need to core, cut, or remove concrete in the course of work, the last thing you want to do is risk cutting into electrical wires, rebar, or other elements inside your concrete. Accidentally damaging these things can cause delays and budget issues if you and your crew have to stop work to repair damage. Trying to complete precise concrete cutting without knowing what’s inside can also be dangerous for your equipment and crew.
Fortunately, modern technology provides ways to see inside concrete before you start cutting. In particular, ground-penetrating radar is one of the most advanced and useful types of modern equipment for improving the accuracy and precision of concrete cutting. This application of radar technology transmits electromagnetic waves into the concrete surface during the scan. The equipment then collects and analyzes the reflected waves to develop a picture of elements below the physical surface of the concrete.
GPR scans can provide a clear picture of internal concrete elements so you can avoid accidentally damaging these structures and materials. Working with a concrete-cutting service that employs GPR equipment can help ensure your project is safe with minimal risk of accidental damage and injury.
Using GPR scans for precise concrete cutting offers numerous benefits. This technology is similar to concrete x-raying, but it offers some distinct advantages: more versatility and fewer health risks. Here are some of the most important ways GPR can improve the precision of your concrete cutting and help keep your entire project on track.
When you are going to be cutting or coring concrete, there are many situations in which you want to leave the internal reinforcements intact. Additionally, hitting unexpected rebar or cables during a cutting operation can increase the risk of damage to both equipment and personnel. GPR can indicate the locations of rebar, post-tension cables, and other reinforcing steel elements so your precise concrete cutting specialists can develop a plan to avoid damaging these materials.
Because of the way this type of concrete scanner works, experts trained in reading the results can easily tell the difference between rebar and post-tension cables. The map that emerges from the GPR scan not only indicates where structural elements exist but also shows what sort of reinforcing materials they are, so you and your concrete cutter can plan exactly where to cut or core the space.
Precise concrete cutting around internal structural elements can help you avoid repairs and delays. Plus, it’s not just rebar and post-tension cables that GPR can find. This unique type of radar antenna can also point out the location of ductwork, plumbing, fire protection infrastructure, and drainage equipment.
Along with finding and mapping the rebar, plumbing, and other elements within the concrete, GPR can also provide information on the makeup of the concrete itself. During precise concrete cutting, it’s important to know the thickness of the concrete as well as the spacing and depth of the rebar. Having a clear and detailed picture of what’s going on under the visual surface of the concrete makes it easier for concrete cutters, structural engineers, and construction personnel to work safely and successfully.
One element of concrete that can be easily overlooked is the existence of void areas. This term essentially refers to air pockets below the surface of the concrete that are usually caused by compaction, soil erosion, or issues such as a pipe rupture. When you’re planning a precise concrete cutting project, knowing if there are voids and where they are can be key to choosing the best places to cut.
These voids can occur between the dirt and slab-on-grade concrete, making them nearly impossible to detect from the surface without some sort of imaging equipment. GPR is extremely useful for determining where these voids are so you can avoid cutting in the wrong place and accidentally triggering a collapse.
GPR can also show the location of electrical conduits along with rebar, post-tension cables, and ductwork. This is especially vital when working on commercial and industrial precise concrete cutting projects, as accidentally damaging one of these conduits can injure personnel and create power outages. Repairing a damaged conduit can also be extremely costly and time-consuming, so it’s essential to locate and avoid these elements embedded in the concrete.
Precise concrete cutting may be required for both elevated structural slabs and on-grade slabs, depending on the nature of the project. One of the most important benefits of GPR is its ability to provide accurate information by scanning slab-on-grade areas. This is one of the main differences between GPR and concrete x-raying. Whereas concrete x-ray machines can only be used on elevated slabs (because they require access to both sides of the slab), GPR can be used in slab-on-grade applications.
Another advantage of GPR is the reduced risk to construction site personnel. GPR doesn’t pose the same risk of radiation exposure as concrete x-ray equipment does. This means you don’t have to throw off your construction schedule to create a controlled environment for the testing or clear your personnel far away from the area to be scanned. GPR is quiet as well, so it presents less disruption to the site as a whole.
When you’re planning a precise concrete cutting project, efficiency is vital. You don’t want to waste valuable time planning and re-planning your cuts. Fortunately, GPR scanning is extremely fast. For example, scanning a square surface area with sides 2 feet in length only takes about 10 minutes.
One key to time- and cost-effective precise concrete cutting is the ability to locate structural elements embedded within the concrete. Having this information before cutting or coring can prevent dangerous accidents and costly damage. GPR is an extremely useful tool with its ability to accurately map a wide variety of sub-surface elements, including voids, electrical conduits, and rebar. For your next project, consider working with concrete cutting specialists who utilize this powerful technology.