Digging into the unknown might not always turn up buried treasure

It’s always best to be cautious when digging into the ground; you never know what you might encounter.  Building an extension to your home or developing a disused patch of land are just two of many reasons why old buildings, foundations and pavements may have to be removed or dug up. But those concrete installations can hold a lot of secrets that you will have no way of knowing about, unless you dig through them of course.  This might be as simple as disused piping or cabling and it could be structural and therefore largely harmless, but what if these are amenities that are still in use?  Hitting a gas pipe could be potentially catastrophic so why take the risk, which is why professional bodies such as property develops and councils employ the services of concrete scanning companies before breaking ground.  The same is true of any project; if you have to dig through concrete then you should definitely contact a concrete scanning company before beginning to ensure the work is safe to proceed.

landHow does it work?

Concrete scanning companies employ highly sophisticated scanners that utilise GPR (Ground-penetrating Radar) to essentially take an x-ray of the solid surface beneath them.  These machines are slowly moved across the area and use electromagnetic radiation to measure the density of the materials beneath them and this is then used to form a live picture on a computer so that things hidden under the concrete can be easily identified. 

Could this damage anything delicate beneath the surface?

It is extremely unlikely, verging on impossible that a ground-penetrating radar would damage anything it scans.  These machines utilise high frequency microwave radio pulses and project these through the ground; this is no different to the hundreds of different radio waves that are passing through everything around us all the time so it should be completely safe.  Additionally, this technology is used by archaeologists to scan for potential dig sites and the artefacts they hope to locate are considerable more fragile than pipes and cables.

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What type of things can a GPR locate?

A GPR will locate almost anything hidden beneath the surface of the ground or concrete – the trick is identifying what it finds.  As with reading an x-ray, there is a degree of skill and knowledge involved in being able to pick out the different things the scans reveal.  Some things might be obvious from their shape or the depth they are buried at, but it can be confusing with things overlapping each other and height variances.  The concrete scanning company that performs the scan will be able to sit and discuss their findings with you in great detail and provide a comprehensive and exhaustive report that will explain everything they have found in great detail.  This will give your small project or a huge redevelopment the information and scope they need to correctly handle any surprises that might be hiding just beneath the surface.

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