Check Concrete Health with GPR Scanning

June 26, 2016

What’s going on below the surface of a concrete column, pier, or slab can often be a mystery to a structural engineer seeking answers about a project. The location and condition of reinforcing bars is typically unknown, unless severe spalling, delamination, or corrosion has occurred. What’s more, these areas of deterioration in a concrete structure are not necessarily obvious and visible to the naked eye. An inspector can certainly locate them while meticulously checking the entire structure with a hands-on inspection, but that may not be entirely practical. Just imagine spending an entire day tapping on a large bridge deck with a hammer to delineate possible areas of spalling concrete.

The use of ground penetrating radar scanning makes inspection work more time and cost effective, while also providing a greater degree of certainty to the concrete’s present condition. A concrete scan can be completed in as quickly as a few hours, with the results analyzed and summarized that day if necessary. From there, steps can be made to move onto the design of rehabilitation measures with confidence that the critical areas to address have been identified.

Just like people, bridges and buildings need checkups, especially when they are built primarily using concrete. Concrete and the steel inside that help give it strength are very susceptible to deterioration when exposed to the elements. A bridge deck or marine terminal are almost constantly exposed to a corrosive environment that will slowly break down the concrete, leading to loss of section and strength. After enough exposure, repairs will be needed — this is an inevitability of working with concrete.

Like going to the doctor for an annual checkup, early action and focus can help identify small problems that are on the verge of becoming bigger and more difficult to deal with. It is important to remain proactive when evaluating concrete structures and their overall “health.” At any stage of a structure’s life, a full GPR scan from Aggregate Technologies can provide insight and guidance into what the future may hold.

Featured photo: Degraded concrete and rusted, exposed rebar on Welland River bridge of the Queen Elizabeth Way in Niagara Falls, Ontario.
By Achim Hering (Own work) [CC BY 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

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