Concrete Scanning Blog

Digital Concrete X-ray – Common Misconceptions


You are ready to inspect the concrete for your project using digital concrete x-ray. However, you may have heard or read some information about the service before. This could make you hesitant or not fully confident in this state of the art service. We want to clear up any doubts and address the most common misconceptions about digital concrete x-ray.

Digital Concrete X-ray is dangerous

This service isn’t dangerous when performed by expertly trained operators and executed in accordance with state regulations. Our operators receive extensive training that covers safety parameters, proper setup, and how to operate the digital x-ray machine. This ensures that only the safest levels of radiation are emitted. The levels emitted with proper operation are far below state-level allowances. Because radiation is involved, we perform job walks to determine safety parameter zones for trades, employees, or bystanders on site.

Digital Concrete X-ray is better than GPR

These two services have the same purpose, but they are used very differently. While digital concrete x-ray may be the best choice for your project, GPR could be better for someone else’s project. A couple of things to ask yourself before pursuing digital x-ray are:

  • Do I have access to both sides of the slab?
  • Do I need an exact picture of what lies within the concrete? Or am I okay with an analyst interpreting GPR data that is collected?
  • Is my slab less than 12” thick?
  • Can I vacate a safety parameter zone near the x-ray site for a short period of time?
  • Do I suspect the slab to be highly congested?

For highly congested areas or where there is no room for data interpretation, we do recommend digital concrete x-ray. In some cases, we have used GPR and found the area to be too congested. After this, we suggest x-ray to our clients. This is just an example, but it is not always the case. Both are dependable methods of concrete inspection.

Results delivery can take a while

This misconception is very common. With digital concrete x-ray, the truth is very far from this. This service delivers a real time image. Picture the whole process as taking a picture of a landscape. Here, we do the same, but we image the interior of the concrete instead of the landscape. With this service, it is possible to know what is inside the concrete in a very fast manner; 5-10 seconds.

Currently, Penhall Technologies offers Digital Concrete X-ray services in San Francisco-Bay Area, Los Angeles, San Diego, and Las Vegas. We have plans to expand into more areas soon.

Did we answer all your questions or concerns? If not, contact us at, or give us a call at 707-363-9822.



January 5, 2018

Three Reasons Why You Should Scan First

concrete scanning for rebar

A lot of underground hazards lie beneath the surface you will be working on. It is essential to scan first to avoid all of the following scenarios we will touch on.

Hitting a utility line

Hitting a utility line during any type of excavation can result in great costs for those involved. To start, it can cut out the utility service for you and/or your community. According to an article by CBS News, you could face fines from local regulators. Moreover, all repair costs, from fixing the damaged utility line to any damages done to neighboring homes or businesses, can fall on you.

You can also encounter physical injury costs for you or the workers performing the excavating. Some utilities can be dangerous for the person working, such as steam, gas, propane, and electricity, and communication lines.

Striking a post tension cable

If scanning is not performed before construction, you risk the chance of cutting into post tension cable. Slider Engineering mentions that post tension cable release can cause structural damage to a building, as well as injury to workers. They also mentioned that the cost of a single cable repair ranges from $800 to $1,200. This does not include the cost of other repairs of areas affected by the release.

If a worker accidentally cuts into post tension cable, the cable reacts by snapping. In the past, workers have been badly injured or even killed due to this release.

Cutting into rebar

During construction, you also run the risk of damaging rebar. According to BNProdcuts, cutting into rebar can have serious consequences for your project. First of all, you can expect injuries for your workers. Sometimes, when you drill and hit into rebar, pieces of debris can fly out and strike workers. In addition, cutting into rebar can lead to extensive repairs that can keep your project behind schedule.

It is also important to be aware that cutting into rebar can cause serious damage to the structural integrity of the concrete. This can make your site too unstable to work on and further delay the completion date.


“Now many industry experts recognize that cutting into these hazard types can be devastating if people do not scan first. GPR technology is a real game-changer for safety,” said Penhall Technologies President, Simon James. If you want a safe and timely construction project, contact us for our concrete scanning and underground utility locating services.

December 18, 2017

Penhall Technologies To Offer Digital Concrete X-Ray Services In Multiple Locations

Penhall Technologies, a division of Penhall Company, is excited to announce the launch of digital concrete x-ray services in their local Washington DC, Maryland, Las Vegas, San Francisco- Bay Area, Los Angeles, and San Diego branches. They are one of the first concrete inspection companies to provide this industrial radiography service in these areas.

Digital concrete x-ray is the application of hard x-rays or gamma rays to obtain a clear image of the interior of concrete. The method is useful when companies want to x-ray concrete for rebar, conduits, and post tension cables to avoid damage when cutting or coring.

“Our portable device allows us to perform x-ray for many different construction projects (suspended slabs, walls, and bridge decks) in many different locations – wherever our customers need us,” Said Director of Penhall Technologies, Elisabeth Doser.

This service is a must in many construction projects. By providing a precise picture of exactly what structural components are within the concrete, construction leaders can avoid striking any hazards during construction.

Penhall Technologies aims to provide this service to local construction companies with the goal of ensuring projects remain safe, on time, and on budget. They recommend hiring concrete inspection services for any project where coring, drilling, or cutting will take place.

“This service is safer than traditional x-ray techniques that use isotopes, and we can operate while other trades are working nearby if necessary,” said Doser.

Penhall Technologies has been an industry leader in concrete inspection services since 2001, using ground penetrating radar (GPR) and electromagnetic induction technologies to identify subsurface hazards. The Company is again leading the way in the application of digital x-ray to construction projects.

Doser highlights, “We are able to provide digital concrete x-ray for our customers where ground penetrating radar is not sufficient for the customer or scope of work. Limited design and layout options in highly congested areas are ideal for x-ray.”

An added benefit of Penhall Technologies’ digital concrete x-ray services is that all their operators are also trained in GPR. This combination makes it possible to provide the best class service for any project, large or small.

Penhall Technologies brings nationwide services at the local level with more than 40 local branches. They have plans to offer digital x-ray services in Seattle within the next year.


December 7, 2017

Scanning Concrete from a Vehicle Mounted Boom Lift

scanning concrete on boom lift


Our Santa Clara office performed concrete scanning services for a local overpass project. The bridge needed a new water pipe installed. This pipe had to be installed on the side of the bridge due to seismic regulations. To ensure safety for everyone involved, the client requested Penhall Technologies to scan the concrete beforehand.

The scanning was done from a vehicle mounted boom lift. This type of boom lift is not commonly available, the one used on this project was brought in from Oregon. The vehicle was set on the bridge. With the boom lift on it, our analysts performed the scanning overhead.

concrete scanningThis system worked in a very particular way. The truck had a camera and a microphone that allowed the analysts and the driver to communicate. Depending on the required scan areas, the driver moved the boom lift accordingly. The entire scan job was done using this unique mobile system.

Our Santa Clara analysts scanned 18″ × 24″ areas in two phases. For phase one, they scanned 26 areas. For the following phase, they scanned 20 areas. The concrete scanning itself took a week to complete. Our analysts found rebar in the slab, but no conduits or cables were present.

For Penhall, as well as for our client, safety was the main priority. Our analysts regularly attend safety trainings that involve boom lifts. This particular project was done over water. Our analysts had morning and evenings safety briefings, as well as very thorough walk out inspections. Moreover, the vehicle mounted boom lift was inspected both in the morning and after their regular lunch break. As a result, the analysts completed the scan safely.

After the scanning was completed, Penhall Company performed the core drilling without striking any rebar. This confirms our analysts’ accurate findings and markings done on this project.

Our analysts are expertly trained to handle any construction project, such as this one, and bring you precise results that will keep your project safe.

October 20, 2017

FAQ – Concrete Scanning and Underground Utility Locating

There is usually a lot to cover when deciding to utilize concrete scanning or underground utility locating services. We put together this list to answer your questions and guide you in the right direction for your project.

How long will the service take?

This all depends on your needs, and it varies from project to project. For both concrete scanning and utility locating many variables come into play. Age of concrete, moisture content of the ground, obstructions in the path of utilities, wire mesh and congested rebar, just to name a few. The best way to determine the estimated completion time of the scan or the locate is to contact us. Being prepared with as much information about the area as possible will aide in our estimation time.

You don’t offer your services in my area, can you travel to me?

We can absolutely travel to you. Our analysts frequently travel to where they are needed throughout the United States. Specific pricing for travel time can be discussed with you, give us a call or send us an email.

Can you locate water leaks?

Our utility locating equipment won’t specifically locate a water leak itself. However, we can look for signs that indicate a possible leak. For example, the analyst would look for signs that would be indicative of damp soil. We also trace out water lines so you know exactly where to dig for inspection.

Can you scan while it’s raining?

When using GPR equipment, the collected data from wet surfaces is not accurate.  This means that the results of the service won’t give you the best framework to follow before cutting, coring, drilling, or performing any type of excavation or trenching. Moreover, we can’t get our equipment wet.

Can you scan all concrete?

We scan any concrete slab or structural component as long as it is three months old. It is important to note that our equipment has a scanning depth of 16 inches, or 32 inches if we have access to both sides of the slab or surface.

How soon can I get a report of the findings?

Our analyst will provide a report of the findings after he/she completes the scanning and marking any found objects. This is included in all completed scanning and locating projects.

Do you offer any additional reports?

You can request an additional report, called a formal report, that includes pictures, a summary, and 3D scan. This report, comes at an additional cost and may take up to eight hours to complete. Also, the analyst would complete the report off site and email it to you.


If you have any more questions, or are ready to schedule a scanning or underground utility locating service, please call us at 844-211-5300 or send us an email at


October 6, 2017