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It's a Jungle out there. Underground Utility Detection & Inspection Services

The Pacific Northwest’s Leader in Leak Detection, Utility Locating, Concrete Scanning, GPR, & More

The Pacific Northwest’s Leader in Leak Detection, Utility Locating, Concrete Scanning, GPR, & More

Leak Detection

When a CNI Locates technician performs underground utility locating services, they recognize the value of your time and money, especially when it comes to uncovering concealed utility lines. Our underground utility locating services involve identifying and charting underground utility infrastructure to avoid any inadvertent harm to gas, water, electricity, telecommunications, or other utility lines during subsurface activities. The scope of utility locating services ranges from small-scale home renovations to larger civil construction projects, and our utility locators operate across these diverse project contexts.

Utility locating involves using specialized equipment and techniques to detect and trace underground utilities. Some common equipment that is used to locate underground utilities includes ground penetrating radar (GPR), electromagnetic locating, video pipe inspections, traceable rods, locatable sondes, electronic pulse transmitters (EPT), magnetometers, and more. Once the utilities are located, our utility locators can create a detailed map or report of the existing underground utilities, including their location, depth, and type (if requested).

An underground utility locating company is vital for several reasons. First and foremost, they ensure the safety of the excavation crew and the general public. By identifying the location of underground utilities, excavation crews can avoid causing accidental damage to utility lines, which can lead to serious accidents, injuries, and even fatalities. Additionally, utility locating can help to prevent costly utility service interruptions and downtime, which can impact both residential and commercial customers.

Utility locating and utility inspection services are a critical step in any excavation or construction project. They are specialized services that require experienced and trained professionals to ensure the accuracy and completeness of the results. Utility locators play an essential role in safeguarding public safety, protecting Infrastructure, and ensuring the success of construction projects of all sizes. If you are looking to perform any subsurface activities or need any utility inspection services in the Pacific Northwest (PNW), CNI Locates has field offices in Eugene, Oregon, Portland, Oregon, Tacoma, Washington, Renton, Washington, Seattle, Washington, and Everett, Washington that provide utility locates and utility inspection services for all of Oregon and Washington State.

What Are Leak Detection Services and How Are they Performed?

Water leak detection is the process of identifying and locating leaks in water systems such as water services, well lines, city mains, fire systems, irrigation systems, pools/spas, fountains, chilled water pipes, or any other pipe that has water in it. The goal of this process is to detect and locate leaks before they cause significant damage or safety hazards. However, the detection process usually involves using specialized equipment and techniques such as acoustic leak detection, tracer gas leak detection, ground penetrating radar leak detection, or thermal imaging leak detection to identify leaks. Once leaks are detected, they can be repaired as quickly as possible to prevent further damage or hazards. Utility leak detection is critical for maintaining the safety and integrity of underground utility systems and protecting public health and the environment.

There is a prevalent misconception that leaks only occur in older buildings, while in reality, they can happen in all types of properties, from domestic to commercial and from new to old. Leak detectors offer a versatile solution suitable for a variety of property types, including domestic homes, commercial and public buildings, apartment complexes, high-rise flats, tall buildings, and large-scale developments.

It is especially useful for second-home owners and frequent travelers who may not detect leaks for extended periods. Property owners can take prompt action even from afar by using the leak detection services in the Pacific Northwest (PNW) from C-N-I Locates LTD, Portland, Oregon, Eugene, Oregon, Everett, Washington, Seattle, Washington, Renton, Washington, or Tacoma, Washington field offices, to help avoid any unpleasant surprises upon returning to their properties. On recently built properties, leaks are most likely to occur during the first 18 months after completion and occupation. Therefore, employing leak detection technology can be crucial to prevent unnecessary damage.

  • Site Walk and Preparation: During the site walk and preparation phase, the leak detection service provider will walk the site and assess the area where testing will occur. This process involves identifying the location of the underground utility system(s) that need to be tested, accessing any relevant plans or blueprints, and ensuring that the area is safe for testing. If there are no limitations that prevent our technicians from providing leak detection services, they will attempt to identify the leak on the initial visit. Our technicians may need to make multiple visits to identify the leaks depending on limitations and the equipment that is necessary to find the leak.
  • Choosing The Appropriate Testing Method: Several testing methods are available for leak detection services, and the appropriate method will depend on the specific situation. Common testing methods include acoustic leak detection, tracer gas leak detection, thermal imaging leak detection, and ground penetrating radar leak detection. Acoustic leak detection involves using sensitive microphones to listen for the sound of water and compressed air escaping from a leaking pipe. Tracer gas leak detection involves injecting a traceable gas into the utility system and then using a specialized device to detect/sniff for the gas as it escapes from any leaks.

Thermal imaging leak detection involves using infrared cameras to detect temperature changes that may indicate a leak. Ground penetrating radar leak detection involves scanning over a water pipe that is visible with GPR and looking for any distortions on the pipe that can be caused by high dielectrics or conductive properties of saturated soils. An experienced leak detection company in the Pacific Northwest, such as C-N-I Locates LTD, will select the most appropriate testing method based on factors such as the size, depth, and type of the pipe, the location of the suspected leak, and the severity of the leak.

  • Conducting The Leak Testing: Once the appropriate leak detection testing method(s) has/have been chosen, the service provider will begin conducting the leak testing. It includes the use of specialized equipment and techniques to inspect the utility system, identify leaks, and determine their severity.
  • Analyzing Test Results: After the leak detection testing is complete, the service provider will analyze the test results. This involves reviewing the data collected during testing, identifying the location and severity of any leaks, and determining the appropriate course of action.

If a leak is detected, a CNI Locates technician will mark the location of the leak and can provide a detailed report or map (if requested) outlining the location and severity of the leak. CNI Locates provides leak detection services throughout the Pacific Northwest from our nearest field office locations in Everett, Washington, Seattle, Washington, Renton, Washington, Tacoma, Washington, Portland, Oregon, or Eugene, Oregon. 

What Are the General Causes of Water Leaks?

Leaks in underground utility systems can be caused by a range of factors. These factors can include corrosion, physical damage, aging Infrastructure, poor installation practices, and extreme weather events in the Pacific Northwest. Let’s look at each of the factors in more detail.

  1. Corrosion: Corrosion occurs when metals are exposed to water, soil, and other environmental factors over time. This can cause the pipes and other underground structures to become weaker and more prone to damage, including leaks. However, corrosion can be accelerated by certain soil types, chemical exposure, or stray electrical currents.
  2. Physical Damage: Underground utility systems can be damaged by excavation work, heavy equipment, or other construction activities. It can cause small cracks or dents that can eventually lead to leaks. Even minor damage should not be ignored, as over time, it can worsen and lead to bigger problems.
  3. Aging Infrastructure:Many utility systems were built decades ago and have not been properly maintained or updated. Over time, this aging Infrastructure can become more prone to leaks and other types of damage. Regular inspection and maintenance can prevent issues before they occur.
  4. Poor Installation Practices: In some cases, leaks can be caused by poor installation practices. For example, if pipes are not properly secured or are installed at the wrong angle, this can cause stress on the pipe and lead to leaks over time. It is important to ensure that all installations are done correctly from the start.
  5. Extreme Weather: Extreme weather events, such as heavy rain, flooding, or freezing temperatures, can also cause damage to underground utility systems and lead to leaks. Extreme weather can cause soil movement or freezing and thawing cycles that stress pipes and other structures, causing them to crack or rupture.

What Are the General Requirements That Are Needed to Provide Leak Detection Services in The Pacific Northwest?

The requirements of leak detection services in the Pacific Northwest may vary depending on the specific situation and the client’s needs. However, some common requirements of leak detection services are provided below. Let’s have a look at all the basic specifications one-by-one.

  1. Access to The Utility System: Leak detection service providers must be able to access the underground utility system that needs to be tested. This may require excavation, drilling, installing specialized fittings, or other means of gaining access to the utility system. In some cases, the utility system may be located on private property, and the leak detection service provider may need permission from the property owner to access the system.
  2. Utility Maps, Relevant Plans, and Blueprints: Although utility maps, relevant plans, and blueprints may not always be available, they are extremely useful to accurately locate and test underground utility systems. These documents provide detailed information about the location and configuration of the utility system, as well as any potential hazards or obstacles that may impact the testing process. For example, drawings may provide information about the location and size of individual pipes or if there are any unknown/ abandoned pipes that are connected to the system in question.
  3. Specialized Equipment and Technology: Experienced leak detection locators from reputable companies like C-N-I Locates use specialized equipment and technology to conduct their testing. This may include acoustic sensors, tracer gas equipment, thermal imaging cameras, ground penetrating radar (GPR), or other devices that are designed to detect leaks in underground utility systems. However, the equipment used may vary depending on the type of utility system being tested and the specific testing method being used.
  4. Trained and Experienced Technicians: Leak detection service providers in the Pacific Northwest must employ trained and experienced technicians who are familiar with the testing methods and equipment used in leak detection services. Technicians should also be knowledgeable about safety procedures and regulations related to underground utility systems. 
  5. Clear Communication with The Client: Leak detection service providers must maintain clear and open communication with the client throughout the testing process. This includes providing regular updates on the testing progress and explaining the results or any limitations of the testing. Clear communication is essential to ensure that the client is informed about the testing process and the potential impact of any leaks that are detected.

What Is Concrete Scanning & Imaging?

Concrete scanning is a non-destructive testing technique that involves the use of advanced equipment, such as ground penetrating radar, to identify the presence of any reinforcing elements, utilities, hidden materials, or voids within a concrete slab. This method enables our technicians to identify any potential hazards that may affect the integrity and safety of a structure without causing any damage to the concrete surface. By providing accurate and detailed information about the internal structure of the concrete, concrete scanning helps to ensure that construction and maintenance activities are carried out with maximum efficiency and safety.

What Kind of Utilities/Features Can You Find with Concrete Scanning?

Ground penetrating radar concrete scanning antennas can identify nonmetallic and metallic utilities/features under the concrete. GPR concrete scanning requires trained professionals with years of experience to perform the service accurately. Therefore, we recommend you pick a professional concrete scanning service like C-N-I Locates LTD to perform concrete imaging with GPR scanning for faster and more reliable results in the Pacific Northwest. CNI Locates Ltd. has field offices in Renton, WA, Everett, WA, Tacoma, WA, Seattle, WA, Eugene, OR, and Portland, OR that provide ground penetrating radar concrete scanning services throughout all of Oregon and Washington State. For more information about what concrete scanning can identify, read below.

  1. Rebar and Steel Reinforcement: Ground penetrating radar (GPR) concrete imaging antennas are commonly used for detecting steel reinforcement within a concrete slab. GPR uses electromagnetic waves to detect changes in the material properties of the concrete. It can indicate the presence of steel reinforcement. This information can help determine the location, depth, and spacing of steel reinforcement within the slab, which is essential for ensuring its structural integrity.
  2. Voids and Delamination: Concrete scanning can detect voids, honeycombing, and delamination within a concrete slab. Voids occur when there is a lack of concrete in a specific area, while honeycombing is a form of the void that appears as a series of small air pockets within the concrete. Delamination occurs when the top layer of the concrete separates from the layer below. Further, these issues can weaken the slab and lead to structural issues, making it essential to identify them during the scanning process.
  3. Electrical Conduits and Pipes: Concrete scanning can also detect the location and depth of electrical conduits, plumbing, and other types of pipes that may be hidden within the concrete. This information is important for identifying potential hazards during construction or renovation activities and preventing damage to these systems. 
  4. Thickness of The Slab: Ground penetrating radar concrete scanning antennas can identify the thickness of a concrete slab. This information can help determine its load-bearing capacity and is essential for ensuring the structural integrity of the slab and determining whether it can support the weight of the structure or equipment that will be placed on it. 
  5. Post-Tension Cables: Post-tensioning is a technique used to strengthen concrete slabs by placing steel cables under tension within the concrete. Concrete scanning/imaging can identify the location of these cables, which is important for ensuring the integrity of the slab and preventing any potential issues during construction or maintenance activities.

Why Do You Need to Scan Concrete?

Concrete scanning services are essential for ensuring the safety, durability, and efficiency of concrete structures. Detecting potential hazards and issues early on can help prevent costly repairs and improve the quality of construction and maintenance activities. By providing accurate and detailed information about the internal structure of the concrete, concrete scanning enhances safety and productivity, reducing risks and costs. Read below for more information on why concrete scanning and imaging services are required in the Pacific Northwest.

  • Ensuring Structural Integrity: Concrete structures are designed to support a significant amount of weight and stress over a prolonged period of time. However, over time, various factors such as weather, temperature changes, and usage can cause damage to the structure. Concrete imaging helps to identify any reinforcements, conduits, defects, or voids within the concrete slab that may lead to structural issues. Detecting these issues early on can prevent potential hazards and ensure the structural integrity of the building.
  • Reducing Risks and Costs: During construction or renovation activities, there is a risk of damaging embedded objects such as electrical conduits, pipes, and post-tension cables that are hidden within the concrete. Repairing such damages can be time-consuming and costly. Furthermore, concrete scanning can help identify potential hazards and prevent damage to these embedded objects. Therefore, it can significantly reduce repair costs and prevent unnecessary downtime.
  • Enhancing Safety: Safety is paramount in any construction or maintenance activity. Scanning concrete can help identify any potential hazards that may affect the safety of workers or occupants of the building. By identifying potential issues early on, preventative measures can be taken to ensure the safety of everyone involved.
  • Improving Efficiency: Accurate and detailed information about the internal structure of the concrete can help construction and maintenance activities to be carried out with maximum efficiency. Concrete scanning can provide information such as the location and depth of embedded objects, the thickness of the concrete slab, the location of post-tension cables, etc. Furthermore, this information helps construction and maintenance teams to plan their activities better, reducing the time and cost of construction and maintenance activities and leading to improved productivity.

Explore The Step by Step Process of Concrete Scanning with The Use of GPR

GPR uses electromagnetic waves to create images of the subsurface of concrete structures. The reflected components are analyzed to identify objects and anomalies within the concrete, and the image created depends on the difference in the dielectric constant between the two materials. Furthermore, the use of GPR scanning in concrete imaging is an essential tool for ensuring the safety, durability, and efficiency of concrete structures. Therefore, it is essential to pick locating services from experienced professionals like C-N-I Locates Ltd for reliable results. Below are the steps taken to ensure the data is interpreted accurately.

  1. Sending Electromagnetic Pulses into The Concrete Surface: The GPR concrete scanning antenna sends electromagnetic pulses into the concrete subsurface. These waves travel into the subsurface until they encounter a change in dielectric properties.
  2. Analyzing Reflected Signals: The waves that are reflected back from the subsurface are gathered and analyzed by the concrete scanning antenna. The reflected components are collected at different depths in the concrete and are used to create a two-dimensional view of the subsurface.
  3. Creating A Profile Or 3D Image: If requested, our technicians can perform a grid scan to create a profile or a 3D image of the subsurface. This process takes additional time, but the image is used to help identify any objects or anomalies within the concrete, such as rebar, post-tension cables, conduits, voids, or cracks that might not be easily noticed during a standard 2d line scan or a cross-polarized line scan.
  4. Dependence on Material Properties: The resulting picture is determined by the quantity of energy that reflects, referred to as Reflection (R), and this relies on the contrast between the wave speed and the magnetic properties of the two materials overlapping each other. This physical characteristic of the material is called the dielectric constant. Typically, materials with low dielectric constants, like concrete, have high wave velocities, while materials with high dielectric constants, like steel, have low wave velocities.
  5. Signal Reflection: When an electromagnetic wave meets a material with a distinct dielectric constant, a portion of it is reflected back. The magnitude of the Reflection is influenced by the distinction in dielectric constants between the two materials. For instance, concrete and air result in a partial signal reflection, whereas concrete and steel result in a complete signal reflection, generating significant amplitudes.

How to Detect Corrosion With GPR?

When using ground-penetrating radar concrete scanning antennas, the quality of the pulse’s Reflection can be a good sign of corrosion. Strong reflections that have high amplitude usually indicate no corrosion of the reinforcements, while weak reflections that have low amplitudes caused by the slowed EM pulse speed typically signify corrosion in reinforcement. Corrosion causes the concrete’s dielectric properties to increase because rust and corrosion have a higher dielectric value than concrete.

Overall, concrete scanning services using GPR have the ability to identify the presence of corrosion in reinforcing steel bars. Weak reflections and low amplitudes due to the slowed EM pulse speed are indicative of corrosion, as rust and corrosion have higher dielectric values than concrete, increasing the concrete’s dielectric properties, but other circumstances can increase the dielectric properties inside the concrete, like green concrete, wet areas, etc. When used appropriately, this information can help ensure the safety and durability of concrete structures.

What Are GPR Concrete Scanning A & B Scans?

During the concrete scanning process using ground-penetrating radar (GPR), the GPR sends a cone-shaped electromagnetic (EM) pulse into the concrete element, which reflects off of different dielectric properties, resulting in different scans. Let’s look at A-scans and B scans one by one.

  1. A-scans (Amplitude vs. Time): An A-scan is where the arrival time is measured in different locations and times due to the cone-shaped pulse. These 2-dimensional scans are used to identify the depth and position of objects or anomalies in/under concrete.
  2. B-scans (Amplitude vs. Time & Path distances): A B-scan is where positive and negative reflections are used to create a three dimensional image. This helps provide depth slices on the reflected data. Isosurface views help provide a realistic image of what’s inside the slab.

Get Effective & Reliable Utility Locating Services Today in The Pacific Northwest!

Underground utility locating services that use electromagnetic locators, ground-penetrating radar (GPR), utility mapping, video pipe inspections, water leak detection, electrical fault detection, and more are essential for various construction and engineering projects.

GPR technology can help locate and map underground utilities and structures, ensuring their safe and efficient excavation or avoidance. Furthermore, GPR can also be used for concrete scanning, detecting the presence of rebar, voids, and other anomalies within concrete structures, and identifying potential issues before they become major problems. The use of GPR in concrete imaging can help prevent accidents, save time and money, and ensure the integrity and longevity of concrete structures. Therefore, it is vital for construction professionals to consider using GPR and other utility locating services in their projects to ensure safe and efficient construction processes.

Do you need one of the best concrete scanning or underground utility locating services in the Pacific Northwest? You can rely on C-N-I Locates LTD utility locating experts out of Portland, OR, Eugene, OR, Renton, WA, Everett, WA, Tacoma, WA, and Seattle, WA, to provide an array of locating services with accurate results. Call us today for more details or navigate through our service pages for detailed information on other services.