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

What Is Magnetic Detection and Why Is It Important?


Magnetic Detection is the identification of ferrous metals. Ferrous metals contain iron in them which carries magnetic properties. Magnetic detectors are extremely useful when you are trying to locate buried PK nails, septic tank handles, survey markers, cast-iron pipes, valve & curb boxes, manhole covers, handhole covers, steel drums, oil tanks, well casings, road culverts, catch basins, fire hydrants, etc. CNI Locates provides professional magnetic detection and metal detector services in all of Oregon and Washington State. 

What Is the Difference Between Ferrous and Non-Ferrous Metals?

The simple answer to this question is that ferrous metals contain iron, while non-ferrous metals do not contain iron. Each type of metal is made up of distinct properties. The use each metal is best suited for depends on the properties that make up the ferrous metals and non-ferrous metals.

The malleability of non-ferrous metals makes them ideal for jewelry and different manufacturing purposes. These metals are perfect for wiring and electronic purposes because they are non-magnetic.

Durability and strength are what makes ferrous metals valuable. The word ferrous is originated from the Latin word ferrum, which means iron-containing. Ferrous metals are staples of the construction industry due to their durability and strength. Ferrous metals are used for commercial and domestic tools, industrial piping, railroad tracks, and shipping containers. The world’s tallest skyscrapers are also constructed with carbon steel which is also a ferrous metal. 

Ferrous vs. Non-Ferrous Metals

Ferrous metals contain iron and a high amount of carbon and are durable. Non-ferrous metals don’t contain iron, are lightweight and malleable.

What Are Ferrous Metals?

Iron is contained in ferrous metals. The iron component of the metals provides durability. The construction industry uses ferrous metals for a variety of jobs as previously outlined. Therefore, it is a staple building material.

Most ferrous metals are vulnerable to rust if they are exposed to moisture due to the high amount of carbon contained within them. Only two ferrous metals are resistant to rust, stainless steel and wrought iron. Stainless steel is resistant to rust because it contains chromium. Wrought iron is resistant to rust due to its low levels of carbon.

Below Are Some Examples of Ferrous Metals

Alloy steels, carbon steel, cast iron, ductile iron, stainless steel, steel, wrought iron, etc.

What Are Non-Ferrous Metals?

Metals that don’t contain iron are non-ferrous. Non-Ferrous are more malleable and lighter than ferrous metals. This makes them best suited for materials that need to be strong, light, and rust resistant. An example of an industry that use non-ferrous metals is the aircraft industry.

Non-ferrous metals main advantage is their malleability, corrosion resistance, higher rust resistance, and they are also nonmagnetic compared to ferrous metals. Non-ferrous metals are ideal for rain gutters, liquid pipes, roofing, outdoor signage, wiring, electronics, airplane metals etc.

Below Are Some Examples of Non-Ferrous Metals

Aluminum, copper, lead, zinc, tin, gold, silver, titanium, and other precious metals are non-ferrous.

Properties of Ferrous vs. Non-Ferrous Metals

Magnetic Properties

Most ferrous metals have magnetic properties. Non-ferrous metals aren’t magnetic.

Resistance to Rust and Corrosion

Most ferrous metals are vulnerable to rust and corrosion if exposed to moisture. Non-ferrous metals do not possess iron, therefor the have a high resistance to rust and corrosion.

Weight and Malleability

Ferrous metals typically weigh more and aren’t as malleable. Non-ferrous metals are typically lighter and more malleable.

Features of Ferrous Metal Detectors

Distinguishes between vertical and horizontal targets.

Pinpoints to 1″ of the centers for valves and curb boxes

Excellent for detecting buried ferrous objects, including PK nails, iron pipes, valve covers, masonry nails, and hidden culverts.

Unmatched performance identifying targets near fence lines.

Audible and visual indication.

Variable sensitivity and volume for precise tuning

Locating Depths of Target Objects

PK Nail: 1′

Septic Tank Handles: 4′

Survey Markers: 8′

Cast-Iron Pipe: 8′

Valve & Curb Boxes: 10′

Manhole Covers: 10′

Steel Drums: 5′ to 12′

Oil Tanks: 15′

Well Casings: 17′

Varies: Road Culverts / Catch Basins / Fire Hydrants

Contact CNI Locates Utility Detection and Inspection Services in Oregon and Washington State

C-N-I Locates LTD offers a wide range of services to ensure your safety, the safety of others, and the property the work is being performed at. With us, you can get Aerial Drone Imagery, Design Survey Locating, Electrical Fault Detection, Ground Penetrating Radar, Leak Detection, Magnetic Detection, Metallic Line Detection, Non-Metallic Line Detection, Plastic Water Pipe Detection, Public and Private Utility Locates, Sewer Crawler Inspections, Structural & Concrete Imaging, Utility Mapping, Video Push Camera Inspections, and more from experienced technicians in all of Oregon and Washington State. We have field offices in Eugene, Oregon, Portland, Oregon, Everett, Washington, Renton, Washington, Seattle, Washington, and Tacoma, Washington. To learn more about our wide range of services we can offer you, visit our website and request an estimate or schedule a work order today! You can also call (877) 826-1177 or email [email protected] with any questions or to schedule a service within 24 hours’ notice Monday – Friday.