Blog Home

Why Bother with a Bay Area Concrete Scan?

Everyone has seen news stories about construction accidents that resulted in oil and gas leaks and explosions, fires, electrocutions, and major power outages.  Known as external force damage, these run-ins with underground utilities can cost lives as well as huge sums of money.  While avoiding such catastrophes is probably the best and most obvious reason to perform a Bay Area concrete scan before any excavation, it is not the only reason.

Certainly, many excavation and construction accidents can be preempted by calling Underground Service Alert (USA) North 811, northern California’s utility location one call center.  811 is useful service provided free of charge to anyone planning a construction project, and a call to them is mandatory before the start of any excavation.  Funded by public utilities and other companies that operate subsurface facilities, one call to 811 will bring technicians from member companies with lines or equipment passing beneath the proposed construction site to mark their location.  However, USA North 811, like any one call utility location system has considerable limitations.

It has been estimated that around 10% of underground facilities remain uncovered by 811 because not all companies with subsurface utilities are registered with the program.  For one thing, a metropolitan location as old as the Bay Area holds plenty of hidden lines from as far back as the 19th century. In addition, poor maps from oil, gas, and other companies make location tricky.  Precision also poses a big headache, as an actual line or pipe can lie within two feet on either side of a utility location mark.  Without knowing the exact location or depth of a line, any digging or drilling into concrete in that vicinity must be done with considerable care and by hand.  Finally, 811’s responsibility ends at a property’s meter/transformer.  Once a line enters a structure, it’s up to the contractor to figure out where it goes beneath the concrete or inside a wall.  This means that unless accurate blueprints and records of any renovations exist, it will be a challenge to find where engineers on a site may have run lines.  Understanding this, it’s easy to see the value of a Bay Area concrete scan.

Aside from preventing accidents and power outages, a Bay Area concrete scan can also be a huge money saver.  Engineering and planning are costly, and knowing where utilities lay ahead of time means no time or money is wasted.  For instance, finding out where an existing utility line lays allows engineers to tap into it without starting from scratch or rerouting a line during construction, or a design for a sewer line may turn out to be too expensive to construct when obstructions and unknown hidden utilities lines from the 1800’s turn up in a concrete scan.

There should be no question as to the value of a Bay Area concrete scan.  Concrete scanning offers peace of mind, an accurate real time picture of the subsurface, and it can save time, money, and lives.