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For other uses, see Manhole (disambiguation).
PMG manholes in a city street, Perth, Western Australia.
Manhole in Belo Horizonte, Brazil.
This is a sewer manhole, exposed during construction. Typically, only the top ring and manhole cover (not pictured) would be visible.
Manhole cover of precast concrete in Germany

A manhole (alternatively utility hole, cable chamber, maintenance hole, inspection chamber, access chamber, sewer hole or confined space) is the top opening to an underground utility vault used to house an access point for making connections, inspection, valve adjustments or performing maintenance on underground and buried public utility and other services including sewers, telephone, electricity, storm drains, district heating and gas.


Manhole closings are protected by a manhole cover, a flat plug designed to prevent accidental or unauthorized access to the manhole. Those plugs are traditionally made of metal, but may be constructed from precast concrete, glass reinforced plastic or other composite material (especially in Europe, or where cover theft is of concern).

Manholes are usually outfitted with metal, polypropylene, or fiberglass steps installed in the inner side of the wall to allow easy descent into the utility space. Because of legislation restricting acceptable manual handling weights, Europe has seen a move toward lighter weight composite manhole cover materials, which also have the benefits of greater slip resistance and electrical insulating properties.

The access openings are usually circular in shape to prevent accidental fall of the cover into the hole.

Manholes are generally found in urban areas, in streets and occasionally under sidewalks. In rural and undeveloped areas, services such as telephone and electricity are usually carried on utility poles or even pylons rather than underground.

Composite manholes[edit]

Composite (fiberglass) manholes are commonly used in applications where infiltration, exfiltration, or corrosion by hydrogen sulfide (from sewer gas) are a concern, or where structures need to be factory integrated into a manhole before placement.

Structures commonly integrated into composite manholes include:

  • Flow inverts[1]
  • Flumes[2]
  • Drop structures from higher elevation flows to lower elevation discharge pipes

Occasionally, composite manholes will integrate:

  • Weirs[3]
  • Storm water screening structures[4]
  • Sewage grinders[5]
  • Energy absorbing structures to dissipate undesirable flow stream turbulence or velocity[6]

Hazards caused by stray voltage in manholes[edit]

In urban areas, stray voltage issues have become a significant concern for utilities. In 2004, Jodie S. Lane was electrocuted after stepping on a metal manhole cover, while walking her dog in New York City.[7]

See also[edit]



  • Isles, Paul (2010). "Dover Engineering Works". Dover Life Magazine

Further reading[edit]

  • Ascher, Kate ; researched by Wendy Marech (2007). The works : anatomy of a city (Reprint. ed.). New York: Penguin Press. ISBN 978-0143112709. 

Original courtesy of Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Manhole — Please support Wikipedia.
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25791 news items

CBS Local

CBS Local
Thu, 08 Oct 2015 19:42:42 -0700

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — A firefighter was injured Thursday evening when a manhole exploded in Washington Heights. Around 8:30 p.m., the manhole exploded at 181st Street and Amsterdam Avenue, the FDNY told CBS2. The manhole cover blew off ...
The Chattanoogan
Thu, 08 Oct 2015 12:30:00 -0700

The Heritage Landing Condominium Association has been sued after a homeowner fell into a loose manhole cover. Mike Mallen and his wife, Elizabeth, are also suing Community Management Associates, Chase Plumbing and Mechanical, Sikes Services ...
St Helens Star
Thu, 08 Oct 2015 03:27:11 -0700

IT was a quiz question on the Daily Politics TV show as to Jeremy Corbyn's interests. Manhole covers was the answer. It turned out he had helped out a local history group in his constituency with a project by taking photos of them. I was curious.
The Independent
Sat, 26 Sep 2015 14:53:22 -0700

For years, the nation's devoted admirers of drains and manhole covers lacked a really high-profile representative. Not any more: Jeremy Corbyn's bold admission that he likes to photograph drain covers, despite the fact that “people think it's little ...
Valley Breeze
Thu, 01 Oct 2015 04:30:00 -0700

CUMBERLAND - State transportation officials told Mayor Bill Murray earlier this month that they don't know why the town's manhole covers are sinking. But they're willing to study the problem, they said, after Murray told Peter Alviti, director of Rhode ...
Suburban Life Publications
Fri, 02 Oct 2015 05:56:15 -0700

The camera eliminates the need for confined space entry requirements for personnel to perform a full descent into a manhole. This is not only safer for public works employees, it also is faster and more economical, the release stated. The camera is ...
The Daily Freeman
Thu, 24 Sep 2015 11:40:37 -0700

City Engineer Ralph Swenson said this week that the extent of the problem within the manhole at Henry and Furnace streets is not specifically known yet but repairs likely are needed “in the near term” to the manhole pipe that carries a considerable ...

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Mon, 05 Oct 2015 10:37:30 -0700

Three ubiquitous concrete elements, one ready mixed and two precast, anchor a Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago plaza exhibit running through July 2016. Dubbed MCA Chicago Plaza Project Alexandre da Cunha, 2015, it features the Brazilian artist's ...

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