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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 or performing maintenance on underground and buried public utility and other services including sewers, telephone, electricity, storm drains 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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170861 news items

Mon, 26 Jan 2015 20:43:29 -0800

A man working on a manhole in Portland, Oregon, was run over by the driver of a pick-up and it was all caught on surveillance video. Travis Roberts thought he had taken the proper precautions to protect himself, such as setting up orange cones around ...

The Independent

Thu, 22 Jan 2015 10:04:58 -0800

Video from a nearby shop showed a family walk past the manhole with their toddler in tow, completely unaware of the drama about to unfold. The cover begins to smoke just a fraction of a second after a man and a woman walk past. But the toddler lags ...

CBS Local

CBS Local
Sun, 25 Jan 2015 16:00:17 -0800

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Winter weather conditions are likely to blame for a manhole fire in Queens. A manhole cover popped right off as thick black smoke burst out of the manhole in Long Island City Sunday morning. The fire happened at Jackson ...

Daily Mail

Daily Mail
Thu, 22 Jan 2015 10:21:45 -0800

This is the dramatic moment a toddler narrowly escaped being crushed when a manhole cover exploded out of the road in a freak accident. The square metal cover blasted several feet into the air and landed inches from the child who had just walked over it.


Tue, 27 Jan 2015 15:03:45 -0800

Travis Roberts was working on a manhole when all of a sudden, a pickup truck hit a cone, running over him. "I'm sitting here alive, and not worse off, not paralyzed; I get to come home and see my wife and kids," Roberts said after the fact. Roberts ...

Jamaica Observer

Jamaica Observer
Mon, 26 Jan 2015 21:03:45 -0800

A photographer is now suffering from injuries he received after falling into an uncovered National Water Commission (NWC) manhole in Montego Bay on Sunday. Michael Sloley, who was on assignment at the time, said that he was not aware of the presence ...
Newport News Times
Tue, 27 Jan 2015 22:00:00 -0800

NEWPORT — The city of Newport needed to act quickly last month when a sewer line failed and an emergency repair was required. On Dec. 22, the sanitary sewer line backed up on NE 15th Street, causing sewage to spill out from a cleanout and onto the ...
Birmingham Mail
Thu, 22 Jan 2015 07:33:17 -0800

A child narrowly escaped serious injury when a manhole cover exploded out of the ground in Birmingham. The youngster was walking with two adults in Warwick Road, Acocks Green, when it suddenly shot out of the ground just missing them as they strolled ...

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