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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 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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25571 news items


Sat, 06 Dec 2014 23:32:01 -0800

“They walked us over to the truck, and put us in the truck, and as they're driving their radio is on, and it said 'We're pulling him out of the manhole now. He's non-responsive,'” Shara Bailey recalled. “And I'm just (asking), 'What's going on?' And ...

New York Post

New York Post
Fri, 12 Dec 2014 00:03:45 -0800

Rush-hour commuters faced significant subway delays Thursday night after a manhole caught fire near the West 4th Street station — and some lines could still be affected Friday morning, MTA officials warned. The fire, which started at 6:30 p.m ...


Thu, 18 Dec 2014 03:32:44 -0800

LOUIS– A failed piece of electrical equipment is to blame for a manhole fire in north St. Louis that left nearly 9,000 Ameren Missouri customers without power Thursday morning. The fire occurred just after 1 a.m. near the intersection of North Broadway ...

WMTW Portland

Wed, 10 Dec 2014 16:43:47 -0800

PORTLAND (WGME) -- Central Maine Power says a failed cable caused an underground electrical fire which caused several manhole covers to explode into the sky in Portland Wednesday. The explosion on Fore Street sent a manhole cover flying 20 feet ...
Dubuque Telegraph Herald
Thu, 18 Dec 2014 10:00:00 -0800

A plugged sanitary sewer pipe caused a manhole to overflow Wednesday night near Knob Hill Drive in Dubuque. The overflow occurred at an off-road manhole, according to a city news release. City officials were notified of the overflow at 5 p.m. and were ...
Inside NoVA
Wed, 17 Dec 2014 03:03:45 -0800

The Prince William County Service Authority recently installed electric manhole cover sensors to monitor rainwater levels in flood-prone areas. Authority officials say several homes in the Lomond Drive area of Manassas are vulnerable to flooding. “When ...

Daily Mail

Daily Mail
Mon, 01 Dec 2014 03:08:13 -0800

Two manhole covers were blown into the air by an underground explosion which led to temporary power cuts to over 1,000 homes. Fire crews raced to a street in Oldham, Greater Manchester after flames were seen coming from two manholes around one mile ...
Ontario Argus Observer
Tue, 16 Dec 2014 09:59:54 -0800

ONTARIO—The wastewater treatment plant got the go-ahead from Ontario City Council Monday night to begin an $11,600 project to replace six concrete manholes along the dikes at the wastewater lagoon. “The manholes have been corroded due to the ...

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