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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] One solution is the Electrified Cover Safeguard invention, which is an on-site, real-time stray voltage warning system which is being used in the street lights in New York City and is also being tested by ConEd and other utilities and municipalities in England, Europe, and Japan.[citation needed]

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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45609 news items

CBS Local

CBS Local
Mon, 17 Nov 2014 08:32:40 -0800

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – A Good Samaritan was talking late Monday about a bizarre and dangerous incident that left two people injured when a manhole exploded in Midtown East. At around 6:30 a.m., the manhole exploded at 44th Street and Lexington ...
CBS Local
Thu, 20 Nov 2014 14:41:15 -0800

As the Department of Transportation lays the ground work to repave Ocean Avenue, like most repaving jobs, manhole covers have been left sticking out above the roadway. What makes this project worse, Sanchez reported, is that drivers say it's hard to ...
CBS46 News Atlanta
Fri, 21 Nov 2014 15:15:00 -0800

"Not only are our citizens safe, that money doesn't walk away every time somebody decides to take the lid." The county estimates it has spent thousands of dollars replacing stolen manhole covers. It is purchasing the new lids as money becomes available.

WTSP 10 News

WTSP 10 News
Wed, 19 Nov 2014 20:41:15 -0800

Parrish, Florida – Rescuer workers teamed up to help get a deer out of a 15-foot deep manhole on Tuesday, with the help of a tranquilizer. Wildlife Inc. workers got the call from a neighbor and arrived in the neighborhood off Rye Road, according to WWSB.

KSAT San Antonio

KSAT San Antonio
Sun, 16 Nov 2014 15:15:00 -0800

"When they drove off, I looked again and the manhole cover was gone and I was like, 'What?'" Naymik said. Naymik said it's the first time he's witnessed this type of crime in person, but said he sees missing manhole and utility covers all the time, and ...

New York Daily News

New York Daily News
Tue, 04 Nov 2014 08:17:13 -0800

What an ass. A not-so-bright donkey got itself stuck in a manhole in Swiss town Pratteln over the weekend, authorities say. "My initial reaction was it was a stuffed toy but then I saw it move its ears and shake its head, and realized it was real ...
The Republican - masslive.com
Fri, 07 Nov 2014 09:31:35 -0800

John Hill, a spokesman for the city reached by phone, said that a manhole cover explosion on Lincoln Street Thursday night caused a fire that damaged the fiber-optic line to city hall. “That, in turn, knocked out the Internet,” he said. “We have ...
Bradenton Herald
Wed, 19 Nov 2014 06:15:27 -0800

PARRISH -- A deer is back in the wild after it was rescued from a manhole in Manatee County. Damen Hurd, the vice president of Wildife, Inc., said he was called to help the deer Tuesday night. “It fell down a manhole and was stuck down inside of ...

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