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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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42687 news items

BBC News

BBC News
Wed, 01 Apr 2015 09:02:14 -0700

Holborn eyewitness: 'Fire seemed to be from manhole'. 1 April 2015 Last updated at 16:58 BST. An electrical fire under the pavement in central London has led to some 2,000 people being evacuated from nearby buildings. Fire crews were called after smoke ...


Wed, 01 Apr 2015 17:45:00 -0700

A motorcyclist is lucky he didn't lose more than some personal belongings during a frightening incident on the roads of Cuiaba, Brazil. Businessman Jefferson Nunes de Siqueira was on his way to the bank to deposit around $5,000 on March 23 when he got ...

Hilton Head Island Packet

Hilton Head Island Packet
Wed, 01 Apr 2015 14:37:34 -0700

The fate of the cheery yellow flowers that were painted around some downtown manhole covers last week is in the hands of Beaufort City Council. Public works director Lamar Taylor said council is expected to discuss the guerrilla art at Tuesday's work ...


Wed, 01 Apr 2015 23:00:00 -0700

SINGAPORE — Fire was seen coming out of a manhole that blew up at the junction of Hill Street and High Street this morning (April 2). The Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF) was alerted to the incident at around 7.30am this morning (April 2). The ...
Wed, 01 Apr 2015 20:33:45 -0700

Dharwad, Apr 2: Two civic workers, who had entered a manhole near the railway under-bridge on Gadag Road here on Wednesday April 1 lost their lives. Another worker also rushed to help his friends, but he too was set to be doomed before people nearby ...

Indianapolis Star

Indianapolis Star
Mon, 23 Mar 2015 10:23:12 -0700

The checks follow an underground explosion Thursday at the intersection of Capitol Avenue and North Street that launched several manhole covers into the air, tied up traffic Downtown for much of the day and cut power to hundreds of customers.
Washington Post
Mon, 30 Mar 2015 14:33:45 -0700

Call it another form of March madness: not flying basketballs, but flying manhole covers. Scientific literature traces manhole explosions back nearly a century, but a series of such incidents in Indianapolis, host of the upcoming NCAA basketball ...


Wed, 01 Apr 2015 03:07:30 -0700

According to the woman, her husband was severely injured decades ago when flames unexpectedly shot out from the manhole's cover flue, blowing him into the air, burning his leg and sending him to the hospital. The woman said that her husband consumed ...

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