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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 (also known as a "biscuit"[citation needed]), 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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5595 news items


Thu, 30 Oct 2014 11:33:45 -0700

SOUTHWICK, Mass. (WWLP) – Southwick police say that an apparent prank is no laughing matter for drivers. Town police say that on Monday night, manhole covers were removed from two different locations in town; one of which was Feeding Hills Road ...

Gazette Live

Gazette Live
Fri, 31 Oct 2014 02:41:07 -0700

Police were called at 3.45am today to reports of a collapsed manhole cover on the eastbound A66 near the Hartington Interchange. It was made secure but was still coned off during the morning rush hour, causing traffic to build up back to where the A19 ...
Journal Pioneer
Thu, 30 Oct 2014 12:07:05 -0700

Crews from the Summerside municipal works department look over a new prototype manhole cover developed by Nathan Kember, right. The new cover will rise and fall with winter frost heaves. It is hoped the new design will provide for safer traveling and ...

Kennebec Journal & Morning Sentinel

Kennebec Journal & Morning Sentinel
Fri, 24 Oct 2014 08:36:36 -0700

Brian Tarbuck, superintendent of the Greater Augusta Utility District, said 20 manhole covers and catch basin grates have been stolen since Oct. 7. He said the thefts occurred throughout the city, though the east side was hit more heavily than the west ...
Thu, 30 Oct 2014 11:56:15 -0700

Officials say the closure will be caused by the installation of a sanitary manhole in the 600 block of West High Street. The closure will be located between Orchard Street and Coler Avenue, and is scheduled to last from 7:00 a.m. on November 3 until 5 ...
WMTW Portland
Sat, 25 Oct 2014 08:45:00 -0700

Lully said the police began investigating after receiving a number of calls from motorists reporting that manhole covers were missing from storm drains throughout the city. Several of the stolen manhole covers have been found, Lully said. Although the ...


Fri, 17 Oct 2014 07:39:32 -0700

Watch Manager Jim Farrell who was at the scene said: “There was lots of very thick, black smoke pulsing from the manhole and crews worked quickly to contain the fire. The Brigade goes to around 50 incidents involving electrical manhole covers every ...


Thu, 23 Oct 2014 12:38:35 -0700

The motive behind the missing manhole cover theory: people are stealing them for scrap. Cincinnati City spokesman Rocky Merz said the city has contacted several local scrap yards to notify them of the recent thefts. Scrap yards aren't allowed to accept ...

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