How To Remove a Manhole Cover

Picture of manhole

The manhole cover is a tool that separates one unlucky pedestrian from falling a great height into an unappetizing mixture of garbage and sewage. It is important that manhole covers are regulated by the government. They have to be made with sturdy cast iron and have to withstand great amounts of load and pressure. People, cars and even tracks roll over these manhole covers on a daily basis so they better hold up strong or else. Most manhole covers are also circular-shaped. This prevents the cover from falling into the manhole itself. It also makes the cover structurally sound, while still providing enough girth for a person to climb through.

While the manhole does a great job in keeping people and cars out of the drainage systems, there might come a time that you might have to go down the manhole yourself to check plumbing in your house or other utilities that might need checking. Some cities have the power lines in underground tunnels so knowing how to remove the cover might come in handy. Of course, for your safety, it's probably best to leave this to the city engineer's office or some other professional.

  1. Before trying to remove the manhole cover, use a broom to dust off any stones, pebbles and loose dirt on top of the cover. If the manhole cover has been around for a long while, you may notice that there is a lot of packed debris in the manhole. In cases where in the debris has already become caked onto certain junctions, you may be better off using water from a pressurized hose to break through the tough material.
  2. There are two types of manhole covers that are used in the United States. The most common type is the one where the hole is located smack in the middle of the manhole cover. To remove this, you can use a crowbar to pry out the manhole. However, the best bet is to buy a specialized manhole cover hook from a reputable hardware supplies store. Once you've already secured the hook, put yourself in a comfortable position from the edge of the cover and lift the cover at a 45 degree angle. Make sure that you're well positioned for this task. It's very possible to pull a few muscles in your arms, legs and back if you're doing this wrong.
  3. A second type of manhole is one that doesn't come with a hole. To remove this type of cover, you would be better off using a specialized manhole cover lifter. This device comes with strong magnets that can lift the cover with magnetism and the turning of a winch at the base of the machine. This is a relatively easier way to remove the manhole cover compared to manually removing one. Unfortunately, a manhole cover lifter might be too expensive, and will not make sense if you're just going to lift one manhole cover.

It can be a tough job, but if you do it right, lifting manhole covers can be much easier than you think. 


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