Key in providing vital access points to underground utility networks such as drainage, electricity and gas systems, manholes allow for subterranean repairs, maintenance and inspections to take place as easily and efficiently as possible. However, while they are an essential part of modern urban infrastructure, manholes can be dangerous if they’re not correctly covered and – due to the fact that they can be placed anywhere from the middle of a lawn, garden or driveway to your garage or home – they can often prove a bit of an eyesore.

In this post, we look at how to properly fit a manhole cover safely and with ease, and investigate the most effective way to disguise these unaesthetic access points.

How to Fit a Manhole Cover

Fitting a manhole cover is relatively straightforward and can be done in just a number of simple steps. If you follow this basic process, making sure all safety precautions discussed are taken seriously and the correct tools are used, this important job is made quick and easy.

  1. Excavate the area around the manhole so that no excess dirt or debris falls into the chamber.
  2. Remove any existing manhole cover structure, so that the frame of the manhole is exposed.
  3. Cover the hole in a temporary fashion with a piece of plywood when you are not working on it, and make everyone around the site aware of the potential danger of an uncovered manhole.
  4. Using a taut string line stretched between two known points, measure the height of the surface surrounding the manhole, running the string over the manhole itself.
  5. Apply between 10mm and 40mm of cement to the frame of your new manhole cover and, using a mallet, hammer the frame into the cement, making sure that it sits level with your piece of string. This ensures that the top of the cover will sit at the same height as its surrounding area.
  6. When you’re happy that the manhole frame is level, fully secure it using a cement to fix it into place. Then place the lid of the manhole onto the frame and allow the cement 24 hours to fully set.
  7. Once this has set, you can now fill the surrounding excavated area in with your chosen material, be that turf, block paving, resin paving, concrete or tarmac. If you are installing a recessed manhole cover, it is at this point that you can also fill the tray of the manhole cover with materials that match its surroundings.
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A dirty manhole cover situated in a garden.

How to Disguise a Manhole Cover

Other than simply hiding them with objects such as plant pots, the best and most popular method of drawing attention away from any unsightly manhole covers in and around your home is to disguise them. This is common practise nowadays when it comes to manhole covers located in domestic settings, and is usually achieved through the use of recessed manhole covers. These covers are designed to include a special infill tray that sits flush with the surrounding area of the manhole. This tray can be filled with any material, from grass to block paving, tarmac to loose gravel, allowing the cover to blend in with its environment.

Disguised recessed manhole covers have no implications concerning access or maintenance, meaning there is usually no extra cost in opting for a cover of this type. Although most commonly used on driveways, patios and pavements, they can also be installed with ease in garages and on lawns.

An attractive and simple-to-fit solution to disguising any access point in and around your home, recessed manhole covers are certainly worth considering if unsightly inspection chambers act as blemishes on the aesthetic of your property.

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