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Find Out Why Manhole Covers Are Round

25/05/2020

While there are a number of different manhole cover shapes, circular manhole covers are by far the most popular. There are a variety of reasons for this, of which we will break down throughout this blog. Manhole covers may not cross your mind every day but there is always a mild curiosity that is associated with them. Why are they the size they are? Why are there so many different ones? Where do they go?

All of these questions often go unanswered, as you simply forget or never get around to Googling it. But by you reading this it means you’ve done the first step, and you want to know more. As a company heavily involved with the creation of manholes, our forms create the cast of which the concrete is poured, we’re able to answer almost all of the questions that have plagued you about manholes!

Why Are Manhole Covers Round?

There are a few reasons why manholes are round, the first being the shape does not allow for the cover to fall into the manhole. When you have a square manhole cover, you run the risk of it accidentally falling into the manhole as the diagonal length of the cover and the vertical and horizontal lengths are different. Whereas if you have a circular cover, the diameter is the same the whole way around, not allowing for the cover to fall into the manhole accidentally.

Another reason for manhole covers to be circular is to allow them to best handle the pressure of the earth. As with any opening into the earth, there is constant pressure from the earth to close the gap. This compression can easily lead to cracks in other shapes at their joining point. As a circle doesn’t have a joining point it is able to disperse the compression evenly, drastically reducing the risk of cracks. This is also why tunnel boring machines create circular holes.

The final reasons as to why manholes are round are because they are easier to manufacture and easier to move. As manhole covers can weigh between 10kg to 30kg, they are hard to lift and move no matter what shape they are. By making them round it allows the workers to lift and roll the cover along the ground, instead of lifting it off the ground.

Why Are There Different Manhole Cover Shapes?

Manhole cover shapes are generally dictated by the local or state government in partnership with the companies that are providing the underground utilities. This is why you will find circular, square, rectangle and triangle covers. The prominent thing to highlight here is that not all covers are manhole covers. Manhole covers are specific to the covers that are designed for workers to enter, whereas smaller ones are designed as direct access points to underground utilities.

Square manhole covers rarely cover a deep access point, rather they tend to cover large and shallow junctions. Reuleaux triangle covers are similar to circular covers in that they also have a constant diameter so cannot fall into a manhole. However, reuleaux triangle manhole covers are much more expensive to manufacture and are harder to move. In recent years there has been a push to streamline manhole cover shapes, with a focus on round covers.

Learn More About Manhole Covers and The Underground Utilities They Protect

Manhole Form Hire’s blog has a wealth of information about manholes and the industry and utilities they support. We pride ourselves on the work we do for the Australian civil infrastructure industry and believe the industry is often highly underrated. To learn more about how underground utilities work, their importance to the greater community and our role, read through our blog here.

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