The last thing you need in your busy life is to fret over replacing a manhole cover that’s damaged, compromised or missing. The hassle of finding and installing a replacement, plus the fact that you may not be able to use your driveway as there’s a hole in it, all add to the stress. Below we’ve put together the key steps you need to follow for a swift, safe replacement with minimal effort and cost.

Don’t forget, if there’s any part of buying a replacement manhole cover that you need help with that our advisors are on hand on 01752 692 221.

Be realistic when replacing manhole covers

It could seem like a small issue to you if you spot a small crack in a manhole cover or drain cover but now is the time to be realistic. This crack is dangerously compromising the strength of the manhole cover to the point where even a small child stepping on this could fall through. Whenever you spot a structural issue with a manhole cover, replace it.

Unfortunately, if there’s damage to a manhole cover then it’s prudent to replace the frame too as there’s no clear-cut way to ensure the frame is sound.

Take an accurate measurement of what you already have

All you need in any situation (except if you discover a plastic inspection chamber) is the clear opening measurement. This is the width, height and depth of the hole in the ground. To get the clear opening measurement put the tape measure into the hole and measure the size of the inspection chamber below from wall to wall. Every manhole cover is measured the same so once you have this, you’re able to find a replacement.

Does your manhole cover have an inspection chamber underneath it? If it does then you’ll need to measure the diameter of the circular chamber (these chambers are almost always covered with a circular manhole cover) and pick a manhole cover and frame which matches this. Double-check that the cover and frame you choose is compatible with all major inspection chamber brands and make sure it’s still the correct load class.

Pick the load class that will be most suitable

As explained in our guide to manhole load classes, each of the classes denotes the maximum weight that the manhole is able to safely take. For example, if the manhole cover is going to be installed in a private driveway, you could safely assume B125 would be a high enough load capacity. This allows for up to 12.5 tonnes of loading which should satisfy 4x4s and vans on a domestic driveway. It’s at your discretion to decide what you need, but our advisers give recommendations daily so it’s worth asking.

It’s a good idea to consider things like food shopping delivery vans and lorries using your driveway to turn.

Choose your material

Once you know what size and load class you’re after, it’s up to you to select which metal you want your manhole cover replacement to be made from. In the table below it’s outlined the benefits of each of the materials.

MaterialProperties Best Application
AluminiumMost common material for recessed covers to hold slabs, grass and tiles for aesthetic purposes. Rated up to 10 tonnesFor domestic applications where recessed covers would give best final look
Stainless SteelA common choice for pedestrianized areas where occasional strength is required for delivery vehicles in town centres for exampleFor predominantly pedestrian areas where heavier vehicles up to 10 tonnes may occasionally, slowly travel over them
Galvanised SteelLightweight and easy to install, a versatile option for domestic or private areas with light traffic only. Rated up to 17 tonnesBest suited to very slow moving traffic like private car parks and domestic driveways. Not for use on highways or roads
Cast IronBlack in colour so best to blend in to tarmac, cast iron is the strongest material of the four, rated up to 90 tonnesSuited to all areas but overkill in lightly trafficked or pedestrian areas. Cast iron manhole covers are allowed on highways and roads.

Plastic inspection chambers?

These are typically found in more modern properties. It is vital that when replacing the manhole cover that you choose one and a frame that matches the size of that chamber.Inspection Chamber Reducer 450mm x 350mm

The maximum depth of a chamber you can have is up to 1.2m. Any bigger than that and you will need to reduce it as it is a danger to children passing by if not fixed. This can be done with a reducer (image to the right), which can be used to ensure building standards are met.

If you would like to know the basics regarding inspections chambers, check out our ‘What is an inspection chamber?” guide.

Aside from the load class implications, and whether you want a recessed manhole or not, the material is really a personal decision for you to make. We’re on hand to advise though should you need us. Contact us on 01752 692 221 for help replacing your manhole cover. 

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