Manhole Cover or Drain Grate?

Do you ever wonder – What’s the difference between a manhole cover and a drain grate? What are the different applications for each? And when do you need one or the other?

Manhole covers and drain grates serve similar functions but differ in their specific purposes and designs. Manhole covers are generally solid and provide access to and protect underground utilities, while drain grates have slots to allow the flow of surface water into underground pipes. What are some specific distinctions between the two, and why are they significant?

What is a manhole cover?

In addition to providing authorized access to underground utilities for personnel to conduct maintenance, inspections, or emergency interventions, manhole covers also serve as protective barriers from external elements such as debris, rainwater, and other environmental factors. Manhole covers are usually installed at a higher grade to help pitch the rainwater away. Want to learn more about manhole covers? Check out our blog, “What is a manhole cover: Ask the experts.

What is a drain grate?

Drain grates are also designed to cover openings in the ground for safety purposes. They are designed to prevent debris from clogging drainage systems. Opposite to manhole covers, drain grates are typically found at the base of sloped surfaces to efficiently channel rainwater or runoff into the underground pipes​.​​​​ The percentage of open area depends on the amount of water flow. Heavy water flow requires larger drain holes, whereas low flow requires smaller drain holes.

Are all drain grates ADA-compliant?

Some drain grates located in an accessible pedestrian space must be ADA-compliant. ADA stands for The Americans with Disabilities Act, which protects civilians with canes, walkers, and wheelchairs, preventing them from getting caught in drain grate holes. ADA-compliant drain grate holes must be no larger than ½” in the direction of traffic. For in-depth information about custom drain grates, including various styles and designs, check out our blog on Types of Custom Drain Grates.

Not sure which you need?

Contact Manhole Covers Direct today with any questions you may have about manhole covers or drain grates.