Manhole covers are everywhere. They provide essential access worldwide to underground systems. Does the name change depending on the various systems they provide access to?

No. While the systems they provide access to may vary, the access point to the underground system has the same job, no matter what you call it. A manhole cover has one main job aside from being the main access point. It keeps you safe, keeps you from falling in, and keeps the equipment underneath it safe.

People who live in different places use different terms. Someone from New Jersey may call it a manhole cover, while someone from California may say maintenance hole cover. Another variation could be shop talk vs industry talk – what someone calls something may vary depending on their industry. For example, someone from a utility company may refer to a manhole cover as a utility hole cover or someone from an environmental company may call a manhole cover a monitor well cover.

But what is the difference, and what is it supposed to be called? What is the right word for a manhole cover or point of access? There really is no definite or correct term.

Here at Manhole Covers Direct, we accept whatever terminology you use. The following is a brief summary of some terms that are used nationwide:

  • Manhole Cover: The term “manhole” can be traced back to the 1st Century when the Romans dug holes for access points that were big enough to provide entry for a man to fit inside.
  • Maintenance Hole Cover: In some regions, including California, “manholes” have officially been renamed “maintenance holes.” This terminology shift aims to make the vocabulary more gender-neutral and reflective of the broader range of people who work in utilities and maintenance roles.
  • Utility Hole Cover: While gaining popularity in various infrastructures, utility holes emphasize their role in providing access to essential utilities, such as water, gas, and sewage systems.
  • Hand Hole Cover: Typically used for visual inspections or to access small equipment, “hand holes” get their name from being slightly larger than the size of one’s hand.
  • Monitor Well Cover or Observation Well Cover: Monitor wells or observation wells are designed to measure water movement, quality, and quantity. These wells serve the purpose of regulating groundwater.
  • Access Port Cover / Service Port Cover: Some people use a more general term, such as “access point.” This terminology emphasizes the primary function of these structures: providing underground access.
  • Sewer Cover: Manhole covers that go over the top of sewer utility systems. These may read “Sewer” on the lid so people know what is underneath.
  • Drain Cover / Drain Grate Cover: Drain covers have holes that allow water to drain into sewer or storm systems. Drain covers may also be called cleanout covers or cleanout access.
  • Confined Space Cover: Access point with covers often marked “Danger” or “Do Not Enter” to deter unauthorized people from entering.
  • Inspection Chamber Cover / Inspection Hole Cover: Specifically used for frequent inspection access.

The above list includes only some of the terms people use. Some people may also replace the term cover with “lid,” “cap,” or “hatch,” such as “maintenance hole lid” or “service port hatch.”

No matter the terminology, manhole covers are our specialty. Give us a call today for help with your project.

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