How do I lift a manhole/access cover?

Lifting your manhole cover 

At spudulica we supply a few types of manhole/access cover so this week we are highlighting not just the installing of these products but what to do if you have a cover that needs lifting.


There are many types of manhole/access cover. But they all need to be lifted to access what is underneath.

All drain access covers/manhole covers have a lifting element. This can be integrated or the cover is lifted using separate keys.

This example (to the right) has integrated lifting keys that just need to be uncovered then lifted up by hand. Once lifted they provide a T area to lift on both sides allowing quick and efficient uplift.

This cover is part of our grass top cover range take a look at the link above.

Integrated keys
Installed triple sealed aluminium access cover

As access covers have different applications they each have different appearances and adaptions. This means lifting components are slightly different.

Take our range of recessed aluminium covers, with their slim designed edge they have corner lifting points. These points are covered with grey caps when not in use. When needed the caps can be removed and the supplied keys used to lift.

Each key is a T shape for easy grip; It also features a thread to allow you to screw into the manhole frame for a secure fit when lifting.

For double sealed versions this thread is shorter than the triple sealed versions.

Solid top and heavy duty/ductile covers in areas of heavy loading usually have lifting points closer to the middle of the cover. They are lifted by keys as seen below. Yu can also see in the image of one of our larger grass top manhole covers what the lifting point for these keys look like. Again the keys are inserted into the lifting hole and turned to provide a secure point to lift.

Heavy duty and filled covers can be very heavy so its best to lift these covers with 2x people.

Grass top cover example
key lifted

If a cover has been in the ground a long time they can become partly covered or filled with dirt. Before attempting to lift please check the cover first. Make sure it is in good condition and clean off any debris and dirt. This will allow you to see what type of access cover you have and what size it is. This will allow you to find out where to purchase keys to lift the item. You may need to also clear debris from around the edge of the cover so that when you lift the lid it will come up easily.

Do not leaver the sides or edges and use your hands this is dangerous and could possibly cause a serious accident.

Questions answered –

How do you lift an old drain cover?

Make sure it is cleaned and edges loosened before lifting. If you have the keys make sure the lifting area is clear of debris.

Be aware what the cover is made of and may be heavy and what it might be covering.

Prepare and plan don’t just rush ahead.


How do I identify a manhole cover?

Most manhole covers especially solid tops have a manufacturers name or identifying codes on the top. This can also help to show what the cover is covering. You can then use this information to find out about your access cover.

How do you replace an old manhole cover?

Yes, you will need to replace the whole unit not just the lid to make sure of a good fit. There are may sizes and types to choose from make sure you have your aperture measurement, loading capacity and any special features required sorted before looking so you can narrow down to the type you want

filled lifting points
sizes to be aware of if you want to buy a new cover

How do you lift a manhole cover without a key?


Please make sure you have a crow bar or apparatus to help do not do this by hand.

Clear the edges of the cover

Check for the lifting keys they may be integrated

See if the edge will lift if pressure is applied to lever it up

Be sure you can lift the cover safely consider the weight of the lid before continuing

If all is safe continue to lift carefully so that when the hole is exposed you won’t fall in.

If the cover does not lift it may be a sealed and locking cover that will require specific keys to unseal.



Can you put gravel over a manhole cover?


There are recessed overs that can be filled with gravel to create a seamless finish in your outdoor areas. Then when the access is needed the gravel can be easily moved and the cover lifted.

Can I cover a drain in my garden?


It has to be a accessible when needed. The best way is to buy a recessed manhole cover to infill to blend in with your flooring/ garden. Then you have an effective finish and an easy way to access when needed. You don’t want to be in a position where you have to removes flooring/plants to access an area in an emergency. Best to be prepared.




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