manhole being constructed below the ground level

A manhole being constructed below the ground level

When it comes to public utilities, we often don’t think about how they appear in our homes and buildings, about the journey electricity, water, and sewage all take to enter and leave our lives safely and effectively, and we certainly don’t consider how people ensure that these utilities stay operational. For all of that, there is a piece of simple technology that we all need. It’s called the manhole, and many buildings are in need of new or updated manholes or a completely new Toronto manhole installation.

In Toronto and much of Southern Ontario, manholes have recently undergone some various changes in how they are handled, who is responsible for their maintenance, and where they are required. Since manholes are needed for almost every kind of utility, there are many important questions that you need to consider to ensure your building has the right number of manholes. Here are some common questions people have about manholes, and important answers that incorporate the latest changes to manhole restrictions and guidelines.

What exactly is a manhole?

For many, the word drums up visions of the manhole covers on city streets, and in turn create the idea that below us is a series of large tunnels. In part, this is true, since the world of public plumbing and tunnelling is indeed complex and widespread, but that is only a single type of manhole. More generally, manholes refer to almost any access point where people need to access to public utilities and other important service hardware. This can also include access to sewers, telephone lines, electrical cabling, storm drains, district heating, and gas utilities, meaning that manholes do more than provide access to big tunnels.

Why are Manholes Important?

The reason manholes are so important is that they provide an essential access point to the things that we need to live a comfortable life. Without the access points, workers and professionals couldn’t inspect these lines, repair them, replace them, or even maintain them, so they are also an essential, if often ignored, aspect of our very contemporary existence. Without them, workers couldn’t access the many utilities and systems that run below the ground and keep our cities lit, functioning, and operational.

Who Needs Manhole Installation?

manhole during installation

A manhole during installation

According to recent changes by the Ontario Government and the City of Toronto, “the owner or operator of commercial, institutional or industrial premises, or multi-storey residential buildings with one or more connections to a sewage works shall install and maintain in good repair in each connection a suitable maintenance access hole.”

In layman’s terms, this means that any commercial, industrial, or multi-storey residential building with a connection to sewage must build and maintain a manhole. This is the responsibility of the owner or operator. So if you own one of these kinds of buildings and it’s connected to a sewage line, you are responsible for the installation and maintenance of a manhole.

Are There Guidelines on Manhole Installation?

There’s an entire book written about how manholes are to be installed, their dimensions, point of access, and even the materials that can be used. They aren’t all restricted to looking like the manholes on the street, but the work itself is specific enough that it requires a trained professional plumber to ensure all the codes and guidelines are followed. Without professional help with your manhole installation, you could be in violation of City guidelines, and subject to fines.

Who Can Access a Manhole and When?

top of manhole sticking out of the ground

The ground is dug up and the manhole is installed in various stages

Part of the agreement of your building is allowing those who need to use your manhole to access public utilities through at almost any time. The reason being that if there is a problem with the public utilities around or in your building, it can affect more than just you, and the maintenance people need constant access in case of emergencies, repairs, or scheduled maintenance. Observation and testing is another important aspect, so you may need to provide access for a public employee to test the manhole and the water for anything out of the ordinary. And while this may sound like you’ll have public employees in your building at all times, bear in mind that visits are rare.

How Much Time Do I Have?

In general, manholes are already installed in most buildings, but recent code changes may mean that you now need a manhole where you previously did not. In those instances, most building owners and operators are receiving letters from the City of Toronto’s Environmental Monitoring & Protection Unit. Those served letters have only sixty days to comply, which is why you may need to get professional manhole services, including Toronto manhole installation, right away.

Why All the Changes?

completed manhole after installation

A completed manhole

As part of the City’s environmental programs and goals, Toronto is now paying closer attention to what businesses, especially food processing plants, are putting in the sewage water. In order to do observations and testing more efficiently and effectively, the City is requiring that more businesses that have access to sewage lines and other utilities offer the proper access for public employees.

The manhole is an important aspect of our lives, even if we don’t generally consider it as such. They provide important access for both public and private employees, but the responsibility for their maintenance and installation often falls on building owners. If you own a building that requires a manhole and need a professional manhole installation, be sure to call professionals with the experience and credentials required for the job. Only trained professionals can install the right kind of manhole, ensure it meets all the codes and guidelines, and provides the essential access that your building needs for all the public and private services it requires.

Andrew Olexiuk - Your Toronto Plumbing Expert
Andrew Olexiuk - Your Toronto Plumbing Expert
Andrew has over 20 years of experience as a plumbing contractor. He is co-owner and operator of Absolute Draining & Plumbing, a professional plumbing company serving residential & commercial properties across the Toronto, Ontario region.
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