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Inspection Chambers/Manholes - What Are They Used For?

They’re a familiar sight on our roads and pavements, but few of us ever give manhole covers much consideration. Unless they’re broken, wonky or open, the majority of people will stroll past a manhole without giving it a second thought. 

However, manhole covers are actually a very important part of the nation’s drainage system. Covering the entrances to inspection chambers, these unassuming spots provide professionals with essential access to our drains.

Understanding exactly what an inspection chamber is, and how it can help you maintain your drainage system, will help you properly situate your manholes and keep your drains in good condition.

What is an Inspection Chamber/Manhole? 

An inspection chamber, also known as a manhole, provides an access point for a drainage system.

This access point can be used to:

Inspection chambers generally consist of a base, sectional risers with a seal, and a manhole cover. Further risers can be added to provide more height and make access easier. Manhole covers are always situated at ground level.

Inspection Chamber/Manhole Repairs

Broken manhole covers and a lack of inspection chambers can cause drains to easily fall into disrepair or become blocked. If this happens, and professionals are unable to reach the damaged or blocked section of the system, the drains can overflow and cause serious issues for surrounding properties.

Where Should the Inspection Chambers Be Situated?

Inspection chambers should be situated wherever a branch pipe joins the main drainage run, and when there is a change in the size of the pipe. Inspection chambers should also be created when the drain changes direction horizontally by more than 30 degrees and when there is a straight run of piping measuring over 22 metres. 

Inspection chambers are positioned at these spots to ensure professionals have access to the entire drainage system. This is important as, if a section runs too far without a manhole, it can make it impossible to carry out essential drain surveys, drain repairs and drain jetting. 

What is the Purpose of Inspection Chambers and Manholes? 

The main purpose of inspection chambers is access. Drains need to be inspected on a regular basis and these chambers allow professionals to reach all parts of the system to unblock clogged drains.

Inspection Chambers Surveys

From an inspection chamber, gutter specialists can carry out detailed drain surveys. These surveys are used to ensure the drain is in good working order and to check for damage and blockages. If any damage is discovered during a drain survey, drain repairs can be carried out using the inspection chamber as an access point. If the drains become blocked, the inspection chamber can be used to jet the drains and remove the blockage. 

Without properly-situated inspection chambers, drain cleaners would struggle to access all sections of pipe, and blockages could become impossible to clear. If surveyors are unable to reach all parts of the system, they may be unable to spot maintenance issues and the drains could become damaged. Inspection chambers are topped with manhole covers to prevent people walking at ground level from falling into the hole. Manhole covers also stop rubbish and other debris from ending up in the drains and surface water ending up in the system. 

How Do you Clean an Inspection Chamber Safely? 

Like the drains themselves, inspection chambers need to be cleaned on a regular basis to keep them in good working order. This work is often carried out at the same time as drain jetting and drain steam cleaning and is an important part of general drain maintenance.


If an inspection chamber isn’t cleaned regularly, it can begin to fill with debris and become blocked. If this happens, it can make it difficult, or even impossible, to access the drains for surveys, cleaning and repairs.

Blockages can be caused by debris entering the space via a broken or faulty manhole cover. This issue will need to be addressed at the same time that the inspection chamber is cleaned to prevent future issues. 

Can I Clean an Inspection Chamber Myself?

Entering an inspection chamber can be dangerous, especially if it’s full of rubbish or natural debris. This means it’s essential you use a professional to access and clean the space. They’ll have specialist equipment for drain cleaning and expert know-how, and will be able to safely remove dirt and debris from your inspection chamber to leave the space in good working order.

Our Services 

Drain maintenance is an important part of the work we do here. Our expert team combines experience and innovation to offer a wide range of essential services that will help to keep your drains and inspection chambers clean and clear.

1. A manhole survey is the first stage of any drain maintenance programme.

A thorough drain survey gives our team the chance to assess the condition of the drains and check for any damage or blockages in the system. The architecture of inspection chambers allows our operatives to access every section of pipe in the system to check for drainage problems. This is important as all parts of the drain need to be checked for potential faults by manhole surveyors.

2. If any damage to the drainpipe is uncovered during the drain survey, our team can carry out the necessary drain repairs using specialist tools for clogged drain cleaning.

These repairs can help to get your drains flowing again quickly and efficiently and minimise disruption to your system. 

3. Blockages can be unclogged and removed from the drainage system using drain jetting and drain steam cleaning. These effective techniques quickly fix drainage issues, unblock clogged pipes and work to prevent blocked drains in the future. 

In some cases, drain jetting and drain steam cleaning are used even when a pipe isn’t fully blocked. The specialist tools for drain cleaning remove partial blockages before they become more serious. This can help to prevent damage to the system and minimise disruption to the people using the building and the surrounding area. 

Properly maintaining and cleaning manholes and inspection chambers is an essential part of drain maintenance. To find out more about the drain surveys and services we offer, or to talk to a member of our team about your requirements, give us a call today.

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