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Manhole vs. Pit: What's the Difference?

Edited by Janet White || By Harlon Moss || Updated on November 10, 2023
Manhole refers to a covered opening in a street for access to sewers or other underground utilities. Pit refers to a natural or excavated hole or cavity.

Key Differences

A manhole is specifically designed for utility access, often to sewers or electrical conduits, while a pit can be any large hole, natural or man-made, without a specific purpose.
Manholes are usually constructed with a secure cover and are part of an engineered system. Pits , however may be either natural formations or dug for various purposes, often without a cover.
Manholes are designed with safety in mind, featuring steps or ladders for access. While, pits can pose safety hazards, particularly if they are deep or unprotected.
Manholes allow for maintenance and inspection of underground utilities, whereas pits might require maintenance only if they serve a specific function.
Manholes are commonly found in urban settings, aligned with street layouts. On the other hand, pits can be found in various environments, from natural landscapes to construction sites.

Comparison Chart


Access to underground utilities.
Natural or artificial hole for various uses.


Engineered with a cover for safety.
May lack a structured form or cover.


Primarily for maintenance and inspection.
Broad, ranging from storage to excavation.

Safety Features

Often includes steps or ladders.
Safety features not standard.


Common in urban areas.
Found in diverse environments.

Manhole and Pit Definitions


An access point to a sewer or drainage system.
The workers opened the manhole to repair the broken sewer line.


An excavation site for mining or construction.
The workers dug a pit to lay the foundation.


A covered opening in a street or sidewalk.
He accidentally dropped his keys into the manhole.


A natural cavity in fruits containing seeds.
He carefully removed the pit from the cherry.


A portal to underground utility services.
The electrician used the manhole to access the underground cables.


A hollow or depression in a surface.
She noticed a small pit on the road while driving.


A safety feature in urban infrastructure.
The city inspected each manhole for safety compliance.


A large, often natural hole in the ground.
They found an ancient artifact at the bottom of the pit.


An entrance to a confined space for maintenance.
The technician entered through the manhole to inspect the pipes.


An area for mechanical work, as in racing.
The race car pulled into the pit for a tire change.


A hole, usually with a cover, through which a person may enter a sewer, boiler, drain, or similar structure.


A natural or artificial hole or cavity in the ground.


A hole in the ground used to access the sewers or other underground vaults and installations.


An excavation for the removal of mineral deposits; a mine.


A hole providing access to the inside of a boiler, tank etc.


The shaft of a mine.


(informal) A man's anus, in a sexual context.


A concealed hole in the ground used as a trap; a pitfall.


A hole through which a man may descend or creep into a drain, sewer, steam boiler, parts of machinery, etc., for cleaning or repairing.


A hole (usually with a flush cover) through which a person can gain access to an underground structure


Can pits be artificially created?

Yes, for purposes like mining or construction.

What is a manhole?

A covered opening in a street for accessing underground utilities.

Do all manholes lead to sewers?

Not necessarily, some access electrical or other utility lines.

Are manholes always round?

Mostly, for structural integrity and ease of cover placement.

What is a pit?

A natural or excavated hole or cavity.

Are pits dangerous?

They can be, especially if deep or unprotected.

Why are manholes important in cities?

They provide access for maintenance of essential utilities.

Can manholes be locked?

Yes, to prevent unauthorized access and ensure safety.

How are pits used in racing?

As areas for mechanical and maintenance work on vehicles.

Can pits occur naturally?

Yes, often as results of erosion or geological activity.

Can manholes flood?

Yes, especially during heavy rainfall or sewer backup.

How deep can pits be?

Varies greatly, from shallow depressions to deep quarries.

Is it legal to dig a pit on private property?

Depends on local regulations and intended use.

Are manholes safe to enter?

Only with proper training and safety equipment.

Are pits used in landscaping?

Sometimes, as features in gardens or for drainage purposes.

Are there different types of manholes?

Yes, including storm drain, sanitary sewer, and utility manholes.

How are manholes maintained?

Regular inspection and cleaning by municipal services.

What materials are used for manhole covers?

Commonly, durable materials like cast iron or steel.

What wildlife can be found in pits?

Various, depending on location and environment.

Do pits serve a purpose in agriculture?

Sometimes, for water collection or as animal traps.
About Author
Written by
Harlon Moss
Harlon is a seasoned quality moderator and accomplished content writer for Difference Wiki. An alumnus of the prestigious University of California, he earned his degree in Computer Science. Leveraging his academic background, Harlon brings a meticulous and informed perspective to his work, ensuring content accuracy and excellence.
Edited by
Janet White
Janet White has been an esteemed writer and blogger for Difference Wiki. Holding a Master's degree in Science and Medical Journalism from the prestigious Boston University, she has consistently demonstrated her expertise and passion for her field. When she's not immersed in her work, Janet relishes her time exercising, delving into a good book, and cherishing moments with friends and family.

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