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Question - manhole keys?



I am looking to buy some manhole keys, but there seems to be a lot of them out there... is there anything i need to look out for or avoid? I dont want them snapping on me!


28DL Memb3r
Regular User
depends on the lid your lifting etc, two main sizes of hole + anomalies. Ebay sell em, so do local industrial supply places. then you have options like long ones for easier lifting, or short for easier stowage. then there are the improvisations.

basically the possibilities are endless but the solution is simple: measure what you want to open, buy something that fits.


Do. Find. Drains.
28DL Full Member
Steel loop handle = good all-rounders and strong enough to lever mildly jammed lids with them. They come with either long or short handles. They don't fit bt-style lids, gatics or London drain lids

Black cast iron T-handle = smaller and fit the aforementioned types, but too small for some lids with bigger key holes (eg Manchester). They will also snap if you try to lever a lid that is stuck.

So...depends where you live. Or just buy both.

Or you can go for the ol' nut on a string, but try not to drop the lid down the shaft.


Always use wooden ones, they won't cause sparks that could give away your position.
I'm guessing thats a joke...:confused

Also this nut on a string idea seems a bit strange...

Anyhoo, the cover we want to lift seems to be made of two triangular sections that hinge in the middle, if you get me.
Any more advice on that?

This is our first drain, and we basically have no idea what to expect :D


28DL Memb3r
Regular User
ha, looking at your introductory post and location i think many of can guess the system you are looking to enter. as i said, measure it! but as I'm feeling nice I'll help further: I think the smaller set of keys (as described by mike) fit the hole/ slot at the peek of the triangle, of if not you can at least use the thin end of the handle to some use on it, it has been known for people to use other DIY methods on those lids (including pliers!?! i used a DIY key). on that system some of them have the two sides of the triangle bolted together so the lid must be lifted out, it will only hinge when the sides are independent (dont know if you nead the larger keys for this, there not the heaviest of covers by any means). but just go and try!!!

as always make sure you dont leave the hole open and unattended, either barrier it or close it behind you -if it is hinged, but check you can open it from below first (with someone still on the surface), covers are a lot heavier from below.

make sure you follow other safety stuff, telling someone up top where you are going, how long you will be (longer than you expect, I'm sure time goes faster underground) etc etc. -theres plenty of stuff online you can start by reading.


All advice + budget taken into account, we ended up making a few out of various bolts and one out of one of those multi spanner things you get with puncture repair kits :D
(sorry for the tiny pic, my phone is sheeeeet)

Tested it on a small cover in my mates garden, and another one of those twin triangle affairs (do they actually have a name?) on the park near us. Opens dead easy!
Only worry is if like Bunk3r said, the two sides are bolted together...

Cheers for your help everyone, I'll post a link to the video of our explore when we've been :D
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