What are possible causes of manhole explosions?

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It is not uncommon that manhole explosion occurs nowadays. Manhole covers are dislodged from the frames which is associated with a release of energy. Manhole explosion occurs mostly owing to the ignition and combustion of flammable gas. Sources of flammable gas include the followings:

(i) Natural gas as a result of leakage of nearby gas line;
(ii) In sewer manholes, it is rich in methane which tends to accumulate
inside manhole;
(iii) Gas generated by degradation of cable insulation.


This question is taken from book named – A Self Learning Manual – Mastering Different Fields of Civil Engineering Works (VC-Q-A-Method) by Vincent T. H. CHU.

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  • Riyan Michelle October 18, 2010 at 12:20 pm

    Gases are one of the most common reasons. This is a very common problem and engineers should take care of it while designing manholes and ducts.

  • Anthony Kelper December 8, 2014 at 8:53 pm

    The IEEE Industry Applications Magazine Sept 2014 published an article explaining the causes of manhole explosions, written by eng. Estellito Junior, an explosion prevention expert.

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