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Why are some manhole covers made of cast iron while some are made of ductile iron?

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Traditionally, manholes covers are made of cast iron. However, in the viewpoint of pipe maintenance, frequent opening of manhole covers has to be carried out. Therefore, it poses potential safety hazard to the workers during the lifting-up process of manhole covers because cast iron manhole covers are very heavy to normal workers. Consequently, research has been conducted and ductile iron is considered as a better choice than cast iron because it can resist the same traffic loads with lower self-weight. Moreover, as ductile iron is less brittle than cast iron, the traditional cast iron manhole covers are more susceptible to damage and thus requires higher maintenance cost.

However, ductile iron manhole covers do suffer from some demerits. For instance, owing to their relative low self-weight, vehicles passing over these manhole covers would lead to the movement of covers and generate unpleasant noises. To solve this problem, instead of increasing the self-weight of ductile iron manhole covers which similarly causes safety problems to workers during regular maintenance, the covers can be designed to be attached to the manhole frames which hold them in firm position.

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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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