Choosing the Right Access Cover and Pit for Your Needs
Blink and you’ll miss them! Access covers are dotted all over cities, but go completely unnoticed by most, and for the most part, intentionally so!
Underneath our pavements and malls, as well as a raft of other locations, there may be a maze of subsurface facilities. Electrical cables, piping, sewers, telecommunication and other services – all happening beneath our feet. While for the most part, such things are mostly buried, there is nonetheless cable connections, cabling, pipework, pipework junctions, unions, and so on, which require ongoing maintenance, or, you guessed it, ACCESS!
Access covers are used for any subsurface product that needs to be maintained, so their applications are not limited to streetscapes, but also within commercial business premises as well as private residences for example, to conceal a pump union somewhere near a swimming pool.
In some cases, access pits contain contents that:
A) You don’t want anything to get into (water, dust etc), or
B) You don’t anything to come out of (such as an unpleasant waft of sewer into the surrounding area.)
Such facilities can be accommodated by access covers with only minor variations that do not change their above ground appearances.
From above the ground, access covers look no more than a faint metal outline amidst the flooring surface. This is because the lid is essentially a frame, allowing the centre to be filled with the same material in which the access point is set, be it pavers, cement, or so forth. These access covers provide a discrete cover for the access pit and its contents, that in some cases, simply need to be underground, or if above ground would look messy or ugly. Access covers provide an attractive solution for essential services access even in locations where looks matter!
Did you know?
Access pits generally have some sort of identification of its content, be it electrical, telecommunication or what have you, on a corner of the pit lid.
Access Pit Materials
The majority of access pits on the market have historically been concrete (we believe it is part of a hundred year old mass brainwashing plot – “look into my eyes… you are getting sleepy… when you wake up you will buy concrete… everything…”). Concrete pits are easily manufactured, reasonably cheap and they do the job. They’re purposeful.
Today, the market leading material in access pit products is polymer concrete, a material that cures like concrete and looks like brown concrete.
One of the downsides to both of these products is that, if accidentally dropped, both cement and polymer concrete pits sustain damage, concrete will crack, and polymer concrete will shatter into a million pieces like glass.
Looking for a better alternative? Go stainless steel!
Not yet entrenched in the access pit market, stainless steel pits offer a number of advantages over these other material. Firstly, you drop a stainless steel pit, its going to hurt your toe and that’s all.
Secondarily. stainless steel pits are workable and don’t require any special tools to cut or work them as you do with polymer concrete, for instance, which requires an angle grinder and some sort of a concrete saw. When you have to cut polymer concrete you’re creating a toxic smelling dust storm of resin, polymers, and all sorts of chemicals.
Additionally, stainless steel pits are dimensionally the same as the pits that are available on the market, yet they are lighter, while maintaining their strength and integrity, compared to a composite pit.
Lastly, they are cost effective, cost comparable. They don’t degrade over time So anywhere where water is apparent, a stainless steel pit is always the preferable option over a composite pit.
Access Pit Sizes
The industry has aligned itself standard sizes, There’s four or five standard size of pit available on the market which the market has recognised over the years and it’s become a standard.
Access Pit Lids
Access pit lids, or access covers, are not integral to the pit, they’re a separate entity. Most of the lids are made of galvanized steel, aluminium, and, in some cases, stainless steel. Galvanised pit lids are the choice of the masses, but stainless steel is the pick for presentation, such as is the case with bespoke projects.
As we touched on earlier, access covers are intentionally discrete. The general idea of an access cover is that it is only a frame you’re seeing, it’s filled up with the medium adjacent to it. So if it’s a paved walkway, then the pit lid is filled with pavers The only thing that you see is the frame that the pavers, concrete, or tile, sits in, which appears as a five millimetre border around its perimeter.
Given that the biggest visual component for an access cover is the paver, cement, or tile it is filled with, you would be forgiven for thinking that the frame material doesn’t matter. Indeed, when comparing on price, both galvanised and stainless steel are cost effective. When comparing on weight, well, they are both going to be heavy – you’ve got, for example, 600 mm square full of 40 mm pavement – there’s your weight. So, the decider is that thin strip of metal – the more people that walk on a galvanized finish, the more it’s going to rub off and expose the metal underneath which leads to rust. Galvanised is rust proof by its coating, whereas stainless steel is rust proof by its material components and actually maintains its finish by being walked on!
How Can We Help You?
At Auswave Products, our material of choice is stainless steel, and we can help you with both pits and lids. While stainless steel as a material for access pits is yet a little known thing, we encourage you to make the switch to the light (er) side for all of the advantages that we have detailed above. In short:
- Cost comparable,
- Not going to break,
- Ideal for situations where the pit is coming into contact with water,
- No special tools required,
- No weird chemical dust to deal with.
- Furthermore, our pits are available in standard dimensions, as well as custom dimensions, to which they could even be used to line a pre-existing concrete pit that is failing.
When it comes to lids, our access covers can be used over any pit, stainless steel or otherwise, new or existing, even very large pits (multipart access covers also available). With our access covers, you have the visual appeal and durability of stainless steel. Additionally, given that access covers are notoriously heavy, we are in the R&D phase of creating “Easy Lift” access covers, a pit lid and its frame with hydraulic rams on it, thus, taking away the workplace health and safety issues posed by traditionally heavy access covers. Stay tuned for more info!
Whatever the subsurface facilities you need to contain, be it electrical cables, plumbing, or telecommunications, we have your access needs covered! Contact us to discuss your access cover and pit and needs