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Warm temps keep Billings Public Works busy as pipes thaw across town

Posted at 4:57 PM, Dec 27, 2022
and last updated 2022-12-27 19:08:03-05

BILLINGS — The warmer weather almost feels like summer compared to what Montanans saw last week, but that drastic change in temperature can cause problems for pipes in the house and in the streets of Billings.

The nearly fifty-degree weather on Tuesday has thawed pipes across the city, meaning Billings Public Works has its work cut out for them.

“Yesterday our plant received 41 calls about broken water pipes,” said Billings Public Works Utilities Superintendent Scott Emerick on Tuesday.

The problems aren’t limited to residential homes.

“Of course, we also have the large failures which is what’s going on here in the background,” Emerick said.

Public Works was out on Charlene Street for part of Tuesday fixing a water main break.


“There was a lot of water that came out down here. It failed yesterday and it kind of flooded out this gentlemen’s shop,” said Emerick.

Emerick said that the building was flooded with about five inches of water and incidents like this are common during this time of year.

“We usually see a peak of water main breaks during the winter and then also during the summer,” Emerick said.

He said that in the summer people use more water, so it puts a lot of stress on the system.

“You see another peak starting now around December and January when the frost starts penetrating the ground,” said Emerick.

Public Works had to jackhammer through more than three feet of frost to be able to excavate this hole.


If you do experience flooding from thawed pipes, Emerick said the key thing to know is how to shut off that water. You can typically find the shut-off valve underneath your meter.

“But you want to maybe exercise that valve periodically to make sure that you can shut your water off completely,” said Emerick.

You can also try to prevent your pipes from freezing by insulating your home, putting heat tape on your meter, and warming up those cold areas in the house like basements and crawlspaces.