Preventing Frozen Service Lines


  • Weather scientists are predicting another cold winter, identical to last year. Last year’s sub-zero temperatures took a toll on resident’s service lines.
  • What is a service line? A service line is a conduit of pipe that brings good drinking water from the main to the home as well taking away waste water. The homeowner is responsible for this stretch of pipe. Buildings typically have a treated water service line and a wastewater service line.
  • Winter of 2017-2018 – 14 service lines were reported as frozen.
  • Winter of 2018-2019 – 148 service lines were reported as frozen.


What Leads to Frozen Lines

  • Sustained cold weather that pushes frost levels down.
  • Winter of 18-19, the first incident reported was February 3 and the last one on April 14.
  • Service lines should be buried at a depth of 6 feet, crews regularly find lines at a depth of 4 feet or less due to older construction (pre 1950’s).
  • Keep spaces, such as crawlspaces or basements above freezing temperatures. Far too often crews enter these spaces and they’re below freezing, causing lines to freeze.
  • When you have a frozen service line, always call Utility Maintenance 457-8567

Service Line Replacement Loan Program

When the worst happens, the City of Helena can help. 457-8567

A service line is the conduit of pipe that brings good drinking water to your home and takes away wastewater. These are the connecting pipes to City water and sewer mains. The average service line in the City of Helena is 49 years of age. Many of these older pipes are also made of clay and are not buried to today’s require depths, which make them susceptible to freezing during the winter.

If you have a service line event, contact the Utility Maintenance Division to learn about the Service Line Replacement Loan Program.

General program details:

  • 0% Interest Rate
  • Homeowners can receive up to $15,000 in repair costs.


  • Residential property owners.
  • Single family only.
  • One dwelling per lot.
  • For repair or replacement purposes.


  • New service lines for existing and new construction.
  • Commercial property owners.

The Service Line Replacement Loan Program was put into effect through Resolution No. 20494 on the 29th of October, 2018 to lighten the immediate financial burden to homeowners needing to repair a water service line or sewer service line on an emergency basis.  The zero percent (0%) interest loan is offered to all Helena residents who pay into the loan program via their City Utility bills and is restricted to single dwelling unit residential properties.  Loan coverage extends from the connection to the main to within 2 feet of the exterior foundation wall of the home.  The loan term is not to exceed 10 years from the date of loan approval, though loans can be paid off at any time prior to 10 years with no penalty assessed.  In addition, dependent on the Median Family Income of the applicant, the homeowner may be eligible for loan deferral, which allows the homeowner to pay off the loan upon the sale or transfer of the property.  All prospective loan recipients must go through an application and approval process, submit their contractor(s)' bids and final invoices, and sign a Loan Agreement, prior to receipt of loan funds.   For additional information, please see Resolution No. 20494, call 457-8567, or send an email to UMDinfo(at)  If you would like to apply for a Service Line Replacement Loan, please fill out the Service Line Replacement Loan Program Application materials and return your application to the address on the application.