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Burst pipes force another school closure

By KCFW Staff
Published On: Dec 24 2013 05:47:54 PM MST
Updated On: Dec 11 2013 10:05:32 PM MST
WHITEFISH, Mont. -

Bissell School, southwest of Whitefish, is another in a line of closed schools. A pipe burst in the ceiling, flooding the hallway.

Just Tuesday, we heard the same story at West Glacier. The Flathead County Schools superintendent knows it's unwelcome, but not unexpected.

"Anytime there's a severe cold spell like this, which we haven't witnessed for the past few years, we can kind of anticipate that there might be some kind of difficulties in the schools. Broken pipes, water issues, heating issues," said Marcia Sheffels.

The principal of Bissell explained the root of the problem was an old copper pipe. Once the pipe bursts, it took a section of the ceiling with it.

A heating technician talked about what schools could try to do to prevent this from happening again.

"The heating system -- if they get the systems checked out annually, make sure everything is running the way that it should be," said Rory Madderom.

Experts say that a good alternative to copper pipes are PEX pipes, which are plastic and can withstand freezing and thawing without bursting.

At West Glacier, repairs are still on. Administrators hope to open next Monday.

Bissell is planning to resume school Thursday, just in time for their holiday celebrations.

Heating technicians say bursting pipes aren't normal, but it does happen more frequently in the winter.

"Whenever temperatures get subzero, it's definitely -- we see this happen quite often," said Madderom.

Both schools are hoping that this is the last time this will happen to them for the year. They are taking preventive measures to assure that.