Climate & Your Piano
How does humidity affect my piano?
Extreme swings from hot to cold or dry to wet are harmful to your piano. Dryness causes the piano’s pitch to go flat; moisture makes it go sharp. Repeated swings in relative humidity can cause soundboards to crack or distort. Extreme dryness also can weaken the glue joints that hold the soundboard and other wood portions of the piano together. Moisture may lead to string rust. A piano functions best under fairly consistent conditions which are neither too wet or dry, optimally at a temperature of 68 degrees F and 42 percent relative humidity. Using an air conditioner in humid summer months and adding a humidifier to your central heating system will reduce the extremes of high and low humidity. Room humidifiers and dehumidifiers, as well as systems designed to be installed inside of pianos will control humidity-related disorders still further.
For an in depth explanation on how humidity affects your piano click on the link below to read:
Dampp-Chaser Climate Systems
Alaska Piano Services is a certified installer for Piano Lifer Saver climate systems made by Dampp-Chaser. These systems offer humidity control systems for both grand upright pianos. Below you will find information direct from the Piano Life Saver System brochure .
The Piano Life Saver System...
Stabilizes piano tuning, maintaining pitch and markedly extending the life of piano tunings
Minimizes the expansion & contraction of action parts which provides optimum touch and predictable keyboard control.
Prevents rust on the strings and metal parts
Minimizes felt deterioration, reducing the harsh tones that come from flattened hammer felt in low humidity or the muffled tones that come from hammer felt in high humidity.
Minimizes glue failure throughout the piano.
Protects your investment year after year.
Care and Maintenance Instructions for Your Piano Life Saver System
Congratulations on your purchase of a Piano Life Saver System for your piano. There is no better way to ensure that your instrument will be protected from the effects of humidity changes. The System consists of one or more Dehumidifier rods to lower humidity, a Humidifier to add humidity, and a Humidistat which senses whether the wooden parts of your piano are too moist or too dry. Through a cycling action, the Humidistat is calibrated to create a separate environment within piano, producing a range of humidity which, in turn, provides a stable moisture content in the wooden parts. This cycling action stabilizes pitch and protects your instrument from deterioration.
Responsibilities of the Piano Owner:
1) Make sure the outlet the System is plugged into has continuous electrical power. The green light marked POWER indicate the System has electrical power. The System should not be plugged into an electrical outlet that is controlled by a wall switch.
2) Adding water to the Humidifier tank. Your Humidifier is equipped with sensor probes that sense when the water reservoir is three-quarters empty. At that point, the yellow light marked WATER on the light panel will continue blinking until water is added. When the yellow light blinks, add a watering can filled to the FULL can mark. Do not add just enough water to turn the light off. If your grand piano System as 2 tanks, add 2 full cans of water when the yellow light blinks.
If your tap water comes from a well or is “hard” water, meaning containing significant minerals, we recommend using distilled water. If distilled water is used, add a capful of Humidifier Treatment (see below) or ¼ cup of tap water to insure there is adequate electrolyte in the Humidifier to support operation of the Low Water Warning Light. Without sufficient electrolyte, the light will blink continuously, even when the tank is full. Do not put salt in the Humidifier, as it is corrosive.
Adding water to the Grand Piano System: Look for the small flexible watering tube mounted along the rim of the piano. Pull it out and attach is to the watering can by inserting the spout of the watering can into the tube. Lift the can and slowly let the water flow into the Humidifier reservoir. Because of the way the tube is mounted, the water must flow “uphill” part of the way, so the trick is to hold the can as high as possible without allowing the water to spill out over the top of the can. (It’s easy after you have done it a few times.) When the water has run out, lower the can so the water that is still trapped in the tube can go back into the can and not spill out on the floor. Detach the tube and clip it back into place under the rim.
Adding water the Vertical (Upright) Piano System: The watering tube is usually mounted in front, on the right-hand side under the keyboard, near the light panel. Detach the tube and insert the watering can spout into it. Lift the can and slowly empty the water. When the water has run out, lower the can so the water that is till trapped in the tube can go back into the can and not spill out on the floor. Detach the tube and clip it back into place under the rim.
3) Humidifier pads should be changed at least twice each year. The Humidifier pads are designed to wick water over the heater bar, producing warm, moist air which rises and circulates throughout the piano. To ensure a properly functioning Humidifier, change the pads in the fall and again in the spring. That way, pads are at their best during the winter season when the Humidifier works more frequently. Replacement pads are available from your technician. Drape two pads across the heater bar and push them down into the tank according to the instructions with the pads. The Humidifier may require removal from the piano in order to remove and replace the liner.
4) Humidifier Heater Bar Maintenance. If your System is equipped with a Smart Bracket (SB) – when the red light marked PADS on the light panel blinks, the SB has sensed that the pads are not wicking water across the bar. The SB sensor wires, that run the length of the heater bar, can sense the condition of the pads only if the wires are kept free from mineral build-up. During pad changing, remove the SB from the heater bar. Then, remove mineral residue on the wires by scraping with the edge of a knife held perpendicular to the wire. Replace the SB on the heater bar.
5) Use Dampp-Chaser Humidifier Treatment regularly. Humidifier Treatment inhibits mildew in both the watering tube and the Humidifier tank and increases the life of the Humidifier pads. Use 1 capful with each can of water added to the Humidifier. The treatment is available from your piano technician.
Warning: Add only the Dampp-Chaser brand Treatment to the Humidifier water. Other brands of humidifier treatment may contain acids which can corrode strings and metals parts in the piano. The use of other humidifier treatment preparations will void the warranty of the Piano Life Saver System and may void the warranty of the piano manufacturer.
6) Take these steps when moving your piano. First, unplug the power cord and remove the light panel. Tape the panel where it won’t be bumped during the move. To avoid spilling water from the Humidifier tank, empty the tank. You can ask your technician to empty the tank or simply follow these steps:
Grand Piano: Under the piano, place a receptacle below the tank. Loose the wing nut that holds the watering tube and remove the tube from the tank. Remove the heater bar and the Water Sensor probes also. Unclip the tank from the hanger rods by pushing the end of the tank upward. Slowly lower the freed end until water spills over into the receptacle. After the tank is empty, use the wing nut to remount the watering tube and then replace the other Humidifier components. Be sure the end of the tube is inside the plastic liner and that the pads are draped across the heater bar. After moving the piano, fill the tank through the watering tube as described above.
Vertical (Upright) Piano: Remove the piano’s bottom panel. Loosen the wing nut on the tank which holds the watering tube and remove the tube from the tank. Remove the heater bar and the Water Sensor probes also. Life the thank out of the piano and empty the water into a receptacle. After the tank is empty, use the wing nut to remount the watering tube and then replace the other Humidifier components. Be sure the end of the tube is inside the plastic liner and that the pads are draped across the heater bar. After moving the piano, fill the tank through the watering tube as described above.
7) Notice the “super safe” Fused Plug on the Humidistat power cord. Because pianos are heavy, the power cord could be damaged if the piano rolls over it. In the event of damage to the cord or a direct lightning stick, the fuse in the plug will “blow out” and prevent the flow of electricity through the power cord, thus preventing any further damage. The plug head contains two 5-AMP, 125-volt glass fuses. If the green POWER light is not on, unplug the SYSTEM and inspect the cord for damage. If there is no obvious damage, remove the fuse from the brass clips inside the plug and replace it with the spare fuse in the plug. If the cord is damaged, the Humidistat should not be plugged into an electrical outlet again. Call the piano technician who installed your System or Dampp-Chaser Corp., (828) 692-8271, to report the problem. Only 5-AMP, 125-volt, 5 mm x 20 mm fast-acting fuses should be used in the plug. Never use a fuse with on e of greater amperage than 5 AMPS. These fuses are readily available at electronics stores such as Radio Shack. In the event you cannot find the fuses, Dampp-Chaser has a supply.