Humidity Control

Your piano goes out of tune when the humidity surrounding the piano changes. Even here in the desert, the humidity fluctuates, especially at the beginning and end of the monsoon season. The humidity levels in your home environment are controlled to some extent by the temperature. Generally, an air conditioner will remove some humidity, but the drop in humidity when dryness sets in presents a significant moisture change which will put your piano out of tune.

Larger public spaces that are occupied by lots of people, such as church sanctuaries and school classrooms, have an even bigger humidity fluctuation problem, particularly if the space isn’t kept at a consistent temperature. Not only does the moisture level in the air fluctuate with changes in temperature, but if multiple people are in a room for a period of time, the humidity level will rise significantly while it’s occupied, and then plummet when the room empties. This effect is especially pronounced if the occupants are singing or playing wind instruments, because they are exhaling more of their bodies’ moisture as they do so. To further exacerbate the issue, building codes usually require a larger volume of air “turnover” in a public space, so the air exchange will contribute to frequent and sudden changes in humidity.

Besides causing your piano to go out of tune, humidity fluctuation can lead to significant damage over time. The wood in your piano expands and contracts according to moisture content. Just as expansion and contraction in sidewalks leads to cracks in the concrete, this cycle also leads to cracks in piano soundboards, bridges, and pinblocks. The result is loose tuning pins, buzzing or rattling strings, and major tuning instability. If these problems persist, your piano will eventually be ruined.

Room humidifiers certainly help the humidity problem in dry periods, but they are noisy, difficult to monitor and regulate around the clock, and don’t address the high humidity during monsoon or rainy periods at other times during the year.

The best way to protect your piano from humidity fluctuation is to install a Piano Life Saver System, manufactured by Dampp-Chaser Corporation. This system fits inside your piano, and consists of a humidifier, a dehumidifier, and a humidistat. This system maintains a 42% humidity level inside your piano year-round. It is very low-maintenance, and is completely silent (unlike room humidifiers and dehumidifiers). The system must be installed by a qualified piano technician, and it’s available from Helms Music. Click here to visit Dampp-Chaser Corporation’s website.

Of course, the best authorities on how to care for a piano are the piano manufacturers themselves. Here’s what some manufacturers have to say about the Piano Lifesaver system:

“Baldwin recommends the Dampp-Chaser system as a valuable means to help insure the longevity and stability of our pianos.”

“The usage of Dampp-Chaser humidity control systems effectively compensates climatic changes within the piano’s environment and is for that reason beneficial in terms of stability and long term reliability.”

“Your Dampp-Chaser humidity control systems are the best and most carefully designed systems we have seen.”

“The best way to preserve the value of fine grands and uprights is to automatically regulate the relative humidity right within the instrument . . . with a System from Dampp-Chaser Corporation.”

“The installation of a Dampp-Chaser Humidity Control System can, in our opinion, provide a degree of climate control which may not be otherwise attainable.”

“. . . the proper installation and use of a Dampp-Chaser system can be beneficial to the stability of the instrument.”