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Topic Options
#1178426 - 04/11/09 11:24 AM Humidifiers - Dehumidifiers
ranger Offline
Full Member

Registered: 08/04/07
Posts: 42
Loc: USA
Regarding humidity and the piano, I once met a fellow who told me that Dampp Chaser made a big mistake by including a humidifier in their system. He stated that "there is NO place on planet earth that is too dry for a piano." He also believes that Dampp Chaser will eventually get rid of the humidifier portion of the system and just sell the dehumidifier rods with the humidistat. Any comments?

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#1178458 - 04/11/09 12:24 PM Re: Humidifiers - Dehumidifiers [Re: ranger]
daniokeeper Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/01/09
Posts: 1067
Loc: PA
I suggest you check Dampp Chaser's web-site and see their opinion.

You may want to check:
Quote:
Steingraeber

"We use only fine natural wood and natural materials in the manufacture of Steingraeber pianos. The Dampp-Chaser System helps to avoid damage to our pianos in severe climatic conditions, especially in overly-dry environments."
-Udo Steingraeber

http://www.pianolifesaver.com/english/recommendations.php


So, at least one manufacturer does specifically address excess dryness.

You may want to check here as well:
http://www.pianolifesaver.com/english/pianohumidifier.php

for Dampp-Chaser's views on the humidifier.

I don't think that pianos generally are designed for peak performance and longevity at the dryest places on earth.

But, I've also heard the same comments made about DC's humidifier component. So, I'm watching this thread with great interest as well.


You've started an excellent topic.




Edited by daniokeeper (04/11/09 12:33 PM)
_________________________
Joe Gumbosky
Piano Tuning & Repair
www.tinyurl.com/tunerjoe
(semi-retired)

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#1178499 - 04/11/09 01:39 PM Re: Humidifiers - Dehumidifiers [Re: daniokeeper]
Bob Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/01/01
Posts: 3834
An over-heated space with steam type radiator heat can drop humidity enough to crack soundboards when the outside temp goes below zero. IMHO that's too dry for a piano.
_________________________
www.PianoTunerOrlando.com






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#1178511 - 04/11/09 02:05 PM Re: Humidifiers - Dehumidifiers [Re: ranger]
Horwinkle Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/22/08
Posts: 1011
Originally Posted By: ranger
I once met a fellow who told me that Dampp Chaser made a big mistake by including a humidifier in their system. He stated that "there is NO place on planet earth that is too dry for a piano." He also believes that Dampp Chaser will eventually get rid of the humidifier portion of the system and just sell the dehumidifier rods with the humidistat.

Bullcrap.

I like in Florida, so it's seldom dry, even in winter. But in colder climates, it can get very dry. Very dry. Your "fellow" is full of it.

Pianos "like" humidity of about 45%. In the depths of winter, especially with central heating, the air can get down to 10% RH. This is murder for a piano. (And for your sinuses, too.)

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#1178521 - 04/11/09 02:21 PM Re: Humidifiers - Dehumidifiers [Re: Horwinkle]
ranger Offline
Full Member

Registered: 08/04/07
Posts: 42
Loc: USA
Yeah, I believe there are times when it's too dry for a piano. I live in the desert. With heating during the dry winters, it gets even dryer in the house. I use a home humidifier to keep the whole house at a good humidity level. Now, as for dampp-chaser, I don't like the idea of having a "bucket of water" or wet pads so close to the piano, even if there's a dehumidifier just as close. Maybe I'm just a little paranoid...

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#1178525 - 04/11/09 02:27 PM Re: Humidifiers - Dehumidifiers [Re: Horwinkle]
daniokeeper Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/01/09
Posts: 1067
Loc: PA
Hi ranger!

Do you think that you could possibly get this fellow to come online and post here? I'm curious as to a more detailed explanation of his views.

Like I said... I've also heard this, but with no supporting info.

This criticism of DC's inclusion of a humidfier unit doesn't make sense to me, but I promise to keep an open mind.

Thanks,
-Joe


Edited by daniokeeper (04/11/09 02:34 PM)
_________________________
Joe Gumbosky
Piano Tuning & Repair
www.tinyurl.com/tunerjoe
(semi-retired)

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#1178533 - 04/11/09 02:45 PM Re: Humidifiers - Dehumidifiers [Re: daniokeeper]
daniokeeper Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/01/09
Posts: 1067
Loc: PA
Quote:
I don't like the idea of having a "bucket of water" or wet pads so close to the piano, even if there's a dehumidifier just as close. Maybe I'm just a little paranoid...


I do agree with this when it comes to certain institutional use. If a piano is going to be a "hobo piano," moved around all the time from room to room and floor to floor, I'll recommend that only the heating rod(s) and humidistat be installed to prevent damage from accidental spillage. It's not as good as the full system, but it can at least help with excess humidity and contribute somewhat to the tuning stability.
_________________________
Joe Gumbosky
Piano Tuning & Repair
www.tinyurl.com/tunerjoe
(semi-retired)

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#1178559 - 04/11/09 03:21 PM Re: Humidifiers - Dehumidifiers [Re: daniokeeper]
Robert 45 Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/18/06
Posts: 1199
Loc: Auckland New Zealand
I would think that an excessively dry environment for a piano would not only affect the wooden components but it would also dry out other natural materials used in the piano. Hammers and and damper felts could become very dry and hard, and in the case of the dampers, they could make a "swish" sound when the damper pedal is operated. Is it a case of "moderation in all things" and keeping the humidity/dryness balance just right?

Cheers,

Robert.


Edited by Robert 45 (04/11/09 03:21 PM)

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#1178626 - 04/11/09 05:27 PM Re: Humidifiers - Dehumidifiers [Re: ranger]
Eric Gloo Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/28/01
Posts: 1226
Loc: Richfield Springs, New York
Originally Posted By: ranger
...I don't like the idea of having a "bucket of water" or wet pads so close to the piano, even if there's a dehumidifier just as close. Maybe I'm just a little paranoid...


If installed properly, this is not an issue.

I don't like the idea of having a piano sitting next to the home heating source, sun shining on the case 4 hours a day, lid left open and a room humidifier under the piano.
_________________________
Eric Gloo
Piano Technician
Certified Dampp-Chaser Installer
Richfield Springs, New York

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#1178646 - 04/11/09 05:50 PM Re: Humidifiers - Dehumidifiers [Re: Eric Gloo]
jrpiano Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 05/06/04
Posts: 14
Loc: Windsor, Nova Scotia, Canada
The person who made the initial statement, about a piano not requiring a humidifier with a climate control system, has obviously not realized that the humidity levels vary, across this continent.
Up here, the humidity can vary from about 10% in the Winter, to about 90% in the Summer.
So being as the piano 'likes' around 45%, then yes a system would need to be able to both add and remove moisture.
With the system, be sure and check that any additive you may add to the humidifier is non corrosive, as there have been instances of piano damage, when a corrosive additive was used.
I have seen systems with just the dehumidifier rod installed, and damage was caused, loose pins, and cracked soundboard.
If you insist on just installing a dehumidifier, make sure that it is installed with a humidistat to control it.
I have installed over 50 Dampp-Chaser systems with no complaints, and a definate improvement to seasonal pitch changes.
_________________________
John M. Ross
Windsor, Nova Scotia, Canada

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#1178671 - 04/11/09 06:37 PM Re: Humidifiers - Dehumidifiers [Re: jrpiano]
Jerry Groot RPT Offline
6000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/07/07
Posts: 6828
Loc: Grand Rapids Michigan
Your technician is incorrect. Full Dampp Chaser systems work great IF they are properly installed.

They won't work right if not properly installed and not properly cared for by the owner. For example, if the light blinks and the owner fails to add water to the tank then, more damage than good can occur. Once installed, it is the owners responsibility to see to it that the unit is plugged into a source that is on 24/7, fill it when the light is blinking, keep the piano closed when not in use and replace the pads (technician does this usually) when the other light is blinking.

Personally, I never install one without a "smart heater bar."
_________________________
Jerry Groot RPT
Piano Technicians Guild
Grand Rapids, Michigan
www.grootpiano.com

We love to play BF2.

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#1179266 - 04/12/09 09:33 PM Re: Humidifiers - Dehumidifiers [Re: Jerry Groot RPT]
ranger Offline
Full Member

Registered: 08/04/07
Posts: 42
Loc: USA
I agree with all of you. Moderation is best. I'm wondering how many people reading this post has a Dampp-Chaser installed in their piano(s) at home??

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#1179297 - 04/12/09 10:43 PM Re: Humidifiers - Dehumidifiers [Re: ranger]
Seneca Offline
Full Member

Registered: 05/23/06
Posts: 277
Loc: Portland, OR
I don't have a Damp Chase system installed.

I live in in the Pacific Northwest, and for the last six months I have been tracking the humidity of the area in the room where my piano sits. High reading has been 43%, low has been 31%. Humidity does not seem to be an issue here. My tuner tells me this place is 'piano heaven'.

Before that, I lived in a high desert climate (Santa Fe, NM). I never noticed a problem with piano's tuning, but was concerned about humidity. I do think that dryness is less of a problem for the integrity of a piano than excess humidity. If I were back in the desert and concerned, I don't think I'd go the Damp Chase route. There is an outfit (AprilAire?, or something like that), that installs humidification systems that control the indoor humidity of your entire home--so that not only your piano, but your furniture and your skin benefit from relatively normal humidity levels.

I'd also look into something that was essentially automatic and didn't rely on regular owner intervention to keep it operating right. A previous poster commented on the need for proper owner care for the system to operate right. When you travel it's hard enough to find somebody who can operate the alarm system and walk the dog. I'd hate to roll another task into the routine. I can just hear it now, "I forgot to monitor the Damp Chase, so yesterday I just hosed your piano down, and dried it off. Hope that did the trick . . ."
_________________________
Seneca
http://apachecadillac.blogspot.com/

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#1179469 - 04/13/09 09:15 AM Re: Humidifiers - Dehumidifiers [Re: Seneca]
Emmery Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/02/08
Posts: 2356
Loc: Niagara Region, On. Canada
I have a DC system installed on my own piano (vertical) that sits in the same room as another identical piano without it. RH swings quite a bit in our home from 25-30% in winter to +65% in summer. It would be much worse if we didn't have air conditioning and use a small humidifier to keep the fluctuation smaller. The piano with the DC system in it floats about +/- 5 cents on bi-annual tunings, the one without the system usually goes about 7 cents sharp in summer and up to 10-15 cents flat in winter. (These are averages) The system does work well enough in my opinion to warrant its use.

I made a modified installation of a unit in a vertical for a customer that is gone from their home for several months in the winter where the tank is kept topped up from an external 2 gallon tank filled with water. It relies on the outside tub being at the same level as the installed tank and being fed through a 1/2" tube and it works well. Use of distilled water with the added DC treatment keeps the cleaning and pad changing down to a yearly task. The new plastic sleeve for the smart bar does work well at keeping it free from mineral deposits.

I am not sure how "more damage" can occur if the tank goes empty since the humidifier bar under the pad is 1/4 the size and fairly low wattage compared to the dehumidifier bar. I am assuming this is what Jerry was referring to. Obvious solution to this would be for the unit to stop current to it if the water light blinks but I've never checked to see if it works this way.
_________________________
Piano Technician
George Brown College /85
Niagara Region

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#1179474 - 04/13/09 09:22 AM Re: Humidifiers - Dehumidifiers [Re: Emmery]
curry Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/17/02
Posts: 3769
Loc: Hamilton Twp, NJ
I swear by the systems. Unequaled tuning stability year round.
_________________________
G.Fiore "aka-Curry". Tuner-Technician serving the central NJ, S.E. PA area. b214cm@aol.com Concert tuning, Regulation-voicing specialist.
Dampp-Chaser installations, piano appraisals. PTG S.Jersey Chapter 080.
Bösendorfer 214 # 47,299 214-358

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#1179516 - 04/13/09 10:47 AM Re: Humidifiers - Dehumidifiers [Re: curry]
ranger Offline
Full Member

Registered: 08/04/07
Posts: 42
Loc: USA
Nice to hear different opinions on the DC system. I don't use one. I live in the Arizona desert and it gets quite dry. Even during our monsoon season, the humidity level is still not that high, like in Florida. I use a room (whole house) humidifier. I also have a digital hygrometer by the piano to measure relative humidity. I grew up in a very humid city by the Gulf of Mexico and I know what excess humidity can do to a piano. My piano there had rust on strings, center pins, etc. Not good!

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#1179522 - 04/13/09 11:06 AM Re: Humidifiers - Dehumidifiers [Re: ranger]
Jerry Groot RPT Offline
6000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/07/07
Posts: 6828
Loc: Grand Rapids Michigan
A lot of people install Chasers without the smart heater bar. In that case when it runs dry, even though it's dinky, it's still throwing up some heat rather than humidifying. With humidity conditions very low during our winter months at around 20 % in most places, that will just dry it out more. But, with the smart heater bar installed, it turns it off instead of allowing it to run to avoid making it drier still. That's what I meant. :-)
_________________________
Jerry Groot RPT
Piano Technicians Guild
Grand Rapids, Michigan
www.grootpiano.com

We love to play BF2.

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#1179624 - 04/13/09 02:31 PM Re: Humidifiers - Dehumidifiers [Re: Jerry Groot RPT]
Eric Gloo Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/28/01
Posts: 1226
Loc: Richfield Springs, New York
I'm still not hooked on the smart heater bars. Against my urging customers to use distilled water, many just don't do it. I often find pads completely gunked up, with no moisture at all in the part of the pad that drapes over the heater bar -- yet the smart heater bar has not activated.
_________________________
Eric Gloo
Piano Technician
Certified Dampp-Chaser Installer
Richfield Springs, New York

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#1179691 - 04/13/09 04:20 PM Re: Humidifiers - Dehumidifiers [Re: Eric Gloo]
ranger Offline
Full Member

Registered: 08/04/07
Posts: 42
Loc: USA
On a related topic, I would think that owners with DC systems who also use string covers and/or thick piano covers are asking for trouble?

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#1179864 - 04/13/09 10:01 PM Re: Humidifiers - Dehumidifiers [Re: ranger]
Peter Sumner- Piano Technician Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/09/07
Posts: 852
Loc: San Francisco
Ranger...
Is that last post of yours a question or a statement?
Using a DC system (well maintained) and a cover is the best way to keep a piano in great shape...especially in areas of large humidity variations.
Piano owners do have responsibilities here....it can't ALL be done for them....they do have to think from time to time....
Questions like...Why is that light flashing?....are answered in web sites and the written directions for use.

Ranger....if your message is a statement, on what do you base your opinion?

FROM THE OFFICIAL WEB SITE
(((((Pads should be changed every six months
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.

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 (if the wires are detachable). Then, remove mineral residue on the wires by scraping with the edge of a knife held perpendicular to the wire. Replace the detachable SB on the heater bar.

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. )))))

Why is this stuff so difficult?
_________________________
Peter Sumner
Concert Piano Technician



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#1180661 - 04/15/09 05:10 AM Re: Humidifiers - Dehumidifiers [Re: Seneca]
Antonis Kyriazis Offline
Full Member

Registered: 03/24/08
Posts: 32
Loc: Luxembourg
It might be useful to share my experience with you all. I own a Yamaha S4, installed in Luxembourg: winters RH can go as low as 32%, summers up to 65%. (When talking about RH I always mean 21 degrees Celsius and indoors - RH is temperature dependent).
Despite a humidifier keeping room's RH at 48%, the piano tortured me with ringing overtones on the 1st and 3rd octave (Topic: Yamaha S4 ringing overtones). After installing a humidity regulator of Meyers (a bar previously submerged to water) and increasing RH at 50%, the overtones practically disappeared.

Now, with 45% indoors RH, I removed the regulator and stored the humidifier in his box to see what happens. Well, the overtones came back!

The conclusion I drew is that 45%, at least for the Yamaha hammer felts is too low. I also noticed the tendency to overtones to the three grants S4, S6 and CFIII in the recent Music Expo in Frankfurt.

rgds
AK

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#1180676 - 04/15/09 06:21 AM Re: Humidifiers - Dehumidifiers [Re: Antonis Kyriazis]
athomik Offline
Full Member

Registered: 01/04/07
Posts: 299
Loc: England
I had to work on a C3 Disklavier MkIII a few times, which lived in an airconditioned auditorium at a university, which was at about 30%RH for most of the time (next to a Steinway concert grand - not sure which model). The complaint was that it was quite noisy and inaccurate when playing back performances. This was a major issue as it was used for recording exam pieces. I tried everything I could think of on the Disklavier side of things, without much success. In the end it all came down to the piano having been completely dried out by the air conditioning. Now I'm not a piano technician, but was was amazed that in such a critical situation, none of the people playing the piano noticed that it felt like a toy piano and the action rattled like a weaving loom. A year later, they replaced it with a Mark IV, which is kept under much better conditions. I'd hate to think what state the Steinway is in now.


Edited by athomik (04/15/09 06:21 AM)
_________________________
Adrian Thomas
Service Engineer - Hybrid Pianos & Strings

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#1180966 - 04/15/09 02:42 PM Re: Humidifiers - Dehumidifiers [Re: ranger]
Yamaha06 Offline
Full Member

Registered: 01/13/09
Posts: 24
Loc: Midwest USA
Oh how I sincerely disagree that the humidifier is not necessary. I tune pianos, I play pianos. Here is my opinion wearing my two different hats.

#1 as Tuner: Dryness in the midwest means an early death to the piano. Dampp-Chaser describes it best on their site. As a side-note, a large piano supply house in the north-western part of the country talks very badly against Dampp-Chaser and likes to tell people the humidifier is unnecessary. The truth is that Dampp-Chaser refuses to do business with them and the supply house continues to talk against them.

#2 as Player: Without a doubt, a humidifier and dehumidifier using a properly working humidistat will keep the pitch and tone of the piano consistent and is music to my ears. I've been playing for over 30 years and I tend to be very picky in my sound and tone of the piano. I have a Dampp-Chaser system installed in my personal Yamaha.

In closing, a piano tuner/technician that does not offer Dampp-Chaser to their customers is doing their customers a great disservice.


Edited by Yamaha06 (04/15/09 02:45 PM)

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#1181150 - 04/15/09 08:35 PM Re: Humidifiers - Dehumidifiers [Re: Yamaha06]
Peter Sumner- Piano Technician Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/09/07
Posts: 852
Loc: San Francisco
What he said....
_________________________
Peter Sumner
Concert Piano Technician



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