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#1577704 - 12/16/10 03:46 AM Re: Need help troubleshooting my Dampp Chaser system [Re: dcb]
rysowers Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/16/07
Posts: 2505
Loc: Olympia, WA
I agree with Mr. Gloo,

You need to get that hygrometer off the bottom of the piano. There is no way you're going to get an accurate reading there, even if it's right next to the tank: the warm, moist air goes up.
_________________________
Ryan Sowers,
Pianova Piano Service
Olympia, WA
www.pianova.net

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#1577760 - 12/16/10 06:34 AM Re: Need help troubleshooting my Dampp Chaser system [Re: dcb]
Loren D Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/22/10
Posts: 2546
Loc: PA
Another thing, though unlikely, would be to see if the tech installed a "dry" humidistat. Dampp-Chaser offers three calibrations: dry, normal, and wet. Some parts of the country are normally drier or more humid than others. Rather than have one part of the stat constantly in an attempt to reach a desired goal, these stats are calibrated to allow easier cycling between humidify and dehumidify, which is the way the system is intended to operate. The dry, standard, and wet stats are calibrated at 39%, 45%, and 51% RH respectively.
_________________________
DiGiorgi Piano Service (1984-2013)
http://www.digiorgipiano.com

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#1577775 - 12/16/10 07:16 AM Re: Need help troubleshooting my Dampp Chaser system [Re: dcb]
dcb Offline
Full Member

Registered: 05/15/10
Posts: 199
Regarding the placement of the hygrometer. My logic was this...the role of the humidistat is to sense the humidity level and turn on/off the humidifer/dehumidifier as needed. So, the humidistat is where the DC reading is being measured. Therefore, the hygrometer at that location makes sense. Unfortunatly, there are no other places higher up in the pinao to put a hygrometer easily.

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#1577781 - 12/16/10 07:24 AM Re: Need help troubleshooting my Dampp Chaser system [Re: dcb]
UnrightTooner Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/13/08
Posts: 4980
Loc: Bradford County, PA
dcb:

I have been following this topic closely. I don't remember any mention of the condition of the pads. Have they been replaced recently? Are they folded over long-wise to double thickness? I think they work better if they are not folded over like that. It seems that they insulate themselves and do not evaporate as much water. It is something you could try that certainly won’t hurt. Also, since you are carefully monitoring the humidity, you could try plugging the humidifier directly into an extension cord, bypassing the humidistat. This helps isolate the problem. But I would make one change at a time and observe it for an entire week before drawing any conclusions. Pianos can absorb and release a lot of moisture, but it takes a while.
_________________________
Jeff Deutschle
Part-Time Tuner
Who taught the first chicken how to peck?

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#1577807 - 12/16/10 08:22 AM Re: Need help troubleshooting my Dampp Chaser system [Re: dcb]
Jerry Cohen, RPT Offline
Full Member

Registered: 06/30/05
Posts: 80
Loc: New Jersey
dcb,

The components within the humidistat generate some heat, which could throw off your reading. The sensor within the H5 is located in the upper right corner of the box and airflow of the other warm components has been taken into consideration.

Why can't you mount your probe to the underside of the keybed, as close as possible to the strings?

Also, try plugging in and electric, motorized clock to the humidifier outlet, with a cube tap. Set the clock to 12:00 and check it in a few hours. It should advance by the same amount of time, if the humidity is really that low.
_________________________
Jerry Cohen, RPT
Piano Craftsman offering, concert tuning, voicing, regulating, rebuilding.
Serving Northern New Jersey area.

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#1577808 - 12/16/10 08:22 AM Re: Need help troubleshooting my Dampp Chaser system [Re: dcb]
dcb Offline
Full Member

Registered: 05/15/10
Posts: 199
Jeff...great suggestions thanks. The pads are brand new...I just replaced them and I'm using distilled water to avoid the mineral build-up. The pads are doubled over. I think I'll try unfolding them (and cutting them in half lenghthwise) and seeing if that makes any difference.

Great idea about bypassing the humidistat. I wish Dampp Chaser would have told me to do that. I doubt it is the problem because I'm on my second humidistat. If it works, that would mean both the first and second humidistat were faulty. Not likely, but possible and a great way to rule it out.

Everytime I've gone into the piano and checked the pads, they were slightly warm so my guess is that it is working as best it can but it just can't humidfy enough to get the % above 26-30%.

Thanks for the help.

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#1577814 - 12/16/10 08:29 AM Re: Need help troubleshooting my Dampp Chaser system [Re: dcb]
dcb Offline
Full Member

Registered: 05/15/10
Posts: 199
Jerry...interesting thoughts. My hygrometer has a temperature sensor as well and the temp inside the piano is consistently the same or maybe 1 or 2 degrees warmer than outside the piano so that small of a range shouldn't make too much difference.

I'm going to try bypassing the humidistat to see how much I can increase the RH%.

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#1577815 - 12/16/10 08:30 AM Re: Need help troubleshooting my Dampp Chaser system [Re: dcb]
UnrightTooner Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/13/08
Posts: 4980
Loc: Bradford County, PA
dcb:

Hope it works. We have the same piano and similar weather. My solution was to first put a second humidifier in the bottom of the piano, which helped a lot. Then a complete back system (in addition to the inside system with just one humidifier), that did the trick. I just went by the tuning stability and did not measure the humidity. When the pitch is different across the tenor break, you know it is due to a change in humidity. Perhaps CW’s are more sensitive to humidity changes, I don’t know. This may be a good thing.
_________________________
Jeff Deutschle
Part-Time Tuner
Who taught the first chicken how to peck?

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#1577832 - 12/16/10 08:51 AM Re: Need help troubleshooting my Dampp Chaser system [Re: dcb]
dcb Offline
Full Member

Registered: 05/15/10
Posts: 199
Jeff, my gut feeling is that your solution is the one that would work. I'm just not too excited about spending more money on the 9 piece system.

My other holdout is that the people at DC say that if it is very dry I should have to fill the water tank every week. I'm only filling it ever ~2.5 weeks so I may have an issue with the humidifier unit. Some more testing should tell.

(I'm thinking when the summer comes around and I have 60% humidity, I should close my eyes and not test my dehumidifier bar. Ignorance is bliss.)

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#1577838 - 12/16/10 08:58 AM Re: Need help troubleshooting my Dampp Chaser system [Re: dcb]
UnrightTooner Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/13/08
Posts: 4980
Loc: Bradford County, PA
dcb:

Yes, I noted that your humidifier was not calling for much water. That is why I thought of the doubled up pads. An interim step is two humidifiers in the piano or even humidifiers in the back of the piano without an additional humidistat. Take one thing at a time and see how it goes.
_________________________
Jeff Deutschle
Part-Time Tuner
Who taught the first chicken how to peck?

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#1577977 - 12/16/10 12:55 PM Re: Need help troubleshooting my Dampp Chaser system [Re: dcb]
Eric Gloo Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/28/01
Posts: 1266
Loc: Richfield Springs, New York
Originally Posted By: dcb
Regarding the placement of the hygrometer. My logic was this...the role of the humidistat is to sense the humidity level and turn on/off the humidifer/dehumidifier as needed. So, the humidistat is where the DC reading is being measured. Therefore, the hygrometer at that location makes sense. Unfortunatly, there are no other places higher up in the pinao to put a hygrometer easily.


Since the hygrometer already has velcro on it, you should be able to rig something up with more velcro and it up near the top, against the side of the piano.

Have you checked to see if the plastic baffle is installed?

...and room humidity in the low 20% range is very dry. It just might be that the basic DC system can't compete with the dryness.


Edited by Eric Gloo (12/16/10 12:55 PM)
_________________________
Eric Gloo
Piano Technician
Certified Dampp-Chaser Installer
Richfield Springs, New York

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#1577990 - 12/16/10 01:19 PM Re: Need help troubleshooting my Dampp Chaser system [Re: dcb]
dcb Offline
Full Member

Registered: 05/15/10
Posts: 199
The plastic baffle is installed.

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#1578006 - 12/16/10 01:44 PM Re: Need help troubleshooting my Dampp Chaser system [Re: dcb]
rysowers Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/16/07
Posts: 2505
Loc: Olympia, WA
Originally Posted By: dcb
Regarding the placement of the hygrometer. My logic was this...the role of the humidistat is to sense the humidity level and turn on/off the humidifer/dehumidifier as needed. So, the humidistat is where the DC reading is being measured. Therefore, the hygrometer at that location makes sense. Unfortunatly, there are no other places higher up in the pinao to put a hygrometer easily.


Yes, but the humidistat is probably a foot higher up. I just think the very bottom of the piano is not the best place to get a reading.

The other thing to keep in mind is that the wood is sucking up the moisture, like a big sponge.

Have you installed a back cover? These can make a big difference.
_________________________
Ryan Sowers,
Pianova Piano Service
Olympia, WA
www.pianova.net

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#1578038 - 12/16/10 02:19 PM Re: Need help troubleshooting my Dampp Chaser system [Re: dcb]
dcb Offline
Full Member

Registered: 05/15/10
Posts: 199
Just to clarify...when I say the hygrometer is on the humidistat I literally mean the hygrometer is velcroed to the humidistat so it isn't a foot away from the humidistat...it is right on it. As a side note, the reading from the bottom of the piano is about the same as from on the humidistat.

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#1578051 - 12/16/10 02:37 PM Re: Need help troubleshooting my Dampp Chaser system [Re: dcb]
rysowers Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/16/07
Posts: 2505
Loc: Olympia, WA
Originally Posted By: dcb
Just to clarify...when I say the hygrometer is on the humidistat I literally mean the hygrometer is velcroed to the humidistat so it isn't a foot away from the humidistat...it is right on it. As a side note, the reading from the bottom of the piano is about the same as from on the humidistat.


Ah, I see! I imagined it just sitting on the bottom of the piano. I get it now. Thanks for clarifying.
_________________________
Ryan Sowers,
Pianova Piano Service
Olympia, WA
www.pianova.net

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#1578111 - 12/16/10 04:33 PM Re: Need help troubleshooting my Dampp Chaser system [Re: dcb]
Rick_Parks Offline
Full Member

Registered: 12/16/10
Posts: 22
Loc: Maine, USA
To be brutally honest (from mere experience) about these systems- and I know this is going to stir up this thread a bit- number (2) on your list would be the one I would suggest to you as the answer to your problem. Though many techs will say differently.
As a technician in the Washington DC area, I got to see a lot of these machines in action--- and also in the unplugged state due to problems from concept and design, or from simple neglect.
I doubt there is any real problem with your system at all. It is doing what it does.
We personally do not recommend these things for anyone, except for the absolute necessity (-and no we are not guild members)-- your situation may apply (being in a basement)...BUT- my first suggestion is ALWAYS to try to regulate the room the piano is in first (if at all possible).
I would say-- that for the price you paid for the system, you might have been able to solve your problem for the entire room-- both summer and winter? But, since you bought the system already- my only suggestion is to get the tech involved in your complaints. If the system doesn't do what they advertize- they need to stand behind what their claim is.
You CERTAINLY should not have to go buying better parts and spend further money to simply get the advertized results.
IF they succed in getting this system to perform to claims--- see to it that you take care of it, please. Don't let the pads get crusted over and the water turn to slime. These are not a few of my favorite things to deal with on the road.

-Rick
_________________________
Parks and Sons Piano Service
www.parksandsonspiano.com

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#1578312 - 12/16/10 08:35 PM Re: Need help troubleshooting my Dampp Chaser system [Re: dcb]
Loren D Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/22/10
Posts: 2546
Loc: PA
Everyone's entitled to an opinion. smile Many piano manufacturers recommend the system, though. Use the pad treatment as directed when adding water, and the water will stay clear. The pads need to be changed when they cake up with mineral buildup, and that varies depending on the hardness/softness of your water.
_________________________
DiGiorgi Piano Service (1984-2013)
http://www.digiorgipiano.com

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#1578508 - 12/17/10 03:02 AM Re: Need help troubleshooting my Dampp Chaser system [Re: dcb]
Cy Shuster, RPT Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/18/05
Posts: 3448
Loc: Albuquerque, NM
Could you post a photo of the lower cabinet, so we could see the distances between components? I have pictures on my Facebook page of a typical installation.

If the humidistat is too close to the water tank, it will get an RH reading that is too high, and the heating rods will be on too long, causing low humidity. Conversely, if it's too far from the water tank, it will activate the wet side too long. This is one way that we can fine-tune a system after installation.

I believe your hygrometer readings. We need to gather more information.

--Cy--

P.S. I'm reading 24% here in New Mexico, and the pitch in my upright (with backcover) has held steady for months.
_________________________
Cy Shuster, RPT
505-265-4234
www.shusterpiano.com
www.facebook.com/shusterpiano
Albuquerque, New Mexico

Registered Piano Technician
Dampp-Chaser Certified Installer
PianoDisc Certified Service Technician

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#1578573 - 12/17/10 06:51 AM Re: Need help troubleshooting my Dampp Chaser system [Re: dcb]
dcb Offline
Full Member

Registered: 05/15/10
Posts: 199
The installation instructions say the bottom right corner of the humidistat should be 2" above and 2" to the left of the top left corner of the humidifier tank. Originally it was installed 6" above and 7" to the left.

Ironically, Dampp Chaser told me to move the humidistat closer to the tank. I told them that that didn't make any sense becuase if the RH% reading was too low...moving the humidistat closer to the humidifier would make it worse. She said yeah, that logically makes sense but isn't necessarily how it works. This was one of the points in my conversation where it was clear to me that I wasn't getting very good (or scientifically accurate) troubleshooting tips from DC.

That said, I've experimented with this distance and have seen no change in result.

Over the last two days I've had the humidifier plugged in directly to the outlet and the rest of the DC system turned off. The RH% is now hovering around 26% inside the piano and 22% outside the piano.

This tells me that it isn't the humidstat...it is simply that the humidifier isn't humidifying enough. I'm calling DC today to see what they say. The humidifier rods are warm but just barely warm. I'm wondering if the humidifier warming rod is no good. If it's not that, I've run out of parts to troubleshoot and I'm going to conclude that the system doesn not work as advertised.

Just for fun, I may turn off the the humidifier as well and see what the reading is...That would tell us what the old "bucket of water" in the bottom of your piano would contribute to the humidity.

Thanks for everyone's help.

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#1578585 - 12/17/10 07:24 AM Re: Need help troubleshooting my Dampp Chaser system [Re: dcb]
UnrightTooner Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/13/08
Posts: 4980
Loc: Bradford County, PA
dcb:

If you can measure the amps that the humidifier rod draws you can determine if it is working correctly. Amps x Volts = Watts. So with 120 volts and 8 watts (if Loren is correct, I could not find it on the web) the humidifier rod should draw about 65 milliamps when plugged in. Maybe you have a friend or an appliance shop that could check it out.

But Rick makes a good point about controlling the humidity in the entire room. It is better for people and furnishings, too.
_________________________
Jeff Deutschle
Part-Time Tuner
Who taught the first chicken how to peck?

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#1579042 - 12/17/10 09:44 PM Re: Need help troubleshooting my Dampp Chaser system [Re: dcb]
Thomas Dowell Offline
Full Member

Registered: 11/18/09
Posts: 122
Loc: Twin Lakes, WI
Please keep in mind that I have very, very little experience with Dampp-Chasers, but you mention that you are using distilled water. I thought, though I could be wrong, that Dampp Chasers needed tap water, to help the water wick onto the pads. Or is this what the Pad Treatment is for?

Just a brief thought.
_________________________
Thomas Dowell, R.P.T.
Dowell Piano
www.dowellpiano.com

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#1579059 - 12/17/10 10:11 PM Re: Need help troubleshooting my Dampp Chaser system [Re: dcb]
dcb Offline
Full Member

Registered: 05/15/10
Posts: 199
My understanding is that distilled or tap works fine. You should use the pad treatment with both but it is more important with the distilled so the water sensor works. The distilled could resutl in less mineral build-up and better performance.

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#1579063 - 12/17/10 10:20 PM Re: Need help troubleshooting my Dampp Chaser system [Re: dcb]
dcb Offline
Full Member

Registered: 05/15/10
Posts: 199
So I think I've had a small breakthough...could be on to something.

I called Dampp Chaser today and they were very surprised that the system wasn't working very well. They are going to send me another humidifer warming bar to see if there may be something wrong with it.

However, this morning (just to rule out something else) I temporarily stuffed a blanket into the 1" gap between the bottom panel and the underside of the keybed. When I came home from work around 6pm the RH% was up to 36%. (It was 26% in the morning) So I went to Home Depot and bought some pipe insulation that fit perfectly into the gap. It is now up to 37% and we'll see if it can get any higher overnight.

Clearly, that 1" gap had something to do with it. I'm hoping that in the morning it will be up to 40% and I'll consider it close enough to the ideal 42-45% to call it a day.

I'll also try the new humidifier warmer bar when it arrives...could be a couple issues going on simultaneously.

By the way, the folks at Dampp Chaser have been very friendly and although they haven't been able to tell me exactly what is wrong, they have been very pleasant to talk with and have been sending me replacement parts to try.

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#1579092 - 12/17/10 11:21 PM Re: Need help troubleshooting my Dampp Chaser system [Re: dcb]
rysowers Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/16/07
Posts: 2505
Loc: Olympia, WA
Wow! That's a significant discovery! I may have to add that to my installation routine! It makes sense that that gap would have a real effect. Thanks for your research!
_________________________
Ryan Sowers,
Pianova Piano Service
Olympia, WA
www.pianova.net

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#1579139 - 12/18/10 01:14 AM Re: Need help troubleshooting my Dampp Chaser system [Re: dcb]
Cy Shuster, RPT Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/18/05
Posts: 3448
Loc: Albuquerque, NM
Originally Posted By: dcb
My understanding is that distilled or tap works fine. You should use the pad treatment with both but it is more important with the distilled so the water sensor works. The distilled could resutl in less mineral build-up and better performance.


Distilled water is fine, but...

...the FIRST fillup needs to be tap water. There needs to be enough electrolytes in the system for electrical conductivity for the sensors. Distilled water will have too much resistance for the water sensor to work correctly without it (and the pad sensors, if you have the Smart Bracket).

After the first fillup, you can use distilled, which makes cleaning mineral buildup easier.

dcb, I applaud your persistent and excellent troubleshooting to narrow down the problem. Yes, the humidifier bar is 8 watts.

--Cy--
_________________________
Cy Shuster, RPT
505-265-4234
www.shusterpiano.com
www.facebook.com/shusterpiano
Albuquerque, New Mexico

Registered Piano Technician
Dampp-Chaser Certified Installer
PianoDisc Certified Service Technician

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#1579250 - 12/18/10 06:22 AM Re: Need help troubleshooting my Dampp Chaser system [Re: dcb]
dcb Offline
Full Member

Registered: 05/15/10
Posts: 199
I was so excited, I woke up early this morning to take a look. The RH% = 43%. It is amazing how well the pipe insulation worked.

I still have the humidifer plugged in directly to the outlet bypassing the humidistat. So, I'm going to see if it continues to rise 50%, 55%...then I'll plug it back into the humidistat and see if it maintains a proper percentage. My gut feeling is that it will work just fine now.

The pipe insulation for 1/2" pipes fit perfectly for me and only cost a couple dollars at Home Depot. It pressure fits in and can be removed easily for tuning or maintenance. Here's a picture.


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#1579255 - 12/18/10 06:31 AM Re: Need help troubleshooting my Dampp Chaser system [Re: Cy Shuster, RPT]
Loren D Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/22/10
Posts: 2546
Loc: PA
Originally Posted By: Cy Shuster
Originally Posted By: dcb
My understanding is that distilled or tap works fine. You should use the pad treatment with both but it is more important with the distilled so the water sensor works. The distilled could resutl in less mineral build-up and better performance.


Distilled water is fine, but...

...the FIRST fillup needs to be tap water. There needs to be enough electrolytes in the system for electrical conductivity for the sensors. Distilled water will have too much resistance for the water sensor to work correctly without it (and the pad sensors, if you have the Smart Bracket).

After the first fillup, you can use distilled, which makes cleaning mineral buildup easier.

dcb, I applaud your persistent and excellent troubleshooting to narrow down the problem. Yes, the humidifier bar is 8 watts.

--Cy--


Cy, I'm pretty sure that's not what DC says. According to them, the pad treatment supplies sufficient electrolyte. Back in the old days, they called for using a pinch of salt in the water if using distilled, but that is specifically discouraged now since salt is corrosive.

*edit* Just checked, and sure enough, DC says nothing about requiring tap water for the first fill; only to be sure to use the pad treatment whether using tap or distilled.


Edited by Loren D (12/18/10 06:40 AM)
_________________________
DiGiorgi Piano Service (1984-2013)
http://www.digiorgipiano.com

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#1579258 - 12/18/10 06:32 AM Re: Need help troubleshooting my Dampp Chaser system [Re: dcb]
wayne walker Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/29/08
Posts: 515
Loc: Windsor,Nova Scotia Canada
My question, why haven't you called the tech who installed this system, they should be the person checking the system and contacting Dampp-Chaser. You shouldn't be messing with the position of the humidistat. I would think this would be breach of warranty.
_________________________
Wayne Walker
Walker's Piano Service
http://www.walkerpiano.ca/

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#1579259 - 12/18/10 06:33 AM Re: Need help troubleshooting my Dampp Chaser system [Re: dcb]
Loren D Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/22/10
Posts: 2546
Loc: PA
Originally Posted By: dcb
I was so excited, I woke up early this morning to take a look. The RH% = 43%. It is amazing how well the pipe insulation worked.

I still have the humidifer plugged in directly to the outlet bypassing the humidistat. So, I'm going to see if it continues to rise 50%, 55%...then I'll plug it back into the humidistat and see if it maintains a proper percentage. My gut feeling is that it will work just fine now.

The pipe insulation for 1/2" pipes fit perfectly for me and only cost a couple dollars at Home Depot. It pressure fits in and can be removed easily for tuning or maintenance. Here's a picture.


Wonderful! I know you taught me something. I never imagined there would be that much difference from the gap.

I would connect the humidifier back to the humidistat as soon as possible though, now that you know what the problem was!
_________________________
DiGiorgi Piano Service (1984-2013)
http://www.digiorgipiano.com

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#1579265 - 12/18/10 06:41 AM Re: Need help troubleshooting my Dampp Chaser system [Re: wayne walker]
Loren D Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/22/10
Posts: 2546
Loc: PA
Originally Posted By: wayne walker
My question, why haven't you called the tech who installed this system, they should be the person checking the system and contacting Dampp-Chaser. You shouldn't be messing with the position of the humidistat. I would think this would be breach of warranty.


True. Since DC was communicating with him though, I would think that would allay any warranty concerns.

What DOES surprise me though is that DC did not involve the tech in the process.
_________________________
DiGiorgi Piano Service (1984-2013)
http://www.digiorgipiano.com

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