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#56618 - 01/19/09 08:40 PM when are humidity levels dangerous? Mine range from high 20s% to low 40s%
cscl Offline
Full Member

Registered: 08/13/07
Posts: 255
Loc: Suburban Boston
Hello everyone,

I'm trying to make it through the second Chicago winter since I bought my piano. We have a built-in humidifier (Aprilaire) in the house as part of our heating system. I found out in the fall, that our humidifier wasn't working properly last winter and we had some days where the gauge read in the high teens. Things have been better this winter, but I can't get the humidity any higher than the low to mid 30s when the temperature is moderately cold and not really out of the 20s when we've had temps in the teens or below zero.

I have a digital readout thermometer and humidity gauge and I've been keeping a close eye on it for the past year and half. Most of the year it's right around 38%. Only at the very end of the summer did it go up into the 40s and then stayed there through the early fall, then back down to the high 30s. We've been having bitterly cold temperatures for the past two months and until the worst of it set in, the humidity was in the low 30s. Now it has dropped into the mid to high 20s. We tend to keep the thermostat fairly constant and the temperature in the house is in the 68-69 range fairly constantly.

When should I start worrying about humidity levels? Are these lows dangerous for my piano? How dangerous? Is mid 20s-low 40s throught the year a big swing or fairly moderate?

I'm about due for a tuning, although the piano has sounded fine to me, but tonight it sounds a little buzzy, especially certain notes in the bass. I'm freaking out a bit that this cold weather and low humidity are going to damage the piano. Should I be worried? Or is this just some tuning problems due to the temperature and the time since I last tuned (6 months ago in June).

Another issue is that in the midst of having the humidifier repaired this fall, we had a hot water heater go out and had a tankless installed. The plumbers rehooked the line to the humidifier from the cold water instead of the hot. With a tankless, we probably woudn't get hot water flowing into the humidfier, but it seems that the cold water (really quite cold these days) might also be keeping our humidifer from giving us everything it's capable of.

Any thoughts from the experts out there?

Thanks in advance!
_________________________
cscl
Estonia 190 Satin Ebony
ABF Recitals: x9 — Studio Recitals: x17
*

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#56619 - 01/20/09 01:37 AM Re: when are humidity levels dangerous? Mine range from high 20s% to low 40s%
wadslee Offline
Full Member

Registered: 11/26/08
Posts: 64
Loc: Utah
Dampp-Chaser asserts that ideal humidity is 42% for a piano. They guarantee that humidity to within +/- 5%. If you haven't already done so, I would recommend investing in a quality portable hygrometer and placing it on or near the piano for optimal measurement. I found the reading on my Carrier/Totaline "thermidistat" to be low by about 8-10%.

If you can't get a higher humidity I would recommend the following:

1. Reprogram the "thermidistat" to power the humidifer anytime there is a need, vs. having the humidifier only work when there is a need AND the furnace is on.

2. Look into purchasing a powered fan unit instead of the customary bypass models. The bases are the same, so it would not require any extensive work. If you call the HVAC supply store, you might be able to get the contractor pricing, which is half of what retail customers pay in my experience.

3. I would definately try to find some way to replace the cold water feed to hot water. Maybe you could add a very small hot water heater just for the humidifier or maybe a small insulated hot water holding tank. You'll sleep better at night knowing, that even if there's no hot water for your spouse's morning shower, that your piano is getting the hot water that it needs. \:\)

As I understand it, humidity control in cold climates helps keep both a stable tuning while also keeping the soundboard/pinblock from cracking. The tuning argument is definately valid. The soundboard cracking argument, imo, is overdone. I bet few, if any, piano dealers in cold climates have full humidity control in their showrooms for example. I could be wrong though.
_________________________
Estonia L190 - 6789 'Hidden Beauty'
Roland HP-203

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#56620 - 01/20/09 02:57 AM Re: when are humidity levels dangerous? Mine range from high 20s% to low 40s%
cscl Offline
Full Member

Registered: 08/13/07
Posts: 255
Loc: Suburban Boston
Thanks Wadslee.

Any suggestions for a quality hygrometer? The one I have was, admittedly, rather on the cheap side. But I don't really know how well these work. My current one is an Acu-Rite. I keep it in the same room (very large with an open ceiling to the second floor), but well away from the piano (it has an extra probe for outdoor temp, so that has to go out the window).

Right now, I have our humidifier on manual and as high as it will go. Anytime the heat is on, it runs the full time.

We really like our tankless water heater, by the way, and it works well, but I was told by the plumber that the small water line to the humidifier won't trigger it on. However, I'm not convinced that even merely room temperature water wouldn't be better, although the plumber (not wanting to come back and fix the mistake tried to convince me it doesn't matter), but I can feel the cold pipe is really, really cold. I'm also wondering if it doesn't make the heater work harder because it blows over cold water along the way.

I think I'll try first to get the plumbers out for that fix and see if that helps.

Thanks again.
_________________________
cscl
Estonia 190 Satin Ebony
ABF Recitals: x9 — Studio Recitals: x17
*

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#56621 - 01/20/09 08:26 AM Re: when are humidity levels dangerous? Mine range from high 20s% to low 40s%
Mark... Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/27/06
Posts: 4380
Loc: Jersey Shore
 Quote:
Originally posted by cscl:
Thanks Wadslee.


We really like our tankless water heater, by the way, and it works well, but I was told by the plumber that the small water line to the humidifier won't trigger it on. However, I'm not convinced that even merely room temperature water wouldn't be better, although the plumber (not wanting to come back and fix the mistake tried to convince me it doesn't matter), but I can feel the cold pipe is really, really cold. I'm also wondering if it doesn't make the heater work harder because it blows over cold water along the way.

I think I'll try first to get the plumbers out for that fix and see if that helps.

Thanks again. [/b]
I use to install April air humidifiers and I don't believe it is recommended to use a hot water line.

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#56622 - 01/20/09 08:27 AM Re: when are humidity levels dangerous? Mine range from high 20s% to low 40s%
Mark... Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/27/06
Posts: 4380
Loc: Jersey Shore
Double post

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#56623 - 01/20/09 09:35 AM Re: when are humidity levels dangerous? Mine range from high 20s% to low 40s%
NoctuGranes Offline
Full Member

Registered: 03/22/07
Posts: 285
Loc: Northeast USA
When my tuner came and brought a hygrometer, it read 15 points lower than mine (cheap dial-type). His was a Radio Shack digital version. I think I've read here that those are pretty good. I'll go buy one.

I think 30% - 50% are considered pretty "safe".

I swear by Damp Chaser myself, as my windows are too old to hold in the humidity when it gets really cold outside.
_________________________
-Nocty
Not in the piano business.
1906 Baldwin C rebuilt 2008

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#56624 - 01/20/09 10:21 AM Re: when are humidity levels dangerous? Mine range from high 20s% to low 40s%
Monica K. Offline

Platinum Supporter until Dec 31 2012


Registered: 08/10/05
Posts: 17788
Loc: Lexington, Kentucky
Hey cscl, I just got through reading more about humidifiers than I ever wanted to, as I was purchasing one for the addition we're doing on the home. Here's a few random reactions sparked by your comments:

1.) If your furnace is a high efficiency gas furnace, it may not be running enough for your humidifier to be working effectively. That was the situation in our home, and I actually called the Aprilaire people and talked to them at length. They told me they "strongly encouraged" people to connect the hot water line to the humidifier. So maybe the cold water line is the default, as Mark pointed out, but the info I got from Aprilaire is that you *could* and *should* use the hot water line if you have a high efficiency furnace--for the reason you point out: starting with hot water helps the humidifier work more efficiently for the shorter time it is operating. You may want to call Aprilaire yourself and press them on the issue.

2. Aprilaire was our second choice, but we ended up going with a Honeywell TrueSTEAM unit instead, partly because we only had a cold water line to the furnace room and partly because the reviews I read of the TrueSTEAM convinced me it would do a better job of getting the humidity levels up high enough. It converts water directly to steam using a heating element so is okay with cold water. It also converts essentially all the water, so it's not like the Aprilaire and other units where much of the water just goes straight down the drain.

3. A Dampp-Chaser unit would help, although I don't think they "guarantee" your humidity will stay within such a close range, especially if you have a grand.
_________________________
Mason & Hamlin A -- 91997
My YouTube channel: http://www.youtube.com/pianomonica

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#56625 - 01/20/09 10:36 AM Re: when are humidity levels dangerous? Mine range from high 20s% to low 40s%
windsound Offline
Full Member

Registered: 10/09/08
Posts: 177
Loc: IL
Hello, cscl, Im also living in Chicagoland and as you know, perhaps we are experiencing the coldest winter in 25 years...
I have a humidifier attached to my furnace which can keep the whole house at around 35% these days. In addition to that, I placed a warm humidifier right between my two grand pianos, thus the humidity is between 40~45%.

Every brand may require different humidity, for example, Yamaha requires 50%~60% but it is almost impossible if you live in Chicago area or Toronto. However, I think 40~50%, or even upper 30% should be OK while below 30% is not good for your piano.

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#56626 - 01/20/09 11:34 AM Re: when are humidity levels dangerous? Mine range from high 20s% to low 40s%
Dale Fox Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/17/04
Posts: 1066
Loc: Nor California Sacramento area
Where did you get the info on Yamaha? I think you've been fed a line by a salesman. Pianos like consistency.
_________________________
Dale Fox
Registered Piano Technician
Remanufacturing/Rebuilding

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#56627 - 01/20/09 12:14 PM Re: when are humidity levels dangerous? Mine range from high 20s% to low 40s%
Robert H Offline
Full Member

Registered: 09/17/07
Posts: 261
Loc: Central Iowa
Cscl,...

You can get a decent hygrometer from Wal-Mart for under $10,... I bought a couple and put them in different spots in the piano room,... usually the readings are quite close to each other,... +/-2%

You may want to ask your HVAC guy to come and set the humidifier to run whenever there's a call for humidity,... not just whenever there's a call for heat.

Then getting hot water to the humidifier should help,... but I don't think you want your tankless water heater to run whenever the humidifier need hot water,... I understand that they consume a high amount of electricity,...

You may check with your HVAC guy,... not your plumber,... to confirm,...

As Wadslee mentioned,... you may want to look into a small tank type water heater that you can hook up to the humidifier only,... I've seen people use this for floor radiant heating,...

Monica,...

I'm curious about your TrueSTEAM unit,...

What daily min/max range of humidity can you get in the piano room with this unit?

Did you notice any increase in your electric bill? Anything with a heating element just like the tankless water heater require a lot of electricity to run,... especially if you need to get the element hot enough to create steam at a very short time,... but of course they will never advertise this fact,... Here are a few tidbits I found in the Installation Guide for the TrueSTEAM,...

 Quote:
There may be a slight increase in the homeowner’s energy consumption.

Power Supply: 120VAC +10/ -15%, 60Hz

- HM512: 1440W at 120VAC at full load
- HM509: 1200W at 120VAC at full load
- HM506: 840W at 120VAC at full load
Depending on the model that you have the TrueSTEAM takes more[/b] than the power needed to run 8-14 [/b] 100-watt incandescent light bulbs,... or 36-62 [/b] 100-watt equivalent CFLs!

The bypass humidifier only has a low voltage solenoid valve that requires less[/b] than the power needed to run 1[/b] 100-watt equivalent CFL,...

Regards,

Robert
_________________________
Mason & Hamlin - A - 92514
Roland A-90 EX
"When you fall down,... pick up something!"

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#56628 - 01/20/09 12:26 PM Re: when are humidity levels dangerous? Mine range from high 20s% to low 40s%
windsound Offline
Full Member

Registered: 10/09/08
Posts: 177
Loc: IL
Dear Dale Fox, please check Yamaha's website then you will find Yamaha requires 50%~60%.

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#56629 - 01/20/09 01:17 PM Re: when are humidity levels dangerous? Mine range from high 20s% to low 40s%
wadslee Offline
Full Member

Registered: 11/26/08
Posts: 64
Loc: Utah
In the owner's manual for my Aprilaire humidifier, it says on p. 3-4:

III. Effect of Water Characteristics[/b]

"Your humidifier will operate effectively using hard or mechanically softened water. Any type of water (hard, soft, hot, or cold) is acceptable for use with the drain-type humidifiers. Hot supply water, 140 degrees maximum, is recommended for all heat pump applications. The use of hot supply water will also increase the amount of humidity generated in other applications.[/b] The heat in the water increases evaporation and the water going to the drain is cold to the touch. For better performance it is recommended that soft (reduced minerals) or filtered water be supplied to the humidifier media. This can help reduce the amount of scale and mineral deposits that can accumulate on the media."
_________________________
Estonia L190 - 6789 'Hidden Beauty'
Roland HP-203

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#56630 - 01/20/09 01:25 PM Re: when are humidity levels dangerous? Mine range from high 20s% to low 40s%
Monica K. Offline

Platinum Supporter until Dec 31 2012


Registered: 08/10/05
Posts: 17788
Loc: Lexington, Kentucky
 Quote:
Originally posted by Robert H:

Monica,...

I'm curious about your TrueSTEAM unit,...

What daily min/max range of humidity can you get in the piano room with this unit?

Did you notice any increase in your electric bill? Anything with a heating element just like the tankless water heater require a lot of electricity to run,... especially if you need to get the element hot enough to create steam at a very short time,... but of course they will never advertise this fact,... Here are a few tidbits I found in the Installation Guide for the TrueSTEAM,...

 Quote:
There may be a slight increase in the homeowner’s energy consumption.

Power Supply: 120VAC +10/ -15%, 60Hz

- HM512: 1440W at 120VAC at full load
- HM509: 1200W at 120VAC at full load
- HM506: 840W at 120VAC at full load
Depending on the model that you have the TrueSTEAM takes more[/b] than the power needed to run 8-14 [/b] 100-watt incandescent light bulbs,... or 36-62 [/b] 100-watt equivalent CFLs!

The bypass humidifier only has a low voltage solenoid valve that requires less[/b] than the power needed to run 1[/b] 100-watt equivalent CFL,...

Regards,

Robert [/b]
Hi Robert, you're asking the very same questions I asked all the humidity people. I can't tell you anything about my own experience because the addition is still under construction. The humidifier has been installed but not turned on yet. The operating cost and electricity usage was very much on my mind. I even went so far as to call Honeywell to ask them the typical operating costs. The whole conversation is on my home renovation blog (look for the post titled "Moisture on my brain"), but the short story is that they said they couldn't give a good estimate because usage and electricity costs vary so much across regions. I'm not sure I believe that excuse, though... :rolleyes: The owner of the HVAC company who installed my unit said he put three of them in his own home and it resulted in only a "barely noticeable" increase in his electricity bill. Not quite an unbiased source, however. He raved about the unit, though. Then I heard from an architect who commented on my blog and said that if the humidifier is on half the year and runs 1/4 of that time, it would cost about $97 per year to operate. I guess I figured that was worth it for the comfort/health factor, and the piano preservation factor, too.
_________________________
Mason & Hamlin A -- 91997
My YouTube channel: http://www.youtube.com/pianomonica

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#56631 - 01/20/09 01:37 PM Re: when are humidity levels dangerous? Mine range from high 20s% to low 40s%
Monica K. Offline

Platinum Supporter until Dec 31 2012


Registered: 08/10/05
Posts: 17788
Loc: Lexington, Kentucky
Actually, this thread got me curious. Back when I researching humidifiers I started a thread in the Do It Yourself Forum asking about the TrueSTEAM operating costs. It's now up to 10 replies, with some useful info:

My TrueSTEAM thread on do it yourself forum

I have found that forum, btw, to be very informative about a whole range of topics. They have an entire section devoted to humidifiers, cscl, so you might want to browse through the Aprilaire threads, too.
_________________________
Mason & Hamlin A -- 91997
My YouTube channel: http://www.youtube.com/pianomonica

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#56632 - 01/20/09 04:12 PM Re: when are humidity levels dangerous? Mine range from high 20s% to low 40s%
Robert H Offline
Full Member

Registered: 09/17/07
Posts: 261
Loc: Central Iowa
Cscl,...

Sorry for the hijack,... I hope these humidifier info are useful for you somewhat \:\)

Monica,...

I did a quick Googling and found all the info you need on TrueSTEAM operating cost that the Honeywell support guy can't give you here:

http://www.forwardthinking.honeywell.com/related_links/humidification/truesteam/train/50_1276.pdf

I know it's too late since you already made your decision but at least it should satisfy your curiosity \:\) Look at Chart 4 on Page 6 if you just want a quick reference.

This document also includes a more detailed cost comparison between bypass and TrueSTEAM,... but I find the numbers suspicious because they didn't give a clear explanation on how they come up with the numbers. It is a document from Honeywell so I expect it to be biased.

If you really want to do a detailed comparison,... here's what you can do,...

TrueSTEAM claims that it uses 70% less water than bypass,... although I can't find any research data to back this up,... let's assume that this is true for our comparison.

Let's assume that the humidifier runs 180 days/year and 6 hours/day.

With bypass humidifier:[/b]
Water run rate is 3 gal/hour so if it runs 6 hours/day it uses 18 gal/day. Assuming that 70% of the water is wasted then 0.9 gal/hour or 5.4 gal/day of humidity is created and 12.6 gal/day of water is wasted. 2268 gal/year of water is wasted. You can check your water bill for the cost/gal and calculate the cost of the 2268 gal/year [/b] of water that's wasted.

To achieve the same 5.4 gallon/day of humidity with the TrueSTEAM,...[/b]

With the large 12gal/day capacity unit:[/b]
It can produce 0.5 gal/hour of humidity. So it has to run 10.8 hours/day to get 5.4 gal/day of humidity. It has to run 1944 hours/year (180 days) at 1440 Watt,... so it requires 2799 KWh/year. You can check your electric bill for the cost/KWh and calculate the cost of 2799 KWh/year[/b] of electricity.

With the small 6gal/day capacity unit:[/b]
It can produce 0.25 gal/hour of humidity. So it has to run 21.6 hours/day to get 5.4 gal/day of humidity. It has to run 3888 hours/year (180 days) at 840 Watt,... so it requires 2799 KWh/year. You can check your electric bill for the cost/KWh and calculate the cost of 3266 KWh/year[/b] of electricity.

You can compare the cost of wasted water using the bypass vs the cost of extra electricity using the TrueSTEAM,...

I think the electricity is quite a bit more expensive,... Keep in mind that this is assuming TrueSTEAM is 70% more efficient as they claimed which may or may not be true. Even considering this efficiency,... note that the bypass can produce 0.9 gal/hour of humidity vs the largest TrueSTEAM can only produce 0.5 gal/hour of humidity. So,... when needed the bypass can deliver more humidity quicker.

I've checked my math but let me know if you find an error \:\)
I hope this helps,...

Regards,

Robert
_________________________
Mason & Hamlin - A - 92514
Roland A-90 EX
"When you fall down,... pick up something!"

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#56633 - 01/20/09 04:36 PM Re: when are humidity levels dangerous? Mine range from high 20s% to low 40s%
terminaldegree Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/03/06
Posts: 2736
Loc: western Wisconsin
 Quote:
Originally posted by windsound:
Dear Dale Fox, please check Yamaha's website then you will find Yamaha requires 50%~60%. [/b]
This is cut and pasted directly from Yamaha's website:

Optimize your piano's environment:
Proper conditions mean better sound: Pianos work best and sound best when the temperature and humidity are right. Proper ventilation is also important. Generally speaking, a relative humidity of between 40 and 45 percent is ideal for pianos.

...I shudder to think what my place would look like if I could even get the RH up to 50-60% with the winter we've been having in the upper midwest. The windows would be solid blocks of ice!
_________________________
Pianist, teacher, internet addict.
Piano Review Editor - Acoustic and Digital Piano Buyer
Casio px-200, Bechstein A190 #192939 @ home
Steinway A #585209, B #416809 @ work
Schimmel 130T #339100, on loan

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#56634 - 01/20/09 04:52 PM Re: when are humidity levels dangerous? Mine range from high 20s% to low 40s%
windsound Offline
Full Member

Registered: 10/09/08
Posts: 177
Loc: IL
This is also cut and pasted directly from Yamaha's website:

Caring For Your Yamaha Piano


--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
The piano is among the most versatile of musical instruments, but it is also one of the most complex and delicate. Yamaha pianos are extraordinarily rugged-built by a combination of traditional craftsmanship and advanced acoustic technology. But even the finest instrument needs proper care to give long life and dependable service. Please read this booklet carefully and follow its instructions, and you will be rewarded with years of pleasurable satisfaction.

PROVIDE ENOUGH VENTILATION
Pianos need ventilation, but the wrong kind of ventilation can damage them. The best location for your piano is in the center of the room or against a wall which divides two rooms. If possible, avoid placing it next to an exterior wall where outside weather conditions might cause tone quality and volume to suffer. If there is no other choice, however, at least make sure that the piano has adequate ventilation on all sides.

AVOID WINDOWS
Try not to place the piano near a window. Its cabinet is made of wood and must be protected against direct sunlight, humidity and sudden changes in temperature. Windows which open on the out-of-doors offer the least protection. If you must place the piano near a window use a heavy curtain over the window for protection.

AVOID HEAT
Keep the piano away from sources of heat such as radiators or hot air registers. They may damage the finish and internal parts causing tone and balance to deteriorate. Make sure that no radiant heat or hot air draft strikes the piano directly.

PROPER CONDITIONS MEAN BETTER SOUND
Pianos work best and sound best when the temperature and humidity are right. Proper ventilation is also important. Generally speaking, a relative humidity of between 50 and 60 percent is ideal for pianos. The use of materials such as wood, felt and cloth in piano construction means that many parts are quite delicate. If not properly cared for, they can be damaged easily. Therefore we are unable to assume responsibility for damage resulting from abuse or harsh treatment.

HOW HUMIDITY AFFECTS A PIANO
Felt, cloth, leather and the precision wood parts-some of them machined to tolerances as fine as 1/100mm-used in such critical parts of the piano as the action, are extremely sensitive to humidity. Too much humidity will result in dull hammer action and unclear tones, rusting of internal parts and sticking keys. Before this happens the piano should be repaired.

HOW TO PROTECT AGAINST EXCESSIVE MOISTURE
Your dealer can advise you how best to compensate for climatic conditions in your area. However, here are a few general tips for proper care. On cloudy or rainy days close all windows in the piano room. Also, be sure to close the top board each time after playing. Be especially careful about excessive moisture if you live in one of the following places:
Along a seacoast or in a rainy or humid region.
In a valley, in a house facing hills, or in an area with poor drainage.
In a concrete building not more than one or two years old.
In an area where air exhausts are directed into a room or in a dark room facing north.


BEWARE OF EXCESSIVE DRYNESS
Too much humidity is a problem, but excessive dryness is an even more serious one, especially where heating or cooling systems are used to create artificially dehumidified rooms. Used in naturally dry climates, the piano has enough natural moisture to prevent excessive drying. However, if the air becomes too dry the wooden and felt components will shrink. In extreme cases, the soundboard, joints and other laminated sections may even come apart, even though they have been glued together carefully. Slight distortion of the parts may cause noise, and the tuning pins may work loose, making it difficult to keep the piano in tune. To avoid excessive dryness it is best to keep some kind of leafy plant or a humidifier in the piano room.

AVOID SUDDEN TEMPERATURE CHANGES
When a cold room is warmed suddenly, moisture will condense on the piano strings and other metal parts, causing them to rust. Felt parts will absorb moisture, dulling their action and resulting in unclear sound. Be especially careful about sudden temperature changes when moving your piano into a room in a cold northern climate or into an airtight room in a concrete building.

PUT YOUR PIANO WHERE IT SOUNDS BEST
The piano should be placed in a room where the sound will be evenly distributed. A room where all the sound gathers in one spot will produce sound lag and echoes. The best room for your piano is one in which its sound will reverberate to produce pleasant, full-bodied tones without harsh echoes.

DO NOT PLACE OBJECTS ON TOP OF THE PIANO
A heavy object may cause poor tone or noisy vibrations if placed on the piano. A vase of flowers may look attractive on the piano but if it should spill and water enter the piano serious damage can result. Water will rust the metal parts of the piano and damage the hammer and action. Avoid costly accidents and never place anything except sheet music or a metronome on the piano.

AVOID PLACING OR SPILLING ANY OF THE FOLLOWING ON THE PIANO

Plastic products
Vinyl products
Anything containing alcohol
Liquids such as cosmetics, insecticides, any kind of aerosol,
Paint thinner or petroleum based products


DO NOT ALLOW THE PIANO TO BECOME DUSTY
Dust can dull the hammer action and cause noise. Dust the piano frequently with a soft cloth or feather duster and wipe the finish with a soft cloth.

KEEP THE KEYBOARD CLEAN
The keyboard should be wiped periodically with a soft, dry cloth. Never use cleaners containing alcohol as the keys will become cracked. If the keyboard is very dirty, wipe it with a cloth dipped in a solution of soap and water and wrung out well. The same cloth should not be used for cleaning the surface of the piano, however. A good habit to cultivate is never to play the piano with dirty hands. That way the keyboard will stay clean for a long time.

TUNING AND ADJUSTMENT
Pianos are delicate instruments which need professional attention periodically. Basically there are two types of professional piano care: tuning and adjustment. Tuning means correcting the pitch of every note by retightening the strings. Each piano string is normally stretched to a pressure of about 90 kilograms (198~pounds), but eventually it will stretch further with use and lose some of its tension, causing the piano to lose its correct pitch. The strings need to be tuned a minimum of twice a year to restore them to their proper tension. Adjustment involves the entire piano action, keyboard and pedal movements. Proper adjustment is especially important for grand pianos. Whether the piano will perform properly or not depends on how accurately the adjustment is made. Tuning and adjustment should be done by an expert. When your piano requires either one, ask your Yamaha dealer or call a specialist. Your dealer can also advise you about the interval between adjustments for your piano under the circumstances in which it is used.

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#56635 - 01/20/09 09:59 PM Re: when are humidity levels dangerous? Mine range from high 20s% to low 40s%
CTPianotech Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/06/06
Posts: 1473
Loc: CT
Interesting to see the different recommendations on Yamahas site..


The most important thing though, is a general level of consistency. If you're able to keep the room in the mid 50's in the summer, and in the low 40's in the winter, you'll be doing your piano a huge favor.

This isn't always practical..and that's where the Dampp-Chaser systems can be invaluable. Controlling both room and piano humidity, is of course, ideal.
_________________________
Rich Lindahl
Piano Restorations in Central CT
D-C installations, Player-Piano installations/service
Ritmuller/Pearl River

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#56636 - 01/20/09 10:28 PM Re: when are humidity levels dangerous? Mine range from high 20s% to low 40s%
cscl Offline
Full Member

Registered: 08/13/07
Posts: 255
Loc: Suburban Boston
 Quote:
Originally posted by Monica K.:
Hey cscl, I just got through reading more about humidifiers than I ever wanted to, as I was purchasing one for the addition we're doing on the home. [/b]
Indeed! Thanks for sparing me that exciting task.

 Quote:
Here's a few random reactions sparked by your comments:

1.) If your furnace is a high efficiency gas furnace, it may not be running enough for your humidifier to be working effectively. That was the situation in our home, and I actually called the Aprilaire people and talked to them at length. They told me they "strongly encouraged" people to connect the hot water line to the humidifier. So maybe the cold water line is the default, as Mark pointed out, but the info I got from Aprilaire is that you *could* and *should* use the hot water line if you have a high efficiency furnace--for the reason you point out: starting with hot water helps the humidifier work more efficiently for the shorter time it is operating. You may want to call Aprilaire yourself and press them on the issue. [/b]
Well, amazingly enough, I called the plumbers this morning and without giving me any guff at all, they set up a time and even came out this afternoon and hooked up the hot water line. So, now, it's a matter of how often the furnace runs. It is fairly efficient, darn it all, so we'll have to see how it works. Maybe running the cold water made the heater run longer and gave the humidifier more time to work. \:D

Right, now we're about 70 degrees in the house and 26% humidity. We keep the thermostat in the 69-74 range and that keeps the house at a low of around 68 and highs in the low 70s (we get a lot of sunshine heat during the day, another factor that keeps the furnace from running.

I'll keep an eye on things and post back to see what effect the hot water has.

This is the first time I'll be able to really see what the furnace and humidifier are capable of. It turns out that the first two winters we were in the house (no piano then), the humidifier had a loose wire and wasn't working at all, but we didn't realize it. The third winter (with piano) we realized there was a loose wire when we had the furnace serviced, but the humidifier still wasn't working properly although we were none the wiser. It would fill the tray with water once at the beginning of each heat cycle and we thought that's how it was supposed to work. I had it looked at again this season and explained what it was doing to find out that it really should be running water constantly during the heating cycle if we have it turned up high enough (which we did). So, let's see what happens!

 Quote:
2. Aprilaire was our second choice, but we ended up going with a Honeywell TrueSTEAM unit instead, partly because we only had a cold water line to the furnace room and partly because the reviews I read of the TrueSTEAM convinced me it would do a better job of getting the humidity levels up high enough. It converts water directly to steam using a heating element so is okay with cold water. It also converts essentially all the water, so it's not like the Aprilaire and other units where much of the water just goes straight down the drain.

[/b]
That does sound like an interesting system, but I've got enough money sunk into this one for now that I don't even want to think about a new one right now.
 Quote:


3. A Dampp-Chaser unit would help, although I don't think they "guarantee" your humidity will stay within such a close range, especially if you have a grand. [/b]
I've only read a bit about the Dampp-Chaser, but I would be hesitant to alter my piano in any way at this point. And it does keep tuning really well so far.[QUOTE][QB]
_________________________
cscl
Estonia 190 Satin Ebony
ABF Recitals: x9 — Studio Recitals: x17
*

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#56637 - 01/20/09 10:31 PM Re: when are humidity levels dangerous? Mine range from high 20s% to low 40s%
cscl Offline
Full Member

Registered: 08/13/07
Posts: 255
Loc: Suburban Boston
 Quote:
Originally posted by windsound:
Hello, cscl, Im also living in Chicagoland and as you know, perhaps we are experiencing the coldest winter in 25 years...

[/b]
It's been awful lately! I hail from southern climes so these Chicago winters still get to me!
 Quote:


I have a humidifier attached to my furnace which can keep the whole house at around 35% these days. In addition to that, I placed a warm humidifier right between my two grand pianos, thus the humidity is between 40~45%.
[/b]
Now with the hot water line in, I'll see if I can get it back into the 30s.
_________________________
cscl
Estonia 190 Satin Ebony
ABF Recitals: x9 — Studio Recitals: x17
*

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#56638 - 01/20/09 10:38 PM Re: when are humidity levels dangerous? Mine range from high 20s% to low 40s%
cscl Offline
Full Member

Registered: 08/13/07
Posts: 255
Loc: Suburban Boston
 Quote:
Originally posted by Robert H:


You can get a decent hygrometer from Wal-Mart for under $10,... I bought a couple and put them in different spots in the piano room,... usually the readings are quite close to each other,... +/-2%

[/b]
Maybe I'll look into getting a second one of a different brand, but then I'll have two opinions to deal with and won't know which one to trust.
 Quote:


You may want to ask your HVAC guy to come and set the humidifier to run whenever there's a call for humidity,... not just whenever there's a call for heat.

[/b]
That was a new twist this season as well. I had the repairman disable the automatic humidity feature and I have it on manual and cranked up to full power. Still haven't been able to get up past the 30%s.
 Quote:


Then getting hot water to the humidifier should help,... but I don't think you want your tankless water heater to run whenever the humidifier need hot water,... I understand that they consume a high amount of electricity,...

[/b]
Well, the water heater itself uses gas and only heats when the water is running and needed. I think it only uses electricity for the sensors/computer parts. But the draw on the humidifier is so small that it doesn't trigger the hot water to turn on, but I'll at least be getting room temperature water and sometimes hot water if we've been using hot water elsewhere in the house and it's still hot in the pipes. Actually, we really like the hot water heater. It's cool. It's about the size of a carry-on suitcase and hangs on the wall in the basement. When you run the hot water, it heats it up immediately and for as long as you need it to run.

And before I forget, thanks to everyone who has posted. I know there's plenty already on these topics in the forum and I've read a fair amount, but it's always nice to get a tailored response to a specific question as well as cutting edge info from those of you dealing with this.
_________________________
cscl
Estonia 190 Satin Ebony
ABF Recitals: x9 — Studio Recitals: x17
*

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#56639 - 01/21/09 12:02 AM Re: when are humidity levels dangerous? Mine range from high 20s% to low 40s%
chihuahua Offline
Full Member

Registered: 01/05/09
Posts: 391
Loc: An Oligarchy
Singapore has high humidity. RH ranges from 60% to 95%!!!

I keep my RX3 in a RH controlled room, keeping it at around 60%.

Is this OK?

My technician in fact says that it shouldn't be too dry as the Kawai grands imported into Singapore is made with Malaysian wood.
_________________________
Nepotism: We promote family values here - almost as often as we promote family members.

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#56640 - 01/21/09 01:16 AM Re: when are humidity levels dangerous? Mine range from high 20s% to low 40s%
Dale Fox Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/17/04
Posts: 1066
Loc: Nor California Sacramento area
 Quote:
Originally posted by windsound:
Dear Dale Fox, please check Yamaha's website then you will find Yamaha requires 50%~60%. [/b]
Windy,

I read the website you posted.

Consistency is the key to longevity. Too much is as bad as too little. A relative humidity of 60% at 70F will result in an EMC in the wood of 11% which is excessive when most soundboards ore glued at dry conditions of around 4-5%.

Maybe the 50-60% recommendation is for wet climates like Singapore. It doesn't make sense that it would be for California.

I'll stick with my original commentary. Most pianos prefer a consistent humidity in the 40-45% range. Hard to do in the Midwest.
_________________________
Dale Fox
Registered Piano Technician
Remanufacturing/Rebuilding

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#56641 - 01/21/09 08:58 AM Re: when are humidity levels dangerous? Mine range from high 20s% to low 40s%
Monica K. Offline

Platinum Supporter until Dec 31 2012


Registered: 08/10/05
Posts: 17788
Loc: Lexington, Kentucky
 Quote:
Originally posted by Robert H:
Sorry for the hijack,... I hope these humidifier info are useful for you somewhat \:\)

I did a quick Googling and found all the info you need on TrueSTEAM operating cost that the Honeywell support guy can't give you here:

http://www.forwardthinking.honeywell.com/related_links/humidification/truesteam/train/50_1276.pdf


[/b]
(And I apologize for the continued hijack... but who knows, maybe somebody else is considering these humidifer models and will find this helpful.)

Thanks, Robert! This document is *extremely* helpful, and it's exactly the information I wanted when I called Honeywell. (And I am seriously irked they wouldn't refer me to it. Sheesh. )

As you note, it's a moot point given that I already have the system. But I think what swung me over to the TrueSTEAM is that it alleged to do a better job of humidifying even when the heater wasn't going. We are the miserly sort who set our thermostat on 62 when we're gone during the day and at night, and we only raise it to 68 for the evening hours when we're actually home and awake. So I was worried that the evaporative types just wouldn't do the job as well, and our HVAC guys recommended the TrueSTEAM given our situation. Oh well. Time will tell, I guess.

[/Hijack over] Glad to hear you got your water line issues sorted out, cscl. If you haven't already looked into this, one thing I learned through all my research is that an important way of helping your humidifier work better is to make your house "tighter", i.e., go around and caulk all the windows and door seals etc., check to make sure you don't have any problems with the baffles on your vents not closing, and the like. The electric/gas company people are usually willing to come out and do a free energy audit of your home and suggest ways to make it tighter. That will not only make your humidifier more effective but cut down on your heating costs as well.
_________________________
Mason & Hamlin A -- 91997
My YouTube channel: http://www.youtube.com/pianomonica

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#56642 - 01/21/09 09:36 AM Re: when are humidity levels dangerous? Mine range from high 20s% to low 40s%
David Jenson Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/22/06
Posts: 2150
Loc: Maine
"Consistency is the key to longevity." Dale Fox

"The most important thing though, is a general level of consistency." Rich Lindahl

----------------------
That's the general consensus among Tuner/Technicians that I know. The ideal is seldom approachable in the real world. Just get it close and work with your local climate.

I did get a bit of a chuckle out of Yamaha's advice on dusting the piano. By their measure a lot of the pianos I tune should be clunking and thunking like mad with the usual load of dust, candy wrappers, paper clips and whatnot. They don't.
_________________________
David L. Jenson
Tuning - Repairs - Refurbishing
Jenson's Piano Service
-----

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#56643 - 01/21/09 10:14 AM Re: when are humidity levels dangerous? Mine range from high 20s% to low 40s%
Mocheol Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/16/08
Posts: 527
Loc: Dublin, Ireland
The problems caused by excessive moisture ingress/egress to timber are:

1]expansion/contraction
2]distortion:cupping,bending,twisting[ permanent or temporary]
3]Splitting
4]wet rot

The solutions are:

1]Ensure timber adequately seasoned [ie dried out] for end use
2]Allow space for unavoidable expansion/contraction
3]use timbers known to be moisture resistent[rules out use of softwoods]
4]Treat timbers post seasoning to resist moisture ingress ie varnish thoroughly
5]maintain appropriate and consistent relative humidity levels close to timber

I wonder how many piano makers actually build in an allowance for expansion/contraction in their timber components.[I have yet to come across any claims in this direction]
Its probably in piano manafacturers interests to maintain the fiction that timber piano components are basically static and immoveable. [hints to the contrary would probably cause nervous breakdowns to some pianists].

All timbers live,breathe and move, even those in a piano.

Can we get some real action from a piano manafacturer who will concede this basic fact and illustrate in their design how they will deal with the problem and incorporate the necessary movement joints to take up incremental timber changes brought on by moisture.?
_________________________
vcz

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#56644 - 01/21/09 10:25 AM Re: when are humidity levels dangerous? Mine range from high 20s% to low 40s%
terminaldegree Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/03/06
Posts: 2736
Loc: western Wisconsin
Ever been to a piano factory?

I'm just a layperson and know that solutions 1, 3, 4, 5 are done already. The better makers spend months to years seasoning their wood for use.

#2 may be problematic in certain applications. Are you saying soundboards should be pre-built with cracks in them? At some point, enough voids in that mechanism has to have a detrimental effect...
_________________________
Pianist, teacher, internet addict.
Piano Review Editor - Acoustic and Digital Piano Buyer
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#56645 - 01/21/09 10:46 AM Re: when are humidity levels dangerous? Mine range from high 20s% to low 40s%
Mocheol Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/16/08
Posts: 527
Loc: Dublin, Ireland
No.but would love to visit piano factory.

Yes ,why not split the soundboard.is it so awful.

Surely sufficient scientific progress has been made in the understanding of sound dynamics to split a soundboard ,perhaps in two places.
[i think of stringed instruments with their openings]

Traditionally the soundboard is all of a piece.
Spruce is a softwood and therfore prone to alternating moisture conditions.
A fine timber floor is also all of a piece too and remains so even though
movements joints are incorporated into it.
_________________________
vcz

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#56646 - 01/21/09 10:47 AM Re: when are humidity levels dangerous? Mine range from high 20s% to low 40s%
wadslee Offline
Full Member

Registered: 11/26/08
Posts: 64
Loc: Utah
 Quote:
That was a new twist this season as well. I had the repairman disable the automatic humidity feature and I have it on manual and cranked up to full power. Still haven't been able to get up past the 30%s.
One last thing cscl, if you do have your humidifier running 24/7 on "manual" make sure your furnace fan is running 24/7 too. If it's only running when there is a call for heat, you won't get the humidity levels you want.

Good luck, and let us know how it goes!
_________________________
Estonia L190 - 6789 'Hidden Beauty'
Roland HP-203

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#56647 - 01/21/09 11:05 AM Re: when are humidity levels dangerous? Mine range from high 20s% to low 40s%
terminaldegree Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/03/06
Posts: 2736
Loc: western Wisconsin
Mocheol,

Again, my explanation is rudimentary (the techs and rebuilders will have better answers), but Spruce is used because of its superior acoustic properties for that purpose (just like violins, for example). The spruce board is finished with lacquer. Using too much lacquer can harm its ability to vibrate.

I'm sure there must be at least a fine piano rebuilder in Dublin who does "belly work" (the heavy stuff like soundboards and bridges) where you can have a chance to see the different steps in choice, use, seasoning, and drying of woods. It's fun to visit these sort of places, and I wish I could do it more!
_________________________
Pianist, teacher, internet addict.
Piano Review Editor - Acoustic and Digital Piano Buyer
Casio px-200, Bechstein A190 #192939 @ home
Steinway A #585209, B #416809 @ work
Schimmel 130T #339100, on loan

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