Dampp Chaser

Posted by: lori822

Dampp Chaser - 11/20/12 07:36 PM

I purchased a Kawaii Grand RX2 3 years ago. I live on Vancouver Island in Canada, and am in a 10-storey apartment condo building two blocks from the Strait of Georgia. My piano gets sticky keys about every 3-4 months. My piano tuner has suggested I think about having a Dampp Chaser installed. I know nothing about these, except what I've read on the website selling them. Has anyone got experience with them? Are they worth while? Or should I try buying a humidifier and dehumidifier? I rather have been apprehensive about having a unit installed under my Grand. Will the humidity be too concentrated in one area of the underside of the piano? Will the screws in the piano alter the tone or sound? Please, some advice or some shared experience?? Your input is appreciated.
Posted by: Sam S

Re: Dampp Chaser - 11/20/12 07:56 PM

I put one in my 1927 Bechstein that I rebuilt. It's too soon to tell if it really has an effect. I have the humidifier and dehumidifier. It doesn't alter the tone at all, and it's not really visible, except for the little lights under the keyboard.

The idea is that it creates a little micro-climate under the piano. I got one because I have a brand new soundboard in a very old piano, and I really, really, really don't want it to crack!

You'll probably get better answers in the tuners/technicians forum or the piano forum.

Sam
Posted by: gooddog

Re: Dampp Chaser - 11/20/12 08:15 PM

I don't live that far from you and it can get quite damp here too. I put a Dampp Chaser on my then new Steinway "O" because the tuning wouldn't settle in. It made a huge and immediate difference.
Posted by: lori822

Re: Dampp Chaser - 11/20/12 09:15 PM

How long ago was that? And in what specific ways have you found a huge difference? Is it maintained by yourself or by your technician?
Posted by: lori822

Re: Dampp Chaser - 11/20/12 09:20 PM

Hi Sam, How long ago did you install the DC? With an older model piano, it must have been a challenge to see if it'll keep it in tune and well-balanced, humidity-wise. Good luck with it. Thanks for the tip about putting this question to the other sections. I'll probably try that.
Posted by: malkin

Re: Dampp Chaser - 11/20/12 09:46 PM

We have one and it is great. The climate here is extremely dry, but the house humidity varies wildly with our cooking (boiling stock for hours). The DC helps the piano maintain an even strain.
Posted by: Morodiene

Re: Dampp Chaser - 11/20/12 09:55 PM

I had some major issues with my Yamaha that was rebuilt, since in WI the winters are very dry and summers are humid. After installing the DC it was much more stable. I highly recommend it for anyone who has a decent instrument.
Posted by: jjo

Re: Dampp Chaser - 11/20/12 10:26 PM

I've had one in my Fandrich upright since I bought it many years ago. The salesperson and my tuner both swore by them. There is no control group, but I certainly can say it has caused no problems and it very easy to maintain. I suspect it's been quite beneficial as it gets the moisture right where it's needed.
Posted by: ChopinAddict

Re: Dampp Chaser - 11/21/12 01:40 AM

I was thinking of getting one too considering how the weather has been here lately. I am using a dehumidifier at the moment, but DC would certainly be better. I will certainly need one if I move to the rain forest, which is something I really want to do one day.
Right now the weather is still crazy, but improving, and luckily my piano has no sticky keys, although the humidity did cause sticky keys in the past.
Posted by: Cmajor

Re: Dampp Chaser - 11/22/12 12:47 PM

lori882,

You may find the following information, provided by Steinway & Sons in response to an inquiry about using Dampp Chasers on their pianos, to be helpful in making a decision:

Steinway & Sons does not recommend nor endorse Dampp-Chaser products installed in the piano but as a last resort suggestion where environmental climate-control measures are impossible or not feasible to implement. Not that the Dampp-Chaser doesn't work; it is usually very effective for its intended purpose, but things can go wrong. If not properly installed or maintained it can damage the piano and void the warranty. Another disadvantage is that the Dampp-Chaser targets the soundboard only; that is, it controls the moisture content of the soundboard and thereby imparts tuning stability, but it does not affect or remedy the effects of humidity on the piano in its entirety.

Steinway & Sons recommends environmental humidity control such as room dehumidifiers and room humidifiers or environmental climate-control systems because they affect a piano in its entirety and thereby safeguard it from the effects of excessive humidity swings.

We have always advised environmental climate control where necessary for the maintenance of Steinway pianos. The use of room humidifiers or dehumidifiers and other environmental climate-control measures are sometimes necessary in order to provide a suitable environment for the piano. The use of a hygrometer in the vicinity of the piano is recommended in order to monitor humidity changes. Drastic swings or even gradual fluctuations of relative humidity in excess of 30 points on the hygrometric scale are excessive enough to affect the piano and would indicate the need for protective measures to be taken in the piano's overall environment in order to protect and preserve the piano and its various components such as the soundboard, action, wrestplank, and the finish.

The Dampp-Chaser system, installed inside the piano, is designed to help maintain a consistent moisture content in the soundboard only and thereby to improve tuning stability. The Dampp-Chaser however is not intended for nor is it effective in protecting other components such as the finish, action, and wrestplank of a grand piano kept in an environment of unsuitable humidity conditions.

The installation of a Dampp-Chaser system in a Steinway piano will not, in itself, void the manufacturer’s warranty; however, if any functional or structural damage to the piano should occur because of the unit’s improper installation, operation, or service, then the piano’s warranty would indeed be voided.

Environmental humidity control, rather than a system installed in the piano, is also best for people, pets, and furniture.

STEINWAY & SONS



As a mechanical engineer, I can tell you that if you have wild swings in humidity levels inside your condo, or humidity levels sufficient to harm your piano, you had better address the whole problem and not just the piano. Excessive humidity or wide swings in humidity levels are detrimental to everything in your home. Steinway's suggestion for general adding of subtracting moisture to the entire area is based on sound principles and is very good advice from an engineering standpoint.

If your central heating and cooling system is properly sized and maintained, it should be sufficient to keep your interior humidity levels at that recommended by Steinway. You can always purchase a hygrometer to check humidity levels.

The last paragraph of Steinway's statement is probably the most important.

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