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Achieving a Constant, Stable Environment for your Piano

The Ideal Humidity

Buy a Humidistat

The ideal humidity for your piano is 45%. Technicians will tell you that although it is very important to find the ideal percent of humidity for your piano room, it is even more important to keep the air mass surrounding your piano at a constant level.

A professional piano technician can suggest ways to assess and control the relative humidity of your piano room. There are solutions. Humidity controls can be built into forced air systems. Humidifiers and dehumidifiers can be used at different times of the year. There are even climate-control systems that can be installed on the piano itself.

Keep an Eye on the Humidistat!

A new or newly restored Steinway grand is a major investment in your future. A particularly effective way to help maintain the quality of your investment is to carefully regulate the humidity fluctuations in the room where your piano is to reside.

Although it might seem strange, it's a fact that the porous parts of your piano -- the case, the soundboard, the hammers, the felt -- hold moisture. This is normal. What needs to be controlled is the fluctuations between the moisture content in your piano and the moisture content of the air surrounding your piano. This is particularly important because as the percentage of relative humidity in your piano room changes, your piano reacts. If the humidity rises, the air surrounding your piano will pull moisture from your piano. If the humidity falls, the piano will absorb moisture from the surrounding air.

Imagine the difference between a very cold, dry winter and a hot, muggy summer. Or imagine the big temperature changes that take place if you turn off your heat in the middle of winter to off set the cost of your trip to the Bahamas. These are the changes you want to mitigate. If you have a very consistent climate, the moisture won't be such a big problem.

Besides the problem of moisture fluctuation, drastic temperature changes can also cause the cast-iron plate to expand and contract. A constant and controlled atmosphere is best. You want to avoid extremes.

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© 2008 - 2009 Michael Sweeney Piano Craftsman
Michael Sweeney is a Craftsman Member of the Piano Technicians Guild
and the Master Piano Technicians of America.

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