Humidity & Your Piano
How It Works
Dehumidify Only System
At its most elemental, the Piano Life Saver continuously monitors the humidity inside your piano and gently dries and humidifies to maintain a stable environment.
Constantly monitors Relative Humidity and senses whether the surrounding air is too dry or too damp.
When the humidity level is too high, the dehumidifier kicks in and warms the damp air to encourage proper air flow and lower moisture levels.
There is a system that focuses on both humidification and dehumidification and may be an option if your piano is inside a room that varies in relative humidity levels. A registered piano technician can help determine which system is the proper choice for your environment.
Your piano is made primarily of wood, felt, wool and metal. Fluctuations in humidity can impact all these elements. In the same way a door sticks on a humid day, or hair gets frizzy, humidity fluctuations impact the components of your piano.
The Piano Life Saver levels out humidity fluctuations, alleviating many negative side effects and ultimately prolonging the life of your piano.
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Maintains Pitch and Tone
The soundboard is the single largest piece of wood in your piano. It is the speaker of the piano. In order for the piano to have proper tone, the strings, bridge, and soundboard must be in tension together. To make this occur, the piano is designed and built so that the strings have a slight downward angle on both sides of the bridge. This is called downbearing. Along with this, the soundboard must have a slight upward curve which is called crown. The downbearing and crown must be very precise. It takes very little change to dramatically compromise the tone.
When the humidity drops, the soundboard shrinks and flattens, lowering the tension of the strings. The pitch will drop or become flat. The technician will have to perform a pitch raise to bring the piano back to the proper pitch before a fine tuning can be done. When the humidity rises, the soundboard absorbs moisture from the air, making it swell and increasing the crown. Now, the pitch will go up or become sharp.
Improves Quality of Action
The complex mechanical linkage that starts with the key that you press with your fingers, and ends with the hammer striking the strings is called the action. It quite literally has thousands of wooden parts that must all be precisely adjusted to work perfectly together. This adjustment process is called regulation. When the humidity changes, the precision is lost, resulting in the touch you have grown accustomed to changing and becoming inconsistent. Primarily in a vertical piano, the Piano Life Saver System will help counteract these issues.
Prevents Sluggish or Sticking Keys
Just as doors and drawers become tight and difficult to move, the keys of your piano may respond slowly or even stick down in times of high humidity.
Stops Rattling Keys and Noisy Action
Just as doors and drawers become loose in dry air, the keys of your piano may rattle or become mechanically noisy. When the wooden action parts shrink from dryness, they become loose and can move around. This will lead to premature wear of these parts and costly repairs in the future.
Prevents Permanent Bridge and Soundboard Damage
Over time, constant changes in humidity levels, with the corresponding shrinking and swelling of the soundboard, will damage the integrity of the soundboard. You will see this damage in the form of pressure ridges and cracks in the board. A crack in your soundboard has an extremely negative affect on the value of your piano. By maintaining a constant level of humidity in your piano, the Piano Life Saver virtually eliminates these damaging humidity level swings and protects your instrument.
Mitigates Pinblock Damage
Piano strings are under tremendous tension. The strings are coiled around tuning pins that are driven into holes in a multilayered piece of wood, usually maple, called the pinblock. The tuning pin is actually slightly larger than the hole that it is driven into. The resulting tight fit is necessary for the piano to be tuneable.
When the humidity increases, swelling the wood, the tuning pins may become so tight that the technician has trouble making the delicate adjustments that are necessary in a fine tuning. When the humidity level drops, the pinblock will shrink, resulting in loose tuning pins. This can result in a piano that will not hold tune very long or even render it completely untuneable. At this point you must either replace the pinblock or the piano.
The up and down cycling of humidity can also cause the layers in the pinblock to delaminate. This is virtually always accompanied by cracks developing within the layers themselves. The cost of this type of repair can often exceed the value of the piano.
The Piano Life Saver keeps a constant moisture content in the wooden parts of the piano, ensuring ease of tuning, stability, and a long life for the pinblock in your vertical piano.
Reduces Corrosion Damage to Strings and Pins
The strings of your piano are responsible for producing the musical sounds. With exposure to high humidity levels over long periods, strings become rusted and corroded.
At the junction where rusted strings wrap around rusted pins, rust corrosion forms a hardened bond between the two. Then, during a tuning, when your piano technician turns the pins to stretch the strings, the inflexible, rusted string snaps at this joint.
Because the Piano Life Saver maintains a safe level of humidity in your piano, rust is much less likely to form on your strings. Remember, never clean your strings with a damp cloth!
Actual pianos may differ from photos. Photos only used to give general idea of what components look like. Grand and vertical piano components will vary and only one may be pictured.
The Piano Life Saver system is an internal humidity control system that is engineered to protect what is arguably the world’s most complex musical instrument: the piano.
Learn why relative humidity is so important and how it impacts your piano
Many of the world’s most respected piano makers build their instruments today in almost exactly the same manner as they did over 100 years ago. They go to great lengths to assure that the many species of wood used in the construction of their instruments are carefully chosen and dried to the proper moisture content.
It is extremely important that this moisture content is maintained throughout the life of the piano. Piano makers deem this so important that they include a clause in their warranties that excludes coverage to instruments that have been subjected to extremes in temperature and humidity.
The most critical step in piano care and maintenance is keeping it in an environment where the relative humidity (RH) and temperature are stable. Ambient humidity levels determine the moisture content of the wooden parts in your piano, and the moisture content determines the dimension and integrity of the wood.
The Piano Life Saver system is an affordable, easy to maintain solution to maintaining relative humidity in your piano. No other system can achieve the results of the Piano Life Saver system for a comparable cost or expenditure of effort.
This chart demonstrates how drastically pitch can change when your piano is exposed to fluctuations in the humidity during seasonal weather changes.
The Piano Life Saver constantly regulates the humidity level inside the piano so that these variations don’t occur. When the technician arrives for your regularly scheduled tuning, they are quickly and easily able to perform a fine tuning and leave your piano sounding its absolute best.