Because pianos are made primarily of wood, proper control of humidity will greatly increase both the life span of the piano and your enjoyment of it. A relative humidity of 42% is sometimes cited as ideal for a piano, but any humidity level that is relatively constant and moderate will suffice. Here are some common steps to take to protect your piano from fluctuations and extremes of humidity:
- Don't place the piano too near radiators, heating and cooling ducts, fireplaces, direct sunlight, and open windows.
- Avoid overheating the house during cold weather.
- Use air-conditioning during hot, humid weather.
- Add humidity to the air during dry weather with either a whole-house humidifier attached to a central air system or with a room humidifier. Room humidifiers, however, have to be cleaned and refilled frequently, and some make a lot of noise. If you use a room humidifier, don't place it too near the piano.
Instead of the above, or in addition to it, have a climate-control system installed in the piano. They make no noise, require very little maintenance, and cost $350 to $500 for a vertical piano or $400 to $600 for a grand, ordered and istalled through your piano tecnician or piano dealer. The illustrations on the previous page of the Dampp-Chaser climate-control system show how the system's components are discreetly hidden inside the piano. For more information about these systems, see www.pianolifesaver.com.
Another solution to the humidity-control problem is Music Sorb, a non-toxic silica gel that naturally absorbs excess moisture from the air during humid times and releases it during times of dryness. It comes in packets or pouches sold through piano technicians. Enough for a single piano costs $65 to $70 and must be replaced once a year. Music Sorb probably won't control humidity changes in the piano quite as well as a Dampp-Chaser system, but may suffice in less severe climates, or in situations where plugging in and maintaining such a system is out of the question—or until the piano owner can afford the larger initial outlay of funds required for the system.