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#1515901 - 09/15/10 03:46 PM long term storage
Roger Ransom Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/19/05
Posts: 1313
Loc: SouthWest Michigan
I have a friend who is taking a 5 year work assignment in Sicily. He is in Michigan now and will not be taking his grand piano with him. He plans to have someone move it into storage for him and keep it there until he returns.

It is a professional mover that knows how to move the piano and it would be stored on it's side in a storage facility. The facility is not climate controlled but it will not flood or anything like that.

His question to me is whether that would damage the piano. I told him that when he returns it would certainly need a few tunings and possibly some adjustments but I didn't think it would cause permanent damage. I was basing this on the institutional pianos I see that are in uncontolled environments most of their lives and they seem to do pretty well. Additionally, pianos were never in controlled environments in the early part of the last century and many of them are still being played.

I got to thinking about it and want to make sure I'm not steering him wrong.

What do you think?
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#1515918 - 09/15/10 04:14 PM Re: long term storage [Re: Roger Ransom]
Rank Piano Amateur Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/11/07
Posts: 1854
When I was storing my piano, the various facilities told me that it is important for pianos not to freeze. At least I have some memory of them telling me that. I have a feeling that a storage facility with no climate control in Michigan will freeze in the winter. I also have a feeling that the absence of temperature control will be a problem in the summer, when it is humid (which Michigan, in my limited experience, is).

I am sure that there are experts who can provide reliable information on this out there. . . . But if it were my piano, I think I'd be pretty nervous about the prospect of five years of storage with no temperature or humidity control. I only stored my piano for two months, and I was nervous enough about that.

Your friend also needs to make sure that he or she has insurance that covers the piano while in storage.

Your post was not clear on the nature of the storage facility, but five years is a long time, and it did not sound as though the storage facility was a professional piano operation (although obviously the movers would be), especially in light of the absence of climate control. I think more research is indicated.

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#1515936 - 09/15/10 04:34 PM Re: long term storage [Re: Roger Ransom]
Rickster Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/25/06
Posts: 10899
Loc: Georgia, USA
Hi Roger,

I agree with you that many fine pianos from yesteryear spent decades in homes with limited heating, no mechanical cooling and no humidity control, and most faired pretty well in that harsh environment.

As to the long-term storage facility, it might be better if your friend had another friend (you, perhaps) who could house the piano in their home for him. Grand pianos are an elegant piece of furniture and a conversation piece, as well as a musical instrument.

I would think the high and low humidity swings would be more detrimental than below freezing temperatures. I think most churches and institutional buildings do have some form of HVAC control that limits extremely low or high temperatures, though not optimal all the time.

Just a thought…

Rick
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#1515987 - 09/15/10 05:35 PM Re: long term storage [Re: Roger Ransom]
curry Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/17/02
Posts: 3770
Loc: Hamilton Twp, NJ
Homes are fine, but a grand stored on it's side for 5 years is not. The dampers and hammer alignment will be affected in a big way. I wouldn't do it.
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#1516058 - 09/15/10 06:47 PM Re: long term storage [Re: Roger Ransom]
PianoWorksATL Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/19/09
Posts: 3324
Loc: Atlanta, GA
There's fully climate controlled, there's somewhat climate controlled (like an active warehouse), and then there's no climate control (a storage shed) - enter freezing or sauna conditions. There are many threads on this forum that talk about how a poor environment will age a piano more than normal use. I'd make sure wherever the piano is stored has a very moderate if not fully climate controlled environment.

If you tie down the action on a piano, the necessary adjustments after storage are minimal with reasonable costs. I've seen new old stock from manufacturers sometimes years old in crates, and they need a little more work, but they are not damaged.
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#1516108 - 09/15/10 08:03 PM Re: long term storage [Re: Roger Ransom]
Roger Ransom Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/19/05
Posts: 1313
Loc: SouthWest Michigan
OK, thanks for the feedback. I'm going to tell him to find another option. I am too far away from him to store it in my house. Maybe he should consider selling it , donating it or trying to find a climate controlled facility.

Rickster, you're right, the churches I work with turn all their climate control systems down, not off during the week. Also, the homes the old pianos were in were at least heated in some way.
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