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Lower value of Relative Humidity? #2704262 01/12/18 12:01 PM
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Beemer Offline OP
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I have recently bought a German made Barigo Hygrometer[-Thermometer. Yesterday I did a twelve-hour salt calibration and adjusted it within this environment to 75% R.H.. Today as it sat on my piano it read 20C and 40% R.H.

This I believe is the lowest R.H. that manufacturers recommend at this temperature. I am not wanting to install a Damp Chaser system as I suspect that I will never see sufficiently high R.H. here in Scotland to justify its £500 cost.

Is this a reasonable assumption?

Ian


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Re: Lower value of Relative Humidity? [Re: Beemer] #2704279 01/12/18 12:42 PM
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IF you cannot control the room to a reasonable level, without major fluctuations- and you care about the piano keeping its tune and holding its regulation- you should get a system... When it comes to private residence, we always try the room first- if this proves to not be possible, then spend the $$. Otherwise, expect to always be fighting your instrument.


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Re: Lower value of Relative Humidity? [Re: Beemer] #2704313 01/12/18 02:34 PM
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David Boyce Offline
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I am not wanting to install a Damp Chaser system as I suspect that I will never see sufficiently high R.H. here in Scotland to justify its £500 cost.

Is this a reasonable assumption?

Ian


I honestly don't think a system is necessary in a Scottish home. I've never heard of complete system being installed in a home piano here. It is quite common though to see just the heater bar installed.

Last edited by David Boyce; 01/12/18 02:36 PM.
Re: Lower value of Relative Humidity? [Re: David Boyce] #2704327 01/12/18 03:24 PM
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Originally Posted by David Boyce
...I honestly don't think a system is necessary in a Scottish home. I've never heard of complete system being installed in a home piano here. It is quite common though to see just the heater bar installed.


I'm probably missing a beat here, but wouldn't Ian's issue arise from the RH inside his home... rather than the general climate/weather of the country or region?

If so, then I guess the question remains as to whether 40% RH is too low for (his Blüthner's) comfort - which I'll leave to someone more knowledgeable than I am for a reliable answer.

FWIW, (having also salt-tested our hygrometer) I've been seeing RH% regularly hover in the very low 40% range with a Dampp-Chaser operating in our (dry heated) home this winter, although lately it wanders to the upper 40% - almost 50% - range, too.

- Onewatt

Re: Lower value of Relative Humidity? [Re: Beemer] #2704899 01/14/18 04:16 PM
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40% is not too low. It is, in fact fairly close to ideal. Below 30% is the danger point. Where I live, it is 20% right now. The in-piano humidity control is essential to protect the piano but it does not stop it from having seasonal tuning instability.


Bill Bremmer RPT
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Re: Lower value of Relative Humidity? [Re: OneWatt] #2704925 01/14/18 06:24 PM
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Originally Posted by OneWatt
Originally Posted by David Boyce
...I honestly don't think a system is necessary in a Scottish home. I've never heard of complete system being installed in a home piano here. It is quite common though to see just the heater bar installed.


I'm probably missing a beat here, but wouldn't Ian's issue arise from the RH inside his home... rather than the general climate/weather of the country or region?


Homes moderate outdoor climate but do not escape it. Simply put, the outdoors is bigger than anyone's house and all the air inside the house comes from outside.

The main factor is the difference in temperature between inside and outside. If the temperature inside is the same as outside the humidity level will be approximately the same (with some variation due to the buffering effect of all the absorbent materials in the house). So, if it's 40% RH outside it'll be 40% inside. But if it's even 60% outside at 20ºF and the internal temperature is 68ºF then the inside RH will be well below 30%.. In the winter here in the upper midwest USA we can have 60% outside RH at 0ºF and the inside RH will be around 12% and there is no room-level device that can counteract that difference without negative structural effects on the house. Piano mounted devices are the only solution here.


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Re: Lower value of Relative Humidity? [Re: Beemer] #2704934 01/14/18 07:10 PM
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Originally Posted by Beemer
I have recently bought a German made Barigo Hygrometer[-Thermometer. Yesterday I did a twelve-hour salt calibration and adjusted it within this environment to 75% R.H.. Today as it sat on my piano it read 20C and 40% R.H.

This I believe is the lowest R.H. that manufacturers recommend at this temperature. I am not wanting to install a Damp Chaser system as I suspect that I will never see sufficiently high R.H. here in Scotland to justify its £500 cost.

Is this a reasonable assumption?

Ian


The RH may be 40% today, but will it stay at that value throughout the year? The important thing is that the RH is stable. And I understand that stability is what a Damp Chaser will give you.

I achieve stability of RH a different way. I use a dehumidifier to stop the RH getting too high - and turn down the room temperature in winter to stop it getting too low.

Re high RH in Scotland, here in London in late summer / autumn I find the RH indoors is often above 60%, and can sometimes touch 70%. I can't see why Scotland shouldn't be similar.

Re: Lower value of Relative Humidity? [Re: Beemer] #2704937 01/14/18 07:24 PM
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It seems to me that the dehumidifier only option for humidity control is fine for high humidity environments. Where I live, the D-C system only takes the edge off the extremes. It may protect the soundboard from damage but it does not stop the piano from going out of tune. To do that, you have to take other measures PLUS have the D-C system in place and it has to be maintained properly.


Bill Bremmer RPT
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Re: Lower value of Relative Humidity? [Re: Beemer] #2705041 01/15/18 07:16 AM
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It seems to me that the dehumidifier only option for humidity control is fine for high humidity environments.


I've fitted quite a few dehumidifier bars over the years, mainly to upright pianos. In the west of Scotland here, they are helpful for places of worship including choir practice rooms, which are unheated, then heated for a couple of hours when people come in and exhale, then the heating goes off and moisture condenses readily inside the piano. The dehumidifier bar keeps the interior of the piano just that little bit warmer, so moisture doesn't condense in there. Similar thing in homes where a piano is kept in a parlour room that isn't regularly heated/used. Or a spare room ditto.

Re: Lower value of Relative Humidity? [Re: Beemer] #2705064 01/15/18 09:54 AM
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There is apparently also a cultural difference. Energy is relatively a lower cost in North America than it is in Europe. There is actually an ordinance in my city that requires public housing to have a minimum of 67 degrees F. (19.4 C.) heat in domiciles. That is too chilly for many people. Many homes I go into are at 72 F. (22 C.) and I actually get too warm while working in them. Senior living facilities are kept at 76 F. (24 C.) and bone dry.

There are a few instances here where the dehumidifier only works as it does for you there in Scotland or the rest of the UK. It is, at least better than nothing or better than having a humidifier installed but that runs dry and remains so for long periods before it is ever filled again.

There are some public buildings here that are air conditioned in the Summer but the system does not remove moisture the way that most systems do. It is cool but dank in Summer but when the heating season comes along, there is no source of moisture. The pitch of the pianos swings wildly, as much as 40 cents from August to January. There is one school that I service that has that problem but there is no way they would ever water all of the pianos but they will keep them plugged in, so it helps. There is a Technical College that I service that will have none of either, so those pianos go severely out of tune with the change of each season.

If people in Scotland generally do not like the idea of watering a piano but they will keep a piano plugged in, it will help. The cost of a dehumidifier only system is also far less than a complete system and will last indefinitely with no service requirement other than to assure that it is connected to a power source. The amount of electricity it actually uses is minimal, such as a lamp that is used the way one normally would be.

As a note aside from this, this post now puts me in the 4000 post club! I have been a member for 16 years.


Bill Bremmer RPT
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Re: Lower value of Relative Humidity? [Re: Beemer] #2705099 01/15/18 11:26 AM
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Just another way to think about it - if my numbers are correct: I believe that piano manufacturers, probably similar to furniture manufacturers control the temperature and RH in the factories so that they target the wood moisture content (EMC) at around 6 to 7 % at assembly - similar to what would be found in most homes.
At 20C and 40%RH the EMC is right in that area.
Keeping EMC within a reasonably narrow range is really what it is all about.
A little research and you should find that range of temp/RH where EMC remains close to 6 to 7 % where beyond that you are a candidate for humidity control system.
So if your home got really hot - 60C (not possible but just for the sake of numbers) and the RH were around 50% the wood EMC would remain in the 6 to 7% range I believe.
Getting colder than 20C the RH tends to fall and this is where humidity needs to be added.


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Re: Lower value of Relative Humidity? [Re: Bill Bremmer RPT] #2705252 01/15/18 06:56 PM
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Originally Posted by Bill Bremmer RPT
As a note aside from this, this post now puts me in the 4000 post club! I have been a member for 16 years.

Congratulations!

Re: Lower value of Relative Humidity? [Re: Gene Nelson] #2705253 01/15/18 06:57 PM
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Originally Posted by Gene Nelson
Getting colder than 20C the RH tends to fall and this is where humidity needs to be added.

Not sure I understand this - surely as the temperature falls the RH rises?

Re: Lower value of Relative Humidity? [Re: David-G] #2705267 01/15/18 07:52 PM
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Originally Posted by David-G
Originally Posted by Gene Nelson
Getting colder than 20C the RH tends to fall and this is where humidity needs to be added.

Not sure I understand this - surely as the temperature falls the RH rises?




Well maybe I don't either - doesn't moisture freeze out of air at 0 C? Zero moisture in the air = zero RH = zero moisture in the wood = zero emc. Dont warm air hold more moisture than cold? Maybe someone who understands emc can make sense of it?

Last edited by Gene Nelson; 01/15/18 08:17 PM.

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Re: Lower value of Relative Humidity? [Re: Beemer] #2705387 01/16/18 08:35 AM
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I think Gene is right -- warmer air as the capacity to hold more moisture, though I'm no meteorologist. But there has to be a source of moisture for that to occur. Hot dry desert vs. tropical rain forest.

Isn't one of the key factors with RH indoors related directly to heat source? I'm attempting to control RH with a humidifier and dehumidifier. When temperatures are fairly moderate outside, my indoor humidity seems directly related to the RH outside. The indoor RH can swing drastically with that outdoors especially when it rains.

However, right now we're in the middle of one of the coldest (overall) winters on record. I can usually keep the indoor RH above 40% targeting 45%, but when the temps get below 10 F (dipping below -10 F) the gas furnace is running 24/7. All that heat is drying out the air so the humidifier is running 24/7 and barely keeping RH above 35%, even with the room temp under my piano at around 64 F.

Re: Lower value of Relative Humidity? [Re: Beemer] #2705508 01/16/18 04:28 PM
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regardless of the technical stuff about EMC, the important idea is equilibrium.
It means the wood moisture content is not increasing or decreasing.
It also means the wood is not moving, changing shape.
Stability is a good thing.
There are several different species of wood in piano, some solid and others laminates.
All will change shape slightly different as EMC changes and this will impact tuning as well as stress glue joints.
So the less change in environment the less change in EMC the more stable the piano will be.
If the factory assembles the piano at EMC 6% its a good idea to try to keep it as close as possible to that in the home.
As GC13 says, temperature and relative humidity inside and outside of the home is what creates wood moisture content..


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Re: Lower value of Relative Humidity? [Re: Gene Nelson] #2705541 01/16/18 07:21 PM
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Agreed that the important thing is equilibrium. The wood moisture content should be constant, and (as I understand it) that happens when the RH is constant.

The relative humidity is the amount of water in the air as a fraction of the maximum amount of water that the air could hold at that temperature. GC13 and Gene are right - warmer air has the capacity to hold more moisture. But that means that for a given amount of water in the air, when you warm the air the relative humidity goes down. Because the given amount of water is a smaller fraction of the increased amount that the air could hold at the increased temperature.

If you cool the air, it can hold less moisture. And therefore the RH goes up. And when you cool the air to saturation, the RH becomes 100% - and then moisture will condense on surfaces.

Here in the UK we sometimes have freezing fog in winter. Ice tends to form on everything. Trees look very pretty, power lines can collapse, pavements get dangerous. Visibility can be very poor in the fog. But the RH is 100%, not zero!

Anyway, coming back to pianos, on cold frosty nights in winter I turn the heating right down (or even off) in the piano room - and this keeps the RH up.

Re: Lower value of Relative Humidity? [Re: Beemer] #2707440 01/22/18 11:52 AM
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Hi!

have a nice steinway B from 1967. Live in the middle of Sweden and it stands in a house very openly planned. Therefor now since december, it goes often down to 35% while during other season its between 40-60%. Seems there are lot of opinions about this from 35% still acceptable to its not. Like to hear more opinions about this important issue! Keep groovin!/Niklas

Re: Lower value of Relative Humidity? [Re: Jazzniklas] #2707442 01/22/18 11:56 AM
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Hi again!

Forgot to tell that I already have "monster humidity machine" -but it may still not be enough. /Niklas

Re: Lower value of Relative Humidity? [Re: Jazzniklas] #2707474 01/22/18 01:32 PM
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Originally Posted by Jazzniklas
Hi again!

Forgot to tell that I already have "monster humidity machine" -but it may still not be enough. /Niklas


I also have an open floor plan in my home, and I have a humidifier rated for the size of my home, but when it gets extremely cold here (in the US upper midwest) I also have problems keeping my relative humidity around 40%. I have considered added another humidifier in another area of my house, but the fan is already pretty loud. But one issue I have found is the wick or pad in my humidifier gets crusty and stiff quickly. We have extremely hard water in my area with lots of minerals (calcium, lime, etc). The part of the wick that stick up out of the water reservoir deteriorates because the dry air is pulled thru and over it by the fan to add moisture to the air. So, I make sure to soak a new wick very well when I install it before turning it back on. I am also replacing my wick about once a month in cooler, drier months. When I replace my wick I am able to get the humidity back up to 40%+ pretty quickly. If the wick is made of the right material, it can be removed and soaked in several (5) gallons of water with a couple of caps of chlorine bleach. This will soften the wick and remove the mineral build up so it can be reused. After soaking for a couple of hours, soak it again in clean water to try to remove any remaining bleach that was absorbed in the wick. By doing this, I can rotate wicks.

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