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Humidity - is it the values or the swing? #2718945
03/04/18 08:45 PM
03/04/18 08:45 PM
Joined: Apr 2015
Posts: 195
Australia
UnderConstruction Offline OP
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UnderConstruction  Offline OP
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Joined: Apr 2015
Posts: 195
Australia
Spin off from the original thread as posted here.

The common wisdom seems to say that a piano is at its best between about 40-60% RH.

I am wondering, is it the stability of humidity that matters or the absolute value of the humidity?

For example, if a piano is in a room that starts the day at 40%, in the afternoon goes to 60%, then end of the day goes back to 40%, is that bad for the piano? Or is it ok because its "within the range"?


Still deciding whether I am playing for fun or playing to improve... leaning towards fun :-)
2017 Feurich 218
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Re: Humidity - is it the values or the swing? [Re: UnderConstruction] #2718955
03/04/18 10:01 PM
03/04/18 10:01 PM
Joined: May 2006
Posts: 4,550
Georgia, USA
terminaldegree Offline
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terminaldegree  Offline
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Georgia, USA
A daily humidity swing of 20% is going to knock that piano out of tune in very short order-- the stability matters primarily for that reason. The absolute extremes are more damaging to the instrument, causing buzzes, rattles, or the action to stick (at least) or pressure ridges to form, crushing the wood on a cellular level, or cracks opening up (at most).


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Re: Humidity - is it the values or the swing? [Re: UnderConstruction] #2718958
03/04/18 10:11 PM
03/04/18 10:11 PM
Joined: Jun 2001
Posts: 4,770
USA
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Bob Offline
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USA
A 20% swing in RH throughout the day will average out. The piano won't be as stable as it would if there were no swing, but it will average out. It takes 36 hours of consistent lower or higher humidity for a piano to change it's tuning when the swing is 20%. If the change is greater, such as 50% the piano will change tuning faster, often within hours.

Consistency of humidity will result in tunings that hold longer. My performance hall is proof of that where RH is 62% all the time.

Inconsistent RH takes pianos out of tune - more so when there is extended period of lower or higher RH. My Music building is an example of that - The typical RH is 52% when the outside temp is 80 F or higher, as it is April though September. The pianos stay in tune well. However, winter cold spells drop the outside temp to 30 F or 40 F and the RH drops to 30% or 40%. If the lower RH lasts 2 days or longer, the piano dries out, and pitch drops in the center, and the piano goes out of tune. Once the RH recovers, the piano recovers somewhat, but not entirely. We had several cold spells in January, and just had another one this weekend.




Re: Humidity - is it the values or the swing? [Re: UnderConstruction] #2718968
03/04/18 11:40 PM
03/04/18 11:40 PM
Joined: Apr 2010
Posts: 1,893
Michigan
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kpembrook Online content
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Michigan
Originally Posted by UnderConstruction
Spin off from the original thread as posted here.

The common wisdom seems to say that a piano is at its best between about 40-60% RH.

I am wondering, is it the stability of humidity that matters or the absolute value of the humidity?

For example, if a piano is in a room that starts the day at 40%, in the afternoon goes to 60%, then end of the day goes back to 40%, is that bad for the piano? Or is it ok because its "within the range"?



It't mainly the swing. If a piano is tuned at 28% humidity or 68% humidity and the humidity stays the same, the piano will tend to remain in tune. So, the best humidity for the piano is the one that you can most easily manage to keep it at. Except, of course for crazy extremes. If the humidity is high enough, you can have glues letting go, and living things growing on it along with rust and corrosion on any metal parts. Conversely, if the humidity is below 10% the wood will split and the soundboard will lose crown/bearing.

One thing to keep in mind, moisture and dryness don't have an equal impact in terms of speed of change. Wood absorbs moisture about 3 times faster than it can get rid of it. That's why I tend to have maximum power available on the dehumidifying side of Dampp Chaser systems in my area. I don't want any chance of high humidity levels impacting the piano.


Keith Akins, RPT
Piano Technologist
USA Distributor for Isaac Cadenza hammers and Profundo Bass Strings
Supporting Piano Owners D-I-Y piano tuning and repair
Editor Emeritus, Piano Technicians Journal
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Re: Humidity - is it the values or the swing? [Re: kpembrook] #2719045
03/05/18 10:36 AM
03/05/18 10:36 AM
Joined: Dec 2010
Posts: 223
Maine, USA
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Rick_Parks Offline
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Maine, USA
Originally Posted by kpembrook
......One thing to keep in mind, moisture and dryness don't have an equal impact in terms of speed of change. Wood absorbs moisture about 3 times faster than it can get rid of it. That's why I tend to have maximum power available on the dehumidifying side of Dampp Chaser systems in my area. I don't want any chance of high humidity levels impacting the piano.


Good point by Keith here... Which is why it would be wiser to fall on the dry side of that scale IMHO.
Since we are talking here about room control (not DChaser) - I do think it is more comfortable for people at 40-45% than higher.
Also, you get condensation possible with cold weather at higher points on that scale. Just try keeping the inside climate in northern Maine at even 50% when it is 20 below out! Get out the towels and start mopping those windows!
This past winter- had a client who had to basically find the zone-- ended at about 43% before the condensation stopped completely. And this was a mild winter!


Parks and Sons Piano Service
www.parksandsonspiano.com
Re: Humidity - is it the values or the swing? [Re: UnderConstruction] #2719325
03/06/18 09:33 AM
03/06/18 09:33 AM
Joined: Apr 2015
Posts: 195
Australia
UnderConstruction Offline OP
Full Member
UnderConstruction  Offline OP
Full Member
Joined: Apr 2015
Posts: 195
Australia
Seems like we have a consensus then, its the swing smile


Still deciding whether I am playing for fun or playing to improve... leaning towards fun :-)
2017 Feurich 218
Re: Humidity - is it the values or the swing? [Re: UnderConstruction] #2719331
03/06/18 09:55 AM
03/06/18 09:55 AM
Joined: Feb 2017
Posts: 1,578
New Hampshire
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P W Grey Offline
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Joined: Feb 2017
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New Hampshire
Yes, it's the swing.

Pwg


Peter W. Grey, RPT
New Hampshire Seacoast
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pianodoctor57@gmail.com
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Re: Humidity - is it the values or the swing? [Re: UnderConstruction] #2720645
03/12/18 08:39 AM
03/12/18 08:39 AM
Joined: Oct 2006
Posts: 2,593
Strong, Maine
David Jenson Offline
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David Jenson  Offline
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Strong, Maine
"It don't mean a thing if it ain't got that swing ..."


David L. Jenson
Tuning - Repairs - Refurbishing
Jenson's Piano Service
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Re: Humidity - is it the values or the swing? [Re: UnderConstruction] #2720727
03/12/18 02:29 PM
03/12/18 02:29 PM
Joined: Mar 2018
Posts: 5
New York
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Drasche Pianos LLC Offline
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Joined: Mar 2018
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New York
Yes definitely the swing


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Re: Humidity - is it the values or the swing? [Re: UnderConstruction] #2720808
03/12/18 07:12 PM
03/12/18 07:12 PM
Joined: Jun 2001
Posts: 4,770
USA
B
Bob Offline
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USA
It's spring break at the University so I scheduled the entire week for tuning over there. 55% RH today will drop to about 30% by Thursday morning when yet another cold front arrives. Then back up to 55% RH by the weekend. The outside temperature and inside RH has been up and down like this since X mas.

The HVAC draws air directly from outside, and pushes though the building, changing the air 3 X per hour. Cold, dry air is further dried from heating it. The normal RH is 55% from April though October and 45% Nov - March. But during cold spells, the RH can drop to 15% during 29 F temp at night. One night of low RH is ok. The pianos don't absorb it. 2 consecutive nights, and the Boston 118's go flat. 3 consecutive nights, and the Steinway's go flat.

Last edited by Bob; 03/12/18 07:14 PM.



Re: Humidity - is it the values or the swing? [Re: Bob] #2720831
03/12/18 08:25 PM
03/12/18 08:25 PM
Joined: Apr 2010
Posts: 1,893
Michigan
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kpembrook Online content
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Joined: Apr 2010
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Michigan
Originally Posted by Bob
It's spring break at the University so I scheduled the entire week for tuning over there. 55% RH today will drop to about 30% by Thursday morning when yet another cold front arrives. Then back up to 55% RH by the weekend. The outside temperature and inside RH has been up and down like this since X mas.

The HVAC draws air directly from outside, and pushes though the building, changing the air 3 X per hour. Cold, dry air is further dried from heating it. The normal RH is 55% from April though October and 45% Nov - March. But during cold spells, the RH can drop to 15% during 29 F temp at night. One night of low RH is ok. The pianos don't absorb it. 2 consecutive nights, and the Boston 118's go flat. 3 consecutive nights, and the Steinway's go flat.

Interesting to hear how humidity/temperature fluctuations affect pianos in another part of the country.


Keith Akins, RPT
Piano Technologist
USA Distributor for Isaac Cadenza hammers and Profundo Bass Strings
Supporting Piano Owners D-I-Y piano tuning and repair
Editor Emeritus, Piano Technicians Journal
Re: Humidity - is it the values or the swing? [Re: UnderConstruction] #2720840
03/12/18 08:49 PM
03/12/18 08:49 PM
Joined: Dec 2012
Posts: 4,832
Seattle, WA USA
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Ed McMorrow, RPT Offline
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Joined: Dec 2012
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Seattle, WA USA
Spruce takes on humidity more like 5 times as fast as it gives it up. Even faster if there is no finish at all. So protecting against humidity spikes is far more productive than adding humidity every time it drops 5%.


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Re: Humidity - is it the values or the swing? [Re: UnderConstruction] #2720873
03/13/18 03:07 PM
03/13/18 03:07 PM
Joined: Mar 2018
Posts: 28
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Issadore Offline
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If one was ale to maintain humidity at a constant level but temperature fluctuated seasonally would that still effect the piano negatively?

Re: Humidity - is it the values or the swing? [Re: Issadore] #2720950
03/13/18 08:27 PM
03/13/18 08:27 PM
Joined: Jan 2006
Posts: 1,859
London
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David-G Offline
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London
Originally Posted by Issadore
If one was ale to maintain humidity at a constant level but temperature fluctuated seasonally would that still effect the piano negatively?

This is exactly what I do, and the stability of the pianos is exemplary - even the wooden-framed antique Broadwood.

Re: Humidity - is it the values or the swing? [Re: David-G] #2720992
03/13/18 11:11 PM
03/13/18 11:11 PM
Joined: Mar 2018
Posts: 28
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Issadore Offline
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Issadore  Offline
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Joined: Mar 2018
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Originally Posted by David-G
Originally Posted by Issadore
If one was ale to maintain humidity at a constant level but temperature fluctuated seasonally would that still effect the piano negatively?

This is exactly what I do, and the stability of the pianos is exemplary - even the wooden-framed antique Broadwood.


Thanks David, very good to know. That saves me from buying an ugly portable AC. Now I can go with a dehumidifier!


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