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Dampp Chaser treatment question #292743
10/09/08 12:17 PM
10/09/08 12:17 PM
Joined: May 2001
Posts: 6,966
The Evergreen State (WA)
jodi Offline OP
6000 Post Club Member
jodi  Offline OP
6000 Post Club Member

Joined: May 2001
Posts: 6,966
The Evergreen State (WA)
question emailed to me from a frugal friend:


"My piano humidity system requires water and a chemical, trade name, humidifier treatment by Dampp-Chaser.

The main ingredient: �benzalkonium chloride.

Reason for asking: An 8oz bottle is like $13.

I am wondering if there is a cheaper , simplier way of finding an alternative. This is mixed with Water and used in the piano's dehumid system.
"

Anyone?

Thanks!

Jodi

Piano & Music Gifts & Accessories (570)
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Re: Dampp Chaser treatment question #292744
10/09/08 12:29 PM
10/09/08 12:29 PM
Joined: Mar 2007
Posts: 285
Northeast USA
N
NoctuGranes Offline
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Joined: Mar 2007
Posts: 285
Northeast USA
Although at some level I know I'm being conned, my bottle is on course to last 3-5 years. At $5 a year, I have bigger problems to worry about...


-Nocty
Not in the piano business.
1906 Baldwin C rebuilt 2008
Re: Dampp Chaser treatment question #292745
10/09/08 12:34 PM
10/09/08 12:34 PM
Joined: May 2001
Posts: 6,966
The Evergreen State (WA)
jodi Offline OP
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jodi  Offline OP
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Joined: May 2001
Posts: 6,966
The Evergreen State (WA)
laugh (I told you my friend was frugal)

Re: Dampp Chaser treatment question #292746
10/09/08 01:06 PM
10/09/08 01:06 PM
Joined: Apr 2005
Posts: 11,027
Williamsburg, VA
Piano*Dad Online content
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Piano*Dad  Online Content
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As far as I know, the purpose of the 'chemical' is to kill bacteria in the water. A tiny capful of plain bleach in the water is what was recommended to me.

Re: Dampp Chaser treatment question #292747
10/09/08 03:00 PM
10/09/08 03:00 PM
Joined: Sep 2004
Posts: 206
Minneapolis, MN
M
Mark Fontana Offline
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Mark Fontana  Offline
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Joined: Sep 2004
Posts: 206
Minneapolis, MN
I seem to recall warnings from Dampp-Chaser that the chlorine in household bleach may cause corrosion of the strings and other metal parts, and therefore only their official additive should be used.

But I think the Dampp-Chaser scare tactics are a tad extreme when they warn on the bottle that using alternative humidifier treatments with the same active ingredient could cause severe damage.

Re: Dampp Chaser treatment question #292748
10/09/08 03:00 PM
10/09/08 03:00 PM
Joined: Jun 2008
Posts: 796
Westford, MA
the nosy ape Offline
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the nosy ape  Offline
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Joined: Jun 2008
Posts: 796
Westford, MA
From the all-knowing Wikipedia:
"It has been considered one of the safest synthetic biocides known and has a long history of efficacious use. It is currently used in human pharmaceuticals such as leave-on skin antiseptics, hygienic towelettes, and wet wipes. Its use as a preservative in cosmetics such as eye and nasal drops attests to its general safety."

So if you have small children or pets around it would be safer than bleach. A quick google shows that you can buy 8 oz. for less than $2 on line.

Re: Dampp Chaser treatment question #292749
10/09/08 05:05 PM
10/09/08 05:05 PM
Joined: Feb 2007
Posts: 1,178
Minnesota
Marty in Minnesota Offline

Platinum Supporter until October 5 2014
Marty in Minnesota  Offline

Platinum Supporter until October 5 2014

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Joined: Feb 2007
Posts: 1,178
Minnesota
I'm frugal too.

Here is where I get my Dampp Chaser supplies.

http://howardpianoindustries.com/catalog/index.php?main_page=index&cPath=71


Marty in Minnesota
Re: Dampp Chaser treatment question #292750
10/09/08 08:32 PM
10/09/08 08:32 PM
Joined: Jul 2008
Posts: 15
New Hampshire
T
TestBlow Offline
Junior Member
TestBlow  Offline
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T

Joined: Jul 2008
Posts: 15
New Hampshire
I would hesitate before using a substitute chemical. I know that the Dampp Chaser solution does contain electrolytes that are used by the low-water sensor.


Matt Quinlan, RPT
Piano Tuner/Technician
Re: Dampp Chaser treatment question #292751
10/09/08 08:40 PM
10/09/08 08:40 PM
Joined: May 2001
Posts: 7,051
K
kenny Offline
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kenny  Offline
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K

Joined: May 2001
Posts: 7,051
Buy the correct stuff.

It is a tiny cost compared to taking even a small chance your expensive piano will be less protected.

Re: Dampp Chaser treatment question #292752
10/09/08 11:00 PM
10/09/08 11:00 PM
Joined: Aug 2005
Posts: 18,355
Lexington, Kentucky
Monica K. Offline

Platinum Supporter until Dec 31 2012
Monica K.  Offline

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Joined: Aug 2005
Posts: 18,355
Lexington, Kentucky
Thanks for that link, Marty. My tech pretty much charges me his cost for the DC supplies, but it's nice to know where I can get the additive if I run out between tunings.

I noticed on that website that they sell a DC "service package" that consists of pads, the additive, and a liner for the tank. The latter item got me curious, because I haven't seen anything that suggests replacing the tank liner on a regular basis. Is that something that needs to be done? How often?

Re: Dampp Chaser treatment question #292753
10/09/08 11:34 PM
10/09/08 11:34 PM
Joined: Jun 2001
Posts: 14,243
Louisiana
Jolly Offline
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Jolly  Offline
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Joined: Jun 2001
Posts: 14,243
Louisiana
Quote
Originally posted by jodi:
question emailed to me from a frugal friend:


"My piano humidity system requires water and a chemical, trade name, humidifier treatment by Dampp-Chaser.

The main ingredient: �benzalkonium chloride.

Reason for asking: An 8oz bottle is like $13.

I am wondering if there is a cheaper , simplier way of finding an alternative. This is mixed with Water and used in the piano's dehumid system.
"

Anyone?

Thanks!

Jodi
It's a quarternary (sp?) amine that is a common antiseptic, particularly when you don't want to use isopropanol. You find it in everything from nasal sprays to feminine hygiene products.

Bleach and water - 5% solution - are only effective for a very short time, as the hypochlorite effectiveness breaks down in the light and water.

Somebody else mentioned ETOH or isopropanol and water, but since the alcohol is a volatile, I think you'd vapor it off fairly quickly, except for the diazotrope, which is only about 5% of the total.

For the frugal, one could always buy BAC by the drum from a Chinese chemical supplier. But I suspect that would be at the very best, pound-wise and penny-foolish.

Tell your friend to cough up the thirteen bucks... smokin


www.coffee-room.com

Over 1.4M (and counting) posts where pianists discuss everything. And nothing.
Re: Dampp Chaser treatment question #292754
10/10/08 07:46 AM
10/10/08 07:46 AM
Joined: Feb 2007
Posts: 1,178
Minnesota
Marty in Minnesota Offline

Platinum Supporter until October 5 2014
Marty in Minnesota  Offline

Platinum Supporter until October 5 2014

1000 Post Club Member

Joined: Feb 2007
Posts: 1,178
Minnesota
Hi Monica,

I really haven't read anything about it either. From my own experience, I change mine about every other year, because, no matter what you use, there is still some gunk that settles in the reservoir. It is easier to just change the liner and not have to scrub out the tank. It is very easy to do, or your tech could do it for you. Do you change your own DC pads or do you let him do it?

Along with the DC additive, I only use distilled water in mine. Since my tap water is fairly hard, the distilled cuts down on the lime build-up on the pads and extends their usful life.


Marty in Minnesota
Re: Dampp Chaser treatment question #292755
10/10/08 08:50 AM
10/10/08 08:50 AM
Joined: Feb 2008
Posts: 334
Maryland
rodmichael Offline
Full Member
rodmichael  Offline
Full Member

Joined: Feb 2008
Posts: 334
Maryland
I don't wish to provoke enmity or anger among forum participants but as a scientist and developer with first-hand familiarity with research, development and product testing, I humbly offer some food for thought.

All the discussion here is made with the presumption, currently unproved to my knowledge, that a Dampp-Chaser system actually does something benficial for the life of the piano.

As far as I know there is only anecdote that supports any piano benefit deriving from installation of Dampp-Chaser systems. Of course anecdote is always suspect as being afflicted with some conflict-of-interest.

In this case we certainly can't rule out the idea that anyone who spends several hundred dollars for a system wants to believe it's a worthwhile purchase. Human nature. The other obvious conflict is the "authorized" seller (e.g., an RPT) who makes unsupported claims and thence earns some portion of his/her living selling Dampp-Chaser systems. And then there's the manufacturer who, to my knowledge, has shown no data or substantiation of any claimed benfit (e.g., sound board life) other than humidity levels within the piano/sound board cavity but probably makes a substantial profit from a relatively simply designed and engineered system.

All that's not to say that, if I spent many $1000s on an acoustic grand piano, I would definitely not install my own Dampp-Chaser System. Although, since the presumed benefit doesn't really pay off until the piano is somewhere north of 30 or 40 years old (or older) and I'm currently 62 y/o and after spouting off here numerous times, I might think about it pretty carefully. Aha, another conflict.


Rod Michael
Mason & Hamlin AA, SN 93018
Yamaha CGP-1000, SN UCNZ01010
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Re: Dampp Chaser treatment question #292756
10/10/08 09:08 AM
10/10/08 09:08 AM
Joined: Aug 2005
Posts: 18,355
Lexington, Kentucky
Monica K. Offline

Platinum Supporter until Dec 31 2012
Monica K.  Offline

Platinum Supporter until Dec 31 2012

Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Joined: Aug 2005
Posts: 18,355
Lexington, Kentucky
Hi Rod,

As a social scientist I share your respect for the experimental method, and you have raised some valid and important questions. There is at least one study, to my knowledge, showing quantitative data on the effectiveness of the DC. The document was linked in one of the previous DC threads. I don't have time right now to search the archives and find the link again, but I read it closely, and IIRC, the study (conducted by the DC corporation) reported humidity levels for a piano with the DC and undercover, DC and no undercover, and a control piano, all located in the same room and environment. The data showed a substantial benefit for the DC/undercover combination; I don't think they reported any statistical analysis but eyeball inspection of the charts did not reveal (to my eyeballs, at least) a significant improvement for the DC system alone.

So does that mean I should take my DC off? (I am using the DC system only, as they don't recommend an undercover with M&H grands.) Maybe, but I won't. :p I guess I *am* swayed by the professional opinions of techs I trust here who say it works, along with my own N=1 anecdotal evidence that the tuning of my piano has been more stable after the DC was installed.

But I also agree with you that this is a research project that sorely needs to be done, preferably by a group that has no vested interest in it. I wish the faculty at some piano technology program could get interested enough to do a well-designed experiment.

In the meantime, I made my decision wearing my neurotic piano owner hat ("it can't hurt and very well could help, so why not?") rather than my experimental psychologist hat ("there's no good causal evidence"). :p

p.s. The only part of your post I disagreed with was the statement that the presumed major benefit of the DC system will only show up after 40 years or so. Controlling humidity should prolong the life of the soundboard, that is true, but an equally important benefit in my eyes is stability of tuning, which has immediate effects.

Re: Dampp Chaser treatment question #292757
10/10/08 09:13 AM
10/10/08 09:13 AM
Joined: Sep 2008
Posts: 49
Cohasset, MA
M
Metaphysics Offline
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Metaphysics  Offline
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M

Joined: Sep 2008
Posts: 49
Cohasset, MA
Rod,

As a fellow scientist and developer, although the evidence is anecdotal, an understanding of WHAT the DC does is compelling enough to have warranted my recent DC purchase. Common sense must come into play. By keeping the humidity from fluctuating, there will surely be SOME benefit to preservation of tuning, regulation and longevity.

Wood swelling and contraction with humidity changes are scientifically demostrable and a well known fact. Since the piano is basically a mechanical device, it stands to reason that swollen mechanics will wear or stick faster and then have even more "play" once the contraction occurs.

This argument assumes that the DC does indeed regulate humdity, which as a scientist and engineer, I have no trouble believing. This is even more compelling in an upright where the DC is in a closed environment.

Meta


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