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Wzkit1 Offline OP
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Happy New Year everyone!

I've been experimenting with several climate control options in order to get my two Steinway Ds (one restored Hamburg with original soundboard and the other a completely rebuilt NYC D with new soundboard, both with new pinblocks) fully settled in my home environment since the pianos moved in mid-Aug

The piano room is an attic with a 4.5m high ceilings and glass sliding doors leading to an open roof terrace, and two air conditioning units. I live in Singapore, where the outdoor humidity can easily exceed 75%, so optimizing the environment for the pianos can be very challenging.

Initially, I left the air-con on 24/7, which together with stable settings, eventually led to the humidity levels falling to 40-45%, and temperatures settling at around 23-24 deg celsius.

This setting seemed to work well in keeping the tuning and regulation stable for my previous pianos, but did not work so well for the Steinways, both of which have struggled to maintain tuning stability, especially the NY D, and less so for the Hamburg (which has spent almost all of its life in humid Singapore.

After multiple tuning sessions over the last four months, I decided to change the aircon settings, and have now managed to keep the room humidity at a higher level around 44-54%. Even with heavy rain outside the last two days, I managed to achieve 49-51% humidity levels

In addition, I also had Dampp Chaser heating rods installed just above the action (rather than underneath the soundboard) two weeks ago. Because of the high humidity levels, the Dampp Chaser systems here are typically not installed with the humidifier or the humidistat here

The pianos were last tuned a week ago and so far, with the new AC settings and Dampp Chaser, tuning stability seems to have improved, especially on the NY D. Turning on the Dampp Chaser also results in a lighter feel to the action and brighter sound overall, though some re-regulation may now be needed for the Hamburg.

My main concern is whether turning on the Dampp Chaser heating rods together with 24/7 air conditioning might lead to excessive drying, especially when the weather is hot and the humidity levels drop to 45% or lower. I've heard stories about cracks in the soundboard as a result of heating rods, though in those cases, the piano lid was closed most of the time (mine is always fully open).

Where I live, the DC heating rods are typically used when 24/7 air conditioning is not an option.

One tech also told me that in his experience, tuning stability could suffer if the room humidity is persistently below 50%, and especially used in conjunction with the Dampp Chaser rods

To avoid excessive drying, one suggestion has been to use an electric socket timer switch to turn on and off the DC heating rod on alternate hours, though another tech thought it is better to keep the DC heating rod either permanently on or off for maximum stability.

I understand that concert grands in concert halls here are stored in a climate controlled environment but without the DC heating rods.

Clearly, there doesn't seem to be a consensus and any opinions/suggestions from the techs in this forum would be very much welcome.

Thank you,


Sauter Delta 185, Bosendorfer 225, Ibach F III 215


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Wzkit1,

Unfortunately I doubt you will get any better guidance here as there is equally no consensus on the subject. However, if these instruments were completed and shipped as late as August 2020 then they are both still "green" and should take much more time to settle in before making any determinations.

Although I am a strong proponent of the DC system, I would not favor putting a rod in the action cavity. Even DC will tell you that (I think). It seems to me that controlling your ambient room humidity would be the safest way to go.

Don't expect good tuning stability until AT LEAST a year from now. In addition, we have no way of judging the quality of workmanship on these instruments, but we shall assume it is of the highest quality generally available these days.

BTW, are all of the coils on your tuning pins perfectly tight, with the becket bend solidly pinched high in the hole, with the angle of the coils such that the bottom coil exits the pin firmly in contact with the coil above (no gap whatsoever), and furthermore all becket bends pointing at 4:30? If all of the above is not the case then (according to one learned poster on this forum) this is a mark of sloppy work and could be the source of most (if not all) of your problems. This poster has a complete protocol for solving this problem (if it exists). In fact I suspect he/she would be willing to travel to Singapore (for a fee of course) to correct it for you.

Peter Grey Piano Doctor


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Wzkit1, none of my concert pianos have ever had heating bars installed in them. And, I would especially not but one in the action cavity. Those things are using heat to control RH%. Your piano doesn't like changes in either one.

In general, the more you try and control the environment, the less the piano will like it. Please don't try and aim for what is often advertised as an ideal 45%RH target. It all depends where you live and what the environment is like. First, you really need to monitor what the room environment where the pianos are located registers. It is extremely important that you get a data-logger and find out how the temp and RH is fluctuating throughout the year in that room. You really need that information first.

I would have to look at the data, but my gut is telling me that an inside RH of around 45% is very dry. Singapore is usually pretty humid, so it seems to my like you are over conditioning the air by running the AC so much. Without looking at the actual data, it is just a guess, but I would probably use the AC to keep the piano around 50-60%RH for your area. Ideal for you is whatever RH% you can keep more-or-less stable all year.

But, to specifically answer your question, yes, I would be extremely concerned with running the AC 24/7 AND using heater bars like that together. Please, consider doing something different.

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It is generally more important find a humidity level that you can fairly easily maintain. Up to 65% RH is not unreasonable. We generally consider anything between 35% and 65% to be fairly reasonable.

But just remember that it takes time for all the "construction" related variables to stabilize.

Peter Grey Piano Doctor


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Originally Posted by P W Grey
This poster has a complete protocol for solving this problem (if it exists). In fact I suspect he/she would be willing to travel to Singapore (for a fee of course) to correct it for you.
P_W_Grey seemingly means well, but he doesn't have experience working in other countries. So he probably doesn't understand that his suggestion amounts to criminal solicitation. People can't just go to another country and work on pianos. It doesn't work like that. Working visas have to be obtained, and these aren't given out to just anyone. People have to go through a lengthy vetting process where they have to prove their credentials, among many other legal steps. Visas are usually are not granted for working one piano. Depending on the country, there are exemptions for warranty work, but that doesn't involve a fee from a customer. No one should be traveling to another country and taking work away from local piano tuners without first obtaining a working visa and relocating to that country. Each country has their own process.

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Originally Posted by Wzkit1
In addition, I also had Dampp Chaser heating rods installed just above the action (rather than underneath the soundboard) two weeks ago. Because of the high humidity levels, the Dampp Chaser systems here are typically not installed with the humidifier or the humidistat here
...
My main concern is whether turning on the Dampp Chaser heating rods together with 24/7 air conditioning might lead to excessive drying, especially when the weather is hot and the humidity levels drop to 45% or lower. I've heard stories about cracks in the soundboard as a result of heating rods, though in those cases, the piano lid was closed most of the time (mine is always fully open).

Where I live, the DC heating rods are typically used when 24/7 air conditioning is not an option.

One tech also told me that in his experience, tuning stability could suffer if the room humidity is persistently below 50%, and especially used in conjunction with the Dampp Chaser rods

To avoid excessive drying, one suggestion has been to use an electric socket timer switch to turn on and off the DC heating rod on alternate hours, though another tech thought it is better to keep the DC heating rod either permanently on or off for maximum stability.


The best answer to all these concerns is probably, if you do choose to use heating rods, to just control them with a humidstat rather than something as crude as a timer. It is after all very easy and cheap to get something like the (rather good) InkPen humidity controller off Amazon or ebay. And as has been said, to pick a reasonable target humidity that is realistic in your climate without requiring excessive correction.

Last edited by gwing; 01/06/21 11:53 AM.
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Originally Posted by gwing
It is after all very easy and cheap to get something like the (rather good) InkPen humidity controller off Amazon or ebay.
Inkpen would make a lot more sense for a name, but it's actually Inkbird, at least on our side of the pond. I agree for the money it's a good buy, I have several of their controllers running everything from my humidifier/dehumidifier in the piano room to our spare refrigerator in the garage.


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I’ve been to the Bösendorfer factory and have been told by three different people not to install a damp chaser. I use a portable dehumidifier in the summer and a humidifier in the winter. I’ve been to Singapore and know how humid it is. Isn’t there a suitable Heating, Ventilating, and Air Condition option? What has your technician said about your issue?

Last edited by Lakeviewsteve; 01/06/21 05:56 PM.

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