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Install Damp Chaser in 100 year old Piano??

Posted By: Duaner

Install Damp Chaser in 100 year old Piano?? - 04/24/19 08:29 PM

I have been working on an old upright (at least 100 years old) that my customer inherited from her family. She wants to keep it and it never had a Damp Chaser in it. It is in fairly good condition although I do have to work on all the pins soon as it will not keep very good tune. But, as it looks right now at some point some work has been done to it. For instance I see the still white but fading bridle straps and there are no string splices. Anyway she is interested in installing a Damp Chaser system but is afraid the piano is too old and the system will not help it much. She asked me that question "Will the DC help this old piano?" I couldn't be honest in my reply as I really do not know. So, I'm asking some of you who have experience what would you reply to her very fair question?
Posted By: That Guy

Re: Install Damp Chaser in 100 year old Piano?? - 04/24/19 10:37 PM

There are other that will reply that have lots of experience with the DC system. I use a product called MusicSorb. It's not as invasive as DC and there's nothing for the customer to do, as in watering the piano and changing pads. Is it as good as DC? Don't know. How do you measure these things? I've found it helpful with many pianos I service although it's certainly no miracle cure for a piano going out of tune. Then again, neither is DC.
Posted By: AWilley

Re: Install Damp Chaser in 100 year old Piano?? - 04/25/19 12:10 AM

I don't have any hard data...but I think I've noticed that the old 100 year old pianos don't seem to undergo the seasonal pitch swings with humidity to the degree that newer pianos do. Maybe it has something to do with the soundboard being old, and flat and tired?
Posted By: daniokeeper

Re: Install Damp Chaser in 100 year old Piano?? - 04/25/19 12:49 AM

If tuning stability is an issue, a DC will help. If tuning stability is not an issue, why spend the money?

With an old piano, it's often a matter of triage. Would she be better off replacing the bass bridge, replacing or reshaping the hammers, recovering the keys, etc?

Then, there's the question of whether she'd be better off putting that money towards a new or rebuilt piano.

What is the biggest problem this piano has?

What will give her the greatest improvement per dollar?

If tuning stability is an issue, make sure that there aren't mechanical reasons before installing a DC.... split bridges, loose tuning pins, soundboard coming unglued around the perimeter, etc.
Posted By: P W Grey

Re: Install Damp Chaser in 100 year old Piano?? - 04/25/19 01:40 AM

Duane,

Have you ever installed a system before?

Pwg
Posted By: Duaner

Re: Install Damp Chaser in 100 year old Piano?? - 04/25/19 01:45 AM

Originally Posted by P W Grey
Duane,

Have you ever installed a system before?

Pwg


I have installed four of them. Why?
Posted By: P W Grey

Re: Install Damp Chaser in 100 year old Piano?? - 04/25/19 01:53 AM

Have they improved the pianos?

Would you say?

Pwg
Posted By: Duaner

Re: Install Damp Chaser in 100 year old Piano?? - 04/25/19 10:12 AM

I would say a definite yes to that, Peter, but that's beside the point as my customer is asking "the piano is over 100 years old is it worth it to pay that much money to install this system in that old a piano?" It's a fair question it seems to me. I will ask it this way then "Would any of you put out the money to install a DC in a piano that is that old?" Would you, Peter?
Posted By: Floyd G

Re: Install Damp Chaser in 100 year old Piano?? - 04/25/19 10:40 AM

I tell my customers that in an old piano, the Damppchaser system is not for the piano, it's for the ears of the user. The only reason to put the system in a 100-year-old piano is if there is a reasonable hope that it will make the sweetness of the tuning last longer. I also note that the system can be transferred to a newer piano when one is purchased.
Posted By: Duaner

Re: Install Damp Chaser in 100 year old Piano?? - 04/25/19 12:11 PM

"I also note that the system can be transferred to a newer piano when one is purchased"

Excellent point, Floyd, I also have noted this to my customer, but only if they get another "vertical."
Posted By: P W Grey

Re: Install Damp Chaser in 100 year old Piano?? - 04/25/19 12:55 PM

I agree with that.

Pwg
Posted By: edferris

Re: Install Damp Chaser in 100 year old Piano?? - 04/25/19 02:54 PM

Measure the humidity. If it's not excessive (over 70% a significant part of the time), then you don't need to control it.
Posted By: Eric Gloo

Re: Install Damp Chaser in 100 year old Piano?? - 04/25/19 06:23 PM

I have installed many Dampp-Chaser systems in older upright pianos, and yes, they are helpful. Anything you can do to help maintain a consistent humidity level will be helpful.
Posted By: P W Grey

Re: Install Damp Chaser in 100 year old Piano?? - 04/25/19 07:22 PM

I am a strong proponent of the system. If they like their piano and want to do what's best for it, controlling the humidity (either ambient or internal, or both) is the single best thing they can do for it.

Installing a back cover in addition will also help it's effectiveness.

Pwg
Posted By: Rick_Parks

Re: Install Damp Chaser in 100 year old Piano?? - 04/25/19 11:07 PM

Hey, Peter smile Ready? LOL

The answer to your question, Duaner, is 'yes, it will help it'... But then, so would a humidifier for the winter months (which is most of the year up here in these parts......really do wish the sun would shine, and it would get above 50!).

So anyway, I agree with the previous reply in spending the money elsewhere... Should tell her to get a cheap humidifier for the room for the winter and spend the money on the piano to get it to play better. With the current costs of CC systems, one could go a long way to improve that piano!
Control 'the piano's area' of the room...Locate a hot-mist humidifier (cold-mist are junk) somewhere near the piano, as the will dissipate too quickly in a large room if put across the room). I have seen small humidifiers do wonders when placed near a piano in a room (not blowing on it!). Entire room's humidity doesn't get quite so high as the 'local environment' of the piano...Which is a good thing.

I had a customer that has a Willis of Montreal located in her old house... Never held tune very well for 4 years, while I had been telling her each year to get a humidifier and place it near the piano (it was a large room)... She FINALLY did it this past November!!! I got there to tune, and the piano that I had always had to pitch raise from about -20 to -25 before tuning it, was sitting at a beautiful -4 cents from A440! Not only that, but the tone of the bass section had improved- the soundboard had benefitted obviously. Humidifier was placed some 3 feet from the piano. Come summer, she'll open up during our naturally humid months, and the piano won't be moving much at all now...
This is simply one of many clients this past 2 years that I have begun to finally convince to do this... All of them are doing much better now!
So, yes- you can get the CC system and install it- but why?

Edit: The Willis of Montreal was from 1920's... So, right at 100 years old.
Posted By: Floyd G

Re: Install Damp Chaser in 100 year old Piano?? - 04/25/19 11:10 PM

Converting a vertical system to a grand system is a reasonably economical process. The upgrade parts are available from Damppchaser. I keep a kit on hand, together with the appropriate dehumidifier bars, so that I can do a grand installation even if I only have a boxed vertical system in stock.
Posted By: David-G

Re: Install Damp Chaser in 100 year old Piano?? - 04/25/19 11:45 PM

Originally Posted by Eric Gloo
I have installed many Dampp-Chaser systems in older upright pianos, and yes, they are helpful. Anything you can do to help maintain a consistent humidity level will be helpful.

Speaking as a non-professional - but as a fluid dynamicist - I would agree. There are all sorts of good points in this thread about why Dampp Chasers may be good, or may not be worth the money, or why room humidification may be a good idea. But I do not see that the piano being old is relevant to the effectiveness of the DC.

Posted By: P W Grey

Re: Install Damp Chaser in 100 year old Piano?? - 04/26/19 01:29 PM

Rick,

You can't argue with results. What brand(s) hot mist humidifier have you found particularly useful? I'm willing to try it.

Pwg
Posted By: AWilley

Re: Install Damp Chaser in 100 year old Piano?? - 04/26/19 02:44 PM

Originally Posted by David-G

But I do not see that the piano being old is relevant to the effectiveness of the DC.

If you accept the premise that at least part of the change in pitch comes from the wood of the soundboard expanding to increase the "crown" then I would think it would be relevant if it were an old, flat, and maybe cracked soundboard with zero downbearing.
Posted By: kpembrook

Re: Install Damp Chaser in 100 year old Piano?? - 04/26/19 02:59 PM

Originally Posted by Rick_Parks
Hey, Peter smile Ready? LOL

The answer to your question, Duaner, is 'yes, it will help it'... But then, so would a humidifier for the winter months (which is most of the year up here in these parts......really do wish the sun would shine, and it would get above 50!).

So anyway, I agree with the previous reply in spending the money elsewhere... Should tell her to get a cheap humidifier for the room for the winter and spend the money on the piano to get it to play better. With the current costs of CC systems, one could go a long way to improve that piano!
Control 'the piano's area' of the room...Locate a hot-mist humidifier (cold-mist are junk) somewhere near the piano, as the will dissipate too quickly in a large room if put across the room). I have seen small humidifiers do wonders when placed near a piano in a room (not blowing on it!). Entire room's humidity doesn't get quite so high as the 'local environment' of the piano...Which is a good thing.

I had a customer that has a Willis of Montreal located in her old house... Never held tune very well for 4 years, while I had been telling her each year to get a humidifier and place it near the piano (it was a large room)... She FINALLY did it this past November!!! I got there to tune, and the piano that I had always had to pitch raise from about -20 to -25 before tuning it, was sitting at a beautiful -4 cents from A440! Not only that, but the tone of the bass section had improved- the soundboard had benefitted obviously. Humidifier was placed some 3 feet from the piano. Come summer, she'll open up during our naturally humid months, and the piano won't be moving much at all now...
This is simply one of many clients this past 2 years that I have begun to finally convince to do this... All of them are doing much better now!
So, yes- you can get the CC system and install it- but why?

Edit: The Willis of Montreal was from 1920's... So, right at 100 years old.


Sounds great, except...
The humidity is going "somewhere". Unless the house has an internal vapor barrier, that "somewhere" may be into the walls and the insulation that may be located there. In any event, it will condense whenever it reaches the dew point.

It's true that the water vapor in a DC system is also going "somewhere" -- but it is a much lower volume over a longer period of time. I suspect that a hot vapor room humidifier would put out as much moisture in a day as a DC system does in a week -- at least in mid-FEB here in our area where outside temps can get to -20ºF.

I'm not disputing the results you describe at all. This may be a good solution for some situations. However, unless a person can have some confidence in where the vapor is going, it may be one of those "unanticipated consequences" kind of situations.
Posted By: pyropaul

Re: Install Damp Chaser in 100 year old Piano?? - 04/26/19 03:39 PM

Most houses that suffer from low humidity in the winter do so because they are not airtight. In those cases it's pretty much impossible to add so much humidity that it's going to condense in the structure. The long-term fix to low interior RH is to fix the air leaks - you need a blower-door test for this usually.

Paul.
Posted By: rysowers

Re: Install Damp Chaser in 100 year old Piano?? - 04/27/19 03:51 AM

Hi Pyropaul,

I know you mean well, but that is some misguided information you are giving out, which could lead to some serious consequences. HVAC professionals publish information on what the maximum humidity you should allow in order to not cause damage to your home. I'm speaking from experience - I got condensation in my wall by running a warm mist humidifier. Luckily we caught it before it did too much damage!

Here's some info from my blog on humidity:

Caution: Don’t over-humidifier your house during a cold snap!

If you live an a climate that gets very cold in the winter, there are limits to how high you can let your indoor humidity get. During extreme cold spells, trying to keep the indoor environment at 45% relative humidity will damage your home by causing condensation inside the walls. Heating/Cooling specialists have charts listing the maximum humidity level indoors for a given outdoor temperature:

Outside Temperature Inside Humidity

20º to 40ºF Not over 40%

10º to 20ºF Not over 35%

0º to 10ºF Not over 30%

-10º to 0ºF Not over 25%

-20º to –10ºF Not over 20%

-20ºF or below Not over 15%

https://www.hvac.com/faq/recommended-humidity-level-home/
https://www.energyvanguard.com/blog/what-is-the-best-indoor-relative-humidity-in-winter
Posted By: P W Grey

Re: Install Damp Chaser in 100 year old Piano?? - 04/27/19 05:27 PM

Ryan,

I have made this EXACT same argument repeatedly. The problem (as you know) is that unless the owner can actually SEE the structural damage taking place, they don't care. If they see their windows rotting away, or mold growing on their walls, they're going to instantly cut back. But because the process is hidden from view it gets denied as of any consequence. Someday you have to pay the piper though.

I do agree with room humidification UP TO the recommended limit based on latitude. These formulae were not thought up out of thin air. There is science and physics involved.

The combination of moderate humidification AND internal control is the best of both IMO.

Pwg
Posted By: Rick_Parks

Re: Install Damp Chaser in 100 year old Piano?? - 04/28/19 11:28 AM


In fact, Peter made this exact argument (almost a duplicate), and presented the SAME exact chart (produced by HVAC experts)... Is this going to be the new approach out there by techs-- to scare-tactic the sale of CC systems?

Here is what was said just a couple weeks back on this topic:

Originally Posted by P W Grey:
Quote
As to whole-room or whole-house humidification in winter. This CAN be a very good thing, however you need the whole story otherwise it can eventually turn into a very bad thing.

If you live in a typical wood frame home with typical construction then there is a formula that applies to you, devised by experts in the field of HVAC and climate control. The results of the formula are as follows:

Outside temperature 20-40 degrees = inside RH 40% max
OT 10-20 degrees = inside RH 35% max
OT 0-10 degrees = inside RH 30% max
OT -10-0 degrees = inside RH 25% max
OT -20- -10 degrees = inside RH 20% max

Etc. Etc.

If you regularly humidify your living space in excess of the above max values you WILL have moisture migration through your inside wall coverings (sheetrock) which will continue to migrate into the insulation and wood studs until it reaches the point where it freezes. Now you have ice in your walls. When that ice melts, where do you think it goes? Repeat this cycle over and over and you create rot and a breeding ground for mold.

If you live in a mild climate this is NO PROBLEM. However, if you live in a climate where the outside temperature regularly drops below 20 degrees (F) and you are exceeding the max values above you are slowly creating a serious problem in your home. You cannot see it, therefore it is generally of no concern UNTIL you have to "pay the piper".

If you don't believe me, look it up for yourself, or call your friendly HVAC expert. They know all about it and will inform you accordingly. The law requires them to set their installations not to exceed the above, accordingly in reference to the latitude of your habitat. Why? BECAUSE THEY KNOW THE RAMIFICATIONS AND DON'T WANT TO BE SUED!

If you exceed these parameters you do so at your own risk. That's the WHOLE story.

Pwg


To which I replied - and still do:
Quote
Not quite "the WHOLE story”.
You left off many countering details to what you claim above.
One will see evidence of this problem, BEFORE it does what you are saying- in the fact that you will get condensation on your windows BEFORE that happens in your walls. Not to mention, all homes are vented up top to relieve much of that humidity...

This is really silly when one takes time to reason it out. If your walls are getting wet to the point of saturation, then you are going to have foggy windows. This would be why I tell our clients that if the see the windows fog up they have the humidity too high, it needs to be lower...this really is nothing more than the average humidifier instructions say (if you look at them). Through trial, up here, that is around the 35-40% mark. The level of moisture in your walls is going to fluctuate- that is what the home's design was meant to handle! From the beginning of time, the slow seepage of moisture has always transferred from inside to outside of walls. That is a NORMAL process. It is A CONSTANT PROCESS IN ALL HOMES... Water based paint for exterior is recommended because it breathes- allows flow of water vapor (humidity). It is a sloooooow process that, unless extreme, will not harm your home. Roof vents are a normal standard on home (attic vents). Many other elements go into home design to deal with this issue.
So, the lack of details, and what is left out of your examination, is what must be included to see "the whole story".

If it were the way the data you present claimed, we WOULD all be doomed to live at 15% RH for 5 months up here (LOL)...
So, these findings you present--- why situation does it present for us? It would have all of us who live up here in northern Maine keep our homes to 15-20% during most of our 6 months of winter! Ridiculous!
Oh, but then, thinking about it further- what does it leave us with as options? If we don't wish to HAVE TO live at that 15% in RH for 7 months (trying to keep our noses from bleeding us to death), our other choice would be to call in the HVAC team, or the Climate Control System team!....hmmmmm - see how it works? As you are presenting numbers that are coming from HVAC experts and CC experts...

Quote

"...there is a formula that applies to you, devised by experts in the field of HVAC and climate control."


These figures are meant for industrial promotion- just as with all the silly arguments I hear out there in favor of a LifeSaver system over that of ‘controlling the room climate’!...data coming from people who have an agenda is not proof of anything. If the industry can scare people into thinking they'll 'make icebergs in their wall', then the people will realize that they are left with not other option but to BUY BUY BUY the product (HVAC, CC units, what-have-you). I point out that this is link closely to your own little statement of,


Quote
"…If you exceed these parameters you do so at your own risk…"


Not saying you're doing this to sell anything-- many techs out there are furthering the data and info given them simply through accepting it at face value, and spreading it further as facts. This happens A LOT.

So, we can now see how- if we wish to get to "the WHOLE story", it actually takes up a bit more time and space on the page!



And, a question- if I MUST keep my home at 20% humidity, since we get down to -20 easy here routinely- and I must have a CC system because of this--- what is happening to my piano? Since the difference in inside/outside humidity will be approximately 30 percentage points difference at all times! Do you know what that does to wood, Ryan?!?! It won't be a good result I can tell you!

Quote

I know you mean well, but that is some misguided information you are giving out, which could lead to some serious consequences. HVAC professionals publish information

And re-publishing HVAC professional publications is not misguided when it comes to wanting unbiased findings?

And again, NO home is airtight- indeed, it would not be desirable to even try to make a home such. All are designed with a ventilation system of some sort-- even in wall design.
As the humidifier instructions point out, and people have been instructed for a long time now-- if you see your windows with condensation, you are pumping too much humidity into the home... I have found that this is somewhere around 40%-45% in the homes up here (again winters are around 0-f all the time- night times are -15 easy).
Posted By: P W Grey

Re: Install Damp Chaser in 100 year old Piano?? - 04/28/19 05:33 PM

Rick,

With all due respect, are you saying that all the published RH info, etc. is essentially a crock? And that it exists solely for the advantage of the HVAC industry? And that it should be totally ignored as being solely a profit motive?

Actually, though I fully agree that ambient humidity control is inherently superior, my goal (which I always tell people) is to get their piano into a state where they only need to see me once a year, and that their piano will sound "good" all year (vs going through the cycle of tune/good/season change/bad/tune again/good/season change again/bad...etc). If the client is unable or unwilling (for whatever reasons) to maintain ambient stable room environment, I tell them the next best thing is an internal humidity control system. Particularly in the case of vertical pianos they can now cut their regular tuning schedule in half (or more in some cases) and the piano will sound better all year than it would tuning it twice/year.

Now any "profit" I might have made from installing the system is easily gone in one or two years due to my "losing" tuning appointments to the stability of the piano. They don't need me as much. Where is my profit motive in this? This, in fact is what I have detected (and even heard out of the mouths of tuners) as to the REAL reason many do not advocate this system...they lose money (in their minds). BECAUSE it works (particularly well on verticals...not as well on grands), they feel their existence is threatened.


I'm NOT saying this is your motivation. You obviously have found a way to motivate clients to run a humidifier consistently through the winter (to their advantage) whereas I cannot seem to do that except in a few cases. I flat out tell people: "The single most important thing you can do for your piano is to control the humidity". When faced with the options, most choose the internal unit because it's easier to deal with. (Yes I do have some clients with complete climate control in their houses so they do NOT need anything in/on the piano).

It seems to me (again with all due respect) that you feel that greed, manipulation and opportunism is behind the Dampp-chaser company and that we would all be better off if they imply folded up and went the way of the dodo bird. And from what you have said that feeling might even apply to the entire HVAC industry...perhaps?

The above paragraph might be a little "overkill"...yes, but I'm legitimately confused as to your overall intent.

I am saying this because in 44 years I have had about 90%-95% success rate with usage of these systems (when installed and maintained properly). I do not see the "damage done" that you have inferred. If I did, I would be talking differently.

Pwg
Posted By: Rick_Parks

Re: Install Damp Chaser in 100 year old Piano?? - 04/30/19 10:26 PM

Originally Posted by P W Grey
Rick,

With all due respect, are you saying that all the published RH info, etc. is essentially a crock? And that it exists solely for the advantage of the HVAC industry? And that it should be totally ignored as being solely a profit motive?


Let me just suggest that these figures not be held as scientific... Let's get some findings from independent sources (without any conflicting interests), if you wish to present them as evidence. Those figures are extremely low for a reason, and it isn't due to your wall's interior mildewing, or rotting out.

Quote
...Now any "profit" I might have made from installing the system is easily gone in one or two years due to my "losing" tuning appointments to the stability of the piano. They don't need me as much. Where is my profit motive in this? This, in fact is what I have detected (and even heard out of the mouths of tuners) as to the REAL reason many do not advocate this system...they lose money (in their minds). BECAUSE it works (particularly well on verticals...not as well on grands), they feel their existence is threatened.


smile I assure you that my concern is for the pianos... Since, we both know very well that a piano will absolutely require tuning at least once a year, no matter how much one controls it's environment - the instrument falls out of tune due to many factors.
So, any concern about loss of money from the yearly tuning is a rather bogus suggestion I think smile
Since the average client (for me anyway) is only getting it tuned once a year.
I know that I could build quite a nice little nest-egg on the sale of LifeSaver systems up here in this environment, if I were of the mind. But, I'm not. Sometimes I would like to be, but I always go the other route ("go to Walmart and get yourself a humidifier- you might not control the room, but you can control the area the piano is in, in the room")... It works.


Quote
...I'm NOT saying this is your motivation. You obviously have found a way to motivate clients to run a humidifier consistently through the winter (to their advantage) whereas I cannot seem to do that except in a few cases. I flat out tell people: "The single most important thing you can do for your piano is to control the humidity".

It's simple. Tell them what happen to pianos that are not controlled, then state how that their piano will be destroyed if they don't do something. Proceed to state the price of a Lifesaver system, and then point out "BUT, you can get rather staggering results by simply getting a cheap humidifier from Walmart and running it during the winter months". Which works rather affectively.
FOR the which though, now I come on here and suddenly find a NEW thing going around the tech community about how humidifiers will destroy your home! LOL
Really? Why are the companies still making them?
Seems they would stop due to liability issues (at the least). Or, at the least the instruction for what level of humidity would be dramatically changed!
But in the past two weeks I suddenly am getting this EXACT SAME 'scary' retort, whenever I mention humidifiers, coming from all the techs at once, it appears - kinda reminds me of the media when they get a new angle to run with... People should stop just repeating what they are told, and take time to consider the facts, AND WHERE the data is coming from.


Quote
It seems to me (again with all due respect) that you feel that greed, manipulation and opportunism is behind the Dampp-chaser company and that we would all be better off if they imply folded up and went the way of the dodo bird. And from what you have said that feeling might even apply to the entire HVAC industry...perhaps?

LOL I like that smile
Actually you are not far from my thoughts on those matters...
Perhaps when the people that do Lifesaver present some ACTUAL test confirmations and scientific findings on how these systems affect a piano's overall health over the many, many years these heating bars are running so close to the spruce soundboard, and the humidity being pumped directly into the piano- perhaps then I will have more confidence in the safety of these units over the long haul.
I'm not alone in my thoughts, as I'm sure you are aware that Steinway actually voids their warranty if one wishes to install one of these- as do others mfg's.
So far, the only tests/findings I have been able to get is some silly comparison test from ONE piano with a Lifesaver installed, tuned once and LEFT CLOSED UP UNTOUCHED for a year (checking on the tuning every couple months). What this did in the way of proof of anything is still a wonder to us...Certainly does nothing to assuage any of the true concerns of prolonged exposure to the system. We contacted them, and they said that this was the only test results that they had available for publication. This was two years ago-- perhaps something has changed?
It all strike me - yes- as pure sale's gimmick driven by "greed, manipulation and opportunism" as you say...
Again, the test they have available for us seems to have been performed in a manner in which the company can, as an end-goal, say, "Voila, see how it works!". The piano wasn't even played during the test period!

If it weren't for but one thing I should like to see them all go the way of the Dodo bird (is it really extinct? remember the bald eagle? one day it'll be discovered in droves in some forsaken wilderness)- BUT for the fact that, when all else fails, it is good to have a system like that to fall back on- again, when ALL else fails. I think I have had to fall back on it 3 times in 5 or 6 years.

Quote
I am saying this because in 44 years I have had about 90%-95% success rate with usage of these systems (when installed and maintained properly). I do not see the "damage done" that you have inferred. If I did, I would be talking differently.

I never try to argue that the system doesn't stabilize the piano's tuning. It does. But, keeping a tuning closer for a longer period of time DOES NOT mean your piano is being subjected to a healthy long-term environment. I think you know this too smile

So, if you have a number of instruments that you have kept track of in service for 10+ years with a climate control routinely kept up- I would like the findings you have... Seriously. smile
Even then though- how do we know the same results would not have happened with a piano in the same room without any Lifesaver... This is what I would REALLY like to see-- a true comparison of TWO same-make pianos in the same room in the same environment, 1 with, 1 without. Let's have a fair scientific test please--- I mean it has been what? 35+ years since these things started coming out!?! And no one seems interested in keeping records or looking into things. LOL probably because MOST of the time the systems go-by-the-way-side to improper use and end up with mildew, crusty pads, and a bucket that needs the barnacles scraped off it.
Seriously though, how many of these pianos out there with the systems are requiring major soundboard work (or other things) after so long a time? Do we know? Nope. There are no numbers to crunch.
*shrugs*
So I take my stand on the side of suspiciously eyeing the industry, and cautiously observing. laugh
One is rarely disappointed when being wary of such things. wink Especially when there are no UN-biased sources being used for the tech community to publish.
Posted By: P W Grey

Re: Install Damp Chaser in 100 year old Piano?? - 05/01/19 02:12 AM

Rick,

I shall chew on that for awhile and see what comes up. Though as I have stated, room control is the best...internal control is second best.

Pwg
Posted By: kpembrook

Re: Install Damp Chaser in 100 year old Piano?? - 05/01/19 05:02 AM

Another element you haven't factored in on "saving money" is the comparable cost of operating each unit. A humidifier and dehumidifier will cost significantly more to operate than the DC system.
Posted By: Ed Foote

Re: Install Damp Chaser in 100 year old Piano?? - 05/01/19 12:56 PM

Originally Posted by Rick_Parks


Let me just suggest that these figures not be held as scientific... Let's get some findings from independent sources (without any conflicting interests), if you wish to present them as evidence. <snip>

Quote
It seems to me (again with all due respect) that you feel that greed, manipulation and opportunism is behind the Dampp-chaser company and that we would all be better off if they imply folded up and went the way of the dodo bird. And from what you have said that feeling might even apply to the entire HVAC industry...perhaps?


LOL I like that smile
Actually you are not far from my thoughts on those matters...
Perhaps when the people that do Lifesaver present some ACTUAL test confirmations and scientific findings on how these systems affect a piano's overall health over the many, many years these heating bars are running so close to the spruce soundboard, and the humidity being pumped directly into the piano- perhaps then I will have more confidence in the safety of these units over the long haul.

<snip>
So I take my stand on the side of suspiciously eyeing the industry, and cautiously observing. laugh
One is rarely disappointed when being wary of such things. wink Especially when there are no UN-biased sources being used for the tech community to publish.


Greetings,
If we are to discard all anecdotal evidence, and await clinical trials, we will never make any progress. If we suspect that conspiracy theory is powering the piano climate control industry, there will never be enough evidence to overcome the fear. Since my customers will rarely tolerate a cheap humidifier keeping the windows wet while soaking their sills as it sits humming along with their Chopin, I use the DC systems. They have made, with the digital humidistats, significant improvement in every piano I have installed them in. This has been my experience over many years with the same instruments.

Not particularly a profitable use of my time to install, and I still tune with the same frequency. However, I am no longer doing large pitch changes between seasons on these instruments, and their owners are enjoying not only far more "in tune" time, but also, the absence of huge octave spreads between seasonal changes. I sell fairly expensive tunings, and these systems make the difference in tuning stability that provides my employment security.

Enough on tuning, if one cannot recognize the additional stability of DC equipped pianos, I have no explanation. However, the overall health of the action is also dependent on the consistency of the humidity in the piano. Wooden flanges expand and contract with variations, and the looseness of the screws in the middle of winter indicates how far the range can go. The DC equipped systems I maintain exhibit far less flange looseness, and much less shank twisting, than non-equipped pianos. Even the voicing is more stable. Less of a problem now that I have moved exclusively to WNG parts, but wooden rails also stabilize more narrowly with the humidity in the piano more under control.

So, the pros of using controlled systems are more stable tuning,(personal observation ), and less variation in the piano's immediate environment, (which every glue joint appreciates). Given the number of cross-grain joints there are in a piano, and wood's dependance on humidity levels for its dimensional stability, it is more than plausible that decreasing the range of humidity will increase the stability of the action and its parts. If scientific evidence is required to accept this, then scientific evidence should be required to show that greater swings of humidity are beneficial.....

The cons? Upfront cost to customers, need to maintain it when the lights flash, and yearly cost to replace wicks. It also takes a technician that trusts that the investment is in the customer's best interest.
A system may offer less of a return on investment installed in a 100 year old upright that has already settled into its history's damage than a new piano. However, on a new $ 30,000+ investment, they offer more protection for the money than any other approach I have seen. I have installed them in all of my own (3) restored grands, and I think they are a bargain.
regards
Posted By: kpembrook

Re: Install Damp Chaser in 100 year old Piano?? - 05/01/19 01:33 PM

Ed's experience is mine as well. Even the older systems that I installed in the '70s had a positive impact. The new systems are better.
Posted By: P W Grey

Re: Install Damp Chaser in 100 year old Piano?? - 05/01/19 02:09 PM

All my personal pianos have them. Personally, I would not want it otherwise as my overall experience has been very positive. I have seen no ill effects from a properly installed and functioning (and maintained) unit.

And with the installation of a complete cover on a grand, not only does it cause the system to work better, it also (IMO) eliminates the "one side humidifed...other side not" issue that seems to support most objections to the arrangement. A back cover on a vertical also helps in this regard.

I would like to know factually, what damage some think is being done by a properly installed unit. So far, I have heard nothing except as stated above, and with that no evidence of any "damage" occurring from it. But I am open minded.

Pwg
Posted By: Eric Gloo

Re: Install Damp Chaser in 100 year old Piano?? - 05/01/19 03:43 PM

Well stated Ed. That has been my experience, too. My own piano loves its DC system. It tells me every time I play it.
Posted By: Rick_Parks

Re: Install Damp Chaser in 100 year old Piano?? - 05/01/19 10:35 PM

I won't waste another long post here to repeat what has been pointed out... I never argued the fact that the system stabilizes the piano's tuning and even the regulation (to some extent)- that does not have anything to do with my concerns...Also, remember, you are creating TWO environments for the piano when you go with DampChaser systems...One inside and one outside.
Go back and read my post about my concerns.
Obviously some focus was lost somewhere, because the arguing still appears to be that "Oh, it works to stabilize my piano since I installed it", "Have had great results on mine", etc...
My points are valid.
Not conspiracy.
And, no one is suggesting to anyone that we soak the customers windows, sills, or walls smile
Pointless perhaps to respond to such silly, useless statements that are given off the cuff and without consideration to logical debate.
And again- I am far from alone in these concerns.

I would venture to say that my concerns of slow creeping damage to the piano is much the same as the statements that are being made about the walls with a humidifier. Though mine are founded in factual time-proven things such as a humid inside, dry outside and what that causes for wood; long-term direct heat near wood, long-term condensed humidity near wood. These things HAVE been proven to result in really ugly problems with wood. I just would like information to support the boastings of a "LIFE-SAVER". After 30 + years you'd think there would be something.
Posted By: P W Grey

Re: Install Damp Chaser in 100 year old Piano?? - 05/02/19 02:31 AM

Originally Posted by Rick_Parks
..Also, remember, you are creating TWO environments for the piano when you go with DampChaser systems...One inside and one outside.
Go back and read my post about my concerns.
Obviously some focus was lost somewhere, because the arguing still appears to be that "Oh, it works to stabilize my piano since I installed it", "Have had great results on mine", etc...
My points are valid.

I would venture to say that my concerns of slow creeping damage to the piano is much the same as the statements that are being made about the walls with a humidifier. Though mine are founded in factual time-proven things such as a humid inside, dry outside and what that causes for wood; long-term direct heat near wood, long-term condensed humidity near wood. These things HAVE been proven to result in really ugly problems with wood.


Okay Rick,

I have heard this argument numerous times, however no one who makes it has actually shown any evidence of it. So, what precisely are the ugly problems resulting from a difference in RH from one side of the board to the other? I am particularly interested in what you have personally observed, since I have observed nothing in this respect (again assuming a properly installed and maintained systen...not an improperly installed, or neglected one).

What do you have?

Pwg
Posted By: Ed Foote

Re: Install Damp Chaser in 100 year old Piano?? - 05/02/19 02:44 AM

Originally Posted by Rick_Parks

And, no one is suggesting to anyone that we soak the customers windows, sills, or walls smile
Pointless perhaps to respond to such silly, useless statements that are given off the cuff and without consideration to logical debate.
.


Hmm, If you are suggesting adding humidity to a dry winter house to keep a piano from drying out, you are certainly suggesting this. I have had multiple customers with humidifiers going in the winter, straining to maintain 45% in their house with it 20 degrees outside. There is condensation on the windows and pools of water on the sills. (Old time painters didn't use razor blades, but rather, left a thin bead of paint joining the edge of the glass to the wood, which would prevent the condensate from rotting out the sash) The same thing occurs at the Blair School of Music, in their 'modern' double sash window placements. Can't run the humidity high enough without water on the sills.

There is no off the cuff here, there was a specific reason for mentioning that trying to humidify a house instead of a piano is folly.
Posted By: kpembrook

Re: Install Damp Chaser in 100 year old Piano?? - 05/02/19 03:13 AM

Originally Posted by Ed Foote
There is no off the cuff here, there was a specific reason for mentioning that trying to humidify a house instead of a piano is folly.


Just because some may not be aware of this fact, it is not some obscure piece of lore but common knowledge amongst quality building contractors, architects and HVAC professionals.

Aprilaire (and others) who manufacture home humidifiers specify that the humidistat on their devices should be turned down as outside temperature goes down.
See their user instructions here:
https://www.aprilaire.com/docs/defa...model-550-owners-manual-obs.pdf?sfvrsn=6
(Operating Instructions starts on page 3)

This information has been available since the middle of last century.
Posted By: Rick_Parks

Re: Install Damp Chaser in 100 year old Piano?? - 05/02/19 02:42 PM

Originally Posted by kpembrook
Originally Posted by Ed Foote
There is no off the cuff here, there was a specific reason for mentioning that trying to humidify a house instead of a piano is folly.


Just because some may not be aware of this fact, it is not some obscure piece of lore but common knowledge amongst quality building contractors, architects and HVAC professionals.

Aprilaire (and others) who manufacture home humidifiers specify that the humidistat on their devices should be turned down as outside temperature goes down.
See their user instructions here:
https://www.aprilaire.com/docs/defa...model-550-owners-manual-obs.pdf?sfvrsn=6
(Operating Instructions starts on page 3)

This information has been available since the middle of last century.

Perhaps you missed each time I said, the instructions all state to lower the setting IF condensation appears on the windows-- thus you will NOT harm your home, as long as you find the setting that allows for this... This would be why I described finding that mark to be about 40% in the homes I deal with (and saying one needs to accomplish 45% is simply to set up a situation where one may then be assured to be able to say to the client, "see the condensation?!?!"; strawman being set up to argue a point there)... As for the manual you speak of-- the only thing printed on pg.3 is that of adjusting settings 'when one sees condensation' on windows, and that of: "During the coldest portion of the heating season, minor adjustments may be needed"... These are all things I myself have said all along about the directions for use of humidifiers. So, what? My previous statements have involved setting the humidity level to that just below condensation on windows (as instructions here say). During the coldest temps up here, that appears to be between 35% - 40%... Which is why your chart is so silly- would need to keep our homes up here at basically 15%. Enjoying your daily nose-bleeds there?! LOL

Now, when your side finally gets around to presenting evidence that it is actually 'saving your piano's life' ("LifeSaver" system), which again I would think that this evidence would be abundant in publications, AFTER 30+ years of sells (and pushing the clients into buying these units)...Perhaps THEN, I will show you the pictures of the soundboard cracks above the heating bars, and gather and present all my evidences from all professional wood-workers that show the twisting, cracking, and cupping of wood due to the conditions that are exactly like what you are introducing through DampChaser systems on the underside of your grand, or inside of your vertical. Till then, any one of you may go to a wood-working class and ask any of the teachers what would happen to a wood panel if you apply humidity to one side and dry to another... Two climates fighting on either side of the wood is harmful to wood- simple fact.

And I really love it! It is really quite funny. People who have been doing this system for 30+ years don't need any evidence to show that they are NOT going to be doing harm to the instrument, YET, DEMAND evidence that they ARE from the one presenting the concerns! LOL Nice way of looking at things!
I would think LOGIC to say that those installing these systems should BEFOREHAND have a scientific record of tests and results proving that it won't harm that $75,000 Steinway... But, then, I guess we don't have that stuff do we? Just try ASKING for it from DampChaser!
This would be why Steinway DOES NOT ALLOW us to install these systems on their warranties pianos!

I end with the silliness of a statement such as, "trying to humidify a house instead of a piano is folly"...
NOW it is come to the point where techs are calling it "folly" to attempt to control the environment of the piano- rather than FORCE two climates on the piano (and that's what you are doing; like it or not)! The true "folly", in my opinion, comes in making such statements to begin with.
I think that when anyone considers what is being said in these posts, they will understand that, what little bit of info being put out on these things is clearly biased toward promotion of said items.
Posted By: P W Grey

Re: Install Damp Chaser in 100 year old Piano?? - 05/03/19 01:15 AM

Originally Posted by Rick_Parks

Now, when your side finally gets around to presenting evidence that it is actually 'saving your piano's life' ("LifeSaver" system), which again I would think that this evidence would be abundant in publications, AFTER 30+ years of sells (and pushing the clients into buying these units)...Perhaps THEN, I will show you the pictures of the soundboard cracks above the heating bars, and gather and present all my evidences from all professional wood-workers that show the twisting, cracking, and cupping of wood due to the conditions that are exactly like what you are introducing through DampChaser systems on the underside of your grand, or inside of your vertical. Till then, any one of you may go to a wood-working class and ask any of the teachers what would happen to a wood panel if you apply humidity to one side and dry to another... Two climates fighting on either side of the wood is harmful to wood- simple fact.



I must say in all honesty that I am genuinely puzzled since in all the years I've been doing this I have never seen what you describe in any piano equipped with a DC system, properly installed, maintained, etc. Never.

However, I HAVE seen everything you describe in pianos that have gone decades without any humidity control whatsoever (inside or outside). Yes, I have seen over-dried pianos from leaving a rod running 24/7/365...and I have seen other things happen from improper installation or neglect or a rare malfunction, but I can honestly say I have never seen anything like what you describe as a result of a properly functioning unit.

I am not disputing your findings. In an effort to mitigate some (if not all of what you contend) I have gone to installing complete covers on grands (and it has helped a lot) to better control the entire instrument. And I repeat that I consider room control number 1 best, but where this is unable or undesired by the owner I consider inside control second best. And the verticals that I service that have a back cover are THE MOST STABLE instruments I have ever seen. I consider the stability of the structure to be the primary component in the longevity of the instrument.

So the long and short of it simply is that my personal analytical observation over 4 decades negates the need for any scientific study to prove anything. I have already proven it to myself. And I'm not creating any nest egg installing them.


Pwg
Posted By: Rick_Parks

Re: Install Damp Chaser in 100 year old Piano?? - 05/03/19 12:13 PM

Guess I was coming across as lumping all techs on here together, Peter-- that wasn't fair of me.
I understand you to be telling me that you have been servicing pianos for 30+ years that have these systems.
Seriously, I would like to hear any findings on ANY one particular piano that you may serviced, as to its behavior and health over a time-frame for around 15 years or more- if there have been any issues or not. It would need to be a piano that you have personally seen over that time, and know that the CC unit has been running and kept up. Because, normally on the pianos that I service, which had them installed- either the systems fall into disuse, or became so old they became useless to even have plugged in. As I have not been up here but for 10 years servicing the area, this is what I am finding from past tech installations (which were proper installs as far as all positioning). It truly does not look good from my stand-point here for the long-term on these things - especially having carried certain biases about instrument care, and suspicions and genuine concerns about these units before having witnessed all this.

And, I did not mean to imply that you had a motive of trying to create 'a nest egg' out of selling- that was only meant to describe my situation here and the possibilities for me. However, I know for certain that there are many techs that are doing this- even if it required them to simply sell a heating rod alone, without any control (which I know you are against, rightfully)!

Perhaps we need a new thread for the Tech findings on this matter about DampChaser systems over the years.
If anyone has experienced what I believe to be seeing...Or, if mine is an oddity of its own. Perhaps it might help settle an issue that DampChaser doesn't seem to have covered for those of us who hold these concerns?
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