A piano is a relatively major investment in your home that requires significant upkeep and a substantial amount of care. Several aspects of a piano's construction are sensitive to the humidity in a room, making humidity management an important part of piano care and maintenance.
Are piano humidifiers and dehumidifiers necessary? While humidifiers and dehumidifiers are not always required to keep a piano in good working order, they are a highly useful added feature when your piano is exposed to constantly changing humidity levels. Consistent humidity levels help maintain your piano in good condition throughout its life.
There are certain circumstances in which a humidifier or dehumidifier would be considered highly necessary. There are other conditions in which it would not be required. This depends on the ambient air conditions in the piano's environment and whatever cooling or heating equipment is used in the space that may simultaneously affect the humidity.
Are Piano Humidifiers & Dehumidifiers Necessary?
While humidifiers and dehumidifiers are not necessary for every circumstance, they can sometimes prove extremely useful in extending the lifespan of your piano. They will ultimately help to ensure that less maintenance is required throughout the piano's lifetime.
When a piano is exposed to constantly changing temperatures and humidity levels, it causes it to lose its tone faster. As a result, humidifiers and dehumidifiers can be extremely helpful in these circumstances.
If the humidity levels in a space are constantly monitored, this will help maintain the piano's tuning. Humidifiers assist in this respect by maintaining a constant level of humidity for the piano and ensuring that the humidity is at the optimum level for the piano's proper functioning at all times.
Suppose a piano is not placed against an internal wall or is located near a window or door. In that case, a humidifier will most likely be required to combat the constant presence of moving air.
Suppose the room where your piano is situated tends to undergo radically changing humidity levels. In that case, a humidifier will again become necessary to prevent damage caused by exposure to inconsistent temperatures and humidity.
How Does Humidity Affect Pianos?
It's important to bear in mind that because a piano is mostly made of wood, it is drastically affected by the humidity levels in the air. For a piano to maintain an ideal and prime condition, specific moisture levels in the air are required. Pianos can generally operate sufficiently well in a good range of humidity levels, though they will underperform and even become damaged in environments that are too humid or too dry.
If the moisture levels in the air are extremely low, the timber of the piano can become extremely dry and start to shrink, causing cracking in the thinner sections of timber.
If the humidity levels are too high, this will cause swelling of the wood, which will, in turn, cause issues with tuning and regulating the piano. Everything within the functioning of the piano is drastically affected by humidity levels.
This includes every aspect, from the voice of the piano to the touch of the keys. This is why humidity control is important for the optimal functioning of your piano.
With quick changes in humidity levels, a piano can suffer significant damage. There are certain glues used in putting a piano together, and this glue can start to come apart when the piano is subjected to drastic humidity changes.
The delicate materials from which the piano is made can start to become unglued, after which they will start to shift. This can include any part of the piano, such as the felt in the hammers, the rail pins, strings, and dampers.
The thinner parts of the timber from which the piano is built also tend to crack when exposed to substantial fluctuations in humidity, especially in dry climates. This is the main reason why it is advised not to place a piano near a window or door, as air constantly moving through the space will cause issues with the piano.
Best Humidity Levels For Pianos
The best humidity levels for a piano have long been established to ensure that every piano stands a chance of longevity. It has been advised that a piano should never be subjected to humidity below 30% or above 70%.
Humidity levels below 30% are too dry and will, in turn, cause the piano to become dry, ultimately causing issues with the materials from which the piano is built.
In the hotter months of the year, the ideal humidity for a piano is around 50%. In cooler temperatures, humidity can be kept at around 40%.
A more consistent humidity level will ensure better performance for the piano. This will, in turn, allow for fewer expenses incurred when tuning and repairing the piano. If the climate is not carefully controlled, moisture levels in the air will constantly change, ultimately causing deterioration of the piano's wood.
Benefits Of Humidifiers & Dehumidifiers
While humidifiers and dehumidifiers can be expensive additions to your piano, they are generally considered to be well worth the expense in the long term for pianos placed in areas with inconsistent humidity levels.
Because consistent humidity levels ensure longer stability for the piano's tuning, far less frequent tuning is required. As a result, there are major cost savings in the long term.
By keeping humidity levels constant, the timber is kept in good shape, and there is less risk of cracks in the sounding board or other parts of the piano. This type of damage to the wood drastically affects the piano's tone, and damage to the wood is also usually difficult to repair.
Because the humidifier used for a piano can be moved anywhere with the instrument, it frees up flexibility in terms of allowing the piano to be placed anywhere in the home. This means that the piano can be placed in any spot to ensure the best humidity conditions.
Types Of Humidifiers
Cool misting humidifiers and warm misting humidifiers are often used, but these do not come highly recommended for use with a piano. The best option is usually an evaporative humidifier.
Dampp-Chaser makes a specially-designed piano humidifier fitted to the piano itself, ensuring perfect humidity levels for the piano all through the year. The name of this product is the Piano Life Saver (link to check it out at the official Piano Life Saver website). It is considered one of the best options for maintaining optimal humidity levels for your piano.
When To Use A Humidifier With Your Piano
A humidifier should be used with your piano if the piano is located in a particularly dry climate. As discussed above, extremely low humidity levels and the consequent dryness associated with this will cause long-term damage to the piano.
If the piano is not necessarily located in a dry climate but is placed in a room with air conditioning, the dryness of the air caused by the air conditioner will ultimately affect the piano. A case such as this will definitely necessitate the use of a humidifier.
When To Use A Dehumidifier With Your Piano
Suppose the region in which you live is particularly humid throughout the year. In that case, the chances are high that the piano's room will be subjected to similarly high humidity levels. As discussed above, high humidity over a long period of time will have a negative effect on the piano.
As a result, if the room itself is particularly humid for whatever reason, or the climate of the area is simply humid throughout the year, a dehumidifier will become necessary to ensure that the humidity levels to which the piano is subjected will remain at an acceptable level.
Overall, the necessity for a humidifier or dehumidifier for your piano depends on the climate in which the piano finds itself, as well as the use of mechanical cooling or heating devices where the piano is located.