Power outages - cold house's effect on pianos - Protecting pianos in power outages

Learn about pianos and how to maintain them

Postby Stretto » Mon Jan 29, 2007 1:49 pm

Hi everyone. I really missed being able to log on and read everyones' messages on PEP after 11 days without power due to a horrible ice storm that hit the area here in Mo. starting on Jan. 12. 80 - 90 % of the community lost power anywhere from 2 to 15 days. It's amazing how much our lives depend upon electricity! I was fortunate enough to stay at a relatives house during that time and was just thankful for a warm place to stay with temperatures not getting above freezing most of that time except a few days. Everything finally started thawing out the middle of last week.

Regarding my piano, I never gave much thought when I left to go relatives about doing something to protect my piano from sitting in a cold house during that time. But at my relatives house I thought about it and hoped my piano would be o.k. We were able to check on the house some and we don't believe the indoor temp. of our house fell much below 40 to 50 degrees the whole time. Our neighbors reported when they checked on their house, they could see their breath in the house! I didn't know what precautions I should have taken on protecting the piano from the cold or if the cold temp.'s could affect a piano. My piano is overdue for tuning anyway so my tech. is coming next week. He said over the phone, the temperatures should not affect a piano but rather the humidity level has more of an affect.

I never thought about a piano sitting in a house for an extended amount of time with no power where the temperatures in the house could get colder or hotter depending on the time of year. What precautions if any should a person take to protect a piano if it is to sit in cold, closed up house for a while. If power went out for a long time in a warm climate or during the summer, would the indoor temp. affect a piano then?

Well, glad to be back up and running again!
Stretto
 
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Location: Mo.

Postby Dr. Bill Leland » Mon Jan 29, 2007 9:20 pm

Hi Stretto, welcome back from your freeze-out!

As your tech said, humidity is the more important factor, not temperature. However, the two are always going to be related, so a lot depends on where you live and, of course, on the individual circumstance. If the temperature goes way up in Missouri, you can generally count on it being pretty muggy as well, but that's outside; inside you may have refrigerated air conditioning, so that will keep things not only cool but drier. And in a winter cold front sweeping down from Canada, with your furnace keeping you warm, you can bet it will be very dry. I keep a digital hygrometer on the wall right next to the Steinway, plus a humidifier on the other side of the large room which automatically turns on or off to compensate for humidity changes. A lot of people use the Dampp-Chaser system, which I recommend.

A good piano can actually adjust to a fairly wide range of humidities as long as they are constant. What really kills a piano is repeated swings back and forth between damp and dry.

Bill L.
Technique is 90 per cent from the neck up.
Dr. Bill Leland
 
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Joined: Sat Feb 21, 2004 5:58 pm
Location: Las Cruces, NM

Postby Stretto » Tue Jan 30, 2007 3:02 pm

Thanks for the info.

I suppose the humidifier wouldn't run without electricity? What about a Dampp-Chaser system - do they run without power? Maybe it wouldn't matter for just a few days to a couple weeks without power.

I used to have a humidifier set up in the room with the piano but as with all things, it's one more thing that requires maintenance and with no one maintaining it changing water, filters, and cleaning it, it seems I heard something like mold or mildew can grow in it sending mold into the air. According to my humidity gage which was a cheap one that came with the humidifier, the house seems to stay at appropriate levels. I keep meaning to check on a little better humidity gage.
Stretto
 
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Joined: Mon May 16, 2005 10:34 pm
Location: Mo.

Postby Dr. Bill Leland » Tue Jan 30, 2007 8:33 pm

No, I never heard of a humidifier or Dampp-Chaser that didn't need to be plugged in--good point.

Above all, don't ANYONE EVER buy and install a Dampp-Chaser system unless you can be absolutely rigorous about adding water to the reservoir. When the air is dry, the heating element turns on in the reservoir to evaporate the water, but if there's no water there it will have the opposite effect: it'll produce dry heat only, coupled with the already dry air, which will bake your soundboard!
Technique is 90 per cent from the neck up.
Dr. Bill Leland
 
Posts: 548
Joined: Sat Feb 21, 2004 5:58 pm
Location: Las Cruces, NM

Postby Stretto » Thu Feb 01, 2007 1:10 pm

My piano tech. came this morning and after 2 years without a tuning (I know, give me 10 lashes with a wet noodle!), the piano had only gone a little bit flat (unless he was just being nice :D). I expected it to be a lot worse and to pay more to get it back in tune after leaving it go so long but was only charged the basic rate (once before the charge was higher to get it back in tune after having let it go).

Now I can happily play on a better sounding piano! Maybe I'll practice more now, you think? :;):




Edited By Stretto on 1170357180
Stretto
 
Posts: 745
Joined: Mon May 16, 2005 10:34 pm
Location: Mo.


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