Why Do People Water Their Pianos?

Why Do People Water Their Pianos

The idea of watering your piano sounds strange, but we’re not referring to putting water in your piano – you should never do that!

Instead, we’re talking about piano humidifiers that are used to maintain the correct level of humidity for your piano. Here’s why that’s important.  

What is the right humidity for a piano? If you have an acoustic piano, it requires 40 to 50 percent humidity.

This is important to ensure that it works correctly. Lower levels can dry out the wood of a piano, and over time this can cause soundboard cracks.

You should make sure that the humidity levels of the room in which you’re playing never go lower than 30 percent.

In addition, avoid higher levels of humidity as these can cause the wood to warp.

A good tip is to aim for humidity levels of 50 percent in the summer months and 40 percent in the winter, but consistency is key!

If humidity damages the piano, this will have a negative effect on the sound you produce, such as by causing the wood to tighten or loosen, which will have the same effect on the strings.

You might be wondering if any humidifier will work to maintain the correct levels.

So, with that in mind, let’s look at how to maintain the correct humidity in the room and see if you need a piano humidifier.

It’s Not Just The Wood You Have To Worry About

Cleaning Piano

If you’re still not convinced that maintaining the right level of humidity is crucial for your piano, here are other ways in which humidity can affect your piano.

If your piano has too much humidity, these problems could occur:

  • The keys will start to stick
  • The pitch will be too sharp
  • The keys will take longer to respond

If your piano has too little humidity, this can happen:

  • The piano’s wood can start to crack
  • The piano sound might be flat, which will require you to tune it more often
  • The glue joints could start to loosen.

Clearly, humidity can wreak havoc on your piano and potentially cost you lots of money!

Easy Ways To Maintain Piano-Friendly Humidity

The room in which your piano resides should have the right humidity and you can adjust it yourself in easy ways. These include the following.

  • Positioning the piano in such a way that it’s not close to any windows or heater vents that can mess with the humidity levels of the room.  
  • If your piano room is located within close proximity to the bathroom, always close the door. The bathroom is usually subject to water and steam, and you don’t want these to bring too much moisture to the air.
  • You should keep windows closed to prevent condensation and this is especially the case if you have an electric piano.
  • If your home doesn’t have good insulation, you should try to position the piano next to an interior wall instead of an outside wall where it’ll be in closer proximity to the elements.
  • Avoid putting your piano in direct sunlight. Extreme temperature changes can be just as, if not more, damaging than humidity, so you want to avoid them.

The Danger Of Air Conditioners

Turning Air Conditioner On

Air conditioners can be harmful to the humidity levels of the piano room.

If you have an evaporative air conditioner, this increases the humidity and can’t decrease the humidity of the room to lower than 60 percent of humidity, which is not a healthy level for your piano.

On the other hand, a refrigerating conditioner removes the air’s moisture in the same way that a fridge would.

It removes so much moisture, in fact, that it can draw out moisture from the piano’s wood. This can cause it to shrink and crack.

This is why it’s important to keep your piano far away from air conditioners as much as possible.

How To Measure The Humidity In Your Piano Room

You might be wondering how you’ll be able to ensure that you stick to a certain level of humidity in your piano room.

For this, you’ll need what’s known as a hygrometer device.

How a hygrometer works are that it measures the resistance of air and then calculates the humidity in it.

A hygrometer contains metal plates and air moves through them. If the air contains moisture, the plates will have less of a static charge. 

You can purchase a hygrometer online or from your local hardware store. You should put it close to the piano so that it will be able to measure its levels of humidity.

Do You Need A Piano Humidifier?

Humidifier For Piano

You might’ve heard about piano humidifiers.

Unlike humidifiers that are placed in the room, piano humidifiers are placed right inside your piano. The catch is that you have to have these installed inside your piano.

A popular company that builds dedicated humidifiers is Damp-Chaser and their humidifiers are known to maintain a piano’s humidity level at 42 percent all year round, which is perfect.

However, it usually costs between $500 and $800 to have one installed and your piano technician will have to do it for you.

How Does A Piano Humidifier Work?

Basically, a piano humidifying system has three parts.

These are the humidistat, dehumidifier, and humidifier.

These work in unison to monitor and control the piano’s humidity levels so that even if the piano room or the house doesn’t have the right humidity, the piano will.

The dehumidifier will remove moisture while the humidifier will bring moisture, depending on when this is required after careful monitoring.

Do You Really Need A Piano Humidifier?

That really depends.

You don’t need a piano humidifier if you can maintain the humidity in your piano room.

If you’re battling with it or the room is just not conducive to piano-friendly humidity levels, then a built-in piano humidifier could be a good solution for you.

This might appeal to you if you don’t want the hassle of using a hygrometer and external humidifier. Once the piano humidifier is inside the piano, you don’t have to worry about it.

What About Using An External Humidifier?

If you have a humidifier in the piano room, you might wonder if that’s enough to maintain the piano’s humidity levels.

It’s important to note what kind of humidifier you have.

An evaporative humidifier that’s placed in close proximity to the piano can help to remove moisture from the air, but it does require quite a bit of maintenance.

For example, you’ll have to clean its filter regularly.

Again, as long as you are vigilant in maintaining the proper working of the humidifier and checking humidity levels regularly, this will ensure that you maintain the correct levels in your piano room.

Can You Make Your Own Piano Humidifier?

DIY Piano Humidifier

If you’re keen on having a piano humidifier but don’t want to have one built into your piano, what other option is at your disposal? You might want to build your own piano humidifier. Yes, that is possible!

If you’re technical and good with building things, then a tutorial courtesy of Instructables can help you to make a piano humidifying system. This system is basically made up of three parts:

  • a humidity sensor that will monitor the piano’s humidity
  • a heater that will be placed inside the piano so that humidity can be lowered whenever this is required
  • an RH (Relative Humidity) controller which basically controls the heater

You’ll need quite a few items to make this humidifier, as well as electrical knowledge.

However, if that’s not a problem for you, making your own piano humidifier can save you hundreds of dollars.

In addition, purchasing all the items you need to make the system will cost you under $100.

Related Questions

Can you put a jug of water inside a piano to give it more humidity?

This is a bad idea because the water will bring too much moisture in just one area of the piano where it’s positioned.

It can also cause permanent damage to various structures of the piano, such as the soundboard, strings, and bridges. Never put water anywhere near your piano!

What’s good room temperature for your piano?

You should keep your room temperature at 68 degrees Fahrenheit all year round. This will prevent damage to your piano, such as warping of the wood, as well as tuning issues.

Conclusion

Owning a piano is a wonderful thing, but it’s also a big responsibility.

If you don’t maintain the proper care of the piano, such as by ensuring that it’s in a room with the correct amount of humidity, this can damage the piano and hamper your playing.

Therefore, by following the advice in this article when it comes to a piano’s humidity levels, and purchasing a piano humidifier if necessary, you’ll be able to enjoy your piano for many years to come.

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