Gagnon Piano Service

Serving the Twin Cities and South and West Suburbs




Humidity Control For Pianos

Our Minnesota climate may be the worst anywhere for pianos.  In summer, we have extremely high humidity causing the wood parts to swell causing  the piano to go out of tune.  The wood fibers around the iron tuning pins are actually crushed from the pressure of swelling wood.  In winter, many Minnesota homes have a relative humidity level of around 15 percent - less than that of the Sahara Desert.  Wood parts dry out - again causing the piano to go out of tune.  If the wood dries out too suddenly, the soundboard and other wood parts can crack.  Repeated seasonal swelling and shrinking of the wood around tuning pins eventually causes the wood to "give up" and not provide enough friction to keep the tuning pins from slipping.  The piano becomes "un-tunable".

These problems can be minimized if the humidity level of the piano can be kept fairly constant.  Room humidifiers in winter help somewhat.  However, they are not very effective for pianos.  In order to get the humidity level up to normal with a room humidifier - say 40 per cent - the windows in the house could be rotting from excess moisture buildup.  The solution is to install humidity control unit where it does the most good - in the piano itself.

We install Life Saver® climate control systems made by Dampp-Chaser Corporation®.  These units are self contained in the piano and are out of sight.  An indicator light flashes when the reservoir needs water.  The reservoir is filled via a watering tube mounted inconspicuously under the key bed.  The reservoir is filled without opening the piano.  The unit attempts to keep the humidity inside the piano at about 40 to 45 percent.  These units have proven to be safe and trouble free.  The only maintenance is 1) keep the unit plugged in, 2) fill the reservoir when needed - in January, about every 10 days - and 3) change the evaporation pads about once a year. 

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(612) 861-3194