No matter how old your piano is, dry weather is not good for it. Pianos are designed to have 35 to 50 % humidity.
Heat is also not good but the low humidity will do more damage.
Situation 1: You’re going away for the holidays
It’s the holiday season, you’re booked to go away and the air conditioning will be turned off while you’re gone. You weren’t expecting so much hot weather and you’re wondering how you can save your piano.
For many years now I have been tuning pianos in dry country areas. My first and best recommendation is the piano life saver system.
So what is the next best option in protecting your piano?
When I was about 20 I was going out with a girl in Brentwood and her mother had an old piano on the front veranda. Hot as Hades. She was told by a friend to put a 2 litre of water in the bottom. I was surprised how well it stayed in tune over the summer. So I started suggesting it to my country customers.
It all went very well till the container dried out in about 4 weeks. A normal Piano Life Saver will use 2.5 litres in 2 weeks in hot weather. See my blog on the Piano Life Saver System.
How to install the water container
- Open the bottom of the piano. To do this push the spring clip up and pull the door forward. Lift it out.
- Then find an open top container like a 2 litre ice cream container or you might find 2 one kilo margarine container will fit.
- Try the container first.
- You will find that the area to the right or treble is generally free on most pianos.
- It’s best not to balance the container on the pedal rockers. If someone plays the piano it might spill the water.
So this is a cheep solution to your humidity problem!
Situation 2: You’re home for the holidays
The other solution we’ve put together is if you’ll be home over the Christmas break. You’ll be enduring the hot weather as much as the piano. You might be thinking that your aircon will suffice, but in actual fact, split system air conditioners (in particular) are the worst for drying out a piano.
- Ducted air conditioners are generally ok most of them set humidity levels at 50%
- Evaporative air conditioners are good in dry weather however in humid hot weather they can push the humidity up to 90%.
Using the same strategy as outlined above (water container) will help with the different air conditioning types. Check the container every 2 weeks to see how it is going.
How much will your pianos pitch be affected by the temperature?
Pianos will loose or gain humidity over a 3 week period. So if for example you have a dry spell for about 3 weeks your piano will drop pitch to sometimes up to 12 cents. This is also working on the assumption that the humidity levels change evenly throughout the piano, but this isn’t the case.
- The bass section will drop by about 3 cents.
- The middle section near the break will drop about 15 cents and the rest up to A4 will drop about 10 to 12 cents. The treble is like the bass and will drop about 3 to 5 cents.
If when I go to tune a piano and find this situation I suggest fitting a Piano Life Saver System. Then leave the tuning for 3 weeks then tune.
Enjoy the heat and have a very merry Christmas and a happy and safe new year!