Piano moving is a complex process that requires a great deal of awareness and understanding. The humidity within your Piano will directly affect its bending, warping, and overall condition during the moving process. Understanding what happens to your Piano when it gets exposed to varying moisture levels will help you ensure that no permanent damage occurs. This article will discuss common problems associated with high humidity exposure and how they can be prevented or treated. We’ll also look at handling low humidity exposures and different strategies for maintaining proper levels throughout the moving process.
The first thing people tend to think about when discussing moisture in pianos is the development of mold and mildew, but there’s more to it than that. The most likely cause of any damage during the moving process is moisture-related stress, as pianos are exposed to humidity for prolonged periods. Their wood swells or contracts accordingly, causing a great deal of stress on all internal parts. This can lead to cracks in the soundboard as well as warping within the case itself. Warped cases are especially susceptible when transported via truck since they are only held together by glue joints and nails that are already at risk for pulling out with moisture-based stress.
As pianos are exposed to heightened moisture levels, their keys will swell, which causes them to push up against the action frame (also known as the keybed). The action frame is what allows you to depress the keys and play the Piano. It consists of various metal parts (like levers and rails) that work together to produce different notes while also amplifying those notes for more effortless playing. The problem with swollen keys pushing up against an already stressed action frame is that it causes opposing forces on both structures, leading to bending or breaking at any given point. If the stress becomes too much, then all of these internal parts are at risk for permanent damage, effectively making your Piano unplayable. Let’s take a deeper look at how humidity affects the structural integrity of your Piano and what you can do about it when moving your Piano.
The Effects Of Humidity On Pianos
The wood used to make pianos is typically very dense and challenging to warp. However, when the humidity around your Piano exceeds 40%, then it can cause a significant amount of stress on the wood. The level at which the wood will start to bend or warp varies from Piano to Piano based on their design characteristics. For example, some older pianos are designed with flat soundboards, while others have curved soundboards that help maintain an even tension throughout their grain. Flat soundboards are more susceptible to warping than curved ones since they cannot distribute stress across their entire surface area as effectively as their counterparts.
Famous Italian piano maker such as Antegnati maintained a level of humidity within their workshops that was around 30% or less. Their goal was to create an environment that would help preserve the structure of each piece while also allowing for easy construction and repair work. The more traditional methods used by this craftsman are still widely used today, with modern builders insisting on low moisture levels.
With low humidity levels, it’s easier for your Piano to stay in equilibrium throughout its lifespan since there aren’t any significant weight fluctuations due to swelling or contracting wood. This is true even when seasonal changes bring about higher amounts of humidity – As long as you keep your Piano at below 40%, there should be no problems.
What Humidity Level Is Ideal For Your Piano?
The general rule of thumb is to keep your Piano at a humidity level of 40% or less. This will prevent the wood from bending and warping while also preventing excessive stress buildup, leading to cracking or warping. Long-term storage in an environment with constant levels below 40% offers adequate protection against humidity-related issues.
Also read: How Does the Weather Affect a Piano
Avoiding Moisture-Related Issues When Moving A Piano
While it’s impossible to eliminate moisture from the air while being transported, there are a few simple things you can do to minimize the damage that may occur. If you’re planning on moving your Piano via a motorized vehicle such as a truck, then make sure they have a climate-controlled interior. This will allow your Piano to maintain lower humidity levels while being transported, which will help prevent any damage. When driving a moving truck, avoid driving through areas known to have high amounts of moisture since this can cause further warping and stress on the wood.
Storing A Piano Can Complicate A Move
If you’re storing your Piano in an area with consistently high humidity levels, then it’s advised to do so for a maximum period of 3-4 weeks. The longer your Piano is exposed to these conditions, the more likely it will be damaged when placed back into a lower-level environment. The best way to combat this issue is by keeping the relative humidity level of your storage area below 40% at all times. Suppose you’re not able to do this. In that case, it’s advised to place dehumidifying equipment within the space where your Piano is being stored and, if possible, wrap your Piano with a moisture protective covering.
What Can You Do To Prevent Or Lessen The Impact Of Humidity?
Suppose humidity levels are not being adequately controlled in the space where your Piano is currently being stored. Then, it’s highly recommended to keep your Piano as dry as possible for the duration of its stay. You can do this by using a moisture-absorbing box that contains silica gel packets within the interior. It’s also good to place an air conditioner near the affected area, which will help minimize the amount of moisture that goes into the air. In certain circumstances, you may also want to consider adjusting your climate control system to provide lower temperatures and higher levels of relative humidity within your home – This can help reduce specific stress points from building up over time.
See also: Piano Moving Checklist
How To Fix A Humidified Piano That Is Not Working Properly?
In some cases, pianos exposed to high humidity levels may develop issues with their tuning stability and tone quality. This is due to the specific stress points within affected pieces, which can cause these problems when reintroduced into a lower-level setting. There isn’t any way to fix this problem except by reducing the stress points through a detailed inspection of all the woodwork and replacing any wet areas where required.
Tuning After A Move
If you’re moving a piano from one location to another, it’s essential to make sure the tuning stability isn’t compromised. Once the move has occurred, it’s recommended that you have your Piano tuned by a certified technician as soon as possible after the move. This will allow them to assess any potential issues with the intonation or tone quality that may occur. While it isn’t always necessary, having a piano tuned after a move can help eliminate the risk of your instrument becoming damaged in the short term or losing its tone over time.
When relocating a piano, it’s essential to ensure that the humidity levels are kept at an appropriate level. If not controlled correctly, then your instrument could be damaged when exposed to overly high or low levels of moisture which can negatively impact its tone quality and tuning stability. When moving your Piano via a motorized vehicle such as a truck, ensure that you avoid driving it through areas that have an exceptionally high amount of moisture within the air. If you’re storing your Piano in a location where humidity levels cannot be properly controlled, then consider using a dehumidifier while also wrapping the affected area with a moisture protective covering to help ensure the woodwork doesn’t become damaged.
After you’ve moved your new Piano into its new home and gotten it properly situated, the final step is to have it re-tuned by a qualified professional. This process will help ensure that all of the strings are tensioned appropriately, which will give you the best possible performance from your Piano for years to come.
See also: Can Moving a Piano Affect It’s Sound