During the cold winter months, your skin probably feels dry, and your hands might become rough and chapped. That’s because cooler air holds less moisture than warm air. In the fall and winter months, the air in your home has less water, and things start to dry out, including your skin. But did you know that low humidity also affects your furniture?
For most people, having their furniture affected by humidity is not that important. However, there is one group of people who will be concerned about how humidity affects one specific piece of expensive furniture they own—piano players.
If you are a piano player or even just the owner of a piano that you want to preserve, it’s important to control the humidity levels in your home to make sure your piano lasts for many generations.
How does humidity impact your piano and other instruments?
Pianos, guitars, violins, and other instruments are made with natural materials, like wood and leather, that are very sensitive to humidity levels. These materials expand and contract depending on the temperature and humidity.
When the humidity is high (as it often is during the summer in Virginia), wood expands and puts pressure on joints and other parts of the instrument or furniture. In the winter, when the humidity levels often drop below 40%, wood is susceptible to drying and cracking, just like your skin.
Your heating and cooling system also affects the humidity levels in your home, causing wood and leather to shrink and expand. Even the glue holding joints together can dry out in lower humidity and allow parts of your piano to separate.
Keeping the humidity between 40% and 50% prevents the wood from expanding and contracting. It’s best to maintain a constant humidity level in your home throughout the year, so your piano and other instruments maintain the right pitch, tone, and action.
What happens when a piano becomes too dry?
When your piano becomes too dry, the wood shrinks, causing a variety of issues. You might notice the piano keys rattling or making noises. As all the wood components shrink, they can become loose, increasing the risk of damage to your beautiful instrument. You might hear a clicking or buzzing noises when you play. These are the early warning signs that your piano is too dry.
When a piano stays in dry conditions for extended periods, it is susceptible to permanent damage like cracked soundboards and bridges. These parts can be replaced, but it is costly and can negatively impact sound quality.
How do whole-home humidifiers help protect pianos?
Unfortunately, Virginia’s climate is not always friendly to pianos. It is essential to decrease the humidity levels in your home during the hot summer months and increase the humidity in your home during the dry winter season. While humidity control devices for pianos can help, some people might not want to purchase an extra humidity control device just for a piano. In that case, you may want to consider a whole-home humidifier.
A whole-home humidifier installs directly in your ductwork, so the air your furnace pumps into your home has the right amount of moisture.
Whole-home humidifiers work by exposing part of the air coming through your furnace to water or steam so that you can increase the humidity level throughout your house. You’ll be able to adjust the moisture level to suit your musical instruments.
Other benefits of a whole-home humidifier
In addition to keeping your piano in excellent condition, whole-home humidifiers improve the overall air quality in your home. Viruses can survive longer in dry air. Maintaining the right humidity levels in your home helps fight cold and flu viruses.
Air with more moisture feels warmer than dry air. When you add a whole-home humidifier to your heating system, you will probably be able to turn the thermostat down a few degrees to reduce your heating costs while staying toasty warm.
Do you have hardwood floors, antique furniture, or expensive electronics? Humidity levels that are too high or too low can cause damage to these valuable items as well!
Contact AirTech to learn more about the Aprilaire Whole-Home Humidifiers. It is a valuable investment to protect your piano, other wood furnishings, and even your own health.