Steingraeber Upright Pianos

How humidity and temperature conditions affect your piano

The weather can impact the performance of your piano more than you might have anticipated. Both wood and felt can be highly sensitive to sudden changes in temperature and humidity. Consider that an acoustic piano is comprised of up to 80 per cent wood, and it’s easy to see how the instrument’s condition can deteriorate.

Temperature

When it comes to temperature, it is always recommended to keep your piano in an environment that is around 20 degrees Celsius. Any sudden fluctuations can lead to issues with tuning and regulation. For example, if a room that is cold suddenly heats up, it will produce condensation.

That moisture can cause components within a piano to rust, and there is a risk as well that felt inside absorbs it, in turn ruining the tone and sound of your instrument. Although yours may look stunning in the natural light, UV rays will break down lignin – a vital component in the wood structure – causing it to weaken. This will not only spoil the aesthetic appeal of an instrument, but the heat will damage internal components and its structural integrity.

Excessive heat will cause dryness, which splits and cracks the wood over time. No matter if you have a matt or glossy finish, the exterior will start to fade. Ensuring that your piano is kept away from spaces where the temperature rises and falls quickly, such as next to windows, by heaters or radiators, will  protect it from harm.

Humidity

Ideally, pianos should always be kept at 40 to 50 per cent humidity to ensure the pitch, tone and quality of action can be properly maintained. Excessive humidity will lead to dull hammer action, poor tonal quality, and sticky keys due to internal rusting. The UK, and London in particular, can be humid, especially after rain, due to its maritime climate. As a result, when the weather is cloudy, or when it is raining, it is always recommended to keep any windows closed if your piano is in the same room.

Although it may have a distinct aesthetic appeal to keep the lid open, ensuring that it is closed when you are not playing will keep your keys safe from moisture. If you use a cloth cover to protect your piano, you must also be mindful of the moisture it may absorb on damper days. With that in mind, it will require regular airing. There are many water-resistant piano covers available for purchase, which can be useful if you live in a rainy or humid region. As mentioned, dryness can also cause issues within your instrument if left untreated.

Pianos in locations with a dry climate naturally hold sufficient moisture in their wood to avoid drying out. However, if it becomes dry because of a heating system, the wood may shrink or crack. Components such as the soundboard and joints can also come apart over time if the glue that binds them dries. Owing to the UK’s varied and temperate climate, the frequent use of central heating systems can put pianos at risk, which is why being aware of its positioning in relation to heat sources is important.

If you have any concerns or questions about the condition of your piano, feel free to get in touch with us at Markson Pianos on 0207 935 8682 or send an email to info@marksonpianos.com. One of our members of staff will be more than happy to assist you and, if necessary, our technicians can conduct a thorough inspection to ensure your piano is at its best!

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