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Climate control systems in southern california

  • 1.  Climate control systems in southern california

    Posted 05-10-2021 13:32
    Hi all,  I'm educating myself on the Dampp-Chaser systems.  Who thinks they are a good idea for Southern California where the relative humidity is about 40% in winter and 60%  in summer?

    Scot I
    Music Teacher

  • 2.  RE: Climate control systems in southern california

    Registered Piano Technician
    Posted 05-10-2021 14:46
    I'm in Canada, so I'm dealing with much wider swings than that.  Looking at what you're presenting, I would be inclined to use a dehumidifier-only Damppchaser system.  You have no need to add humidity, if your figures are indicating the humidity of the air in the room that houses the piano.

    Floyd Gadd
    Regina SK

  • 3.  RE: Climate control systems in southern california

    Registered Piano Technician
    Posted 05-10-2021 15:13
    Southern California is a big place. Where I am in SoCal, the RH fluctuates over a range of 70% (10% to 80%), sometimes 50% within a single day.


    Alan Eder, RPT
    Herb Alpert School of Music
    California Institute of the Arts
    Valencia, CA

  • 4.  RE: Climate control systems in southern california

    Registered Piano Technician
    Posted 05-10-2021 15:14
    Santa Anna wind times dramatically lower humidity.

    Larry Messerly, RPT
    Bringing Harmony to Homes

  • 5.  RE: Climate control systems in southern california

    Posted 05-10-2021 15:33
    Those ranges seem to be in the safety zone as shown on the Dampp Chaser web site. However what goes on inside a house/school/venue should be the deciding factor. Poor hvac , weather events, floods, opening windows and doors, shutting off the ac can change things. If power is lost the humidity can climb quite high, cause flash string rusting, affect felts, wood, glue joints. I am on the coast but have seen damage to pianos inland most of which is inflicted by humidity. Several rather expensive pianos have come close to being destroyed including 3 Yamaha C7's and a Schimmel. Check out some of the information on the Dampp-Chaser/ PianoLife Saver web site. School systems and schools have many problems with humidity control due to the large spaces they have.

    James Kelly
    Owner- Fur Elise Piano Service

  • 6.  RE: Climate control systems in southern california

    Registered Piano Technician
    Posted 05-10-2021 20:12
    With pianos close to the coast, (ocean), I don't hesitate to recommend a de-humidifer system plus a string cover. That near constant ocean humidity, no matter the environment the piano actually lives in, it's going to benefit from a de-humidifier. I have one customer whose home is on the beach and the ocean waves actually crash just beneath the house. That piano also has a full draping cover, which helps a lot. That set up is extreme but is working well. I see the piano about every nine months and it behaves nicely.

    Otherwise, old piano or new, on pianos that I am regularly servicing, I make it a practice to not recommend a Dampp-Chaser system until I've seen the piano two or three times and witness how it's behaving. I always have a temperature/humidity gauge with me and document both, at the piano, on every visit. Depending on where in the building the piano lives, how well it is protected from the environment within that room and how well it actually holds a tuning between acceptable tuning time spans, sometimes it may actually need a DC system of some kind. Here in SoCal, (Los Angeles area), however, mostly the need is low.

    By "need" I mean that if the piano has stability problems, and the known cause is either high or low humidity, or wide fluctuations between the two, or direct sun or sitting under an AC vent or right next to open windows over the pool, then my first recommendation is to attempt to correct the situation. Close the vent. Keep the window closed. If the problem is sunlight, and the piano can't be moved, put in some drapes, or at least some kind of protection when the sun is hitting the piano. If none of the passive changes work, only then do I recommend putting in the Dampp-Chaser system that is actually needed.

    That said, you can't save them all. I have a piano that I service that requires tuning about five times a year due to where it is in the room. It sits in a south facing bay window and gets direct sun all day. It was gorgeous when it arrived but in less than a year the entire left side of the case was bleached out. The customer made it quite clear that drapes, or any window covering, were not an option. Neither was moving the piano. A DC in this environment would not have helped. In fact it could have made the situation worse if the customer was not willing to do the frequent water maintenance. The customer understood but blew it off saying they were happy to have me come frequently, and if the piano got damaged beyond repair they would simply buy another one.

    My point is that no matter where the piano lives, Southern California or elsewhere, a Dampp-Chaser is not something that should be installed automatically. First determine the need, if any, and then install the string cover, Dampp-Chaser or piano cover that is actually needed to control the environment at the piano.

    Geoff Sykes, RPT

  • 7.  RE: Climate control systems in southern california

    Registered Piano Technician
    Posted 05-11-2021 00:22
    I agree with Geoff,

    Next to the California coast a DampChaser system is probably a good idea.  Out in our California deserts putting some humidity might also help.

    I have a couple of pianos that have stability problems and probably need a humidity control system.

    Most of my customers do not need humidity control systems in southern California.  Most pianos in inland areas here are quite stable.

    Blaine Hebert
    Duarte CA