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recent cold snap

  • 1.  recent cold snap

    Registered Piano Technician
    Posted 01-02-2023 13:25
    Hi All,

    We have a very tired HVAC system (planned for replacement....someday)

    The massive cold snap that hit the states had a huge carnage on my pianos here at Uof SC.  I'm having to retune a lot of what i already tuned before the "storm' and now, the whole place is nasty out of tune.

    Are you all having this effect on your pianos? Even the ones with DC's didn't help.

    I have 12 days to get 130 pianos ready for school.


    Paul T. Williams RPT
    Director of Piano Services
    School of Music
    813 Assembly St
    University of South Carolina
    Columbia, SC 29208

  • 2.  RE: recent cold snap

    Registered Piano Technician
    Posted 01-02-2023 13:32
    Condolences. And what if you get a warm snap in early February? 

    Since you won't be able to get them all done on time, without an army of assistants, I assume you'll be figuring out which are the most urgent?" alt="385338fe-a03e-4b75-afd8-0c7e352f715d" />

  • 3.  RE: recent cold snap

    Registered Piano Technician
    Posted 01-02-2023 13:34

    Surprise!  Temps went way up to 70+ over the weekend and quite humid!  What's a poor tech to do?



  • 4.  RE: recent cold snap

    Registered Piano Technician
    Posted 01-02-2023 13:39

    Paul, this was probably THE BIGGEST issue I had at Texas Tech…the admins allowed me to hire a local guy (100 bucks a pop & totally worth it)  about 20 to 25 tunings every semester after they turned the Heat on…and after  the humidity shot up in spring-although what you are describing is much worse!
    If there is absolutely zero budget to help…you might try sweeping through (as fast as possible) and "tune them in the middle…& a bit into the treble" on the ones that are not professors and/or piano majors. This COULD help show a lot of improvement and EFFORT to all there. Sometimes quick & dirty has its place. 

    -Consider seeking out some sort of "disaster claim" if there is such a thing at your university. Our University was "self-insured" .. probably yours too…so try to seek out the right person and claim this as a super unusual situation and see if the University will "pony up" and actually "provide that self-insurance"..??

    Beyond this…do all your grand systems have under covers?? 

    Kevin Fortenberry
    Registered Piano Technician
    Longview, TX 75602

  • 5.  RE: recent cold snap

    Registered Piano Technician
    Posted 01-02-2023 20:33
    Yes I have some help and the Dean gave the ok to ask another in for this issue. It's just a pain in the ass to have to retune a bunch I had ready.
    I'm wondering how other CAUTs are doing

  • 6.  RE: recent cold snap

    Registered Piano Technician
    Posted 01-02-2023 14:04

    I presume you've kept the chair informed of the problems.  Don't kill yourself. Do what you can in a timely manner, and if anyone complains, tell them to talk to the chair. 


  • 7.  RE: recent cold snap

    Posted 01-02-2023 19:15
    Hey Paul... if you can arrange for BBQ from Maurices Piggy Park I will recruit PTG Chapter members for a massive tuning marathon. ha ha  I agree with Wim - don't kill yourself and just triage everything. I just wonder how bad things where to affect so many pianos . Did you loose heat or was there so real deep cycling going on. I am also at a loss why dampp chaser equipment was not effective. Is it possible someone sabotaged the pianos or decided to take up piano tuning. Is the HVAC under remote control /setback thermostats ? where all of the dampp chasers plugged in and functioning ? fresh pads/water/pad treatment  Lastly are the pianos tired as well ?

    There is no way you alone can tune 130 pianos in 12 days . Right now my outside temp gauge is showing 60 degrees . I suggest you purchase a few data loggers and place them in pianos that have been the most affected. You will have concrete evidence that shows what is going on 24 x 7 not just a single snapshot when you are at a piano.

    James Kelly
    Owner- Fur Elise Piano Service
    Pawleys Island SC
    (843) 325-4357

  • 8.  RE: recent cold snap

    Registered Piano Technician
    Posted 01-03-2023 06:00
    Hi Paul,

    For whatever it is worth, when I was @ MIT and BU, I found that by checking the area of the first break of plain wire and wound strings (F2 to C3 area roughly), I could save myself some time. It seems like that is the area the moves the first on most pianos, and a lot of times some areas just needs tweaking; once I had the bearings in place, it all went to place, and I did not need to do a full tuning. It was a logic of how much can I get away with to sounds decent in times of humidity and temp transition. Especially in the Fall and Springtime; the things starts to shift around.
    When I had started, I just started to crank and found that a lot of times, it was just that area that was the worse. So many times the weather went up and down that I had to figure out something logical to go with.

    Hope this helps.

    Victor Belanger RPT
    Belmont, MA

    Hope this helps.

  • 9.  RE: recent cold snap

    Registered Piano Technician
    Posted 01-03-2023 08:50
    Paul et all: Happy New Year! What you describe is what happens at every school in Midwest this time of year. I always tell myself to wait to tune until after Jan 1, and then get classroom, rehearsal/ concert spaces and faculty pianos done first. Then tackle the student instruments. We all have our different ways to prioritize maintaining in tune instruments in large inventories.
    The only real piece of advice I would add to those who have already commented: don't tune the pianos with Damppchasers unless it is critical for first day of classes. Damppchasers can take a couple of weeks to catch up after a major weather change, but they do bring the piano mostly back to pitch and in tune if given time. If the pianos have under- covers, it takes much less time and the units are more effective and efficient generally. 
    Happy tuning. Headed to NIU to get started tuning for Spring semester. 

    David Graham
    Graham Piano Service, Inc.
    512 S. Main St.
    Sycamore IL 60178

  • 10.  RE: recent cold snap

    Registered Piano Technician
    Posted 01-03-2023 13:05
    Hi Paul,

    Just reporting on years of the same HVAC issues in Southern California.  We have 6 months of variable weather: Rain followed by very dry weather followed by rain, etc.  The HVAC system here does not 'treat the air' for RH before sending it on its way.  It does not care that the sprinkler system is on or off near the building intake nor does it care about the 9% RH that we unexpectedly have from time to time.  Normal RH is 60%.

    About 15 years ago I installed 11 DC's: 7 grands with string covers, 5 uprights.  Surprisingly, the difference was marginal compared to the difference I expected.  4 years later after reluctantly taking counsel from David Reed, RPT, under covers were installed and that has made the difference between what we normally see with a DC system and without.

    What I think happened is th grand undercovers combined with the string covers slowed the air exchange rate enough for the DC System to successfully keep up with the HVAC.  A similar improvement was measured when back covers were installed on the vertical pianos.   

    Ed Whitting, RPT

    SOKA University

    Aliso Viejo, California

  • 11.  RE: recent cold snap

    Registered Piano Technician
    Posted 01-12-2023 14:13
    I am a lucky, lucky piano tuner. The summer before I got my job here at the University of Kentucky they installed a new hvac system with an integrated humidifier in one wing of the Fine Arts Building. It is incredible what it does when it's working properly. We had the same sub zero weather but on that wing, where most of the pianos are, I got a reading of 46% and the pianos were unaffected. We also have a separate Vocal Arts Building with a building humidifier that works but not as well. I'm not sure what the difference is between the two systems. There are some pianos in the part of Fine Arts that has no humidifier and those swing wildly. I have DCs on some of them but it doesn't seem to help that much. After reading the above posts i guess I need to invest in some under and back covers.

    All this is to say that when the powers that be do decide to replace that HVAC system get on a committee, throw a big fit, do whatever you can to make sure it comes with a humidifier! You have allies. My understanding is that string and woodwind profs made a push to make ours a reality.

    Also, when looking for a job. Realize that a job in a building with a humidifier is a totally different animal from a job in a building without one. I just don't have to tune as much and I get to tend to other things like regulation, voicing, even rebuilding.

    John Pope
    University of Kentucky School of Music
    Lexington, KY