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.
University of Kentucky School of Music
Sent: 01-03-2023 13:03
From: Ed Whitting
Subject: recent cold snap
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.
Sent: 1/2/2023 1:25:00 PM
From: Paul Williams
Subject: recent cold snap
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