A piano humidifier helps extend the life of your piano and protect all the delicate wood.
It's a great addition to your piano practice room during the winter months, if you live in a climate where you're using central heat.
You might need a piano humidifier year-round if you live in a dry, warm climate. (I'm only a little jealous if you live in a place like that! :-)
Keeping the humidity level in your piano room is something that many people new to piano playing don't consider, but a piano humidifier (along with a piano dehumidifier in summer) is a small investment you can make to keep your piano in great working condition.
Your piano case, action (all the mechanics that work to connect the piano keys to the hammers that strike the string), the sound board, the pin board... so much is made of wood.
Wood responds to the humidity in the environment, much like other items in your home. Drawers and doors stick in high humidity as the wood swells.
Wood contracts as the air gets dryer. When wood parts need to work together, like the mechanisms inside your piano, shrinking causes problems. Joints no longer work properly, the wood becomes less flexible and more fragile.
In extreme conditions, wood can even crack, or your piano's case can start to come apart as the glue can't hold the flexing wood.
Regulating humidity in your piano room is an often-overlooked way to keep your piano working well and keep your piano technician away from your door (except for those regular tunings, of course!).
Using a Piano Humidifier
I used to teach for our local chain of piano stores. The master technician there recommended I keep my piano room at a relative humidity of 45%.
Usually, in the winter, my house can go as low as 20% relative humidity - that's half of what's recommended!
You can use a humidity gauge, or hyrgometer, to keep track of the relative humidity in your room. They're inexpensive and easy to use.
You can buy small humidifiers almost anywhere, but usually these are made for very small rooms like bedrooms. You could certainly choose to buy more than one for a larger room, but they will definitely need to be filled more often because of their smaller size. You'll go through filters pretty fast, too.
Here are some tips on using a humidifier effectively:
- Humidifiers need to be in an open area of your room. Don't put one next to your piano, under your curtains, or next to your sofa. Make sure the vapor is blowing into the room, not onto a surface.
- Use the right size machine for the square footage of your room. Measure first! A humidifier that's too small won't be able to put enough moisture in the air.
- Humidifiers need regular cleaning -- and changing of filters, if yours uses them. Lots of little nasties can grow in that wet environment.
Another option is to look into humidifiers made for larger rooms.
Musicians all over the world love Venta humidifiers. They're air purifiers and humidifiers in one.
A Venta humidifier is certainly more pricey than the one you'll find at WalMart. But you won't have filters to change. That, in itself, will equalize the price over a year or two. But more important to me is the fact that these are the machines many professional pianists use (as well as musicians who play string instruments). If you read reviews on Venta humidifiers, you'll see lots of musicians!
Aside from having a happy piano, you'll also notice some other side effects of having a humidifier. Your skin won't be as dry, your plants will be happier, and your wood floors might stop creaking so much!