10 Things to know about The Piano Life Saver System

Kevin Busse Apr 22, 2024
290 People Read
Piano Life Saver Logo

Disclosure: Some of the links in this article may be affiliate links, which can provide compensation to me at no cost to you if you decide to purchase. 

#1 Introduction to Piano Life Saver

Caring for a grand piano is similar to caring for a historical painting which require a consistent climate.

Without proper attention to the internal piano humidity levels, the tuning of the piano can become altered by regular humidity fluctuations and temperature.

Many piano owners invest in a Piano Life Saver System to help protect upright pianos and grand pianos from a fluctuating humidity level.

If you're curious about installing a system like this, ask your piano tuner to discuss options. This system comes with installation instructions for the piano technician/tuner and may be eligible for free shipping as an added bonus!

Let's take a look at the Piano Life Saver System and why piano makers believe it may be one of the best ways to care for your piano.


#2 How does the Piano Life Saver System Work?

Dampp Chaser Schematic

Piano LifeSaver in a vertical piano

The Piano Life Saver System (previously known as "Dampp-Chaser") is a mini climate control system because it is both a humidifier and dehumidifier. It introduces moisture and dryness inside of the piano's cabinet and soundboard, depending on the environment to maximize pitch stability.

The unit comes with several components which work together to keep your piano's humidity at an optimal level.

The humidistat senses the relative humidity level near the soundboard and automatically switches from humidify to dehumidify to maintain 45% relative humidity. This speaks to the results of the piano life saver system.

This humidity level helps prevent cracks in the wood which can be caused by large changes in humidity levels within the cabinet.

The system also includes a dehumidifying bar (or two) to remove excess moisture from your instrument.

Grand Piano Life Saver

“Pads,” which are essentially a high-quality papertowel-like material; Wicks water from the humidifier tank over a heater bar. The heat from the humidifier rod heats the draped wet pad and disperses humidity within the cabinet of the piano.

The Piano Life Saver System frequently switches from humidification to dehumidification even under ideal conditions, which is why it tends to use lots of water for most of the year.

The combined effect of the system keeps the soundboard, bridge, and pin block in stable condition. It prevents the wooden components from swelling and thus changing the tension placed on the strings by these three components.



#3 What do the Light panel indicators mean on Dampp-Chaser?

3-light LED panel:

  • Green - power

  • Yellow - water

  • Red - pads

Green light

Green Power Light

Obviously, the green light tells you whether or not the system has power. If the lights are not ON then perhaps someone disobeyed the golden rule of The Piano Life Saver System, which is to leave it plugged in!

Yellow light

The yellow light blinks to indicate low water in the water tank, and must be replenished with more water.

The tank of water roughly holds 3/4 gallon of water.

A capful of Dampp-Chaser Pad Treatment should be included when adding additional water to help the pads wick up water & keep the tank clean.

Red light

Red Pads Light blinking

The humidifier Pads (which perform the humidifying function) last 1 year long. The Pads will accumulate mineral deposits over time and will eventually stop wicking enough moisture.

If the mineral build up hasn’t been addressed in many years, it may be a good idea for the piano technician to replace the heater bar with clean sleeves!

If you ever are questioning whether the pads need to be changed, just ask a professional piano technician and they will give you the answer.

*Or, learn how to replace them yourself: How-To Instructions for Dampp-Chaser Pads Replacement



#4 What are Piano Life Saver System supplies?

Below is the original 12 oz bottle of Pad Treatment for The Piano Life Saver System that you can buy on Amazon from The Dampp-Chaser Corporation.

Pad Treatment

You can also buy more of the Dampp-Chaser humidifier pads here.

Dampp-chaser pads

Here's a combo pack with other Dampp-Chaser supplies including Pads, Pad Treatment, and new sleeves for especially dirty heater bars.

Dampp-chaser supplies

Dampp-chaser supplies


#5 Does the Piano Life Saver System need maintenance?

Once you have a Certified Piano Life Saver Installer install your system, then there are only a few things needed to maintain the system.

As long as the watering tube is in an acceptable position, there are only 3 things that will need attention.

Maintenance:

  • "Obey the lights"

  • Do not unplug

  • Change the pads once a year or until the red "Pads" light starts blinking

Do Not Unplug

As far as maintenance goes, this system is easy to maintain; all you need do is replace the pads about once a year and check water levels regularly.



#6 The Dampp-Chaser Corporation

Piano Life Saver System from Dampp-Chaser

This company produces The Piano Life Saver System for pianos and have proven their product for many years.

There are direct competitors for these piano related humidification systems.

The Dampp Chaser Corporation also offers The Dampp Defender which are humidifiers/dehumidifiers unrelated to pianos. It provides humidity solutions to potentially humid areas like closets and places that are susceptible to mildew etc.



#7 Why get a Piano LifeSaver System?

A properly humidified piano not only sounds better for longer, but maintains its condition longer than an improperly humidified instrument. It is protected from external conditions.

By maintaining consistent levels of humidity inside your instrument, you'll be able to prevent damage which can cause soundboard pressure ridges. Also, changes in pitch due to expansion or contraction of the soundboard, bridge, movement of tuning pins, and pin block due to fluctuating environmental conditions.

*Additionally, one of the most beneficial results is to reduce the frequency tunings. (How Often You Should Need To Tune Your Piano)

Lastly, it has been proven to piano tuners over years of use and has been tested extensively to ensure its accuracy in maintaining ideal levels of humidity for pianos.



#8 Is a Piano LifeSaver worth the Price/Investment?

The cost of The Piano LifeSaver System varies depending on size and model but typically ranges from $600-700 USD for the installation of The Piano Life Saver System.

Cost of a Piano Life Saver System

A Piano Life Saver System is a good idea for anyone who owns a piano, which is a large investment. It helps preserve its condition over time by keeping moisture levels under control regardless of outside temperature/humidity fluctuations.

By using this system, you are protecting your investment against detrimental effects due to humidity, ensuring that it stays in tune, as well as preventing potentially irreparable damage; such as cracked soundboards or bridges due to dryness or extreme humidity levels.

Investing in one now could save you money down the line when it comes to frequency of tuning, loss of value due to soundboard cracks, and sticky keys which can be an inconvenient, but necessary repair.



#9 Why is it recommended to have a Dampp-Chaser system?

Your piano is more than just an instrument; it’s an investment.

As such, it’s important to protect that investment by making sure it remains in good condition for as long as possible.

A Dampp Chaser Piano Humidifier helps with this by maintaining the proper level of humidity within the cabinet of your piano.

Pianos are sensitive to changes in humidity and temperature and can quickly fall out of tune if the environment isn’t kept stable.

This device helps prevent this from happening by automatically adjusting the humidity level within your piano to match industry-recommended standards, ensuring that your piano stays perfectly tuned for longer periods of time.



#10 How do you control your home humidity for your piano?

Reduce Humidity tactic:

One way to quickly reduce humidity in the air is to turn on your air conditioner/air conditioning which will knock down the relative humidity.

Increase Humidity tactic:

One easy way to increase your humidity by firing up a large humidifier with a tank of over 5 gallons.

Retain humidity

Close doors and windows. Anything that allows moisture to escape should be closed up as much as possible. This makes it possible to retain a sufficient amount of humidity.

Fine tuning preservation tip:

To cover ambient humidity levels in the entire home, be sure to have both a large humidifier and a large dehumidifier to keep the room within perfect range of 35%-50% relative humidity.

The goal ofcourse, is to keep a narrow range of average humidity as much as possible. This will all preserve the piano’s investment value for as long as possible.



What's the best humidifier for Piano? (Winter)

*This humidifier ranks #5 in the 21+ Useful Gift Ideas for Pianist and Piano Lovers in 2024

Humidifier

What's the best dehumidifier for piano? (Summer)

Dehumidifier

*In order to protect against extreme changes in humidity, it's best to maintain the humidity of the room with devices that have tanks larger than 5 gallons before purchasing a Piano Life Saver System.



Related:

Piano Life Saver / Dampp-Chaser Humidity Control System

Best Hygrometer to Monitor Relative Humidity and Temperature for Pianos

21+ Useful Gift Ideas for Pianists and Piano Lovers in 2024

Disclosure:  Some of the links in this article may be affiliate links, which can provide compensation to me at no cost to you if you decide to purchase.