Piano life saver / Dampp-chaser humidity control system

Kevin Busse Feb 10, 2024
32 People Read
Piano Life Saver / Dampp-Chaser System

The piano life saver system is useful for maintaining the fine tuning of your piano for as long as possible.

Grand pianos and upright pianos can have a system installed to support the stability of the piano.

The Dampp-Chaser system is the only piano humidity control system available, made specifically for piano use.

How does the Piano LifeSaver work?

The humidifying function works by “wicking” up water through a high quality paper towel called the "Pads" that rests on top of a heater bar.

The heated "Pads" disperse enough moisture to maintain a 45% humidistat reading within the piano.

The de-humidifying function operates by warming the air with separate heater bars to lower the nearby relative humidity levels.

The system frequently alternates between humidify & de-humidify to help maintain a consistent climate for the piano.

What's the best relative humidity for piano?

External conditions surrounding the piano are extremely important to monitor.

If the ambient relative humidity of the piano room which surrounds the piano becomes grossly neglected, then the Dampp-Chaser's effectiveness is negligible.

Keeping 35%-50% relative humidity of the piano room as a whole is the best way for this system to be maximally effective.

What are the components of the Dampp-Chaser System?

The basic components of the system

  • Pads

  • Pad Treatment

  • Light Panel

  • Humidifier Tank

  • Humidistat

Pads: are conceptually similar to being high-quality paper towel which are responsible for "wicking" up water over a heater bar to disperse humidity.

Read: How-To Instructions for Dampp-Chaser Pads Replacement

Pad treatment: is used to increase the life of Humidifier pads, minimize bacterial and algae growth, helps to keep the watering tube clean and clear, and designed to reduce mineral build-up.

Light Panel: The 3 lights on the light panel indicate what needs maintenance.

  1. Green light - Power is on

  2. Yellow light - Low water, needs re-filling

  3. Red light - Pads need replacement

Humidifier Tank: The humidifier tank securely rests within the piano cabinet, away from electronics.

Humidistat: The humidistat is the central brain of the system. It monitors relative humidity, turns on the humidifier/dehumidifier bars, monitors water level, and pad health.

*For Technicians: Optional smart bracket to reduce the risk of small components of the light panel coming loose, deemed a choking hazard.

What are the benefits of the Piano LifeSaver?

A new piano can benefit to better stabilize the temperamental soundboard, which is typically less than a few years old.

Even with a used piano, these systems are beneficial to maintain the stability of the surrounding humidity to maintain the tuning for longer periods of time.

It commonly prevents time-consuming pitch correction adjustments for the tuner. The pitch stability of the piano is enhanced.

What are the Downsides of the Piano LifeSaver?

Maintenance costs associated with pads, pad treatment, electricity etc.

Does not 100% guarantee protection from soundboard cracks.

The ambient humidity of the room is unaffected by this system.

Dampp-Chaser Facts

  • Internal piano relative humidity levels are constantly maintained at 45%.

  • Constant year round humidity levels between 35-50% can be extremely or out-of-reach for most people to maintain without a Dampp-Chaser.

  • If there are minerals in the source water, at some point, it will show up on the pads. Though, it’s not harmful to the piano nor piano players.

Piano Consumer FYI

A narrow range of average humidity is crucial to achieve optimal conditions for the piano.

The dampp chaser system is commonly used for well maintained instruments as well as regular household pianos.

Humidity fluctuations are often detrimental to the condition of the pianos tuning and to some extent, the wooden parts of the action.

What are Piano LifeSaver recommendations?

This piano humidity control system is typically recommended by piano technicians and tuners. *The only exception is when the piano is in an area where the humidity is wildly out of control.

The worst places to keep a piano:

  • Near a window

  • near an exterior wall

  • near the heater

  • near the A/C

  • anywhere unregulated climate (open windows).

Piano tuners generally recommend to have a D.C. system installed. (It helps to minimize "pitch raises")

The metal parts will not rust due to the D.C. This is a common misconception; it works to prevent rust.

Major piano manufacturers recommend maintaining some level of humidity control.

Extra Dampp-Chaser info

Dampp-chaser corporation also produces "Dampp Defender" which is a home solution for mildew, rust, and musty odors in closet spaces.

 

Cost & Benefit Analysis

Compared to the piano’s investment value, a D.C. installation is hardly a fraction of the cost of the piano, so comparatively speaking, it’s a no-brained, so long as it is properly maintained.

Related:

10 Things to Know about the Piano Life Saver System