All you need to know about the Dampp Chaser System
Your piano was a considerable investment, and you probably already know that fluctuations in humidity can damage it and shorten its life! So, when your piano tuner recommends the addition of a Dampp-Chaser system (also called the Piano Life Saver) for your piano, the following facts will help you to make an informed decision.
Piano owners are also unanimous about this: since having the system installed, the tunings are more stable and the piano sounds and plays better. The other good news is that the piano will last twice as long!
Why does the installation of the Dampp Chaser system require a professional piano technician?
The Dampp-Chaser Corporation provides training and certification to help piano technicians evaluate the system’s relevance in any given environment. Therefore, the company will not sell its products directly to anyone who would prefer to install the device themselves. This policy ensures that the company’s systems are properly installed, based on the condition of the piano, its location and its specific requirements.
For these reasons, a professional installation is required in order to obtain the five-year warranty coverage.
Of course, the ideal environment for a musical instrument would be a museum, with its perfectly controlled atmosphere! If your house is fitted with such a climate control system, you really don’t need a Piano Life Saver device. But if you stop and think about it, how many homeowners keep their air conditioning system working continuously all summer long?
Benefits of keeping the humidity level in your piano constant
Few places on Earth offer conditions that are favourable to pianos. Close to the sea, salty air and humidity cause much damage to instruments built of wood, wool and steel. Have you ever seen the pianos in Cuban hotels? Here in Canada, the need to heat our homes in winter and the changing seasons in our Nordic climate are the source of many of the problems faced in piano care and maintenance.
Photo: Michael Eastman
The Piano Life Saver System is easy to maintain
Invisible in upright pianos, barely visible underneath the soundboard in grand pianos, the system is completely silent for all types of instruments. It has a panel with LED lights that indicate when it has power and blink when a water refill is needed (about once a week during winter, less often during summer).
The correct amount of water and Pad Treatment is poured into the tank using a Universal Watering can (custom-made by Dampp-Chaser). Just insert the nozzle into the end of the watering tube. One capful of Pad Treatment added to the water inhibits the growth of mold and excessive scale buildup.
But in any case, the system must remain plugged into an electrical outlet that is not connected to a light switch (although an occasional power interruption, for a few hours or days, may not cause serious harm).
Once a year, your technician will dismount the whole system for a thorough cleaning and inspection (included in the 2 hour appointment).
Twice a year (according to the manufacturer’s recommendations), your piano technician will need to replace the humidifier pads and plastic sleeves, and, if needed, provide a replacement bottle of Pad Treatment.
The Piano Life Saver will save you money, time and hassle
The Dampp-Chaser Corporation describes how its system outperforms, and costs much less in electricity and trouble, than any other humidifier/dehumidifier system, for your piano’s care and maintenance. Just think about the routine of filling or emptying gallons of water daily as required by home or portable systems, compared to the Dampp-Chaser system, which only needs a quick refill every week or two!
Finally, some add-ons for stabilizing your piano’s tuning
A tailor-made wool string cover will help create a microclimate for your piano’s soundboard and pinblock, without making contact with the strings or affecting the sound.
A less expensive alternative would be to spread a blanket over the piano between uses.
For your piano, how about a pretty custom-made cover like this one?
A Dampp Chaser underneath the piano and a string cover above it: both will envelop your instrument inside a protective cocoon and prevent it from damage and unstable tuning. Even if we like maintaining your piano, we’re happy for you when it stays in tune longer!