Need advice on positioning of piano

General discussion about piano makes, problems with pianos, or just seeking advice.

Moderators: Feg, Gill the Piano, Melodytune

Post Reply
annette
New Member
New Member
Posts: 2
Joined: 17 Dec 2008, 11:52

Need advice on positioning of piano

Post by annette » 17 Dec 2008, 12:11

Hi, sorry, this might seem a stupid question, but I am new to pianos. My son wants to learn the piano. Now there are two places in our (small) livingroom where it could be positioned: the more practical choice is an outside wall between window and woodburning stove, which is really hot all autumn and winter.
The alternative is an inside wall next to a huge radiator, which is not warm that often and can be turned off if needed. Unfortunately that would mean getting a new settee etc....

So the question: would it be ok to position the piano next to the woodburner? What effect would the heat have?

I would be grateful for any advice! Thanks!

ennjaydee
Regular Poster
Regular Poster
Posts: 53
Joined: 21 Sep 2008, 20:47

Post by ennjaydee » 17 Dec 2008, 15:36

I assume you are thinking about an upright piano .. as opposed to a digital one which does not suffer with environmental extremes.

Temperature and humidity are important to maintain at near constant levels, if possible, for a piano. 20C and 40-45% humidity are generally reckoned to be ideal. Too much heat (ie adjacent to a woodburner) may cause warping of critical parts and will cause drying of natural moisture content, resulting in cracks. The soundboard is especially vulnerable. Too little heat results in damp problems, rusted strings, and swelling of the wood. Variances daily or weekly lead to expansion and contraction which takes the piano out of tune quickly and generally deteriorates the instrument rapidly.

As a general rule inside walls are better than outside due to more constant temp and less damp. Away from windows also advisable to minimise UV discoloration and direct sun heat.

The regular 'tuning' posters on this forum will be able to provide chapter and verse for you, but from the description you give, I'd opt for the inside wall and turn the radiator off. Get a Hygrometer to check humidity in the room and a humidifier if it falls below 40%.

The settee's a small price to pay for the satisfaction and years of pleasure you'll get from having a piano :D

annette
New Member
New Member
Posts: 2
Joined: 17 Dec 2008, 11:52

Post by annette » 17 Dec 2008, 15:49

Thanks very much.
From what you say I assume our livingroom is the coplete wrong to place a piano then, no contant temperature at all. Kitchen would be more suitable, or opt for digital. I personally just like the look of an old one better.........................

ennjaydee
Regular Poster
Regular Poster
Posts: 53
Joined: 21 Sep 2008, 20:47

Post by ennjaydee » 17 Dec 2008, 17:06

Kitchen humidity tends to vary a lot with steam from cooking etc so probably not the best place.

Might be useful to know what is the typical temp and humidity range in your living room given that a woodburner will, I guess, create large swings. You can get a hygrometer/thermometer to check this for under £20 then ask you dealer's advice.

I'm completely with you on traditional v digital re looks, but it's the sound and touch between the two that are notably different. I would not persuade you one way or the other. It's personal taste and what you need that matters. Digital's have a useful role - no tuning necessary, not susceptible to temp and humidity swings (except damp) and can be played via headphones for practice without disturbance. Useful up to about Grade 5 after which greater sensitivity of action than a digital gives is generally advised.

If you can accommodate a traditional it may be more cost effective long term, but if you cannot keep temp and humidity within a reasonable range it's likely to need regular re-tuning visits at least.

Descombes
Persistent Poster
Persistent Poster
Posts: 127
Joined: 14 Sep 2007, 18:55

Post by Descombes » 17 Dec 2008, 18:04

One of the first things I did when moving to my present house was to get a radiator moved. It was an inexpensive job and it created a heat-free space for the piano. Have you thought of this as an option?

And (speaking as a piano teacher), please do your son a favour and get him a real piano.

Gill the Piano
Moderator
Moderator
Posts: 4166
Joined: 25 Oct 2003, 19:39
Location: Thames Valley

Post by Gill the Piano » 17 Dec 2008, 18:51

A board covered in foil (or the reflective stuff they put behind radiators) placed between the piano and the heatsource so that the foil deflects the heat away from the piano has been known to work. Though elegant it ain't!

mdw
Senior Poster
Senior Poster
Posts: 603
Joined: 05 Jan 2008, 19:18

Post by mdw » 17 Dec 2008, 20:50

Its got to be rad off and well away from the wood burner. Cast iron wood burners / argas have wrecked quite a few pianos Ive seen. Also go with the humidity gauge idea.

bart
Junior Poster
Junior Poster
Posts: 14
Joined: 09 Jun 2008, 01:00
Location: Lonon

Post by bart » 17 Dec 2008, 22:04

Interesting comment about keeping temperature constant. We normally switch off the heaters at night, so I guess temperature goes up and down every day. However, the place where I want to put the soon-to-be-bought new piano is far away from heaters.
Do I need to worry?

markymark
Executive Poster
Executive Poster
Posts: 1470
Joined: 04 Apr 2005, 18:50
Location: UK

Post by markymark » 18 Dec 2008, 01:26

Take a balanced view on what has been said here, bart. No one is saying that your room must not have a temperature variation of more than 2C at any given time. Keeping your room at a constant temperature all the time is almost impossible. Your piano will be able to cope with the temperature variations of your livingroom provided that the central heating isn't on constantly making the air in the house very dry.

My piano stays in my livingroom and save for it going flat owing to it being overdue for its six monthly, I have had no problems with it. Obviously, you do not stick it beside or in front of a radiator because that would give you very stark and harmful temperature ranges with respect to your piano. Neither should you have it near a window as direct sunlight in the summer particularly can have the same affect as will the colder, damper weather during the colder winter months. The latter is a slightly smaller point but worth mentioning. This is why you'll never find an acoustic piano in a conservatory (of any sane persons home, that is!).

ennjaydee
Regular Poster
Regular Poster
Posts: 53
Joined: 21 Sep 2008, 20:47

Post by ennjaydee » 18 Dec 2008, 11:19

Markymark wrote "Take a balanced view on what has been said here.."

Exactly. It's extremes of heat that cause problems. So keep away from direct sources of heat and check humidity is in the 40-60% range and you should be fine. 15-25C is a typical range that's acceptable.

Bart wrote "We normally switch off the heaters at night"

My heating's off at night too. Just checked max/min levels in my dining room where my Bluthner A lives (next to internal wall and well away from the radiator); temp ranges from 16 to 21C and humidity from 40 to 55%; it's as sweet as the day it arrived.

Bart wrote "place where I want to put the soon-to-be-bought new piano is far away from heaters. Do I need to worry?"

Sounds ideal to minise temp effect on the piano. Inexpensive thermo/hygro is worthwhile to keep a check on your new piano.

Pianomate
Persistent Poster
Persistent Poster
Posts: 275
Joined: 27 Nov 2008, 18:35

Post by Pianomate » 18 Dec 2008, 12:31

As suggested, buy yourself a temperature-humidity meter. They are relatively inexpensive and can help you keep an eye on the situation. Relative humidity and temperature are interlinked. In natural environments in this country, warm weather has a higher relative humidity than cold weather due to evaporation rates.

In an artificially heated situation, there is no available water to evaporate, so timber starts to dry out to attempt to reach equilibrium with the atmosphere, unless the house is damp and in this case when heated the humidity increases and the reverse happens. This is why the new Building Regulations call for ventilation to be designed into building construction, such as "trickle vents".

Properly seasoned timber has a moisture content of typically 15%. It can tolerate slight changes but if the atmosphere is too dry, some of this moisture is lost, causing distortion and in severe cases, warping and splitting of the timber. Likewise, if the timber starts to absorb moisture from the atmosphere, it swells. Repeated cycling of this causes permanent distortion and damage.

I would move the radiator - in any case, to be most effective, radiators should be on outside walls, ideally underneath windows, rather than inside walls. It is a job which shouldn't take a plumber more than a couple of hours. I would also recommend having a thermostatic radiator valve (TRV) fitted as this would prevent it getting too hot and it would turn itself off when the stove is on.

Otherwise, do you have a dining room or parlour room? Putting the piano in there would remove competition with the TV and the environment could be kept more stable.
Last edited by Pianomate on 18 Dec 2008, 20:28, edited 3 times in total.

ennjaydee
Regular Poster
Regular Poster
Posts: 53
Joined: 21 Sep 2008, 20:47

Post by ennjaydee » 18 Dec 2008, 12:51

There you go!

Shift the rad. Don't stoke the woodburner up too high. Buy a temp/humidity meter. And do your son a favour with a real piano!

Happy Christmas! :lol:

Post Reply

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 3 guests