Piano Exposure to Water/Moisture
Exposure to or immersion in water can without a doubt be very damaging to a piano. Even the exposure to intense changes in temperature and humidity for a few days in unoccupied homes and buildings can create extended instability in a piano that will need several tuning’s. Regulation of the piano action will be required to make certain suitable performance.
What if the Piano is in water above the cabinet?
Pianos that have been in water that has gotten to the height of the case or even greater will in all likelihood be damaged beyond repair and will need to be restored and almost certainly be replaced. Direct exposure of the case, soundboard, strings, and action to water can frequently cause major glue failure of integral structural elements.
The rim and keybed of the piano are perhaps the most critical factors in determining the seriousness of current and long term damage. The glued lamination’s of the rim can be weakened by exposure to water and can not efficiently be repaired. Damage by water will not necessarily manifest itself right away. It may possibly take up to a year for the effects of glue failure and wood deterioration to become completely evident.
Even the solidity of a fantastic piano such as a Baldwin, Yamaha, or a Kawai’s rim can not overcome the all-natural forces that occur when wood is exposed directly to water. The strings in a piano can have a combined tension of over twenty tons. Failure of the glue in the rims lamination’s seriously compromises the capability of the rim to sustain these forces.
This type of damage is not normally sustained in small floods where the water reaches a foot or so, however in a fire the water used to put a fire out is a double whammy because, in the case of a Grand Piano, the water will certainly soak the upper parts of the piano. Second,the piano will also at least sustain smoke and heat damage.
Shallow Water Exposure
In Grand Pianos that have been sitting in a few inches of water, but where the water has not reached the level of the case, are not necessarily ruined beyond repair, however, the effects of dampness still can and usually will take their toll on all of the piano elements and even these pianos would best be replaced rather than repaired.
Continuous exposure to excessive humidity can cause rust to form on many of the metal parts in a piano which include strings, tuning pins, hardware, action parts, and the cast iron plate that supports the tons of tension exerted by the strings.
Most people can not even envision a cast iron plate cracking, Even so I really was present one day when a plate did break. Needless to say, that instrument was ruined.
The soundboard will also be exposed to severe climatic situations that will result in extreme expansion and contraction of the spruce that soundboards in pianos are made from. The glue joints and wood grain of the soundboard can be totally damaged by this movement and As a result will call for replacement of the soundboard. The only way to ensure proper long-term integrity of the instrument is replacement of these parts.
The finish of the piano can also be damaged by extreme moisture. The wood under the finish will move in the same method as the soundboard referred to above. Cracking, checking, and other finish defects will likely result from this and thus necessitate refinishing of all furniture components of the instrument.
A thorough examination of the piano is the only way to determine the extent of the damage. A great question to ask the piano technician before hiring him, is if they have ever done work for insurance agencies.
Exposure to or immersion in water can indeed be very damaging to a piano. Even the exposure to extreme changes in temperature and humidity for a few days in unoccupied homes and buildings can create extended instability in a piano that will require numerous tuning’s. The rim and keybed of the piano are perhaps the most critical elements in determining the severity of present and long term damage. Even the solidity of a great piano such as a Baldwin, Yamaha, or a Kawai’s rim can not overcome the natural forces that occur when wood is exposed directly to water. The finish of the piano can also be damaged by excessive moisture.