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David Burgess

Extreme instrument danger!

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If you live in the area which is experiencing record cold, do what you can to keep the humidity up to a reasonable level.

Where I live, it is currently -18 F, and the outside humidity is 70%. That means that when this air is brought inside and heated to 70 F, the relative humidity inside will be below 2%.

Why does it matter? When we have cold conditions like this, it is followed by repair people getting a flood of crack repairs, and the usual question from the owner is, "Why did this happen? I never took special precautions before, and nothing ever happened until now".

If you don't have proper humidification equipment (which you should), it will help slightly to put the instrument in a cooler place. For example, in a 50 degree room, the relative humidity will be 4% rather than 2%. That's still horrible, but better than nothing.

For the unenlightened:lol: who don't use the F temperature scale,  -18 F is -28 C.

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40 minutes ago, Andreas Preuss said:

Then, in theory it would be safest to keep the instrument outside?

For security, be sure to attach it to a light pole with a bicycle lock, higher than a dog can pee. ;)

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Despite the jokes, this is a real issue both to fiddles and humans.

It's not healthy to live in these conditions either. 

I built our home ten years ago and the Finnish regulations for heat recovery and air ventilation are among the best, but actually worst as new research has shown.

When you follow the regulations RH is dropping and as a result it feels colder and you turn up the heat and waste more energy :huh:

 

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3 hours ago, David Burgess said:

If you live in the area which is experiencing record cold, do what you can to keep the humidity up to a reasonable level.

Where I live, it is currently -18 F, and the outside humidity is 70%. That means that when this air is brought inside and heated to 70 F, the relative humidity inside will be below 2%.

Why does it matter? When we have cold conditions like this, it is followed by repair people getting a flood of crack repairs, and the usual question from the owner is, "Why did this happen? I never took special precautions before, and nothing ever happened until now".

If you don't have proper humidification equipment (which you should), it will help slightly to put the instrument in a cooler place. For example, in a 50 degree room, the relative humidity will be 4% rather than 2%. That's still horrible, but better than nothing.

For the unenlightened:lol: who don't use the F temperature scale,  -18 F is -28 C.

Kind of an academic question because I understand and agree with what you're saying.  I've wondered if in extreme conditions as you described, if humidity not just RH is a factor?  At low temperatures there is still less water in the air and moisture will get pulled from the wood (and person).

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3 hours ago, David Burgess said:

...For example, in a 50 degree room, the relative humidity will be 4% rather than 2%. That's still horrible, but better than nothing.

thanks for the clear explanation.

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30 minutes ago, Jim Bress said:

Kind of an academic question because I understand and agree with what you're saying.  I've wondered if in extreme conditions as you described, if humidity not just RH is a factor?  At low temperatures there is still less water in the air and moisture will get pulled from the wood (and person).

Wood moisture content tracks pretty closely with relative humidity, rather than absolute humidity (the weight of the water vapor in a given amount of air). Maybe someone who is a better scientist than I can explain why that is.

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26 minutes ago, David Burgess said:

Wood moisture content tracks pretty closely with relative humidity, rather than absolute humidity (the weight of the water vapor in a given amount of air). Maybe someone who is a better scientist than I can explain why that is.

It's rather simple really - RH is the activity of water in the air. When the activity of water in the air is less than in the wood, moisture is drawn out of the wood and into the air. Conversely when the activity of water is higher in the air.

I keep two moisturisers running all through winter, so the main change I see is how often I have to fill them with water.

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30 minutes ago, ClefLover said:

I have put wet sponges on plates in my storage... yes, it is a bit archaic but hope it helps. 

Whoa, I wouldn't suggest direct contact between your wet sponges and the plates! :(

Right now, I have two cheap Sunbeam steam humidifiers plugged into this humidity controller:

https://www.ebay.com/p/willhi-WH1436H-Mini-Plug-N-Play-Digital-Air-Humidity-Controller-With-Probe/17009755272

That's enough to keep my shop area and instrument storage area up around 38 percent relative humidity, even during these occasional hard times. Total investment, around 80 bucks, plus electricity. The same external controller will also control dehumidifiers much more accurately than the factory-supplied internal controller.

(Actually, my own investment runs more into the multi-thousands, since I have spent a lot of time and money purchasing and  testing humidifiers, hygrometers, and control devices.)

 

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1 hour ago, David Burgess said:

Whoa, I wouldn't suggest direct contact between your wet sponges and the plates! :(

Right now, I have two cheap Sunbeam steam humidifiers plugged into this humidity controller:

https://www.ebay.com/p/willhi-WH1436H-Mini-Plug-N-Play-Digital-Air-Humidity-Controller-With-Probe/17009755272

That's enough to keep my shop area and instrument storage area up around 38 percent relative humidity, even during these occasional hard times. Total investment, around 80 bucks, plus electricity. The same external controller will also control dehumidifiers much more accurately than the factory-supplied internal controller.

(Actually, my own investment runs more into the multi-thousands, since I have spent a lot of time and money purchasing and  testing humidifiers, hygrometers, and control devices.)

 

I didn’t mean instrument plates ;) I meant dinner plates.  I have them placed on the ground with wet sponges.  Hopefully that humidifies the small area well enough. 

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A good way to help this is to have LOTS of house plants that like damp soil. The wet soil in all the various containers helps raise the humidity.

Here in SF I have the opposite problem its 53 outside with 94% humidity, I have to run my dehumidifier non stop to keep it at 50, much of the home construction is pretty sub par out here and dampness is a big issue in many homes.

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When I was back in the northeast it was pans of water on all the radiators until I got a humidifier.

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1 hour ago, ClefLover said:

I didn’t mean instrument plates ;) I meant dinner plates.  I have them placed on the ground with wet sponges.  Hopefully that humidifies the small area well enough. 

It's surprising how much water it takes to humidify a room.  Get a Vick's vaporizer from Walmart for $15.  Put your case where it's far from the room's heat source.  Take the humidity meter out of the case and set it on top.  On the other side of the room put the vaporizer.  When you see how much water it takes to maintain 50% you'll understand how ineffective pans of water and the like are....  Vaporizer is better than things sold as humidifiers, just as effective but cheaper and longer lasting.

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I've never taken any special precautions regarding temperature and humidity for my wood storage. In fact, the long term storage is in my shop attic where the temperatures vary from -40F in the winter to +125F in the summer, and the accompanying humidity.

I guess Edmonton is the new Palm Beach;  it's +33F here today, unusually warm for this time of year.

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I installed one of these in the shop and one at home.  We used to keep 3 console humidifiers running in the workshop and a couple of small ones that had to be filled twice a day.  Now this unit delivers 34+ gallons of water into the air per day, the yearly upkeep is about $30 and takes 5 minutes.  

https://www.aprilaire.com/whole-house-products/humidifier/model-800

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I don't know how accurate this is; except for the clock.  If you're hogging it isn't too bad, for half an hour or so at a time:

20190131_134039.thumb.jpg.7cd07c5a17b86967fb30107e47daa8e7.jpg20190131_133906.thumb.jpg.ae7ec0cbf88a8b644d0a0187890a8fca.jpg

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1 hour ago, Jerry Pasewicz said:

I installed one of these in the shop and one at home.  We used to keep 3 console humidifiers running in the workshop and a couple of small ones that had to be filled twice a day.  Now this unit delivers 34+ gallons of water into the air per day, the yearly upkeep is about $30 and takes 5 minutes.  

https://www.aprilaire.com/whole-house-products/humidifier/model-800

We use one of them, too, but it only gets to about 30% RH on these cold days. I use David's system in a closed room where I keep my violins and it works really well. I also keep a separate humidifier running full-time in the room where I play. I try to keep the RH above 40%.

Hint: Use evaporative (heat) humidifiers, not cool mist ultrasonic humidifiers. The cool mist will deposit a mineral dust from the water everywhere.

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