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I think most people here would agree that, as with all objects, good care is key to keeping a concertina in its best condition.

I am curious what y'all think is the best way to keep a concertina.

There have been some posts about damage resulting from too low relative humidity (central heating in houses during the winter limits the amount of water in the air.) What should be done?

Is it best to keep the concertina in a box or out in a room?

Any tips for different environmental problems?

~Patrick

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central heating in houses during the winter limits the amount of water in the air

Not necessarily so. That depends on how the heating system works.

 

The cause of low relative humidity in houses in winter is the replacement of house air with exterior air. Typical furnaces and boilers use surrounding air (usually basement air as that's where those appliances are located) for combustion. Air to replace basement air usually comes from the house. It's also fairly common to intentionally basement doors open "to let heat up". Bad, bad, bad....

 

Air to replace house air comes from the outside which is very cold - and very dry. When that air infiltrates into the house and gets warmed up - it LOOSES what little humidly it had. IOW, the air becomes even dryer than it was outside!

 

All that indoor air which people have been diligently heating with their furnaces/boilers, and humidifying with their dish washing, bathing, plant expiration, and us and other animal exhalations... normally goes right up the stack!

 

The easy solution is to crack a basement window and keep your basement door shut (parking a sand snake helps there too). In a few days you will be amazed at how much more humid your house becomes. Your basement will be a bit cooler too, but that's a reasonable trade-off, particularly as you'll be paying less for heat doing things this way.

 

Another common misconception is that forced hot air heat is "dryer" than radiators and other water distribution heating systems. The only humidity related difference between the two systems is that air heat stratifies more which raises the pressure plane (I really don't want to get into building science right here...) which results in somewhat greater infiltration than a house with a water-borne heating system.

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Treat your concertina the same way one would treat a fine fiddle. Certainly try and keep the humidity level at or above 40% RH, or as close as you can come to it. 40 years of playing, repairing, and building instruments here in the upper Midwest US has given me plenty of experience with this problem. (It was -13 degrees F last week, BRRRR).

 

I have a standard sheet that I give out to customers after repairing instruments (mostly fretted instruments and wooden flutes).

 

Get a room humidifier (as cheap as $30-50), put it in an isolated room and store your instruments in that room when not being played. Keep the doors shut. You'll have to run the humidifier full-time and check the tank every day.

 

Never leave your instrument sitting in the car unless absolutely necessary, and never leave it sitting in the sun at home or in the car.

 

When not being played your instrument must be put back in its case.

 

The simple act of heating any air mass, even in a closed sytem, will lower its relative humidity level significantly, so I'm not sure that leaving a basement window open is much of a solution???? I would think certainly not enough to get the humidity back up close to where it needs to be, 40% or more.

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The simple act of heating any air mass, even in a closed sytem, will lower its relative humidity level significantly, so I'm not sure that leaving a basement window open is much of a solution???? I would think certainly not enough to get the humidity back up close to where it needs to be, 40% or more.

In a closed system (no air changes) the air wouldn't need to be heated and the moisture which is present stays constant. In reality moisture is continually added to the space - and reduced by infiltration. The idea is to make this balance comfortable. A "tighter" house (lower infiltration and a sealed combustion furnace/boiler) will have higher humidity than a leakier house.

 

Alarmingly often in recent years, houses have been built so tightly that moisture condenses out on wall surfaces (not just the windows!). That would put those houses up well over RH40. Here in the US these houses have been having massive mold and mildew problems... severe and common enough that there are class action suits about it.

 

In older houses which have been reasonably tightened up (insulated, with weatherstripping, and double paned windows), will become appreciatively more humid if the furnace/boiler gets its combustion air NOT from the living space. Up to RH40? Depends on how large the house is, how many people and animals live there and their habits, plants, if you hang your laundry indoors, etc.

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...so I'm not sure that leaving a basement window open is much of a solution????
...older houses which have been reasonably tightened up will become appreciatively more humid if the furnace/boiler gets its combustion air NOT from the living space.

Let's see if I understand this:

 

The purpose of leaving the basement window open is not to supply air to the house, but to supply air to the furnace, so that it doesn't take air from the house, which would then have to be replaced by cold outside air that contains less moisture.

 

Yes?

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The act of heating an air mass, from inside or outside and by whatever method, will lower the RH level of that same air mass. That air mass will then want to draw moisture out of any other substance, say wooden parts in a concertina, because it now has the *capacity* to hold more moisture than was originally held in that same air mass. When you heat your house you basically are creating a lumber drying kiln. That's all a lumber drying kiln is, a heated space with boards piled in it so that the moisture will be pulled from the boards faster than by *just* evaporation from moving air.

 

I don't see how heating air from outside offers any advantage as far as RH levels are concerned. Air at temperatures below zero (F) doesn't hold much moisture to begin with and heating that air *lowers* its RH level. ?? I guess I'm missing something.

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I have the 2 most un-friendly kinds of heat in my house. . . forced hot air and wood. When my daughter and I started taking violin in the fall our teacher suggested that we use a room humidifier and keep the violins low to the floor (not on the floor) to avoid wide temperature fluctuation. I've been doing the same with my concertina. Hopefully it's working.

 

Cooking dinner always seems to help the humidity level in our house, but it is a small place.

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I don't see how heating air from outside offers any advantage as far as RH levels are concerned.  ...  I guess I'm missing something.

If that post was in response to my analysis of leaving a basement window open, it seems to me that you are missing my point.

 

The idea is that the basement should be isolated from the rest of the house, and the air coming in the window is not to be heated for circulation, rather to be burned. The air to be (re)heated comes from (with hot air heat) or sits in (with hot water or steam) the rest of the house. Even better than leaving a basement window open is to have a separate air feed direct from outside the building to the furnace's fire box.

Edited by JimLucas
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Let's see if I understand this:

 

The purpose of leaving the basement window open is not to supply air to the house, but to supply air to the furnace, so that it doesn't take air from the house, which would then have to be replaced by cold outside air that contains less moisture.

 

Yes?

Yes!

Even better than leaving a basement window open is to have a separate air feed direct from outside the building to the furnace's fie box.

Absolutely! That's the way furnace/boiler designs have been going for the past decade. Virtually all the better gas-fired units are now "sealed combustion" (as this propensity is called). Unfortunately few oil-fired ones are (the introduction of cold air makes the oil congeal so that it can't burn properly).

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I have the 2 most un-friendly kinds of heat in my house. . . forced hot air and wood.

Please see my post of Feb 3 2004. The kind of heat isn't the cause.... You have been mislead.

] When my daughter and I started taking violin in the fall our teacher suggested that we use a room humidifier and keep the violins low to the floor (not on the floor) to avoid wide temperature fluctuation.

Studies have shown that it takes a considerable vertical space WITH a substantial temperature differential to have much affect on humidity stratification (diffusion vs air saturation issues). Vertical humidity differentials are almost unmeasurable over a typical 8' high room. A two story space of STATIC air can see about a 2% difference in humidity (with the lower air being more humid).

 

Near the floor is the area MOST prone to temperature fluctuation. Not only will simply walking though an area change the temperature more near the floor, but the common occurrence of opening up an exterior door will greatly change the temperature change near the floor (while have little affect higher up and almost no affect near the ceiling).

 

The most temperature stable location in a room is just above half way up on an interior wall which is out of typical people circulation paths. That's why thermostats are usually located at such points.

 

It sounds like your teacher has misled you.

Edited by Richard Morse
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Rich, Having reread your original post I can see that I had, indeed, missed something or at least misinterpreted something. I agree that your suggestions may have some impact on the RH levels in the house due to the realities of home construction (leakiness). If some house air is actually being used for combustion then it does make sense to try and limit this by whatever means (leaving the basement window open and isolating the basement from the house as well as possible). So readers are clear on this issue I would add that combustion air and house air are totally separate air masses, at least in principle. Therein lies the problem, the principle is not the reality.

 

However I think it is a mistake (or misleading:-) to leave the impression that this will be adequate enough to keep the humidity of the house air at acceptible levels, 40-50%. In extreme conditions, such as found thru-out the winter in the upper midwest, and less occasionally (like this year) on the east coast, serious humidification is required.

 

Jim, as hard as it may be to believe, I was not responding to your comment/question :-)

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Jim, as hard as it may be to believe, I was not responding to your comment/question :-)

Hey, the reason I used the word "if" is because I wasn't sure. I don't find it at all hard to believe. :)

 

(But in the old Forum structure there would have been little doubt. ;))

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Jim "(But in the old Forum structure there would have been little doubt. )"

 

Jim, you've certainly hit the nail on its ugly little head but I'm afraid you're preachin' to the choir (as I'm sure you know). In fact sooner or later I fear that the choir may be reduced to just a chamber group or even a quartet. However I'm confident that it'll never be less than a duo:-)

 

Your friend and co-conspirator, SW

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Even better than leaving a basement window open is to have a separate air feed direct from outside the building to the furnace's fie box.

Absolutely! That's the way furnace/boiler designs have been going for the past decade. Virtually all the better gas-fired units are now "sealed combustion" (as this propensity is called). Unfortunately few oil-fired ones are (the introduction of cold air makes the oil congeal so that it can't burn properly).

Isn't this what a balanced flue boiler does?, in which case they've been around in the UK (oil and gas) for many years (>10). I always thought that the idea was that they are not blown out by external gales (since the air intake and exhust are adjacent, even concentric), but its possible that it was done for humidity reasons instead/as well.

 

RE the clogging of the oil; it may be that we don't have the same low temperatures over here, or that the concentric nature of the flue preheats the incoming air, or we use different oil?

 

 

Who knows? Indeed, who cares?

 

Clive.

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Even better than leaving a basement window open is to have a separate air feed direct from outside the building to the furnace's fie box.

Absolutely! That's the way furnace/boiler designs have been going for the past decade. Virtually all the better gas-fired units are now "sealed combustion" (as this propensity is called). Unfortunately few oil-fired ones are (the introduction of cold air makes the oil congeal so that it can't burn properly).

Isn't this what a balanced flue boiler does?, in which case they've been around in the UK (oil and gas) for many years (>10). I always thought that the idea was that they are not blown out by external gales (since the air intake and exhust are adjacent, even concentric), but its possible that it was done for humidity reasons instead/as well..

The UK/US terminologies are probably different, but here in the US, a "balanced flue" design is a "draft hood dilution device" that is installed between the boiler and flue which keeps extra strong variations in chimney draft (up or down drafting) from affecting the boiler burn quality (not to mention to keep the flame and/or pilot from being blow - or sucked - out).

 

We have the type of units you mention though they're typically gas-fired and most of the units are small wall-mounted jobs usually used for augmental heat - to boost the warmth of a single room (at least here in New England).

 

I don't doubt that you've seen these types of units around more and for longer that we have. The EU has always been the leader in heating appliance advances... and the US has been always slow to "catch up". Even now, virtually all the high-end units sold here are made in Europe.

 

RE the clogging of the oil; it may be that we don't have the same low temperatures over here, or that the concentric nature of the flue preheats the incoming air, or we use different oil?

Probably all those plus differing environmental regulations.

 

Who knows? Indeed, who cares?

I for one do! Energy efficient houses is one of my "things". And if more people cared maybe we wouldn't be so dependent upon Middle East oil....

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Hi everyone,

 

I'm one of those who has an instrument that has become unplayable due to dry air. The air so dry that my own skin cracks unless I put skin stuff on it. I live in a warm 4th-story apartment heated by radiators, and I really have no control over how this big old building is heated, so humidifying is really all I can do. I have always needed a humidifier in the bedroom during winter, but now I also have one in the Accoustic-Instrument room (living room).

 

and keep the humidity level at or above 40% RH, or as close as you can come to it. 40 years of playing, repairing, and building instruments here in the upper Midwest US has given me plenty of experience with this problem.

 

So where do I buy a hydrometer for monitoring the RH of a room? I have a hydrometer used for making beer, but I am pretty sure that one wont do the instruments any good.

 

- Alex

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Who knows? Indeed, who cares?

I for one do! Energy efficient houses is one of my "things". And if more people cared maybe we wouldn't be so dependent upon Middle East oil....

Actually Richard, I also care, I was just having a flippant moment in my earlier posting!, and it perhaps should have been in the 'domestic appliance forum'.

 

The current thing over here seems to be 'condensing boilers', which basically condense water vapour out of the flue gases, thus recovering latent heat. They cost a fortune however (about £1000).

 

Clive.

Edited by Clive Thorne
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