Caring For Your Piano
Possibly the greatest danger to the well-being of a piano is excessive dryness. Shrinkage and cracking of wood resulting from such conditions are irreversible, so never put a piano in direct sunlight or within one metre of a radiator or any other type of heat source. Extreme damp is also to be avoided as it causes swelling of the wood resulting in tightness of the action, sticking keys etc. as well as rusting and corrosion of the strings and other metal parts.
Ideally, the humidity should be kept between 45% and 65%. This is absolutely essential for older pianos - so a humidity gauge (hygrometer) is a very worthwhile investment. During frosty weather and hot dry periods, humidity is likely to drop as low as 25%.
To maintain optimum humidity, a centrally heated room of 150 sq. ft. may need over 1 litre of water per day to be added when the heating is functioning. This can be distributed in various ways including the following: humidifiers that hang on radiators, tropical plants, room humidifiers, bowls with pebbles and water in them etc.
Never put any liquid or plants on the piano. Even though vases and plant pots may be waterproof, condensation will probably form underneath which will have a devastating effect on the polish and veneer.
Tuning & Maintenance
It is essential that you have the piano tuned and checked regularly using a reputable tuner. Six monthly is the recommended interval though it will vary depending on the age and type of piano, as well as the environmental conditions and the amount and type of use it gets. A good tuner will be able to advise you and will keep a check on the condition of the piano so that any small problems that may arise can be dealt with before they become major ones.
If you are outside of the area that we cover, see the Piano Tuners Association website for a tuner in your location.
How you clean your piano depends on the type of finish. Spray-on polishes are best avoided in all cases. Traditional pianos (French Polished) can be polished using a good quality beeswax furniture polish. For modern finishes such as Polyester or Acrylic lacquers, regular dusting is recommended - initially with a feather duster as the dust may be slightly abrasive and should not be rubbed into the surface. Follow this by wiping with a very soft cotton or micro fibre cloth. Any remaining finger marks can be cleaned with a slightly dampened cloth (a mild soap can be added if necessary), followed immediately by thorough drying with the soft dry cloth. The keys should normally be cleaned by similar methods. If they are ivory use a slightly dampened cloth if necessary, but then dry off immediately.