Due to the widespread flooding caused by Hurricane Ian, we are posting information regarding pianos that may have been damaged by water. This information is relevant not just to pianos that were potentially damaged in the recent storm, but also to any flood situation affecting your piano. Before and beyond damage to instruments, our heartfelt wishes for recovery go out to everyone who has been affected by this terrible disaster.
If you have a piano damaged by water, your authorized Steinway dealer
The Music Gallery can help. Call or text questions to (727) 530-3304.
USEFUL INFORMATION CONCERNING FLOOD-DAMAGED PIANOS
PIANO EXPOSURE TO WATER/MOISTURE
Exposure to or immersion in water can indeed be very damaging to a piano. Even the exposure only to extreme changes in temperature and humidity for a few days in unoccupied homes and buildings can create extended instability in an instrument that will require numerous tunings and regulation of the action to ensure proper performance.
IMMERSION OF THE PIANO ABOVE THE CASE
Pianos that have been sitting in water that has risen to the level of the case or higher will in all likelihood be damaged too badly to be restored and must be replaced. Direct exposure of the case, soundboard, strings, and action assembly to water can commonly cause major glue failure of integral structural components.
The rim and keybed of the piano are perhaps the most critical elements in determining the severity of present and future damage. The glued laminations of the rim can be weakened by exposure to water and cannot effectively be repaired. Damage by water also will not necessarily manifest itself immediately. It may take six to nine months for the effects of glue failure and wood deterioration to become fully evident.
Even the solidity of a STEINWAY rim cannot overcome the 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 rim laminations severely compromises the ability of the rim to sustain these forces.
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 moisture still take their toll on all of the piano components and even these pianos would best be replaced rather than repaired. Constant exposure to excessive humidity can cause rust to form on the many metal parts in a piano including strings, tuning pins, hardware, action parts, and the cast iron plate that supports the tons of tension exerted by the strings. The soundboard will also be exposed to harsh climatic conditions that will cause severe expansion and contraction of the spruce that comprises the soundboard. The glue joints and wood grain of the soundboard can be permanently damaged by this movement and thus require 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 damaged by excessive moisture. The wood under the finish will move in the same manner as the soundboard described above. Cracking, checking, and other finish defects will likely result from this and thus necessitate refinishing of all furniture components of the instrument.
THE PRESENCE OF MOLD AND BACTERIA
Mold and bacteria can form in the many areas of the piano that cannot effectively be reached for cleaning and eradication. The Center for Disease Control (CDC) states on their website: After natural disasters such as hurricanes, tornadoes, and floods, excess moisture and standing water contribute to the growth of mold in homes and other buildings. When returning to a home that has been flooded, be aware that mold may be present and may be a health risk for your family. It is recommended that the piano owner consult a specialist in mold and bacteria removal prior to undertaking any repairs or restoration of the piano.
For further information concerning mold and other health concerns, visit the CDC website at https://www.cdc.gov/mold/.
TIPS FOR FILING INSURANCE CLAIMS
- Give immediate notice to your insurance company of your homeowner’s insurance claim. Call your agent about any damages you feel you will need to file a claim for. Your agent will give you information on what steps to take next for your particular policy. It is best to keep your insurance agent’s phone number and policy number in your wallet so you will have the information if it is not accessible in your home. Also, keep track of all communication between you and your agent regarding your homeowner’s insurance claim.
- Document and assess the damage to your property. Try to document damage by using a video camera and/or digital camera along with written documentation of all damage you immediately notice and keep those documentation items handy for any future damage you discover.
- Make any temporary repairs you can. You are responsible for preventing future damage, so try to make any immediate repairs you can (such as putting a tarp over a leaky roof). Also make sure that you save the receipts from the supplies you use so that you can be reimbursed for these expenses (make sure that the expenses are reasonable to avoid a denial of reimbursement).