I bought a harp made in Kingston Ontario and live in Québec City. Indoor humidity ranges from about 60 to 65 in the summer and down to around 30 in the winter. I have tried using a humidifier in the winter to try to keep humidity around 40 but it causes ice buildup on my windows at very low temperatures (below -10… and we’ve been getting a lot of -20 and even -30 recently), which is not good for my home. Because repairing a harp is likely less expensive than repairing structural problems or damaged windows caused by water seepage or excess condensation in winter, I have opted to not use a humidifier. However, I am wondering if there is anything else I can do. Or do I not need to worry too much? Humidity levels can get down to about 27 or 28 during cold snaps… Given that the harp was made in Canada, can I assume these dryer winters won’t affect it too much? As long as it is not for periods that are too long (as the temperature rises, so does the humidity). I know that some consider that rapid changes in humidity are worse for a harp than relatively constant humidity levels. Is around 30 too low? Any advice would be welcome! Thanks!
My best advice is to talk to the manufacturer/person who made it. It makes a difference the type of harp, and wood used, tension, etc.
I talked with Venus harps once (a long time ago) about harps and humidity. I don’t remember all the details, but I do remember them saying that the harp will adapt to its environment, even if different from the place where it was made, so using tools to affect humidity isn’t always necessary. If you take it out of your controlled environment to play it somewhere else very often, you are better off not humidifying/dehumidifying, to avoid the sudden change that way. It would be different if you never move it.
I think frequent, sudden, extreme changes in humidity would be bad, but yours don’t seem to be sudden or extreme. The story I remember is about a woman who took her harp outside to the back porch to play, and wondering why it wouldn’t hold its tuning. Or maybe that was to illustrate temperature changes. I can’t remember now.
I know this probably isn’t that helpful of a reply…hopefully someone else will have more specific info for you.
Thanks! I did contact the harpmaker. While around 30 is not ideal (but, like the harpmaker said, we don’t live an ideal world), based on what I was able to tell him about some cracks I have noticed appearing in the veneer at low humidity levels (I also sent him a photo), I have nothing to worry about, the cracks are more cosmetic than anything else. He was also able to give me an idea of what would be more problematic. So while my situation is not ideal (and there is not much I can do to change it at the moment without possibly creating worse problems elsewhere), he really doesn’t think it will result in any significant damage. He was really quite reassuring. 🙂
Glad he was able to reassure you! For reference the easy way to increase indoor humidity in winter without risking condensation is to turn your heating down. This afternoon I turned the fire on in the room with my harps and as it heated from 18 to 23 degrees I watched the humidity reading fall from 47 to 41%.
Thank you all for your comments and advice. 🙂 Last weekend it was quite mild so I took advantage of the fact to take a close look at my windows and put some plastic film on them. (This is my first winter in this place). I ended up sealing a lot of gaps with sealant and weather stripping before putting on the plastic. The result is that not only do I no longer have ice buildup but the relative humidity has actually gone up. In the room where I keep my harp, it varies between 33 and 36, which, while still not ideal, is much better than 27 and 28!! As well, as you suggested Tacye, I am keeping the heat lower in that room, which seems to help. Thanks for listening and for your advice and support.
Happy harping! 🙂
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