Maintain Your Dampp-Chaser Humidifier System: How to Replace Pads & Change Tank Liners

Posted by Sarah Czarnecki on

The Dampp-Chaser Piano Life Saver System does just that—it extends the life of your piano. To keep your piano’s thousands of wood, steel, and felt parts working properly, the humidity level needs to remain at a steady 45%. Most people are not lucky enough to live in a place where the weather is a constant 45% every single day, so the Dampp-Chaser system creates this interior climate, effectively stopping the clock on your piano’s lifespan.

That’s all well and good, but even the climate control system needs a little maintenance once in awhile. Now and again, you’ll need to refill the humidifier with clean and conditioned water, replace Dampp-Chaser pads, and sometimes tank liners need to be swapped. Here’s a step-by-step guide to showing your Dampp-Chaser a little TLC.


How to Replace Pads

Dampp-Chaser humidifier pads should be replaced every six months. Their job is to wick up water to the humidity bar, so if you have hard water, you may need to replace them more often since they can become caked with mineral deposits. Tip - replace the pads in the spring and the fall to minimize humidity swings.

First, determine which of the four humidifier tank styles you have installed in your system. They’re different sizes, so you’ll need to know this to determine how and where to insert the pads. 

  • Universal - used in all systems installed after 2003
  • Vertical - used in older systems installed before 1985
  • Grand - used in grand pianos
  • Short Tank - used in smaller pianos

Vertical humidifiers require the full 30” pads, but for universal, grand, or short tank humidifiers, you’ll cut them in half to fit.

Depending on the way your system was installed and how easily you can access the device, you may need to remove the tank to change humidifier pads. 

After removing all the pad packaging and cutting to fit if necessary, drape the pads across the heater bar. Push the ends down into the tank, making sure the pads are equal length on each side. That’s all there is to it!

Depending upon the location of the humidifier inside your piano, it is possible to change the pads without removing the water tank. In this case, remove the old pads from the heater bar and replace them with the new pads. If you’ve disturbed the thin plate above the grand tank (called the baffle) in the process, make sure it is straightened out after putting the new pads in place. 


How to Replace Tank Liners and Clean Sleeves 

First things first, always remember to empty the water tank whenever you move or remove it. You don’t want to spill water on the floor — or worse, inside your piano. When installing a new tank liner or clean sleeve, you will need to remove the tank, regardless of the tank style.

Speaking of liners, there are two styles: clear and black. For tall vertical tanks, use the clear liner. For universal tanks, use the black liner. In older short or grand style tanks, a liner is typically not used at all.

The way you replace tank liners depends on the type of installation. Dampp-Chaser installations for grand pianos are organized very differently from upright (aka vertical) pianos, so take a moment to familiarize yourself with your piano before doing climate control maintenance.

Step by Step: Grand Piano Tank Liner Replacement

  1. Your Dampp-Chaser system is mounted underneath the piano. Place a pan, bucket, basin, or other water-catching device below the tank to prevent a mess. 
  2. Loosen the wing nut that holds the watering tube and remove the tube from the tank. 
  3. Remove the old pads from the humidifier heater bar and place them in a container, being careful not to drip water everywhere. 
  4. Remove the heater bar and the water sensor probes. If your installation has a Smart Bracket, unclip it.
  5. Unclip one end of the tank from the hanger rod by pushing the end of the tank upward. 
  6. Slowly lower the freed end until water spills over into the pan or bucket. 
  7. Remove the tank completely by unclipping the end of the humidifier that is still attached to a hanger rod, and empty the tank completely. Note: If your system uses the universal humidifier (see dimensions above), remove the old liner and replace it with a new one. If you have an older grand or short tank humidifier, you can clean it out by using warm soapy water. 
  8. Hang the humidifier tank back on the hanger rods. Then, use the wing nut to re-mount the watering tube and replace the other humidifier components. 
  9. Drape the new pads across the humidifier heater bar. Be sure the end of the watering tube is inside the plastic liner for the universal humidifier.
  10. Fill the tank through the watering tube according to directions on the watering can.

Step by Step: Vertical (Upright) Piano Tank Liner Replacement

  1. Remove your piano’s bottom panel (also called the front panel, kick panel, or big piece of wood that goes in front of your knees) to access the Dampp-Chaser system. 
  2. Loosen the wing nut on the tank which holds the watering tube and remove the tube from the tank. 
  3. Remove the old pads from the humidifier heater bar and place them in a container, being careful not to drip water on the floor or inside the piano. 
  4. Remove the heater bar and the water sensor probes. If your installation has a Smart Bracket, unclip it.
  5. Lift the tank out of the piano and empty the water into a receptacle. Remove the old liner and replace it with a new one. 
  6. Replace the humidifier in the piano. 
  7. Use the wing nut to remount the watering tube and then replace the other humidifier components. 
  8. Drape the new pads across the humidifier heater bar. Be sure the end of the watering tube is inside the plastic liner. 
  9. Fill the tank through the watering tube according to directions on the watering can.

How to Add Water to the Humidifier Tank 

Refilling the humidifier tank requires the Dampp-Chaser watering can, Dampp-Chaser Pad Treatment, and tap water. 

A few things to keep in mind when refilling the water tank: If you have well water, hard tap water, or water with a high concentration of minerals, distilled water is recommended. Mineral deposits can cake the system, which means more frequent maintenance. 

And this one’s important: ONLY use branded Dampp-Chaser Pad Treatment. Adding salt or other water treatments to the humidifier tank will void your warranty. It could even cause damage to your system. The branded Dampp-Chaser Pad Treatment (sometimes called Dampp-Chaser Humidifier Treatment) inhibits bacterial and algae growth to help keep your system running properly.

How to refill the tank

Fill the humidifier tank with the Dampp-Chaser watering can. Add a capful of Dampp-Chaser Pad Treatment and follow the instructions on your watering can.  

Following the instructions on the watering can will ensure there are adequate electrolytes in the humidifier. Without sufficient electrolytes, the yellow system light will blink continuously, even when the tank is full.

 

If your Dampp-Chaser system is equipped with a Smart Bracket (SB) 

The Smart Bracket (SB) is a sensor that can tell whether or not the pads are wicking water across the heater bar. 

The SB sensor wires that run the length of the heater bar can sense the condition of the pads, so when the indicator panel light marked PADS blinks, the pads are not wicking across the heater bar water correctly. This might be due to mineral buildup, improper installation, or other issues. This is why it’s important to check the condition of the Smart Bracket wires during pad changing.  

Smart Bracket wires on the fritz? Gently clean them with a soft cloth when necessary. If the wires have mineral residue, contact your distributor/installer for deep cleaning or replacement.

How to Install the Smart Bracket

  1. Remove the Smart Bracket from the heater bar by removing the clips.  
  2. Install the Smart Bracket with the two sensor wires on the top of the heater bar.
  3. Be sure to keep the Smart Bracket and the wires outside of the clean sleeve so they can be in contact with the pads.   
  4. Place the humidifier pads across the heater bar and be sure each pad touches both sensor wires. This allows the wet pads to complete an electrical circuit between the two wires.

Guide and images used with permission from Dampp-Chaser Corporation.


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