Water Quality and Cleaning Your Dampp-Chaser System

Posted by Sarah Czarnecki on

Over time, your Dampp-Chaser system might accumulate mineral buildup and residue on the pads or heater bar. You may also notice a red blinking light to indicate changing the pads, even after you’ve just changed them. The trick to troubleshooting is to use good quality water and clean your Dampp-Chaser system correctly.

What to Do About That Blinking Red Light

The red light on the indicator panel tells you whether or not the system has operational pads.

If the red pad light is blinking after you refill your Dampp-Chaser system, you might just need a little patience. After you fill the tank, the humidifier pads wick water up and over the heater bar. This sends the message to the system that there is clean water and the pads are doing their jobs. This can take a few minutes.

Do not add more water to your Dampp-Chaser system unless the yellow water light is blinking. Adding water too soon will overflow your tank and make a mess.

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The Difference Between Old vs New Systems’ Red Indicator Lights

In the newer “smart” Dampp-Chaser systems, the red light will blink to indicate when the water tank is too empty or built up with mineral deposits. Both Smart Bracket and Smart Heater Bar sensor wires run along the top of the bar. These sensors indicate when the pads are wet (as they should be) and in contact with the wires. 

Before 2006, these sensors were inside the humidifier bar itself. With these older systems, the red light only blinks when the pads are dry and the system has gone into humidification mode. When the ambient humidity in the room increases, the system will switch back to dehumidification mode.

Removing and Preventing Mineral Buildup

Sometimes, you’ll find mineral sediment or dried pad residue on the heater bar. This can cause the heater bar and sensors to stop detecting pads, even when they are working correctly. In this case, the bar and sensor rods will need to be cleaned:

  1. Safety first! Unplug your Dampp-Chaser system.
  2. Scrape off the sediment off the heater bar using the back side of a table knife held at a 90 degree angle. Take your time and be careful not to damage the bar. 
  3. If the residue won't budge, you may need to soak the heater bar in warm water. Try adding white vinegar to the water, especially if you have hard water.
  4. Rinse thoroughly with clean water and Dampp-Chaser Pad Treatment before reassembly.

We’ve also had good luck laying a terry cloth over the bar instead of placing the bar directly underwater, since the bar might not be watertight.

If you have trouble with mineral building up frequently, use a clean sleeve to protect the heater bar. 

Water Quality Matters

Most of the time, tap water works well, but acidic water or water with a high mineral content can damage your Dampp-Chaser system. This can impact the integrity of the humidifier bar or even corrode the metal parts of the system.

If you have hard water, you may want to use distilled or bottled water to keep your Dampp-Chaser system working properly.

Always use Dampp-Chaser Pad Treatment whenever you add water to your system. This adds a chemical compound that allows electricity to reach the sensors and keep the system functional. Do not use other brands of pad treatment, salt, or any other DIY solution. This can damage your piano, your Dampp-Chaser system, and will void your warranty.


Still stuck? Contact your local Dampp-Chaser technician to make a service call and inspect your system.

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