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From what I gathered, the following should be done to keep the piano in good condition:

  • No direct exposure to sun light, moon light, heat source nor air conditioner.
  • An average temperature of 20°C, although above and below are fine too, as long as it's not rapidly going up and down on a short time span.
  • An average humidity level between 40% and 70%. Too wet and it will require more tuning. Too dry and the soundboard will crack. Again, fast fluctuation on a short time span is dangerous.
  • No exposure to draught nor air flow (which could provoke temperature fluctuation).
  • Tuning the piano at least once a year can be good enough, depending on the conditions and environment in which it is.

However, for the past few weeks, I have been arguing with my family about it, because they won't listen when I want to take care of my piano. As in, they know people who don't take that much precaution and the piano is still perfectly fine, because of which I am scared of buying my future piano if they're going to be careless about it (they're using it as an argument to justify the mistreatments).

If you consider the following parameters in my home:

  • Several doors and windows are usually open to create a huge draught all around and rapidly lower the temperature during a rain.
  • Because it's raining outside, the hygrometer is showing a difference of humidity of 40% inside and outside. If the windows are open, it will quickly climb up inside.
  • Family members bumping into furniture when walking and using my current digital piano as a table for their stuff.

What would be the direct consequences if an acoustic piano was exposed to these conditions, especially on its life span?

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    If you’re looking at buying a nice grand piano someday, I’d suggest getting a house with a room that can be dedicated to that piano first. Then you can control the room and environment without having to worry about other residence of the house causing problems. – Todd Wilcox Oct 24 '20 at 14:47
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    Leaving home seems to be another option. If they care less about your digital piano, it sounds like a good option..! – Tim Oct 24 '20 at 15:23
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    Overall, I'd say, pianos have survived worse… Moonlight is not a factor unless you have Lycanthropes in the vicinity. Temperature & humidity variations happen all the time. Unless you live somewhere with 40° summers & -18° winters, I wouldn't be bothered at all. Banging into a piano with your hip is simply going to teach you not to try that again. They used to make ashtrays to fit a keyboard. For those who didn't bother, you can rest a burning fag just above top B♭ so it doesn't drop ash into your beer ;) – Tetsujin Oct 24 '20 at 17:20
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    I used to work for a piano manufacturer… & I've also spent a lot of time in studios & jazz clubs, where no-one except the piano tuner [on remote contract] really gave a @£$^ about it. I was also friends with the guy who was in charge of Elton John's touring piano. Shït happens, pianos survive. The manufacturers do their best to supply pianos commissioned to a territory & its environment, to cover major environmental temp/humidities. After that… people happen. – Tetsujin Oct 24 '20 at 17:44
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    You choose your friends, you're stuck with your relatives… unless you buy your own house. TBH, if you can afford a new grand piano… you can probably afford a house to keep it in :P – Tetsujin Oct 24 '20 at 17:52
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After living half of my life around pianos in conditions that are sometimes less than ideal for humans, I can confirm that majority of pianos are not that much sensitive. If people survive, pianos more or less survive, too.

Things that can be really bad for a piano:

  1. High (condensing or near-condensing) humidity for prolonged time (months) and mold
  2. Moths (they eat woolen parts inside)
  3. Cups of drinks, esp. hot (depending on the finish, but most pianos do look bad afterwards)
  4. Extreme amounts of dust
  5. A tuner of medicore competence

Everything else can be still bad, but hey, pianos survive in playable state for decades even in music schools.

Not using a piano as a table can be negotiated (and I am yet to see a piano in a home not stacked with sheet music, books and some other things).

Bumping into an acoustic piano (it's heavy) is rather unpleasant and people quickly learn to avoid it.

And the weather... a single room can be negotiated, but have my word that it is not fatal even if you fail the negotiations.

And, you will be clearly not the first one to move out of family home because relatives don't pay enough respect to the things one does or cares for. It's called "growing up" and can be quite messy, but at some point settles.

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  • About the moths point, I read that you could put some kind of "repeller" inside to keep them away when you go on vacation for example. But can it be a problem if they can't get inside? I mean, how would they get inside if you keep the lid and the fallboard closed? – Clockwork Feb 9 at 10:15
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    Look under the keyboard. Between the keys and between the upper surface of the key and the board over the keys. Around the pedals. The back of the piano (for upright ones). It is by no means tight, openings where an insect can enter are everywhere. I think I solved (but only time will tell) a single piano-and-moth case by spraying the underside of the top cover with a certain veterinary medical product against external parasites of cats and dogs. Not a single insect ever since, ~3 years. – fraxinus Feb 9 at 17:03
  • Ah, I guess I'll have to check that once I get my piano. Thanks. – Clockwork Feb 9 at 18:58
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    Exposure to very low humidity can lead to cracks. If they occur in the soundboard or pin block they can be problematic. – phoog May 27 at 0:29
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Pianos are quite robust and durable, be glad you don't play the harp...

I often have to deal with a grand piano that is placed in a church. Unheated in winter, the sun beats down in summer, and when 800 people come into the room for an event, the temperature and humidity change very quickly and very drastically. For protection, it has a thick cover made of artificial leather and fabric, which is only removed for playing. This already keeps out many of the environmental influences. In addition, an electric humidifier is mounted on the underside. Maybe that would be a solution for you?

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After a visit at the piano store, I had the chance to ask some questions directly to a technician.

Most of the stuffs he said were already adressed, but here's some specific about sun light and moon light:

  • Sun light: When a part of the piano is exposed to the sun, not only will it affect the finish, but that side of the piano will also go out of tune too (if the bass is exposed, it will go out of tune, while the treble will remain in tune).

  • Moon light: The technician didn't give any specific about whether or not it can detune the piano, and it definitely isn't dangerous for us as human-being. But if you expose the piano to moon light for too long/too many times, its colour will fade away, the same way it does for any other objects (like a box of cereal you leave outside). Apparently, the effects are worse on a wooden finish than polished black for example. So if you like the look of your piano, you better protect it from the moon as much as the sun.

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  • I don't believe that a box of cereal or anything else left outside will fade in the moonlight at any perceptible rate. Do you have any evidence that this is the case? If you're going to convince me, you'll have to show that the object was exposed to moonlight and protected from sunlight, because I have observed colors fading in sunlight many times. – phoog May 27 at 0:32
  • @phoog Sadly I don't have any evidence nor knowledge about it (since I'm still an amateur). I'm mostly taking it out of good faith from the technician's and the piano official contact's testimonies. Still, now you make me wonder if that was worth posting as an answer at all. – Clockwork May 27 at 6:47
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    Well frankly I'm fascinated by this idea. From what I can tell, fading is mostly attributable to ultraviolet (UV) radiation, and the UV component of moonlight has something on the order of 1/400,000 the strength of the UV component of sunlight (we don't burn under the full moon, after all). So I'm curious why anyone would think that something would fade in the moonlight, whether it is through misinterpretation of some set of facts, through some other hypothesis about how color fades, or for some other reason I can't think of. – phoog May 27 at 13:30

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