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Chapin Piano Service LLC

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Fire Damaged Piano

March 10, 2016

A few weeks ago I highlighted on my Facebook page a piano which had been in a house fire.  The fire did not burn the piano - the fire department had managed to move the piano into another room before the actual flames got to the piano - however the smoke damage was very damaging, as well as some of the spray did get onto the cabinet and legs of the piano.

 

The piano is a beautiful 5'9" Knabe grand, with a digital CD player built in.  The piano was sent to us to "clean and tune" during the rebuild of the house.  Below are some of the pictures and comments during the process.

 

Here are some "before" pics:

 The keys were covered with soot.

 

 The plate and the strings were also coated with a thick layer of carbon.

 

 That's not dirt!  That's soot and carbon.  We used several cleaners to assist us in getting this off.  We then used some special products designed specifically for fine piano finishes, including the high-gloss polyester finish on this piano.

 

The plate is normally a beautiful gold color. The after pictures show what it was supposed to look like. At this point it was just a discolored mess.

 

First do deal with was the smell. I don't have a picture of that, but it smelled. Smoke is one of the most difficult smells to remove from a home and household materials. Pianos, being mostly wood and felt, can hold smoke smell indefinitely. After only a few hours our shop smelled like a campfire - an old campfire.

 

What's the best way to get rid of smoke smell? There are a lot of really effective liquid treatments to remove smoke. Unfortunately none of them can be simply sprayed on a piano - remember, wood and felt!

 

So, we "ozone" the piano. This constitutes a couple of hours of the piano being bagged and sealed with an Ozone Generator. Once done, amazingly the smoke smell is gone. And it doesn't come back.

 

The next thing we noticed was the bass strings in the piano would no longer "speak". When playing them, a muffled "thud" was all they could muster. The strings were covered with a thick coat of carbon. Carbon is very destructive...the strings would need to be replaced. We removed the strings and sent the old strings off to be duplicated.

 

 Old strings coming out....

 

 New strings going in.  You can see the plate has been cleaned.

 

 The plate was scrubbed and polished.  This was done without removing the plate and doing a complete restringing as the customer's budget did not allow a complete restringing and plate removal.  With some extra care however, the plate looked beautiful when done.

 

 If you've ever had to remove soot and carbon, you know it doesn't easily wipe off...it needs to be scubbed in some cases.  That was the case with the piano keys.  Each one had to be removed, scrubbed and polished before being replaced in the piano.  As well, many action parts needed scrubbing to inhibit future corrosion.  As much of this was done while staying within the budget.  Check the Key-Brite Key Cleaner in the shopping page for your piano.

 

 We didn't realize that the cheek blocks on this piano were not black.  The piano was black and with all of the carbon on the case, this cheek block looks to be black as well.  However....

 the cheek blocks are actually mahogony, as is other trim pieces on the piano.

 

 The piano is cleaned, tuned and ready for delivery.

 What a difference....

Inside and out!  It was a fun project.  Fire damage can be very destructive.  Fortunately nobody was hurt during the fire.  Furniture, pianos, "things" can be repaired and replaced with a little time and effort.

 

If you have a piano, get it tuned.  You have made a large investment.  Keep that value in a musical instrument that looks and sounds good.  If you want to make your piano shine like this one now does, be sure to take a look at the products i use and sell on this website.  They are designed specifically for pianos and fine furniture.

 

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