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Wood Drying - Part Three
What guitar dehumidifying methods are adopted out there? Is there a standard?
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The previous parts have covered much extent on wood drying. If anything, remember that only bound water is responsible for physical changes in wood. It implies that when your guitar has bulged, moisture content within bound water has increased.
In relating to the use of desiccant products to dehumidify guitars, no physical change in a wood guitar can be attained unless bound water is purged. Desiccant products clearly don't possess ability to purge bound water therefore the promise to dehumidify guitars is at best a speculation.
We shall begin to discuss the various ways in dehumidifying guitars.
24/7 Climate Control Cabinet
In regions of high humidty, RH can reach 65% and more. It is hard to prevent moisture from creeping into guitars. Unless the immediate ambient conditions surrounding your guitar(s) are constantly maintained at the recommended RH and temperature, there is no escaping from "WET" guitar problems. Say you are able to build a 24/7 climate control cabinet to house your guitars (the top- left picture), your guitars will be safe from high RH. Invariably, we can also safely assume that only certain privileged individuals can pull it off. What about the masses?
Due to the lack of a dedicated solution to "WET" guitars, they improvised. Some people use a general dehumidifier to do the job. (middle-left picture). This is achieved by mean of placing the guitar to be treated before the dry air outlet of a general dehumidifier, and directing the dry air at the guitar (see bottom-left picture). Usually, the guitar is placed on a regular stand, with its top facing the dry air outlet directly. A gap of up to 2 ft is maintained to avoid structural or cosmetic damages to the guitar. Although there is no fast or hard rule regarding the duration of this dehumidifying process, the general practice is to allow the dry air to impinge on the guitar for 12 hours. Whilst dehumidifying, all windows and doors are recommended to be closed. Opening the door is discouraged.
Room gets warmed up?
Guitar lovers who use general dehumdifiers for this purpose has noticed that the room where dehumidification takes place gets warmed up gradually. A possible explanation was found in this website,
“If you are having a problem with the kitchen getting too warm, it also could be that the dehumidifier you are using is too small for the job so it is always running. You should be using a dehumidifier that is able to bring the humidity down to between 40 to 50 percent and then have an adjustable humidistat that will shut the unit off. This will allow the room not to get as warm as if the dehumidifier is constantly running.”
If you are using such general dehumidifiers, it does pay to know its operating principles and capability. Here is a website describing the working principles in details: http://home.howstuffworks.com/dehumidifier.htm
The price of dehumidification
Using general dehumidifier on guitars is based on the general principle of impinging dry air onto guitars. It appears that only one guitar is can be treated at one time. Actually this is not the case. While one guitar is placed before a general dehumidifier, the rest of the guitars within the same room will also be dehumidified provided they are left in the open.
However, the other guitars will get dehumidified at a much slower rate than the guitar that is placed before the dehumidifier. The slower rate can be up to 2 weeks. If you do the math, the power consumption is a factor worth considering. On the average, the additional cost in using such a dehumidifier is at USD $15.00 onwards.
This is simply a ball-park figure but suffice to say that heating appliances draw lots of electricity. Less one pays the bill, it might be oblivious to most people. In addition, the initial cost to acquire a general dehumidifiers of 15 litres or more is any amount from USD $300.00 upwards. While it is not a huge sum, guitar owners at least know the selling prices and operating cost before investing in them.
Does it work?
We can evaluate this dehumidifying process with the three principles of wood drying.
Energy as a form of heat – portable dehumidifiers are heat exchangers by design principles. Heat is certainly provided.
RH level of the surround air must be lower than the guitar’s one – the dried air that impinges on guitar is without a doubt dryer than the guitar’s moisture content level.
Air circulation – as guitars are dehumidified in the open, air exchanges freely.
With all three wood drying principles satisfied, we can be confident about the effectiveness of general dehumidifiers. At the same time, we should be well aware of the operating requirements
Downside of general dehumidifers
Obviously are the initial retail price and its operating cost.
According to the adopters, a room must be made available and it should be shut for 12 hours for it to take effect.
The water collected has to be cleared periodically.
This is an improvisation, not a dedicated solution.
While we can be confident of the effectiveness, it is important to avoid mis-using this appliance. These are things to take note of,
Never placed portable dehumidifier and guitar in a tight and small containment in the name of accelerating the process. This is a potential heat trap and irrecoverable damages can happen to the guitar.
Make sure guitar is not placed too close (less than one foot) to the air outlet.
When the guitars are in closed cases. It will take a long time to take effect.
Leaving windows or doors opened whilst dehumidifying can undermine the effectiveness of the entire process.
Leaving wet items like opened containers filled with fluid within the same room where the guitars and portable dehumidifiers are can decelerate or nullify the process.
In next part, we shall go deep into wood and humidity issues.