This particular topic is very dear to my heart and it is vital for not only for people that own antique clocks and furniture, but people that care about their health. No doubt many ears pricked up when I mentioned health. Yes that’s right, both low humidity and high humidity have been found to be major contributors to asthma. Clearly humidity changes and the incorrect humidity will effect all things like your plaster, cornice or your newly laid expensive wood floor. You will notice splits or the joints opening up or general warping.
All natural things are susceptible to damage from either low or high humidity, whether that be mold damage or shrinkage damage. Clearly most antique furniture pieces are veneered, which means a flamboyant wood like mahogany on the outside and oak or pine on the carcass. These two different woods have differing expansion rates. Rapid changes to humidity or prolonged low humidity will therefore lead to warping, splitting or cracks developing in the veneers. Also veneers on antiques are stuck on normally by ‘animal glues’, after changes to humidity and temperature over time veneers tend to drop off. This can be an early sign of the incorrect humidity levels in your home or office. Another early warning sign is the hood glass on your grandfather clock splitting from side to side. The door frame shrinks leaving the glass no where to go. If this happens get your humidity levels urgently checked before expensive restoration work is required. If this problem is left untreated it may be too late.
It is vital antique clocks and furniture should be kept in a controlled environment. Rapid changes to humidity or prolonged low or high humidity can cause damage as described above. I would say more antiques have been damaged by central heating and having low humidity than at any time in their history. This is a real shame and something that is easily corrected.
Humidity is the amount of moisture or water molecules in the air and should be kept at between 40-65%. Humidity levels can be checked by purchasing a hygrometer. Humidity levels can be adjusted to the correct levels by either a humidifier (if you have low humidity) or a de-humidifier (in cases of high humidity)
An interesting fact that many people will not know if you have low humidity and like it warm, by increasing your humidity you will be able to have noticeably lower temperatures and still feel comfortable. Slightly increasing your humidity can therefore save on heating costs. Contact me at Pendulum of Mayfair online website http://www.pendulumofmayfair.co.uk , for more information.
By controlling your humidity to the desired levels you can therefore:
1) save your antiques from damage
2) save money on your heating bill
3) look after your health in the process