Like with any piece of equipment, the organ will operate better and more trouble free if it is clean. Even your home is nicer to be in when it is clean. The organ is no exception. Since the organ is not cleaned on a regular basis, like you would your house, it is subject to the accumulation of dirt and debris. After a sufficient amount of dirt and debris has collected, it can affect not only the operational capabilities of the instrument, but begin to affect the tonal capabilities of the instrument.
With this section, we will not only hope to answer your questions about cleaning an organ, but describe and show you through text and pictures, the process of cleaning an organ.
How often should an organ be cleaned?
In general, an organ should be cleaned about every 25 years. We have see instruments sufficiently dirty to warrant cleaning after 10 years, and yet some organs were still acceptably clean after nearly 50 years of use.
What factors determine when an organ should be cleaned?
The building’s environmental factors are going to make the greatest determination on how often the organ is cleaned. These factors will include such things as the amount and type of dirt and pollution in the air (whereas an urban environment’s air is going to be much dirtier than a rural environment’s air), any obstruction to air flow into the organ itself, amount of air circulated in the building that houses the organ, and the quality of the general air filtration system of the building.
When cleaning an organ, what items exactly should be cleaned?
We are of the firm belief that when an organ is cleaned, that all parts should be cleaned. This would include the console, casework, windchests, reservoirs, windlines, expression shades, expression motors, tremulants, switching equipment, pipework, blowers, and blower rooms and organ chambers.
If the organ contains a grille cloth type of material, what is best, attempting to clean it or replace it?
Though grille cloth can be cleaned by using an air compressor or a vacuum cleaner, hydrocarbons contained in the air do react with grille cloth materials, producing a very slight sticky or gummy coating. Most of the dirt can be blown or pulled off with a compressor or vacuum, but the sticky coating will remain, attracting and holding dirt and dust all that much faster. It would be generally our recommendation that the grille cloth material be changed, if at all possible, during the cleaning process.
Does the whole organ need to be cleaned all at the same time?
Even though that we certainly recommend that the entire organ be cleaned at the same time, with larger instruments, they can be cleaned in sections. This allows at least some portions of the instrument to be usable while the others are being cleaned.