What to Do When Your Pipe Organ Won’t Turn On
Regardless of brand, almost all pipe organs will eventually not turn on. In most cases, a well-meaning congregate has turned off the breaker. What do you do when this happens?
Look at the nameboard. Is the combination action screen on? Is the wind indicator light on? If yes, go to the blower room. Is the blower running? If yes, is the large cloth bag connected to the blower leaking air or do you hear air leaking from the organ chambers? If yes, find the leak. Most of the time, a little duct tape could get you through the service, wedding, funeral, etc. Make a point to call us early in the week to discuss your situation and plan a service call. It’s possible that we could wait to repair the leak during our next tuning visit.
If the blower is not running, the breaker might have been flipped off. It’s normally located in the basement. A call to the head of maintenance could save you some time. The breaker will usually be a double or triple because the blower normally runs on 220VAC. Determine which breaker or fuse has been flipped off or loosened. If all are on, one breaker may be tripped; neither on or off. Move the breaker off then back on. If it trips again, call an electrician. The breaker is bad or there is a short somewhere. Make note of the breaker box location and make sure the individual breaker is marked “organ blower”.
What do you do when all lights and displays are not on? In most cases, the breaker for the console A-C has been flipped off. The blower might be running fine. Search for the breaker box. A call to the head of maintenance would save you some time. After locating the breaker box, determine which breaker or fuse has been flipped off or loosened. If all are on, one breaker may be tripped; neither on nor off. Move the breaker off then back on. If it trips again, call an electrician. The breaker is bad or there is a short somewhere. Make note of the breaker box location and make sure the individual breaker is marked “organ console”.
If the console and blower are working and you get no sound, go to the blower room. Look at the bellows situated over the blower. A thin lead, rubber or PVC hose should connect to the bellows on one end and a plastic or metal box on the other. We call this an air switch (it feeds the A-C voltage to the chamber rectifier). Open the box and you’ll see a leather pouch with a glass tube full of mercury mounted on it. The switch can be propped in the up (on) position when using the organ and remove the prop to turn the organ off. Call our office to discuss your situation.
If your organ has a modern electronic control system, scenario 1-3 might not apply. It’s possible that some electronic components have blown. If you have had thunderstorms, it’s possible you’ve had a close or direct lightning strike. Call us as soon as you can to set up a service call.
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