FAQ concerning band instrument repairs and COVID-19
As of 4/30/2021 all staff members at Harris Band Instruments have received the COVID-19 vaccine. Harris Band Instruments is taking all provisions to prevent the transmission of COVID-19 including following procedures recommended by the CDC and the National Association of Professional Band Instrument Repair technicians (NAPBIRT)
Can anything be sterilized?
Anything that has been “Sterilized” means it is 100% free of any type of pathogen. Sterilization is a very specific medical procedure and is not under ANY situation a service we can offer. Even if an item is sterilized in a medical setting the moment it is exposed to the air, it's no longer sterile. Thus sterilized items are always placed in very special packaging. Using the word "sterilize" is inaccurate, it's also unethical and intentionally misleading. Therefore Harris Band Instruments does not refer to any instrument or any procedure we perform as being sterile.
What are Ultrasonic cleaners and are they effective against pathogens such as COVID-19?
Ultrasonic cleaners are machines that submerge an instrument in a vat of mostly water with a few mild chemicals and blast the instruments with extremely high frequency sound waves in order to remove any “crud” that may accumulate on the inside of the instrument. Their benefit is they clean instruments very quickly and is the reason why many band instrument repair shops have invested in ultrasonic machines. However the solution used does absolutely nothing to destroy pathogens such as COVID-19 as it is mostly water. In order to destroy the virus a strong concentration of soap and water is needed. Just as washing your hands with soap and water is recommended to protect yourself from the virus, we use soap and water to clean and protect your instruments.
I've heard of pad mites, what are they?
Pad mites are a small insect that is known to enter instrument cases and destroy the felt that makes up the pads. Technically they are a species of carpet beetles which are extremely common in the southeastern United States. These insects serve a function as they will eat fibrous plant material and help speed up the natural decay process.
However when it comes to woodwind instruments the last thing we want is for these critters to get into our cases. The eggs can lay dormant for years, but when the conditions are just right (humidity & temperature combined with darkness) they will eventually hatch. Then the larvae form will begin consuming the felt that makes up the pad and any other materials such as silencing felts and the material that makes up the lining of the case. Once the larvae have eaten enough they molt into adults leaving a shell that was the outer layer of their body. These are what we usually find in the cases. Finding a live beetle in its larvae form is nearly impossible. In my 25 years I’ve only found 2 and I see instrument cases every day. Finding an adult is even harder as they move fast and can fly. Just not very well.
If you are finding specs of white dust in your case near the pads, the pads look like they have chunks taken out of them, or your bumper felts have holes going through them you have carpet beetles in your case. Our recommendation is for you to have your instrument thoroughly cleaned and replace any damaged pads or felts. We also highly recommend you replace the case.