Seeing how all many issues with steam systems seem to arise from, and are commonly blamed on, water quality, I attempted to get ahead of this issue on my personal install.
Perhaps my method has already been disavowed and I missed the memo, but I feel comfortable with it, and all quality tests I've done have come back favorable. Simply put, I added a 0.5 micron carbon block filter on the water line upstream of the backflow preventor.
The filter itself is intended for whole house installs, and rated for 20,000 gallons - which far exceeds the life of my boiler. I used the W-5CB
for the filter and W34-PR
for the housing. At a total cost of materials of under 40 dollars, it is worth its cost (to me) for insurance against current as well as unknown future changes in water quality. I'll note that I am in an area of a generally high-quality water system, but I added it as a precaution.
Secondarily, I picked up a packet of 'pool water testing strips' that will typically go on sale at the beginning of each heating season. They have a dip stick to measure free chlorine, pH , alkalinity, hardness, and cyanuric acid. I've included a picture of the the dipstick and color chart for a sample of water I pulled out of the boiler.
So - has anyone else done something similar? From a contractor's point of view, the extra cost of a filter cartridge and a few feet of pipe might seem 1) like an unnecessary cost to the owner or 2) bringing up the potential for issues about the quality/longevity of the unit.
From the owner/operator's perspective, there could be a variety of economic strategies in play. For me, rather than calculating payback periods or time value of money, I just assumed that filtered water would be better than unfiltered water - and installed accordingly.