Boiler water treatment

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From Chaski.org

Question: The best common suggestion I have seen in both threads is "to test your water and fix what you have". Can someone elaborate on what you are "fixing" the water too?
Answer by Marty Knox:
Hardness level - as soft as you can get it. First step is to remove as much hardness as you can. We had to constantly remind the people that serviced our softeners that we wanted our water dead soft. Most homeowners don't like completely soft water.
TDS - Total Dissolved Solids - again, as low as you can go. Water sources can vary tremendously, even over a 24 hour period. The recommendation is that you do not exceed 3500 ppm (parts per million). The higher the TDS the more likely you are to have priming and foaming. Priming is also called 'working water' and means you are carrying water in the steam. Foaming is when the water expands - you literally have bubbles in your water, which you sometimes can see in the glass. TDS is the source of scaling inside the boiler. It is controlled by blowdown and using a sludge conditioner to keep the garbage in suspension so it can go out the blowdown.
Ph is too broad a term, alkalinity is what you measure for. It roughly corresponds to Ph, but the right kind of alkalinity is helpful, the wrong kind is harmful - kinda like good and bad cholesterol. In vague terms you want to keep a steel boiler with steel tubes between 10 and 11, with copper tubes between 9 and 10. Copper can be attacked by high alkalinity.
Regardless of your water treatment program you should wash out and inspect your boiler regularly.

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