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Progress but questions regarding a VXT-24 and water levels

This site has been incredibly providing me with information, and the interest level of everyone on here to support steam heating systems is astounding. I am thrilled with the progress we have made (installed 3 Gorton #2's this morning on antler piper designed by someone on here). It's great feeling like we can make this work instead of the confusion and mystery that we used to feel.

So, after installing the new vents, we decided to fire up the boiler (a Burnham IN8 installed 12/ 2011) and I kept some notes on time, etc., (one thing that had been bothering me was that the reader on the VXT 24 auto feed was flashing. Well, now I know that is bad)

This is what happened once I turned on the system:

12.44 pm  - Turned it on

12.52  -    Water in glass started to jump and became brown

12.54   -     Air was coming out of all 3 new air vents, some hissing was heard from the radiators upstairs, but they were cold.

12.56  -      Water in glass was bouncing and then dropped.

We shut it down at that point. Up to now, I knew the VXT was a feed but hadn't done enough to understand how or why the light was flashing - seems silly now. Now I realize I should have fed more water in before starting up the boiler, but I'm not that confident yet.

During this time, only 1 large radiator on the first floor starting to become warm. And, to be honest, I don't even know how long it should take for them all to warm up. Which leads me to the question, what does short cycle mean?

I know, based on feedback from people here, that the risers were not installed properly and someone is kindly helping me form a plan of action with that, but in the meantime...

I'm pretty sure I need to drain the system. Be honest, do I attempt it without a professional? (I have emailed  I read the chapter at the back of We Got Steam Heat but I figured that it may be worth a shot. I'm not sure I'll get all of the crud out...but I can try.

Also, I'm reading about cleaning the blow down valve. I know that's on my list of things to do, any tricks to keep in mind when it happens? (I'm assuming that will be one of the last things as I need to get the VXT running and the water level adjusted.

Any advice on where to go next is greatly appreciated. Thank you for your time and guidance.

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