Englander 25-PFS questions

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Jan 26, 2017
The Thumb
Hello everyone, I'm new here to the boards, but I've poked around the site here and it is very informative. I do, however, have a pellet stove that's older than dirt and was made pre-internet, so there isn't a whole lot out there information-wise for me to go on and have some issues I hope someone can help me with.

My wife and I bought our house just before Thanksgiving in 2010. It was a preforclosure and hadn't been lived in for a year. It is a little over 1800 square feet with two levels. Our "main" heat source is a propane-fueled boiler that works the baseboard heating on both floors (with separate thermostats). Also, in one corner of the living room is an old Englander 25-PFS wood pellet stove. Since the house needed a bit of work before we could move in, and the always unpredictable Michigan winter setting in, we weren't sure which one to get checked out and working first. We chose the boiler, since it heated both levels of the house and the pellet stove had some garbage in it that looked like they were burning the last time they used it, so we didn't even know if it even worked or how efficient it was. After paying waaaaay more money than we wanted to for propane the first winter (and finding out just THIS winter that they never put housewrap under the vinyl siding...), we had a chimney sweep come out and inspect and clean the chimney and we tested the stove. To our surprise, it worked like a CHARM! Most winters, we'll just let the stove go and turn the thermostat for the boiler way down so it only comes on when it gets REALLY cold. The ol' girl would heat both levels of the house quite admirably to the point where you might need a flannel shirt at the most upstairs, but downstairs a t-shirt and shorts would be just fine.

While it saved us a ton of money on propane, I found that keeping it fed and cleaned was an ongoing chore. On average, we use 4-5 tons of pellets a year and I have to fill the hopper (one 40-lb bag) once a day with the controls all the way down on low, or twice a day with them up much higher. Well, last year we barely used a two and a half tons of pellets and it didn't seem to keep the house very warm at all. Due to our pipes freezing the prior winter, we hadn't had the chance to get the boiler flushed out and checked, so we supplemented the pellet stove with a couple of space heaters. I had entirely planned on taking the stove apart to inspect it and give it a good thorough cleaning of the fans, motors, check the augers, etc. during the summer, but work and other goings on at home took my attention away from the project. One of the augers would creak and bang with a big thud on occasion, and I wanted to check that out, too. We downloaded the owner's manual off the Englander website, which was a big help, but what it doesn't show is how to actually take it apart.

For the record, this is a stove with the big pipe out from the top front, then angles back to the chimney. The stove itself is angled with it's back to the corner of the wall, so filling it is a challenge, not to mention accessing ANYTHING not associated with a door is impossible to get to. I was able to take off the back panel, but even with a big mirror, I can't see how/where the hopper is connected to the unit. I tried prying it away (carefully) in the middle where it looks like it comes apart, but it did not budge in the slightest, so I gave up not wanting to damage anything. Even if I disconnected the stovepipe on the top, I still couldn't turn the stove around to get the back away from the corner and easily access the back because the air intake pipe is hard plumbed in with what looks like large-diameter PVC pipe. I'm afraid the only way I can get that off is to cut it, but I'm not ready to do that just yet without arming myself with more information first.

Can anyone help guide me as to:
how to separate and remove the hopper from the unit so I can actually access the fans, motors and augers?
2) if I have to cut the air intake pipe, would that be standard PVC piping that is usually used, or is it something else specially made that I should replace it with?
3) any tips on repairs or maintenance that I should be aware of with this stove?

I understand it's old and inefficient compared to modern pellet stoves. So much so, that one internet article actually shows the same exact model as the "early" example in the history of pellet stoves! We are researching which one we should get to eventually replace it, but we aren't quite ready for that just yet. When we do, the Englander will end up in my pole barn to give me some much needed heat out there to work in. For now though, I'm learning about this one and hope to get it back up and running very soon. Sorry for this being so long. Just trying to "set the scene". I appreciate any and all help you may be able to give me.