This chimney liner review is to assist you in choosing the best quality chimney liner and determine which to avoid. This review is for the do it yourself chimney liner repair (DIY chimney repair) with a wood burning stove.
How can anyone know which chimney liner is best? This chimney liner review looks at three leading brands. All names are the trademarks of the respective companies.
The review is of three basic liners and the three top end liners. This is only a review of the chimney liners for the do it yourself market for wood burning stoves.
Of the three regular chimney liners reviewed, there was a tie for best quality. For DIY home owner installation, there is only one choice. The overall winner is ChimneyLInerDepot.coms FlexKing Pro. This chimney liner review will show why.
The six chimney liners reviewed are:
FlexKing and FlexKing Pro from Chimney Liner Depot
ForeverFlex and Armor Flex from Olympia Chimney or Olympic Chimney (two names, same manufacturer)
HomeSaver Ultra and Homesaver UltraPro from Copperfield
The result of this review is as follow. Of the basic models…
FlexKing uses 316 Ti (0.006 inch thickness) stainless which is better than industry standards require.
ForeverFlex is similar in quality (uses 304 stainless, 0.006 inch thickness) but is lacking for the do it yourself market. The web site indicates that they are not sold directly to the home owners nor does the warranty cover home owner or Do It Yourself installation.
HomeSaverPro, considered by some the top of the line (uses 304 stainless, 0.006 inch thickness), is lacking for the DIY market. The warranty is only for professional installation. The product is not available from manufacturer for DIY installation.
Of the top grade liners…
FlexKing Pro Uses a unique system that makes the wall have two layers totaling a 0.016 thickness. Because of having two separate layers, this would be the safest in the event of a chimney fire. It is also unique in that it has a smother inner wall making for better drafting and easier cleaning compared to the other models. Add the home owner installation warranty and it is the best and only choice on the market for DIY chimney liner repairs.
Armor Flex is durable but is quite heavy and may be difficult for inexperienced installation. The warranty requires professional installation. It is made with .018 stainless in a design that is flexible, with no memory.
HomeSaver UltraPro Uses 316 Ti, o.oo5 inch thickness stainless steel. Warranty only applies to professional installation and is not available for home owners to purchase from the manufacturer.
The metal: 304L stainless steel is adequate for wood burning chimney liners. 316 Ti has titanium alloy making it better for coal and gas. The Ti stands for titanium. It is a superior steel to use.
All three make a similar looking basic chimney liner products. Looks is where the similarity stops however.
Consider the design.
Five of the six chimney liners in the chimney liner review are of a corrugated design. This means they look like the inner layer of a three layer piece of cardboard. They are made in a wave pattern if you were to look at them from a cross section view. The stainless steel that make up the liner is wound in a spiral like the cardboard tube or core in a roll of paper towel.
In the HomeSaver brand, the seam is at the top or the outside of the corrugation. The 6-ply seam is not crimped. This in theory will make unpacking easier. Some users indicated this is not the case.
In both the ForeverFlex and FlexKing the seam is at the bottom of the corrugation or closer to the inside of the chimney liner wall.
ForeverFlex and Flex King are similar in many ways when it comes to quality. Both have a 7-ply crimped seam which exceeds the 6 ply seam of HomeSaver. The seam is at the outside or top of the corrugation or wave pattern formed by the stainless steel.
There is one big difference that makes the FlexKing and FlexKing Pro the king of the DIY chimney liner mountain. It has to do with the warranty.
All three have warranties. ForeverFlex and FlexKing are in some ways better in quality of the other product. Perhaps this is why they both offer a superior warranty.
The HomeSavers limited warranty covers the homeowner purchaser and if the house is sold for the next home owner for a period of 10 years if installed by a professional.
In second place is the ForeverFlex. They offer a forever warranty. This means it is good for you and who ever you sell your house to.
It is the only warranty like this in the industry. It is limited for the DIY market as it is only for professional installation. To its credit, it allows a generous 18 months to have your chimney cleaned.
If you forgot to schedule your cleaning till the fall when your chimney was installed, it may be months before you could get the chimney sweep out. Your mistake could cost you your warranty. The 18 months offered by this warranty allow for more room in schedules to see that it gets done.
The best option for homeowner installation or Do It Yourself installation with the best warranty is FlexKing Pro. It has a forever warranty with one great advantage. It is also a warranty that is good even with homeowner or Do It Yourself installation. This truly is the only one of its kind in the industry as of this writing.
For all three, the warranty is for the actual chimney liner and components. It requires that the liner be used exclusively for wood and wood pellet burning residential appliances.
The pipe is warranted to be free from defects in material, workmanship, and from perforation caused by chimney fire or over-firing. Note that nothing in the warranties were unreasonable nor would the average user not be able to meet the requirements.
The fine print should be noted.
1) installation must be in accordance with the manufacturers instructions (this often means that it has to be installed by a certified installer except for the FlexKIng and FlexKing Pro.)
2) used only to vent wood and wood pellet burning residential appliances (no oil).
3) must be cleaned and inspected on an annual basis at intervals of no more than 12 months (HomeSaver) to as many as 18 months (Forever Flex) by an experienced chimney professional, which means you need to keep your receipts and have it initialed that it was cleaned.
4) corrosive chemicals cannot be used for cleaning. (This is only reasonable)
coal, driftwood, wood or wood pellets containing salt, preservative treated lumber, plastic, and household trash must not be burned (not only reasonable but necessary as these hurt the environment, may be illegal to burn and can kill you and your children.)
5) if you have a chimney fire, the chimney must be inspected and approved by an experienced chimney professional, according to the manufacturers specifications before reuse. (how will a homeowner know what to inspect or look for?)
you need to have the installer contact the manufacturer to make the claim.
6) some required a cap or slate covering be installed. (No chimney should be with out one.)
Next consider the crush test.
The HomeSaver website has pictures of a crush test. They suggest asking your chimney installer to stand on your pipe. Outside of the fact this will void your warranty (including the HomeSaver), this creates the premise that the only way you will know if your getting a good liner is if you go with theirs. Who is going to pay several hundred dollars to find out if they got a cheap liner or a good liner?
There is also a video of the crush test. There is only one little problem with the concept. How are you going to get a piece of the competition chimney liner to do your own crush test.
So. for the sake of this review, here are the results of our testing. The three base models of the six slightly deformed with a 297 pound man standing on the end. Standing in the middle, none of the three suffered any damage. Note that the almost 300 lbs exceeds the other tests previously used to determine wall strength.
Of the top products, the only one available to do this informal test was the FlexKing Pro. It supported the almost 300 pound man standing on the end. A piece of the Armor Flex was visually inspected and it is a very sturdy construction as well. Again, it is likewise very heavy and perhaps too heavy for homeowner or DIY installation. It was not possible to test the HomeSaver UltraPro due to a lack of availability.
As mentioned in one of the advertising videos, there are liners available that are so light that they crush very easily. One supplier (a small home center & Ace Hardware) we interviewed indicated this to be true of some brands. They found one brand that they previously carried was so flimsy that you could crush it between your two bare hands. They no longer carry that brand.
We have not considered any of those chimney liners in this review. We are only looking at three of the what are considered the best brands.
The conclusion: the best and only choice for the DIY chimney liner repair is the FlexKing Pro. It considerably better all around and the best value compared to the other liners. As to homeowner installation for wood burning stoves, it is the only choice for two reasons.
1) the homeowner installation warranty provision
2) the smooth wall interior construction improve draft, make cleaning easier, and provide less groves for cresote buildup.
Have fun with your DIY project and be healthy and save money.