The Rampart General pre-cast chimney presents a potential fire risk in the home. Rampart General is the brand name. Pre-cast refers to the chimney having been built from a cast or mold at a factory. After curing, the pre-cast chimney would be shipped and delivered to the home construction site. At the home site, the chimney would simply be lifted into place. The idea was to save time from not having to build the chimney on site. While made to appear like it was constructed fro brick, the Rampart General pre-cast chimney was made with a mixture of calcium aluminate cement and lightweight aggregate. In this respect, the chimney is not a true brick and mortar system.
The Rampart General pre-cast chimney was commonly used between the years 1968 to 1991. There are several of these chimneys in Souther California, including San Diego County. Some of the hazardous issues with the Rampart General pre-cast chimney are as follows:
- A crack in the insulation plate. In a masonry chimney, this are would be referred to as the breast plate. This is located directly open the firebox in the chimney. If the insulation plate in a pre-cast chimney is cracked, there are no approved repairs. With this, heat from the fireplace can penetrate to the flammable wood framing around the fireplace. Even hairline cracks will continue to expand with time. If the insulation plate is cracked, the fireplace should not be used.
- Cracks in the chimney structure. If these cracks extend through the wall of the fireplace, repair is NOT allowed. Often mistaken as minor surface cracks, any cracks observed with a Rampart General pre-cast fireplace should be evaluated by a qualified chimney sweep.
- Damaged flue liner. The flue lining is the passage for heat and smoke located inside the chimney. If damaged, there are no approved repairs and the fireplace should not be used.
- A separation or gap between the firebox face and the decorative detailing around the fireplace opening. This gap represents a significant fire hazard. Acting as a secondary chimney, the heated combustion gases can enter the wall and cause ignition of the framing material. This condition can be easily corrected by a qualified chimney sweep to seal the gap.
If you suspect that you may have a Rampart general pre-cast chimney, we recommend having the fireplace inspection annually by a licensed chimney sweep. Various factors such as moisture levels, seismic activity and heat from the fireplace can create changes in chimney condition. When it comes to fire safety, you can never be too cautious.
Red Rock Home Inspections
Serving San Diego, Southern Riverside and Southern Orange Counties