Do You Have a Rampart General Chimney?
Southern California homeowners occasionally hear the name “Rampart General” when discussing chimney issues and the chimney industry in general. Rampart General is the name of a series of precast chimneys that were made by a now-defunct Santa Ana, CA, company and added to many homes built in the 1970s and 1980s.
Chimney Sweep Inc., of Lakeside, CA, knows all about the nightmarish problems with Rampart Generals, commonly referred to as “Ramparts,” and we’d like to share a little of the story with you.
What is a Rampart General Chimney?
These chimneys are all-in-one structures, poured at construction sites and then lifted into place with heavy machinery. Most Ramparts are white or a variant of white. To the untrained eye, the surfaces appear to be brick, but they’re actually just a single slab of cement.
Rampart General chimneys were usually set against exterior walls of homes. The flue sections of the chimneys are notable in that they’re narrower than those of traditional masonry chimneys.
Rampart Generals are most often found in Southern California, with many having been erected at San Diego County homes.
What’s Wrong with Ramparts?
There are three major, irreparable problems with a large number of the Rampart Generals that are still in use.
Cracked Insulation Plate
Located just above the firebox, Rampart General chimney insulation plates are notorious for cracking. When this happens, there’s an immediate high risk of fire spreading from the chimney to adjacent materials of the home.
When the insulation plate is cracked, not only is there no viable repair method, but the chimney is no longer safe to vent any other type of appliance, such as a stove, fireplace insert, furnace or boiler.
Flue Lining Damage
The third major Rampart problem for which there is no remedy is damage to the flue lining. It appears that the horizontal construction process made it relatively easy for sections of the flue material to detach and fall away when the chimney was raised into place.
In working with “normal” chimney flues, we know firsthand that any kind of breaks, tears, holes or jagged edges in a flue can lead to major drafting problems and fires in the chimney and in the home. Damage in a Rampart General flue makes the chimney phenomenally dangerous.
When a brick-built chimney’s masonry suffers damage, we often find individual bricks cracked or in some state of decay. When a Rampart General’s masonry becomes damaged, you usually see very long vertical splits because the entire chimney is one piece. With Ramparts, cracking doesn’t stop at a masonry joint; rather, it just keeps on lengthening.
At Chimney Sweep Inc., we’re not precast chimney designers, so we won’t venture a guess about what was going through the manufacturer’s mind when designing and building these dangerous chimneys. We do know that we’d never create anything like them.
If You Have a Rampart General Chimney
Our brief description here may not be enough for you to determine whether or not you have a Rampart General at your San Diego County home. If you need help identifying the chimney, our inspectors and chimney technicians can give you a quick answer.
We’ll also consult with you about alternatives that will allow you to enjoy your fireplace with safety and peace of mind.
Chimney sweeping in Southern California
When it’s time for a professional chimney inspection, Chimney Sweep Inc. is here to help.
Chimney Sweep Inc. is your local chimney expert in Lakeside CA, Oceanside CA, and the greater San Diego CA, area. We serve Coronado CA, Escondido CA, La Mesa CA, and San Clemente CA, along with North Park CA, Alpine CA, Solana Beach CA, and other communities throughout East San Diego County.
Speak with a chimney and fireplace expert today at (619) 593-4020 or request an appointment online here.