Oceanside Home Inspector Warns, "This General Should Be Court-martialed!"
This General should have never been promoted to his lofty position! He's irresponsible, doesn't perform his duties, and he's putting a lot of innocent people in danger! I would like to see him terminated!
I'm speaking of the Rampart General fireplace. Several different pre-cast concrete fireplaces have been constructed and installed in the United States over the years. The Rampart General fireplace was manufactured in Santa Ana and widely distributed throughout southern California. As an Oceanside home inspector, I have come across many of these units throughout San Diego county. You may even have a few installed in your neighborhood!
Here's the difference between a masonry fireplace and a pre-cast concrete fireplace: A masonry fireplace is built brick-by-brick on-site. A pre-cast concrete fireplace (although the exterior looks like brick) is assembled in a factory and then trucked out to it's installation site. Quite often, the concrete structure cracked when it was dropped off of the delivery truck, or twisted when it was unloaded. It is very common to see cracking in Rampart General fireplace units when conducting a home inspection. Any crack that goes completely through the concrete wall or component has been deemed "unrepairable" through destructive testing and smoke testing and is a real fire hazard. (Cracks that do not pass through the walls to the interior may be repaired per the manufacturer's specifications.)
The weakest part on a Rampart General is the "insulation plate". The insulation plate is located just inside and above the fireplace opening, otherwise known as the breastplate of the fireplace. This thin plate (1"- 2" thick) is easily cracked and can allow heated gasses to pass through it and into the combustible materials inside the wall of your home.
Another common defective area is a gap between the face of the firebox and the decorative detail around the opening of the fireplace. This crack or gap also presents a serious fire hazard.
If, during the course of a home inspection, it is determined you have a Rampart General fireplace, and any of these conditions exist, you should not use the fireplace. Replacement of a fireplace can be very costly. Don't take chances! If you suspect you have the "General" in your home, call your Oceanside home inspector for a thorough examination. Steve Stenros- First Choice Inspections is an experienced CREIA MCI inspector and can be reached for appointment at 888-335-3040.
Steve Stenros, MCI
Master CREIA Inspector #0115
ICC Residential Combination Inspector #5251439
Certified Infrared Thermographer #7791
FHA/HUD Inspector- #V975
203k Consultant #S0611
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