GLOSSARY OF TERMS
When you become a homeowner, you may have to learn a litany of new terms. And sometimes you have to dig deep into Google or other sources to find out what some of these terms mean. Here, you can search for terms or just browse to find definitions, explanations and illustrations of many home-related terms.
A/C: An abbreviation for air conditioner or air conditioning.
A/C Condenser: The outside fan unit of the air conditioning system. It removes the heat from the Freon gas and turns the gas back into a liquid and pumps the liquid back to the coil in the furnace.
Access Panel: An opening in the wall or ceiling near the fixture that allows access for servicing the plumbing/electrical system.
Arc-Fault Circuit Interrupter: A device intended to provide protection from the effects of arc faults by recognizing characteristics unique to arcing and by functioning to de-energize the circuit when an arc fault is detected.
Acre: 43,560 square feet.
Aerator: An apparatus that mixes air into flowing water. It is screwed onto the end of a faucet spout to help reduce splashing.
Air Duct: Ducts, usually made of sheet metal, that carry cooled or heated air to all rooms.
Air Filters: Adhesive filters made of metal or various fibers that are coated with an adhesive liquid to which particles of lint and dust adhere. These filters will remove as much as 90% of the dirt if they do not become clogged. The more common filters are of the throwaway or disposable type.
Alligatoring: A condition of paint or aged asphalt brought about by the loss of volatile oils and the oxidation caused by solar radiation. Causes a coarse checking pattern characterized by a slipping of the new paint coating over the old coating to the extent that the old coating can be seen through the fissures. “Alligatoring” produces a pattern of cracks resembling an alligator hide and is ultimately the result of the limited tolerance of paint or asphalt to thermal expansion or contraction.
Aluminum Wire: A conductor made of aluminum for carrying electricity. Aluminum is generally limited to the larger wire sizes. Due to its lower conductivity, aluminum wire smaller than No. 12 is not made. Aluminum is lighter and less expensive than copper, but does not conduct as well. It also breaks easily.
Ampacity: Refers to the how much current a wire can safely carry. For example, a 12 gauge electrical copper wire can safely carry up to 20 amps.
Amperage: The rate of flow of electricity through wire – measured in terms of amperes.
Amps (AMPERES): The rate at which electricity flows through a conductor.
Anti-Siphon: A device that prevents waste water from being drawn back into supply lines and possibly contaminating the water supply.
Asbestos: A common form of magnesium silicate which was used in various construction products due to its stability and resistance to fire. Asbestos exposure (caused by inhaling loose asbestos fibers) is associated with various forms of lung disease. The name given to certain inorganic minerals when they occur in fibrous form. Though fire-resistant, its extremely fine fibers are easily inhaled, and exposure to them over a period of years has been linked to cancers of the lung or lung-cavity lining and to asbestosis a severe lung impairment. A naturally occurring mineral fiber sometimes found in older homes. It is hazardous to your health when a possibility exists of exposure to inhalable fibers. Homeowners should be alert for friable (readily crumbled, brittle) asbestos and always seek professional advice in dealing with it.
Attic Access: An opening that is placed in the dry-walled ceiling of a home providing access to the attic.
Attic Ventilators: In houses, screened openings provided to ventilate an attic space. They are located in the soffit area as inlet ventilators and in the gable end or along the ridge as outlet ventilators. They can also consist of power-driven fans used as an exhaust system.
Backfill: The slope of the ground adjacent to the house. In any previously excavated area, i.e., the replacement of excavated earth into a trench around and against a basement foundation. In carpentry, the process of fastening together two pieces of board by gluing blocks of wood in the interior angle.
Backflow: Movement of water (or other liquid) in any direction other than that intended.
Backflow Preventer: A device or means to prevent backflow into the potable water supply.
Balusters: Usually small vertical members in a railing used between a top rail and the stair treads or a bottom rail.
Balustrade: A railing made up of balusters, top rail, and sometimes bottom rail, used on the edge of stairs, teal conies, and porches.
Beam: A supporting member either of wood or steel. Structural support member (steel, concrete, lumber) transversely supporting a load that transfers weight from one location to another.
Blister: An enclosed raised spot evident on the surface of a building. They are mainly caused by the expansion of trapped air, water vapor, moisture or other gases.
Blow Insulation: Fiber insulation in loose form used to insulate attics and existing walls where framing members are not exposed.
Bonding: The permanent joining of metallic parts to form an electrically conductive path that ensures electrical continuity and the capacity to conduct safely any fault current likely to be imposed.
Branch Circuit: The circuit conductors between the final overcurrent device protecting the circuit and the outlet(s).
Branch Circuit (Electrical): Wiring that runs from a service panel or sub-panel to outlets. Branch circuits are protected by fuses or breakers at the panel.
Breaker Box: A metal box that contains circuit breakers or fuses that control the electrical current in a home.
Breaker Panel: The electrical box that distributes electric power entering the home to each branch circuit (each plug and switch) and composed of circuit breakers.
Brick Ledge: Part of the foundation wall where brick (veneer) will rest.
Brick Lintel: The metal angle iron that brick rests on, especially above a window, door, or other opening.
Brick Tie: A small, corrugated metal strip (1″x6″- 8″ long) nailed to wall sheeting or studs. They are inserted into the grout mortar joint of the veneer brick, and hold the veneer wall to the sheeted wall behind it.
BTU: A measure of the capacity of a heating or cooling system. Abbreviation of British Thermal Unit. The amount of heat energy required to raise the temperature of one pound of water through a change of one degree Fahrenheit.
Brick Veneer: A facing of brick laid against and fastened to the sheathing of a frame wall or tile wall construction.
Building Systems: Components, assemblies and systems which are a part of the overall building and property such as pavement, flatwork, structural components, roofing, exterior walls, plumbing, HVAC, electrical components, fire prevention, etc.
Built-in: Permanently installed.
Cap: The upper member of a column, pilaster, door cornice, molding, and the like.
Cap Flashing: The portion of the flashing attached to a vertical surface to prevent water from migrating behind the base flashing.
Carbon Monoxide: CO. A colorless, odorless, highly poisonous gas formed by the incomplete combustion of carbon.
Cast-Iron Pipe (Plumbing): Drain and vent lines. Most older drain-waste venting systems are made of cast-iron pipes. Now increasingly supplanted by ABS and PVC. Pipes were originally joined with molten lead, but most plumbers now join them with no-hub couplers.
Caulk: The application of sealant to a joint, crack or crevice. A compound used for sealing that has minimum joint movement capability; sometimes called low performance sealant.
Caulking: Material used to seal exterior cracks and openings such as windows or foundations.
Ceiling Joist: One of a series of parallel framing members used to support ceiling loads and supported in turn by larger beams, girders or bearing walls. Also called roof joists.
CFM (Cubic Feet per Minute): Measure of volume of air. When testing systems, find the CFM by multiplying the face velocity (amount of air passing through the face of an outlet or return) times the free area (the total area of the openings in the outlet or inlet through which air can pass) in square feet.
Chimney: A structure containing one or more flues for removing gases to the outside atmosphere.
Circuit: A network of wiring that typically commences at a panel box, feeds electricity to outlets and ultimately returns to the panel box.
Circuit Breaker: A protective device which automatically opens an electrical circuit when it is overloaded.
Cleanout: A plug in a trap or drain pipe that provides access for the purpose of clearing an obstruction.
Cleanout (Plumbing): A drain fitting, usually a wye or a tee, with a removable plug to permit inspection and access for an auger or snake.
Collar Tie: A horizontal board attached perpendicular to rafters.
Compression Web: A member of a truss system which connects the bottom and top chords and which provides downward support.
Compressor: A mechanical device that pressurizes a gas in order to turn it into a liquid, thereby allowing heat to be removed or added. A compressor is the main component of conventional heat pumps and air conditioners. In an air conditioning system, the compressor normally sits outside and has a large fan (to remove heat).
Concealed: Rendered inaccessible by the structure or finish of the building. Wires in concealed raceways are considered concealed, even though they may become accessible by withdrawing them.
Condensate Line: The copper pipe that runs from the outside air conditioning condenser to the inside furnace ( where the A/C coil is located).
Condensation: Water condensing on walls, ceiling and pipes. Normal in areas of high humidity, usually controlled by ventilation or a dehumidifier.
Condensing Unit: The outdoor component of a cooling system. It includes a compressor and condensing coil designed to give off heat.
Condition: The visible and conspicuous state of being of an object.
Conditioned Space: An area or room within a building being heated or cooled.
Conduction: The flow of heat from one part of a substance to another part. A piece of iron with one end placed in a fire will soon become warm from end to end due to the transfer of heat by the actual collision of the air molecules.
Conductor: In roofing, a pipe for conveying rainwater from the roof gutter to a drain, or from a roof drain to the storm drain; also called a leader, downspout, or downpipe. In electrical contracting, a wire through which a current of electricity flows, better known as an electric wire.
Conduit: A hollow pipe casing through which electric lines run.
Conduit (Electrical): Tubing used to protect wiring.
Construction Drywall: A type of construction in which the interior wall finish is applied in a dry condition, generally in the form of sheet materials or wood paneling as contrasted to plaster.
Consultant: A person with particular expertise in a subject who assists the inspector with portions of the inspection.
Coupling: In plumbing, a short collar with only inside threads at each end, for receiving the ends of two pipes which are to be fitted and joined together. A right/left coupling is one used to join 2 gas pipes in limited space.
Course: A single layer of brick or stone or other building material.
CPVC: Plastic water piping.
CPVC (Chlorinated Polyvinyl Chloride): Rigid plastic pipe used in water supply systems where code permits.
Crawl Space: A shallow open area between the floor of a building and the ground, normally enclosed by the foundation wall.
Crawlspace: The area within the confines of the foundation and between the ground and the underside of the lowest floor structural component.
Cricket: A peaked saddle construction at the back of a chimney to prevent accumulation of snow and ice and to deflect water around the chimney.
Cripple Stud: Short stud used as support in wall openings that replaces a normal 93 inch or 96 inch stud.
Cripple Walls: In a wood-frame house, the section of wall under the house between the concrete foundation and the floor joists. Also called crawl space walls.
Cross Connection: Any connection between two otherwise separate piping systems, one of which contains potable water and the other which contains something which could contaminate the potable water.
Damper: An air valve that regulates the flow of air inside the flue of a furnace or fireplace.
Deck: An elevated platform. “Deck” is also commonly used to refer to the above-ground floors in multi-level parking garage.
Deflect: To bend or deform under weight.
Deflection: The amount of bending movement of any part of a structural member perpendicular to the axis of the member under an applied load.
Diverter: Valves which have a single inlet and direct water to one of two outlets. Diverters are used with handshowers, shower risers, tub & shower combinations, and kitchen faucet sprayers.
Diverter Valve: A device that changes the direction of water flow from one faucet to another.
Downspout: The pipe that carries water down from the gutter or scupper. Also called a leader.
Drip Edge: A device designed to prevent water from running back or under an overhang.
Dry-In: To make a building waterproof.
Drywall: A gypsum board material used for walls or ceilings.
Duct: A cylindrical or rectangular “tube” used to move air either from exhaust or intake, and for distributing warm air from the heating plant to rooms, or air from a conditioning device or as cold air returns. The installation is referred to as “duct work.”
Ductwork: A system of distribution channels used to transmit heated or cooled air from a central system (HVAC) throughout a home.
DWV (Drainage, Waste & Vent): The pipes in a plumbing system that remove waste water.
Eave: The part of the roof which extends beyond the side wall.
EIFS: Exterior Insulating and Finish System; exterior wall cladding system consisting primarily of polystyrene foam board with a textured acrylic finish that resembles plaster or stucco.
Emergency Shutoff Valve: A valve designed to shut off the flow of gases or liquids.
EMT (Electrical Metallic Tubing): Electrical pipe, also called thin-wall conduit, which may be used for both concealed and exposed areas. It is the most common type of raceway used in single family and low rise residential and commercial buildings.
Escutcheon: A trim piece or decorative flange that fits beneath the faucet handle to conceal the faucet stem and the hole in the fixture or wall.
Examine: To visually look. See Inspect.
Extermination: The control or elimination of insects, rats, vermin, or other pests.
Fascia: A flat, horizontal board enclosing the overhang under the eave.
Faucet: A device for regulating the flow of a liquid from a reservoir such as a pipe or drum.
Fire Block: Short horizontal members sometimes nailed between studs, usually about halfway up a wall. See also ‘Fire Stop.’
Fire Rated: Descriptive of materials that have been tested for use in fire walls.
Fire Stop: A solid, tight closure of a concealed space, placed to prevent the spread of fire and smoke through such a space. In a frame wall, this will usually consist of 2x4s cross blocking between studs.
Fixture: In plumbing, the devices that provide a supply of water and/or its disposal, e.g. sinks, tubs, toilets.
Flue: A pipe used to exhaust smoke, gas or air.
Footing: The underground support for a foundation or support post.
Footings: Wide pours of cement reinforced with re-bar (reinforcing bar) that support foundation walls, pillars, or posts. Footings are part of the foundation and are often poured before the foundation walls.
Form: Temporary structure erected to contain concrete during placing and initial hardening.
Foundation: The supporting portion of a structure below the first floor construction, or below grade, including the footings.
Frieze: In house construction, a horizontal member connecting the top of the siding with the soffit of the cornice.
Fully Tempered Glass: Flat or bent glass that has been heat-treated to a high surface and/or edge compression to meet the requirements of ASTM C 1048 kind FT. Fully tempered glass, if broken, will fracture into many small pieces (dice) which are more or less cubical. Fully tempered glass is approximately four times stronger than annealed glass of the same thickness when exposed to uniform static pressure loads.
Functional Drainage: The emptying of a plumbing fixture in a reasonable amount of time without overflow when another fixture is drained simultaneously.
Functional Flow: A reasonable flow of water supply at the highest and farthest fixture from the building main when another fixture is operated simultaneously.
Furnace: A heating system that uses the principle of thermal convection. When air is heated, it rises and as the air cools it settles. Ducts are installed to carry the hot air from the top of the furnace to the rooms. Other ducts, called cold air returns, return the cooler air back to the furnace.
Further Evaluation: A degree of examination beyond that of a typical and customary non-intrusive physical examination.
Gable: The end of a building as distinguished from the front or rear side. The triangular end of an exterior wall from the level of the eaves to the ridge of a double-sloped roof. In house construction, the portion of the roof above the eave line of a double-sloped roof.
Gaskets: Pre-formed shapes, such as strips, grommets, etc., of rubber or rubber-like composition, used to fill and seal a joint or opening either alone or in conjunction with a supplemental application of a sealant.
Gauge: The thickness of sheet metal and wire, etc.
Glazing: A generic term used to describe an infill material such as glass, panels, etc. Also the process of installing an infill material into a prepared opening in windows, door panels, partitions, etc.
Granules: The mineral particles of a graded size which are embedded in the asphalt coating of shingles and roofing.
Ground: Refers to electricity’s habit of seeking the shortest route to earth. Neutral wires carry it there in all circuits. An additional grounding wire or the sheathing of the metal-clad cable or conduit protects against shock if the neutral leg is interrupted.
Ground-Fault Circuit Interrupter (GFCI): A device intended for the protection of personnel that functions to de-energize a circuit.
Grounded: Connected to earth or to some conducting body that serves in place of the earth.
Grounded, Effectively: Intentionally connected to earth through a ground connection or connections of sufficiently low impedance and having sufficient current carrying capacity to prevent the buildup of voltages that might otherwise result in undue hazards to connected equipment or to persons.
Grounding Electrode: A device that establishes an electrical connection to the earth.
Grounding Rod: Rod used to ground an electrical panel.
Grout: A hydrous mortar whose consistency allows it to be placed or pumped into small joints or cavities, as between pieces of ceramic clay, slate, or tile. Also, various mortar mixes used in foundation work to fell voids in soils, usually injected through drilled holes.
Gusset: A flat wood, plywood, or similar type member used to provide a connection at intersection of wood members. Most commonly used at joints of wood trusses. They are fastened by nails, screws, bolts, or adhesives.
Gutter: Metal or wood trough at the eaves of a roof to carry rain water from the roof to the downspout.
Gypsum Board: See Drywall.
H Clip: Small metal clips formed like an “H” that fits at the joints of two plywood (or wafer board) sheets to stiffen the joint. Normally used on the roof sheeting.
Header: Framing members over windows, doors, or other openings. A beam placed perpendicular to joists and to which joists are nailed in framing for chimney, stairway, or other opening. Also, a wood lintel.
Hearth: The inner or outer floor of a fireplace, usually made of brick, tile, or stone.
Hearth Extension: Noncombustible material in front of and at the sides of a fireplace opening.
Heat Pump: A device which uses compression and decompression of gas to heat and/or cool a house.
Hinge: A jointed or flexible device that allows the turning or pivoting of a part, such as a door or lid, on a stationary frame.
Home Run (Electrical): The electrical cable that carries power from the main circuit breaker panel to the first electrical box, plug, or switch in the circuit.
Hose Bib: An outdoor faucet with hose threads on the spout. Also commonly used to supply washing machines and wash basins.
HVAC: Heating Ventilation and Air Conditioning.
Incompatibility: Descriptive of two or more materials which are not suitable to be used together.
Inspection: The process of an inspector collecting information through visual observation during a walk-through survey of the subject property, conducting research about the property, and then generating a meaningful report about the condition of the property based on the observations made and research conducted by the inspector.
Inspector: One who performs the commercial property inspection.
Insulation: Generally, any material which slows down or retards the flow or transfer of heat. Building insulation types are classified according to form as loose-fill, flexible, rigid, reflective, and foamed-in-place. All types are rated according to their ability to resist heat flow (R-Value). In electrical contracting, rubber, thermoplastic, or asbestos wire covering. The thickness of insulation varies with wire size and type of material, application or other code limitations.
Jamb: The side and head lining of a doorway, window, or other opening.
Joint: The space between the adjacent surfaces of two members or components joined and held together by nails, glue, cement, mortar, or other means.
Kilowatt (KW): One thousand watts. A kilowatt hour is the base unit used in measuring electrical consumption. Also see Watt.
Labeled: Devices, equipment, or materials to which have been affixed a label, seal, symbol or other identifying mark of product evaluation.
Landing: A platform between flights of stairs or at the termination of a flight of stairs.
Lavatory: Bathroom or washroom sink.
Leach field: A method used to treat/dispose of sewage in rural areas not accessible to a municipal sewer system. Sewage is permitted to be filtered and eventually discharged into a section of the lot called a leech field.
Lead: A malleable metal once extensively used for flashings.
Lead Based Paint: Lead is a highly toxic metal that was used for many years in products found in and around our homes. Lead may cause a range of health effects, from behavioral problems and learning disabilities, to seizures and death. Children 6 years old and under are most at risk, because their bodies are growing quickly.
Life Expectancy: Average function time in years assuming regular maintenance.
Lintel: A horizontal structural member that supports the load over an opening such as a door or window.
Listed: Equipment, materials, or services included in a list published by an organization that is acceptable to the authority having jurisdiction and concerned with evaluation of products or services, that maintains periodic inspection of production of listed equipment or materials or periodic evaluation of services, and whose listing states the either the equipment, material, or service meets appropriate designated standards or has been tested and found suitable for a specified purpose.
Manufacturers Specifications: The written installation and/or maintenance instructions which are developed by the manufacturer of a product and which may have to be followed in order to maintain the product warrantee.
Masonry: Stone, brick, concrete, hollow-tile, concrete block, gypsum block, or other similar building units or materials or a combination of the same, bonded together with mortar to form a wall, pier, buttress, or similar mass.
Mastic: Heavy-consistency compound that may remain adhesive and pliable with age. Is typically a waterproof compound applied to exterior walls and roof surfaces.
Means Of Egress: A continuous and unobstructed path out of a building to a public way.
Mullion: A vertical bar or divider in the frame between windows, doors, or other openings that supports and holds such items as panels, glass, sash, or sections of a curtain wall.
Muntins: Horizontal or vertical bars that divide the sash frame into smaller lights of glass. Muntins are smaller in dimensions and weight than mullions.
Neutral Wire: Usually color-coded white, the neutral wire carries electricity from an outlet back to the service panel. Also see Hot Wire and Ground.
Nipple: A short pipe installed between fittings. A pipe coupling that is threaded on both ends.
Non-Bearing Wall: A wall supporting no load other than its own weight.
Non-Destructive: A phrase describing a method of examining the interior of a component whereby no damage is done to the component itself.
Normal Operating Controls: Devices such as thermostats that would be operated by ordinary occupants which require no specialized skill or knowledge.
Observations: Those potential items of interest noted by the inspector during the walk-through survey portion of the inspection.
Ohm’s Law: States that, in a given electrical circuit, the amount at current in amps is equal to the pressure in volts divided by the resistance in ohms. The formula is: I (Current) = V voltage or V = I x R R resistance or R = V/I.
Ohmmeter: In electrical contracting, a device to measure the resistance across a load. They are never used on a live circuit. Used to track down broken wires.
Operate: To cause systems to function or turn on with normal operating controls.
Oxidize: To combine with oxygen in the air
P Trap: P-shaped section of drain pipe that prevents sewer odors from escaping into your home. Water is trapped in the pipe blocking gases from escaping through the drain.
Paint: A combination of pigments with suitable thinners or oils to provide decorative and protective coatings.
Parapet Wall: A low wall around the perimeter of a roof deck.
Parge Coat: A thin application of plaster for coating a wall.
Penny: As applied to nails, it originally indicated the price per hundred. The term now serves as a measure of nail length and is abbreviated by the letter “D.”
Permanently Installed: Fixed in place (e.t. screwed, bolted, or nailed), as distinct from components, systems, or appliances considered portable or freestanding.
Physical Deficiency: A major defect, a significant deferred maintenance item, a component or system that has exhausted most or all of its remaining useful life (regardless of its actual life expectancy), a safety concern, or anything that could potentially cause the need for an expensive repair.
Pier: A column of masonry, usually rectangular in horizontal cross section, used to support other structural members.
Pier Block: A concrete block used to support foundation members such as posts, beams, girders and joist.
Pigtails, Electrical: The electric cord that the electrician provides and installs on an appliance such as a garbage disposal, dishwasher, or range hood.
Pilot Light: A small, continuous flame (in a hot water heater, boiler, or furnace) that ignites gas or oil burners when needed.
Plenum: An air compartment or chamber which connects one or more ducts and forms part of an air distribution system.
Plenum (or Plenum Chamber): Chamber or container for moving air under a slight positive pressure to which one or more ducts are connected.
Plumb: Exactly perpendicular; vertical.
Plumbing Stack: A plumbing vent pipe that penetrates the roof.
Plywood: A piece of wood made of three or more layers of veneer joined with glue, and usually laid with the grain of adjoining plies at right angles. Almost always an odd number of plies are used to provide balanced construction.
Pointing: The process where joints between masonry units, brick, etc., are filled with mortar.
Ponding: A condition where water stands on a roof for prolonged periods due to poor drainage and/or deflection of the deck.
Portland Cement: A mixture of certain minerals which when mixed with water form a gray colored paste and cure into a very hard mass.
Potable: Water that is safe to drink.
Premises: A lot, plot, parcel of land, property, or building.
Pressure-Reducing Valve: Valve installed in the water service line where it enters the building to reduce the pressure of water in the line to an acceptable pressure used in buildings (40-55 psi desired).
Pressure-Relief Valve: Valve to relieve excess pressure in water storage tanks.
PVC or CPVC (PolyVinyl Choride): A type of white plastic pipe sometimes used for water supply lines.
R-Value: The thermal resistance of a glazing system. The R-value is the reciprocal of the U-value. The higher the R value, the less heat is transmitted throughout the glazing material.
Rafter: A sloping roof member that supports the roof covering which extends from the ridge or the hip of the roof to the eaves. A common rafter is one which runs square with the plate and extends to the ridge. A hip rafter extends from the outside angle of the plate towards the apex of
the roof. They are 2″ deeper or wider than common rafters. A valley rafter extends from an inside angle of the plates toward the ridge of the house.
Rake: Trim members that run parallel to the roof slope and form the finish between the wall and a gable roof extension. The angle of slope of a roof rafter, or the inclined portion of a cornice.
Rake Edge: The overhang of an inclined roof plane beyond the vertical wall below it.
Readily Accessible: Describes the area of the subject property that has been made available to the inspector at the time of the walk-through survey portion of the inspection, and/or an item or component if, in the judgment of the inspector, it is capable of being safely observed without the need of portable ladders, the removal of obstacles, the detachment or disengagement of connecting or securing devices, or other unsafe or difficult procedures to gain access and/or a document that has been made available to the inspector for use in the research portion of the inspection.
Receptacle: An electrical outlet. A typical household will have many 120 volt receptacles for plugging in lams and appliances and 240 volt receptacles for the range, clothes dryer, air conditioners, etc.
Remaining Useful Life: A subjective estimate or guess made by the inspector based upon his observations and experience as to the number of remaining years that a component will be functional before needing replacement.
Retaining Wall: A structure that holds back a slope and prevents erosion.
Return: In heating and cooling systems, a vent that returns cold air to be warmed. In a hot air furnace system, it is located near an inside wall.
Ridge: The horizontal line at the junction of the top edges of two sloping roof surfaces.
Saddle: Two sloping surfaces meeting in a horizontal ridge, used between the back side of a chimney, or other vertical surface, and a sloping roof.
Scupper: An outlet in the wall of a building or a parapet wall for drainage of water from a flat roof.
Service Conductor: In electrical contracting, the supply conductors that extend from the street main or from the transformer to the service equipment.
Service Drop: In electrical contracting, the overhead service conductors from the last pole or other aerial support to and including the splices, if any, connecting to the service entrance conductors at the building.
Sheetrock: Panels made primarily from gypsum installed over the framing to form the interior walls and ceilings. Sheetrock is often called gypsum board.
Shingles: Roof covering of asphalt, wood, tile, slate, or other material cut to stock lengths, widths, and thicknesses, which are laid in a series of overlapping rows as a roof covering on pitched roofs.
Siding: The finish covering of the outside wall of a frame building, whether made of horizontal weatherboards, vertical boards with battens, shingles, or other material.
Sill Plate: The framing member anchored to the foundation wall upon which studs and other framing members will be attached. It is the bottom plate of exterior walls.
Skylight: A structure on a roof that is designed to admit light and is somewhat above the plane of the roof surface.
Slab on Grade: A type of construction in which footings are needed but little or no foundation wall is poured.
Smoke Alarm: A single or multiple alarm responsive to smoke and not connected to a sprinkler system.
Smoke Detector: A device that senses particles of combustion.
Soffit: The underside of an overhanging cornice of a building extending out from the plane of the building walls.
Spalling: The chipping or flaking of concrete, bricks, or other masonry where improper drainage or venting and freeze/thaw cycling exists.
Splash Block: A small masonry block laid with the top close to the ground surface to receive roof drainage from downspouts and to carry it away from the building.
Step Flashing: Individual small pieces of metal flashing material used to flash around chimneys, dormers, and such projections along the slope of a roof. The individual pieces are overlapped and stepped up the vertical surface.
Story: That part of a building between any floor and the floor or roof next above.
Structure: An assemblage of various systems and components to function as a whole.
Stucco: A type of exterior finish. Most commonly refers to an outside plaster made with Portland cement as its base.
Stud: One of a series of wood or metal vertical structural members placed as supporting elements in walls and partitions.
Taping: Applying joint tape over embedding compound in the process of joint treatment of drywall.
Technically Exhaustive: A comprehensive and detailed examination beyond the scope of a commercial property inspection which might involve, but would not be limited to: specialized knowledge or training, special equipment, measurements, calculations, testing, research, analysis, meters, scaffolding, dismantling, probing, or troubleshooting. Also, where the cost of obtaining information or the time required to conduct a portion of the inspection and prepare that portion of the inspection report could outweigh the likely usefulness of the information obtained or could be detrimental to the orderly and timely completion of the client’s transaction.
Tempered: Strengthened. Tempered glass will not shatter nor create shards, but will “pelletize” like an automobile window. Required in tub and shower enclosures, entry door glass, sidelight glass and in windows where the window sill is less than 16″ to the floor.
Threshold: A strip of wood or metal with beveled edges used over the finish floor and the sill of exterior doors.
Trap: A plumbing fitting that holds water to prevent air, gas, and vermin from backing up into a fixture.
U.L. (Underwriters Laboratories): A private research firm located in the United States that attempts to classify and determine the safety of various materials and products.
Underlayment: A material placed under finish coverings, such as flooring, or shingles, to provide a smooth, even surface for applying the finish.
Valley: The internal angle formed by the junction of two sloping sides of a roof.
Vapor Barrier: A membrane which is placed between the insulation and the roof deck to retard water vapor in the building from entering the insulation and condensing into liquid water.
Vent: A pipe or duct which allows flow of air as an inlet or outlet.
Vent Pipe: A vertical pipe of relatively small dimensions which protrudes through a roof to provide for the ventilation of gasses.
Vent Stack: A vertical vent pipe installed for the purpose of providing circulation of air to and from any part of a drainage system.
Vent System: In plumbing, a system to provide a flow of air to or from a drainage system or to provide circulation of air within such system to protect traps seals from siphonage and back pressure.
Waste Pipe and Vent: Plastic plumbing pipe that carries waste water to the municipal sewage system.
Water Board: Water resistant drywall to be used in tub and shower locations. Normally green or blue colored.
Water Closet: Toilet.
Wattage: The electrical unit of power. A kilowatt is 1000 watts and electric customers are billed on how many kilowatts of power they have used.
Wax Ring Job: Removing a toilet from the floor so that a blockage can be manually removed or to replace a degraded wax ring. Replacing a new wax ring on the bottom of the toilet to create a seal.
Weep Hole: A hole which allows for drainage of entrapped water from masonry or glazing structures.
Window Frame: The stationary part of a window unit; the window sash fits into the window frame.
Wire Size: Conductors for building wiring are available in AWG (American Wire Gauge) sizes ranging from No. 14 to 4/0. The larger the number size, the smaller the diameter. For example, 10 is smaller than 8. The larger the diameter of a wire, the lesser the resistance.
Zone: The section of a building that is served by one heating or cooling loop because it has noticeably distinct heating or cooling needs. Also, the section of property that will be watered from a lawn sprinkler system.