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Rook Home Inspections LLC - Glossary of domestic engineering
Category: Architecture and Buildings > Home inspection
Date & country: 16/01/2008, UK
Words: 1350


A-C Circuit
Alternating Current. The flow of current through a conductor first in one direction, then in reverse. It is used exclusively in residential and commercial wiring because it provides greater flexibility in voltage selection and simplicity of equipment design.

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.

A-C Disconnect
The main electrical ON-OFF switch near the A/C condenser.

ABS
(Acrylonitrile butadiene styrene) Rigid black plastic pipe used only for drain lines.

Absolute Humidity
Amount of moisture in the air, indicated in grains per cubic foot

Accelerator
Any material added to stucco, plaster or mortar which speeds up the natural set.

Access Panel
An opening in the wall or ceiling near the fixture that allows access for servicing the plumbing/electrical system.

Accessible
Can be approached or entered by the inspector safely, without difficulty, fear or danger.

Acre
43,560 square feet.

Acrylic
A glassy thermoplastic material that is vacuum-formed to cast and mold shapes that form the surface of fiberglass bathtubs, whirlpools, shower bases, and shower stalls.

Activate
To turn on, supply power, or enable systems, equipment, or devices to become active by normal operating controls. Examples include turning on the gas or water supply valves to the fixtures and appliances and activating electrical breakers or fuses.

Actual Dimension (Lumber)
The exact measurement of lumber after it has been cut, dried and milled.

Adaptor
A fitting that unites different types of pipe together, e.g. ABS to cast iron pipe.

Adhesion
The property of a coating or sealant to bond to the surface to which it is applied.

Adhesive Failure
Loss of bond of a coating or sealant from the surface to which it is applied.

Adversely Affect
Constitute, or potentially constitute, a negative or destructive impact.

Aerator
An apparatus that mixes air into flowing water. It is screwed onto the end of a faucet spout to help reduce splashing.

Aggregate
Crushed stone, slag or water-worn gravel that comes in a wide range of sizes which is used to surface built-up roofs.

Air Chamber
A vertical, air-filled pipe that prevents water hammer by absorbing pressure when water is shut off at a faucet or valve.

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.

Air Infiltration
The amount of air leaking in and out of a building through cracks in walls, windows and doors.

Air Space
The area between insulation facing and interior of exterior wall coverings. Normally a 1' air gap.

Air-Dried Lumber
Lumber that has been piled in yards or sheds for any length of time. For the United States as a whole, the minimum moisture content of thoroughly air dried lumber is 12 to 15 percent and the average is somewhat higher. In the South, air dried lumber may be no lower than 19 percent.

Airway
A space between roof insulation and roof boards provided for movement of air.

Alarm System
Warning devices, installed or free-standing, including but not limited to: carbon monoxide detectors, flue gas and other spillage detectors, security equipment, ejector pumps and smoke alarms.

Algae
Microorganisms that may grow to colonies in damp environments, including certain rooftops. They can discolor shingles. Often described as 'fungus.'

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 rese …

Allowable Span
The distance between two supporting points for load bearing lumber such as joists, rafters or a girder.

Allowance(s)
A sum of money set aside in the construction contract for items which have not been selected and specified in the construction contract. Best kept to a minimum number and used for items whose choice will not impact earlier stages of the construction. For example, selection of tile because flooring may require an alternative framing or underlayment …

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.

Amortization
A payment plan by which a loan is reduced through monthly payments of principal and interest.

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.

Anchor Bolts
In residential construction, bolts used to secure a wooden sill plate to a concrete or masonry floor or wall. In commercial construction, bolts which fasten columns, girders or other members to concrete or masonry such as bolts used to anchor sills to masonry foundation.

Angle Iron
A piece of iron that forms a right angle and is used to span openings and support masonry at the openings. In brick veneer, they are used to secure the veneer to the foundation. Also known as shelf angle.

Angle Stop
A shutoff valve in which the inlet connects to the water supply pipe in the wall and the outlet angles 90 degrees upward toward the faucet or toilet.

Annealing
In the manufacturing of float glass, the process of controlled cooling done in a Lahr to prevent residual stresses in the glass. Re-annealing is the process of removing objectionable stresses in glass by re-heating to a suitable temperature followed by controlled cooling.

Annual Percentage Rate (APR)
Annual cost of credit over the life of a loan, including interest, service charges, points, loan fees, mortgage insurance, and other items.

Anti-Scald
A valve that restricts water flow to help prevent burn injuries. See Pressure Balancing Valve and Thermostatic Valve. In some areas, plumbing codes require anti-scald valves. Speak to a professional in your area for more information and help with code requirements.

Anti-Siphon
A device that prevents waste water from being drawn back into supply lines and possibly contaminating the water supply.

Anti-Walk Blocks
Elastomeric blocks that limit lateral glass movement in the glazing channel which may result from thermal, seismic, wind load effects, building movement, and other forces that may apply.

Antiquated
No longer in use, useful or functioning, as in most home inspection associations. Obsolete.

APA Plywood
(APA=American Plywood Association) Plywood that has been rated by the American Plywood Association. For example, number one APA rated exterior plywood contains no voids between laminate layers.

Aperature
The opening in pipes.

Appliance
A household device operated by use of electricity or gas. Not included in this definition are components covered under central heating, central cooling or plumbing.

Appraisal
An expert valuation of property.

Approach
The area between the sidewalk and the street that leads to a driveway or the transition from the street as you approach a driveway.

Apron
A trim board that is installed beneath a window sill.

Arbitration Service
A service to resolve complaints, as in NACHI's Arbitration Service.

Architect
A tradesman who designs and produces plans for buildings, often overseeing the building process.

Architects Rule (Ruler)
Three sided ruler with different scales on each side. Also referred to as a 'scale.'

Architectural Service
Any practice involving the art and science of building design for construction of any structure or grouping of structures and the use of space within and surrounding the structures or the design, design development, preparation of construction contract documents, and administration of the construction contract

Area Wells
Corrugated metal or concrete barrier walls installed around a basement window to hold back the earth.

Areaway
An open subsurface space adjacent to a building used to admit light/air or as a means of access to a basement.

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 extr …

Asphalt
A dark brown to black highly viscous hydrocarbon produced from the residue left after the distillation of petroleum. Asphalt is used on roofs and highways as a waterproofing agent.

Asphalt Plastic Cement
An asphalt-based cement used to bond roofing materials.

Assessment
A tax levied on a property, or a value placed on the worth of a property.

Astragal
A molding which is attached to one of a pair of swinging doors against which the other door strikes.

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.

Auger
In carpentry, a wood-boring tool used by a carpenter to bore holes.

Awning Window
A window with hinges at the top allowing it to open out and up.

Backer Rod
In glazing, a polyethylene or polyurethane foam material installed under compression and used to control sealant joint depth, provide a surface for sealant tooling, serve as a bond breaker to prevent three-sided adhesion, and provide an hour-glass contour of the finished bead.

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.

Backhand
A simple molding sometimes used around the outer edge of plain rectangular casing as a decorative feature.

Backhoe
Self-powered excavation equipment that digs by pulling a boom mounted bucket towards itself. It is used to dig basements and/or footings and to install drainage or sewer systems.

Backout
Work the framing contractor does after the mechanical subcontractors (Heating-Plumbing-Electrical) finish their phase of work at the rough (before insulation) stage to get the home ready for a municipal frame inspection. Generally, the framing contractor repairs anything disturbed by others and completes all framing necessary to pass a rough Frame …

Backsplash
A raised integral portion of a wall mount sink or lavatory located at the rear to protect the wall.

Balancing Damper
Baffle or plate used to control the volume of flowing air in a confined area.

Balloon Framing
In carpentry, the lightest and most economical form of construction in which the studding and corner plates are set up in continuous lengths from the first floor line or sill to the roof plate to which all floor joists are fastened.

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.

Barge
Horizontal beam rafter that supports shorter rafters.

Barge Board
A decorative board covering the projecting rafter (fly rafter) of the gable end. At the cornice, this member is a facie board.

Barometer
Instrument for measuring atmospheric pressure.

Barrel Roof
A roof design which in a cross section is arched.

Base Flashing
The upturned edge of a watertight membrane formed at a roof termination point by the extension of the felts vertically over the cant strip and up the wall for a varying distance where they are secured with mechanical fasteners.

Base Molding
Molding used to trim the upper edge of interior baseboard.

Base Ply
An asphalt-saturated and/or coated felt installed as the first ply with 4 inch laps in a built-up roof system under the following felts which can be installed in a shingle-like fashion.

Base Shoe
Molding used next to the floor on interior base board. Sometimes called a carpet strip.

Baseboard
Usually wood or vinyl installed around the perimeter of a room to cover the space where the wall and floor meet. A board placed against the wall around a room next to the floor to properly finish between the floor and the plaster.

Baseboard Heat
A heating system with the heating unit located along the perimeter of the wall where the baseboard would normally be located. It can be either an electric or hot water system.

Basement Window Inserts
The window frame and glass unit that is installed in the window buck.

Basket Strainer
Basket shaped strainer with holes allowing water to drain while catching food or other solids. Can also be closed to fill the sink with water.

Batt Insulation
Strips of insulation, usually fiberglass, that fit between studs or other framing.

Batten
Narrow strips of wood used to cover joints or as decorative vertical members over plywood or wide boards.

Batten Plate
A formed piece of metal designed to cover the joint between two lengths of metal edge.

Batter Board
One of a pair of horizontal boards nailed to posts set at the corners of an excavation, used to indicate the desired level, also used as a fastening for stretched strings to indicate outlines of foundation walls.

Batter Boards
Temporary structures that hold strings used to locate and square the corners of a building.

Bay Window
Any window space projecting outward from the walls of a building, either square or polygonal in plan.

Bead
In glazing, an applied sealant in a joint irrespective of the method of application, such as caulking bead, glazing bead, etc. Also a molding or stop used to hold glass or panels in position.

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.

Bearing Header
(a) A beam placed perpendicular to joists and to which joists are nailed in framing for a chimney, stairway, or other opening. (b) A wood lintel. (c) The horizontal structural member over an opening (for example over a door or window).

Bearing Partition
A partition that supports any vertical load in addition to its own weight.

Bearing Point
A point where a bearing or structural weight is concentrated and transferred to the foundation.