Glossary of Terms
This glossary can help you understand the terminology you’ll encounter during your home inspection and that you should generally know as a homeowner.
A naturally occurring mineral fiber sometimes found in older homes. It is hazardous to health when a possibility exists of exposure to inhalable fibers. Homeowners should be alert for friable asbestos and always seek professional advice in dealing with it.
A unit measure of electricity.
Minimum local or state regulations established to protect public health and safety. They apply to building design, construction, rehabilitation, repair, materials, occupancy and use.
A metal box that contains circuit breakers or fuses that control the electrical current in the home.
A heating system with the heating unit located along the perimeter of the wall where the baseboard would be. It can be either an electric or hot water system.
Usually wood or vinyl installed around the perimeter of a room to cover the space where the wall and floor meet.
Shallow space between the underside of the first floor of a house and the ground.
CLASS B DOOR
A fire resistant rating applied by the Underwriters Laboratories Classification for a door having a 1 to 1 1/2 hour rating.
The safety valves for electrical systems. It interrupts an electric circuit when an unusual condition arises such as lightning and malfunctioning appliances. Unlike a fuse, it can be reset.
Material used to fill joints that may exist between floors and fixtures; around windows and doors, shower stalls and bathtubs, etc.
A sidehinged window that opens on hinges secured to the side of the window frame.
A gypsum board material used for walls or ceilings.
A window with sashes that slide vertically and allow opening from the top and bottom.
A converted attic with windows projecting through a sloping roof.
A device that grinds food sufficiently to enter drains for disposal without clogging.
An air valve that regulates the flow of air inside the flue of a furnace or fireplace.
The section of the roof that overhangs the walls of a house.
The part of the structure upon which all other construction is built.
Concrete set in the soil (foundation bed) that support the foundation of the house.
An enclosed chamber in a fireplace that directs flames, smoke and other gases to the outside air.
Sheet metal used at wall and roof junctions and around chimneys to prevent water entry.
Channel of various materials including plastic and copper supported at the eaves to direct water away from the foundation of a home through downspouts.
GROUNDFAULT INTERRUPTER (GFI)
A safety device that interrupts surges of electricity in appliances and other electrical components found in a home.
HOT WATER HEATING SYSTEM
This system heats water to boiling in a water heater, and a circulator pumps it through a system of pipes.
A reverse cycle refrigeration unit that both heats and cools.
A device used to transfer heat in a furnace.
The fireproof surface of a fireplace, usually 18 inches wide.
Material used to resist the loss of heat energy. Materials such as fiber glass, mineral wool, cellulose and foam are placed in the walls, ceilings, basements and crawl spaces. Insulation may be blown or installed in batt sections.
Horizontal timbers, beams or bars supporting a floor.
A material used in pipes and paint of many older homes. We now know that lead is hazardous to health. The local environmental protection agency should be consulted for guidelines on handling, removal and applicable laws.
Strips of wood or other material used as a base for the installation of plaster.
A bonding material used in the construction of brick or stone structures.
Wood or steel elements that make up the framing and foundation of a structure such as 2 X 4 strips of lumber cut to various lengths.
Construction using materials such as tile, brick, cement, stone or similar materials.
An inspection performed by a specially trained inspector to provide a comprehensive report on the condition of a house. This report is usually written and is often used in home sale negotiations.
Water piping used for interior piping and the main waterline to the street. Problems with this pipe have curtailed its use.
The removal of deteriorated mortar between bricks and replacement with new mortar.
A floor that is laid in rectangular or square patterns often made of pre-finished wood or wood veneer squares.
A low wall or railing along the edge of a roof, balcony, bridge or terrace constructed for protection, to control water resulting from rain or artificial flooding or to insulate against the sun’s rays.
Help to regulate the flow of air.
The structural member or beam that supports the roof. It spans from the exterior wall to the ridge board of the peak of the roof.
A colorless, odorless gas that is emitted from soils, rocks and water as a result of radioactive decay in certain areas of the country. Radon is known to cause cancer. Homes should be tested for radon. The local environmental agency should be consulted on its handling, removal and any applicable laws.
RADIANT HEATING SYSTEM
An electrical heating system that distributes heat through cables installed usually in baseboard panels.
A measurement of the ability of insulation to slow the transfer of heat or cold. The higher the Rvalue, the greater the insulation power.
Heat created from the gathering of solar energy from the sun. It can be passive or active. A positive system takes advantage of winter sunlight through windows on the south side of a home. An active system heats through the collection of solar energy through solar collectors.
The underside part of a roof that extends beyond the outside walls of a structure.
A concrete foundation or floor of a home. Houses built on slab usually do not have basements.
The lowest piece upon which a window or exterior door rests, usually slanted downward slightly to provide for rain water runoff.
Finish material such as wood, vinyl and aluminum used on outside walls.
Sheets of waterproof material used to cover the roofs of homes and other surfaces.
The lowering of elevation of a house or pavement due to weight or shrinkage.
Framework that holds the glass in a window or a door.
Helps to control temperatures within the home. Thermostats automatically turn heating or air conditioning on or off as necessary to maintain a desired temperature.
UREA FORMALDEHYDE FOAM INSULATION
Made of various materials used to reduce the escape of heat or air conditioning from a home. It is usually installed around windows and doors.