Aerator – A small, removable extension at the tip of a sink faucet that mixes streaming water with air to
reduce splashing and conserve water.
Air Hammer – A banging noise in plumbing pipes caused by air infiltration.
Airway – The space between roof insulation and roof boards, which allows for movement of air.
Alkali – A soluble mineral salt or mixture of salts capable of neutralizing acids.
Anchor bolts – Bolts that secure a wooden sill plate to a concrete or masonry floor.
Asphalt – A residue from evaporated petroleum, insoluble in water, but soluble in gasoline. Melts when
Arc Fault Circuit Interrupter (AFCI) – A specialized electrical device that will interrupt electrical power
where a short is detected. Usually installed in bedrooms. The AFCI is in the form of a breaker located in
the electrical panel.
Attic ventilators – Screened openings provided to ventilate an attic space.
Ball cock – A device in a flush toilet consisting of a valve connected by a lever to a floating ball. The valve
closes when the ball is raised and opens when allowed.
Baseboard – A decorative and protective wood molding positioned where the wall meets the floor.
Base molding – Molding used to trim the upper edge of interior baseboards.
Beam – A structural member transversely supporting a load.
Bearing wall – A wall that supports any vertical load in addition to its own weight.
Casing – Molding of various widths and thicknesses used to trim door and window openings at jambs.
Caulk – Caulk is a building joint sealant used where two dissimilar materials are joined. In time, caulk
hardens and cracks and should be renewed prior to any painting.
Circuit Breaker – A switching device, located in the main electrical panel, that opens and closes
electrical circuits and automatically shuts off electricity to a circuit should it become overloaded. Once
the electrical load is reduced, the breaker switch can be turned back on to resume normal service.
Concrete dusting – A fine dust that accumulates on finished concrete surfaces.
Condenser – An exterior unit that is part of the air-conditioning system, which expels heat into the
outside air.
Conduit, electrical – A pipe, usually metal, in which insulated electrical wire is installed.
Corner bead – An angled metal edging used to protect and form an edge where drywall panels meet at
outside edges.
Damper – A device in a fireplace that controls the air draft allowed into the fire.
Delamination – The separation of the top piles or laminate from the base to which they are attached. In
vanity and kitchen countertops, the warping or detachment of laminate material from the wood substrate.
Downspout – A pipe, usually of metal, for carrying water from roof gutters.
Drywall – Interior covering material, such as gypsum board or plywood, which is applied in large sheets.
Eaves – The margin or lower part of a roof projection over a wall.
Efflorescence – A white powdery substance that can form on a new block, brick or stucco finishes. It is
composed of water-soluble salts that are present in masonry materials and that rise to the surface via
water evaporation.
Face frame – The front of kitchen and bathroom cabinets, to which the hinged doors attach.
Face nailing – Nailing through a finished, exposed surface so that the flat top of the nail head is still
visible after nailing.
Fascia – The exterior horizontal trim around rafters. Also positioned directly behind gutters and over
gable trim boards.
Flashing – Sheet metal or other material used in roof and wall construction to protect a building from
rainwater penetrating the house structure.
Flue – A vertical duct, constructed of sheet metal or clay that channels smoke from a fireplace out of the
Footing – A masonry section, usually concrete, in a rectangular form wider than the bottom of the
foundation wall or pier it supports.
Foundation – The supporting portion of a structure below the first-floor construction, or below grade,
including the footings.
Gable – The portion of the roof above the eave line of a double-sloped roof.
Gabled louvers – A vent with louvers located at the peak of gable ends.
Graphite lubricant – finely powdered graphite used as a lubricant.
Ground fault circuit interrupter (GFCI) – A specialized electrical device that will interrupt electrical power
where a short is detected. Normally installed in areas where water may be present.
Grout – A white or colored plaster-like mortar compound used to fill spaces between ceramic tiles.
Header – A heavy timber and/or concrete beam that spans open spaces in walls, over doors and
windows, and provides support to structural members above it.
Hip roof – A roof that rises by inclined planes from all four sides of a building.
Honeycomb – In concrete, an open like cell like surface texture that occurs while pouring the concrete.
Hose bib – An exterior faucet connection for lawn and garden hoses.
Insulation – Any material high in resistance to heat transmission that, when placed in the walls, ceilings,
or floors of a structure, will reduce the rate of heat flow.
Jamb – The side and headlining of a doorway, window or other opening.
Joint compound – A plaster like compound used with drywall tape, to join sheets of drywall into a
smooth, continuous panel.
Joists – The horizontal support members used in constructing a floor.
Lockset – A door lock
Louver – An opening with a series of horizontal slats so arranged as to permit ventilation but to exclude
rain, sunlight or vision.
Masonry veneer – A facing of brick or stone laid against and fastened to sheathing of a frame or tile wall.
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 – A construction adhesive that is thick and waterproof.
Moldings – Shaped strips of ornamental wood used around doors and windows. Also used for base
molding, as chair rails and for exterior area molding. Molding finishes the junction of different materials
or shapes.
Nail pops – Nails that come loose from a stud and push joint compound up. Caused by normal wood
shrinkage and home settlement.
Pointing – The filling and finishing of broken mortar and stone cement masonry joints.
Ponding – The collection of water on driveways, walkways, or lawns. Ponding for excessive periods of
time is indicative of grading problems.
Rafter – One of a series of structural members of a roof designed to support roof loads. The rafters of a
flat roof are sometimes called roof joists.
R-valve – The resistance of insulation materials to heat loss. The higher the number the greater the
Resilient flooring – Vinyl flooring used in areas such as kitchens, halls, bathrooms and laundry rooms.
It is capable of withstanding shock without permanent deformation.
Ridge Vent – An open vent system located along roof peaks, which in conjunction with soffit vents,
creates ventilation through the passage of natural air.
Roof sheathing – Boards or sheet material fastened to roof rafters on which the shingles or other roof
covering is laid.
Scaling – In concrete, caused by freeze/thaw cycle. In painting, the flaking or peeling away of paint.
Shingles – Roof covering of asphalt, asbestos, wood, tile, slate or other material cut to stock lengths,
widths and thick nesses.
Siding – The finish covering the outside walls of a frame building, whether made of horizontal
weatherboards, vertical boards with battens, shingles or other material.
Sill – The lowest member of the frame of the structure, resting on the foundation and supporting the floor
joists or the uprights of a wall. The member forming the lower side of an opening, as a door sill or
Sill plates – A support member laid on the top of the foundation wall that serves as a base for the wall
Silicone – A synthetic lubricating compound with high resistance to temperature change and water.
When added to caulking, it extends elasticity properties and increases the life of caulking.
Soffit – Usually the underside of an overhanging cornice or roof.
Soffit vent – A vent located under the ceiling roof overhang.
Spackle – See joint compound.
Spalling – Flaking or chipping of stone or other masonry material. Similar to scaling, but the chips and
flakes are larger.
Stud – One of a series of slender wood or metal vertical structural members placed as supporting
elements in walls and partitions.
Sub flooring – A wood sheet flooring directly over the joists that supports the underlayment of floor
Swale – The soil contour on a building lot deliberately shaped to channel rainwater away from the home.
Tack strips – A wood strip with exposed tack points that are attached to the sub-flooring and holds
stretched wall-to-wall carpeting in position.
Tread – The horizontal board in a stairway on which the foot is placed.
Trim – The finish material in a building, such as moldings applied around openings or at the floor and
ceilings of rooms.
Trusses – Engineered wood structural members used to construct floors and roofs.
Underlayment – A flooring layer over the base sub-flooring, over which tile or resilient floor covering is
Valley – The internal angle formed by the junction of two sloping sides of a roof.
Vacuum breaker – Also called a back flow preventer, this device is placed on exterior faucets to allow
water to only flow out of the home.
Valve seat – An interior part of the faucet valve assembly where the valve rests.
Wall ties – The metal pieces that tie masonry veneer to the frame of the home, or, when pouring
concrete, the metal pieces that hold concrete foundation wall forms in place until the concrete cures.
Washers – Round, rigid rubber or plastic discs used as a sealing device in water faucet valves.
Weather stripping – A weather-insulating strip of metal placed around doors and windows to reduce
water entry into the home. Also reduces air infiltration into the home or the escape of conditioned air out
of the home.
Washouts – An area where water has produced soil erosion.
Glossary of Terms
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