• 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.

• Alarm Systems: Warning devices, installed or freestanding,

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."

• Amps (AMPERES): The rate at which electricity flows

through a conductor.

• 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.

• 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.

• 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 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.

• Automatic Safety Controls: Devices designed and installed

to protect systems and components from unsafe conditions.

• 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.

• Batt Insulation: Strips of insulation, usually fiberglass, that

fit between studs or other framing.

• 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.

• BX Cable: Armored electrical cable wrapped in galvanized

steel outer covering. A factory assembly of insulated

conductors inside a flexible metallic covering. It can be run

anywhere except where exposed to excessive moisture. It

should not be run below grade. It must always be grounded

and uses its armor as an equipment ground. It is difficult to

pull out old wires or insert new ones.

• Carbon Monoxide: a colorless, odorless, very toxic gas CO

that is formed as a product of the incomplete combustion of

carbon or a carbon compound.

• 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.

• 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.

• Circuit Breaker: A protective device which automatically

opens an electrical circuit when it is overloaded.

• 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.

• Cleanout: A plug in a trap or drain pipe that provides

access for the purpose of clearing an obstruction.

• Clearance: The minimum distance through air measured

between the surface of something heat-producing and the

surface of something combustible.

• Client: A person or person who engages or seeks
to engage the services of a home inspector for an inspection


• Component: A part of a system.

• Condensate removal pump: are small pumps that are used

to remove condensate formed by normal operation of a

heating, air-conditioning appliance or gas condensing


• Contractor: An individual licensed to perform certain types

of construction activities. In most states, the general

contractor's license and some specialty contractor's licenses

don't require compliance with bonding, workmen's

compensation and similar regulations. Some of the specialty

contractor licenses involve extensive training, testing and/or

insurance requirements.
There are various types of contractors:
Contractor - responsible for the execution, supervision
and overall coordination of a project

and may also perform some of the individual construction

tasks. Most general contractors are not licensed to perform

all specialty trades and must hire specialty contractors for

such tasks, e.g. electrical, plumbing. Remodeling Contractor

- a general contractor who specializes in remodeling work.

Specialty Contractor - licensed to perform a specialty task

e.g. electrical, side sewer, asbestos abatement. Sub

Contractor - a general or specialty contractor who works for

another general contractor.

• Corrosion: The deterioration of metal by chemical or

electrochemical reaction resulting from exposure to

weathering, moisture, chemicals or other agents or media.
• Counter Flashing: The formed metal secured to a wall,

curb, or roof top unit to cover and protect the upper edge of

a base flashing and its associated fasteners. This type of

flashing is usually used in residential construction on

chimneys at the roofline to cover shingle flashing and to

prevent moisture entry.

• Cripple walls- A cripple wall is a short stud wall that

extends from the top of the perimeter foundation upward to

carry the floor joists. The danger comes from the fact that

these components are in the seismic load path and are often

inadequately braced. They can collapse like dominos in a

large earthquake. Take care; not all homes have cripple

walls, but that won't stop some contractors from offering

bracing for them.

• Cross-Bridging: Diagonal bracing between adjacent floor

joists, placed near the center of the joist span to prevent

joists from twisting.

• 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.

• Decorative: Ornamental; not required for the operation of

the essential systems and components of a home.

• Describe: To report a system or component by its type or

other observed, significant characteristics to distinguish it

from other systems or components.

• Dismantle: To take apart or remove any component,

device or piece of equipment that would not be taken apart

or removed by a homeowner in the course of normal and

routine home owner maintenance.

• Diverter: Valves which have a single inlet and direct water

to one of two outlets. Diverters are used with hand showers,

shower risers, tub & shower combinations, and kitchen

faucet sprayers.

• Dormer: A converted attic with windows projecting through a sloping roof.

• Double Hung Window: A window with sashes that slide

vertically and allow opening from the top and bottom.

• 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.

• Drip leg at gas piping : "drip leg" is located at the lowest

point in the gas line system, and there may be more than

one "lowest point" in that it is seldom that the gas piping is

run horizontally or at a continuous slope, meaning the gas

piping is usually run up and around things, then back down

and around things, then back up, and each low point would

require a drip leg IF the gas was considered to be wet gas.

• Dry rot/ Fungal Wood Rot: A common wood destroying

organism which develops when wood containing material is

exposed to moisture and poor air circulation for a long (6

months +) period of time. Often and incorrectly referred to

as dry rot.

• Drywall Construction: 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.

• DWV (Drainage, Waste & Vent): The pipes in a plumbing

system that remove waste water.

• Eaves Flashing: Additional layer of roofing material
applied at the eaves to help prevent damage from water backup.

• Efflorescence: A white powder on the surface of walls due

to evaporation of water. It forms on the surface of bricks.

• ef-flo-res-cence (ef? le res?ens), 1. a change on the

surface to a powdery substance upon exposure to air, as a

crystalline substance through loss of water. 2. to become

incrusted or covered with crystals of salt or the like through

evaporation or chemical change

• 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


• Evaluate: To assess the systems, structures or components

of a dwelling.

• Fascia: the vertical "fascia board" which caps the end of

rafters outside a building, which can be used to hold the rain

gutter. The finished surface below the fascia and rafters is

called the soffit . The general term for the roof overhang is


• 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.

• Fire Wall: Any wall built for the purpose of restricting or

preventing the spread of fire in a building. Such walls of solid

masonry or concrete generally sub-divide a building from the

foundations to two or more feet above the plane of the roof.

• Flatwork: Common word for concrete floors, driveways,

basements, and sidewalks.

• Flue: A pipe used to exhaust smoke, gas or air.

• Flue Collar: Round metal ring which fits around the heat

flue pipe after the pipe passes out of the roof.

• Flue Damper: An automatic door located in the flue that

closes it off when the burner turns off; its purpose is to

reduce heat loss up the flue from the still-warm furnace or


• Flue Lining: Fire clay or terracotta pipe, round or square,

usually made in all ordinary flue sizes and in 2-foot lengths,

used for the inner lining of chimneys with the brick or

masonry work around the outside. Flue lining in chimneys

runs from about a foot below the flue connection to the top

of the chimney.

• 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

• Forced Air Heating: A common form of heating with natural

gas, propane, oil or electricity as a fuel. Air is heated in the

furnace and distributed through a set of metal plastic ducts

to various areas of the house.

• Foundation: The supporting portion of a structure
below the first floor construction, or below grade,
including the footings.

• Frostline: The depth of frost penetration in soil. This depth

varies in different parts of the country. Footings should be

placed below this depth to prevent movement.

• 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: Performing, or able to perform, a function.

• 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: Examination and analysis by
a qualified professional, tradesperson or service technician
beyond that provided by the home inspection.

• 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.

• GFI or GFCI (Ground Fault Circuit Interrupters): Special

devices capable of opening a circuit when even a small

amount of current is flowing through the grounding system.

• 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


• Habitable Space: Space in a structure for living, sleeping,

eating or cooking. Bathrooms, closets, halls, storage areas

and utility spaces are not considered habitable spaces.

• 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.

• Hearth: The inner or outer floor of a fireplace, usually

made of brick, tile, or stone.

• Hip Roof: A roof that rises by inclined planes from all four

sides of a building.

• Hose Bib: An outdoor faucet with hose threads on the

spout. Also commonly used to supply washing machines and

wash basins.

• Household Appliances: Kitchen, laundry and similar

appliances, whether installed or free-standing.

• HVAC: Heating Ventilation and Air Conditioning.

• Infestation: The presence of insects, rats, vermin, or other pests.

• Inspection: The process of an inspector collecting

information through visual observation during a walkthrough

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.

A commercial inspection requires the inspector to make

observations, conduct research, and report findings.

• Installed: Attached in such a manner that removal

requires tools.

• Jack Post: A type of structural support made of metal

which can be raised or lowered through a series of pins and

a screw to meet the height required. Basically used as a

replacement for an old supporting member in a building.

• Joist Hanger: A metal "U" shaped item used to support
the end of a floor joist and attached with hardened nails
to another bearing joist or beam.

• Landing: A platform between flights of stairs or at the

termination of a flight of stairs.

• Lath and Plaster: The most common wall finish prior to the

introduction of drywall. Thin wood strips (lath) were nailed

onto the framing as a base for the sand/lime plaster.

• 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.

• Load Bearing Wall: A wall which is supporting its own

weight and some other structural elements of the house such

as the roof and ceiling structures.

• 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.

• Modified Bitumen Roof: A roof covering that is typically

composed of a factory-fabricated composite sheet consisting

of a copolymer-modified bitumen, often reinforced with

polyester and/or fiberglass, and installed in one or more

plies. The membrane is commonly surfaced with field-applied

coatings, factory-applied granules or metal foil. The roofing

system may incorporate rigid insulation.

• Neutral bus bar : A grounded metal bar in a breaker box to

which all neutral and grounding wires are connected.

• Normal Operating Controls: Devices such as, but not

limited to, thermostats, switches or faucets intended to be

operated by the homeowner.

• Overhang: That part of the roof structure which extends

horizontally beyond the vertical plane of the exterior walls of

a building.

• Oxide jacking: When a metal lintel rusts it expands and

can make the masonry shift, step crack, etc. " As ferrous

metals oxidize they rust, this rust converts the iron or steel

surface into an oxide scale that can reportedly grow up to

ten times the thickness of the original structural element.

In other words, a steel lintel embedded in a masonry wall

and supporting the brick above a window or door header can

grow in height from

.375 (3/8) inches to nearly 3.75 inches.

• Perimeter Drain: 3" or 4" perforated plastic pipe that goes

around the perimeter (either inside or outside) of a

foundation wall (before backfill) and collects and diverts

ground water away from the foundation. Generally, it is

"daylighted" into a sump pit inside the home, and a
sump pump is sometimes inserted into the pit to discharge
any accumulation of water.

• Plumbing Stack: A plumbing vent pipe that penetrates the


• Pointing: The process where joints between masonry units,

brick, etc., are ground out and filled with mortar. Not to be

confused with tuck pointing which is a more superficial

application of mortar often without any preparation of old

mortar joint ( no grinding).

• Post & Beam Construction: Most common type of wall

framing, using posts which carry horizontal beams on which

joists are supported. It allows for fewer bearing partitions

and less material.

• Radiant Heating: A method of heating, usually consisting of

a forced hot water system with pipes placed in the floor,

wall, or ceiling, or with electrically heated panels.

• 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.

• Readily Accessible: Available for visual inspection without

requiring moving of personal property, dismantling,

destructive measures, or any action that will likely involve

risk to persons or property.

• Readily Operable Access Panel: A panel provided for

homeowner inspection and maintenance that is within

normal reach, can be removed by one person, and is not

sealed in place.

• 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.

• Recreational Facilities: Spas, saunas, steam baths,

swimming pools, and exercise, entertainment, athletic,

playground or other similar equipment and associated


• Relative Humidity: The amount of water vapor in the

atmosphere, expressed as a percentage of the maximum

quantity that could be present at a given temperature.
(The actual amount of water vapor that can be held in space
increases with the temperature.)

• Report: To communicate in writing.

• Representative Number: One component per room for

multiple similar interior components, such as windows, doors

and electric outlets, and one component on each side of the

building for multiple similar exterior components.

• Ridge Board: The board placed on edge at the ridge of the

roof into which the upper ends of the rafters are fastened.

• Roof Drainage Systems: Components used to carry water

off a roof and away from a building.

• 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


• Scupper: An outlet in the wall of a building or a parapet

wall for drainage of water from a flat roof.

• Sealant: An elastomeric material with adhesive qualities

applied between components of a similar or dissimilar nature

to provide an effective barrier against the passage of the


• Sediment Trap in gas line: a sediment trap is a section of

gas pipe extending down from a t connection - it is located

just before each appliance and each appliance requires a

sediment trap.

• Settlement: Shifts in a structure, usually caused by freeze thaw

cycles underground.

• Sewage "Ejector Pump": A pump used to 'lift' waste water

to a gravity sanitary sewer line. Usually used in basements
and other locations which are situated bellow the level of the side sewer.

• Shake: A thick hand split shingle, resawed to form two

shakes; usually edge-grained.

• Sheathing: The structural covering, usually wood boards,

plywood, gypsum or wood fiber, used over studs or rafters of

framed buildings as the first layer of outer wall covering

nailed to the studs or rafters.

• Shutoff Valve: The valve that allows water supply to be cut

off to one fixture without affecting the water supply to the

entire house or building. Common for use with clawfoot tubs,

sinks, and toilets.

• Sill: The lowest member of the frame of a structure,

resting on the foundation and supporting the floor joists or

the uprights of the wall. The member forming the lower side

of an opening, as in a door sill, window sill, etc.

• Slab, Concrete: Concrete pavement, i.e. driveways,

garages, and basement floors.

• Slab on Grade: A type of construction in which footings
are needed but little or no foundation wall is poured.

• Solid Fuel Burning Appliances: A hearth and fire chamber

or similar prepared place in which a fire may be built and

that is built in conjunction with a chimney; or a listed

assembly of a fire chamber, its chimney and related factory-made

parts designed for unit assembly without requiring

field construction.

• Spalling: The chipping or flaking of concrete, bricks, or

other masonry where improper drainage or venting and

freeze/thaw cycling exists.

• 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.

• Storm Sewer: A sewer system designed to collect storm

water and is separated from the wastewater system.

• Sump Pump: A submersible pump in a sump pit that

pumps any excess ground water to the outside of the home.

• System: A combination of interacting or interdependent

components assembled to carry out one or more functions.

• Technically Exhaustive Inspection: An investigation that

involves dismantling or the extensive use of advance

techniques, measurements, instruments, testing,

calculations or other means.

• Three-Phase: In electrical contracting, a wiring system

consisting of 4 wires and used in industrial and commercial

applications. This system is suitable for installations

requiring large motors. It consists of three hot wires and one

ground wire. The voltage in each hot wire is out of phase

with the others by 1/3 of a cycle, as if produced by 3 different generators.

• Trim (Exterior): The finish materials on the exterior of a

building, such as moldings applied around openings (window

trim, door trim), siding, windows, exterior doors, attic vents,

crawl space vents, shutters, etc. Also, the physical work of

installing these materials.

• Trim (Interior): The finish materials in a building, such as

moldings applied around openings (window trim, door trim)

or at the floor and ceiling of rooms (baseboard, cornice, and

other moldings). Also, the physical work of installing interior

doors and interior woodwork, to include all handrails,

guardrails, stairway balustrades, mantles, light boxes, base,

door casings, cabinets, countertops, shelves, windowsills

and aprons, etc.

• Under-floor Crawl Space: The area within the confines of

the foundation and between the ground and the underside of

the floor.

• Underlayment: A material placed under finish coverings,

such as flooring, or shingles, to provide a smooth,
even surface for applying the finish.

• Unsafe: A condition in a system or component that poses

a significant risk of personal injury or property damage

during normal, day-to-day use. The risk may be due to

damage, deterioration, improper installation or a change in

accepted residential construction standards.

• 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.

• Venting: The process of installing roof vents in a roof

assembly to relieve vapor pressure. The process of water in

the insulation course of the roof assembly evaporating and

exiting via the roof vents.

• Water Table: The location of the underground water, and

the vertical distance from the surface of the earth to this

underground water.

• 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-(windows).

• Wiring Methods: Includes identification of electrical

conductors or wires such as, but not limited to, non-metallic

sheathed cable (Romex), armored cable (BX) or knob and


• Z-bar Flashing: Bent, galvanized metal flashing that's

installed above a horizontal trim board of an exterior

window, door, or brick run. It prevents water from getting

behind the trim/brick and into the home.



Tribuzio Home Inspection Services, Copyright 2008

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