ABS Black plastic pipe and fittings. Generally used in waste water and
drainage systems. Introduced in the 1960's, popular for new residential
construction and remodeling.
ACOUSTICAL TILE Special tile for walls and ceilings made of mineral, wood,
vegetable fibers, cork, or metal. Its purpose is to control sound volume
while providing cover.
AIR CHAMBERS Pressure absorbing devices that eliminate water hammer. They
should be installed as close as possible to the valves or faucet and at
the end of long runs of pipe.
AIR DUCT Pipes that carry cold air and warm air to rooms and back to furnace
or air conditioning system.
AIR FILTER A filter installed in line with the air return which filters
out dust and debris and prevents its re entry into the occupied interior.
1. (Drainage System) The unobstructed vertical distance through the free
atmosphere between the outlet of a water pipe and the flood level rim
of the receptacle into which it is discharging.
2. (Water Distribution System) The unobstructed vertical distance through
the free atmosphere between the lowest opening from any pipe or faucet
supplying water to a tank, plumbing fixture, or other device and the flood
level rim of the receptacle.
AIR POCKET/BLISTER A bubble in the roofing surface formed by water vapor
expanding between the layers of a built up roofing membrane. This condition
can reduce the useful life of the roofing surface and is conducive to moisture
penetration and subsequent leakage.
AIR RETURN A duct through which interior cool air returns to the handler
unit. This air is then circulated through the evaporator coils, cooled,
and distributed through the ducts.
ALUMINUM WIRING A type of conductor used
to carry current. The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission has determined
that aluminum wiring used in 120 Volt light and outlet circuits can be hazardous
and a cause of fire. A failure can occur because aluminum wire behaves differently
than copper wire when current travels through the conductor. An aluminum
wire will expand and contract more than a copper wire. The expansion and
contraction can result in loose connections. The loose connections can oxidize.
The loose, oxidized connections can spark or overheat when current flows
to the connection. The spark or overheating can cause a fire. This potential
problem has nothing to do with the wires in the walls, floors or ceilings.
This problem occurs only at the connections. It is possible to control
and repair this condition. Typically, aluminum is no longer used in
the individual branch lighting and receptacle circuits. It is still commonly
used and approved to bring power to a structure and to energize the
distribution panels as well as power the individual appliance circuits. Aluminum
wire should only be connected to listed and rated devices (breakers, outlets,
switches, etc.). Additionally, these devices should have an anti oxidant
installed to cover the connections. As a preventive measure, each accessible
aluminum connection should be periodically checked by a licensed electrician
to insure that it is securely fastened. If aluminum wiring has been
installed in the individual lights, switches and receptacles, we recommend
repair with crimp connectors. This repair consists of attaching a short length
of copper wire onto the existing aluminum wire with a specially designed
metal sleeve and an air powered crimping tool. This makes a permanent
connection that is, in effect, a cold weld. An insulating sleeve is heat
shrunk around the crimp connection to complete the repair. This is in accordance
with the recommendation of the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission.
AMP Short for Amperes. The rate of flow of electricity through wire.
AMPERE A unit of electric current, or the amount of electricity.
ANTI SIPHON VALVE A device installed on irrigation piping designed to
prevent the drawing of contaminated ground water into the domestic water
ASBESTOS Asbestos is a naturally occurring mineral fiber extensively used
in construction. Nearly every building contains asbestos in some form.
It may be found in vinyl flooring, patching compounds and textured paints,
sprayed acoustic ceilings, acoustic ceiling tiles, stove insulation, furnace
insulation, pipe insulation, wall and ceiling insulation, roofing, shingles
and siding as well as appliances. Exposure to asbestos can be a serious
threat to one's health. There are a number of choices available for dealing
with asbestos. They include leaving it alone, encapsulation and abatement.
Removal of this material is a specialized procedure and should be attempted
only by a qualified and licensed expert. Information regarding identification
of asbestos, its hazards and safe removal may be obtained from the U.S.
Consumer Product Safety Commission, Environmental Protection Agency and
other governmental agencies.
AUTOMATIC SAFETY CONTROLS Devices designed and installed to protect systems
and components from excessively high or low pressures and/or temperatures,
excessive electrical current, loss of water, loss of ignition. fuel leaks,
fire, freezing, or other unsafe conditions.
BACK SIPHONAGE The flowing back of used, contaminated, or polluted water
from a plumbing fixture or vessel into a potable water supply due to a
negative pressure in the pipe.
BACKFILL The gravel or earth replaced in the space around a building wall
after foundations are in place.
BACKFLOW The flow of water or other liquids, mixtures, or substances into
the distributing pipes of a potable water supply from any source or sources
other than the intended source. Back siphonage is one type of backflow
BALLAST A device used with electric discharge lamps to make them operate
properly. A ballast has two purposes. To start a lamp it provides the high
voltage needed to cause an arc to jump from one end of the lamp to the
other. Once an arc is established, the ballast allows the lamp to continue
to operate by providing the proper, reduced current flow to the lamp.
BALUSTERS Upright supports of a balustrade rail.
BALUSTRADE A row of balusters topped by a rail, edging a balcony or a
BASEBOARD A board along the floor against walls and partitions to hid
BATT Insulation in the form of a blanket, rather than loose filling.
BEAM One of the principal horizontal wood or steel members of a building.
BEARING WALL A wall that supports a floor or roof of a building.
BIB A water faucet to which a hose may be attached.
BRACE A piece of wood or other material used to form a triangle and stiffen
some part of a structure.
BRICK VENEER Brick used as the outer surface of a framed wall.
BRIDGING Small wood or metal pieces placed diagonally between floor joists.
BTU The amount of heat required to raise the temperature of one pound
of water one degree Fahrenheit; equal to 252 calories. It is roughly equal
to the heat of one kitchen match.
BUTT JOINT Joining point of two pieces of wood or molding.
BX CABLE Electricity cable wrapped in rubber with a flexible steel outer
BLOWER A fan in a air conditioning or furnace unit which blows air through
BRIDGING Short, structural members criss crossed between floor or ceiling
joists to provide reinforcement and distribution of stress.
CANTILEVER A projecting beam or joist, not supported at one end, used
to support an extension of a structure.
CARBON MONOXIDE Carbon monoxide is colorless, odorless gas resulting from
the incomplete combustion of hydrocarbon fuels. Carbon monoxide interferes
with blood's ability to carry oxygen to the body's tissues and results
in numerous adverse health effects.
CASEMENT A window sash that opens on hinges at the vertical edge.
CASING Door and window framing.
CEILING JOIST A horizontally placed framing members at the ceiling of
the top most living space of a house that provides a platform to which
the finished ceiling material can be attached.
CHAIR RAIL Wooden molding on a wall around a room at the level of a chair
CHASE A groove in a masonry wall or through a floor to accommodate pipes
CHIMNEY CAP The metal or masonry protective covering at the top of the
chimney that seals the chimney shaft from water entry between the chimney
enclosure and the flue tiles.
CHIMNEY FLUE The space or channel in a chimney that carries off the smoke
and other combustion gasses to the outside air. Most homes will have a
terracotta tile flue or a metal flue.
CIRCUIT BREAKER A safety device which opens (breaks) an electric circuit
automatically when it becomes overloaded. It can also be used to manually
open or close (de energize or energize) the circuit.
CONCRETE SLAB FLOOR Typically approximately 4 inches thick, the concrete
slab floor provides a number of uses. It creates a solid level surface
to walk and work on. It provides a separation between the grade/soil and
a potentially livable area. It also provides lateral compression resistance
for the foundation walls, preventing soil pressure from outside the foundation
from pushing the foundation walls and footings inward.
COPING Tile or brick used to cap or cover the top of a masonry wall.
COURSEA horizontal row of bricks, cinder blocks or other masonry materials.
COVE LIGHTING Concealed light sources behind a cornice or horizontal recess
which direct the light upon a reflecting ceiling.
CRAWL SPACE A shallow, unfinished space beneath the first floor of a house
which has no basement, used for visual inspection and access to pipes and
CROSS CONNECTION Any physical connection or arrangement between two otherwise
separate piping systems, one of which contains potable water and the other
either water of unknown or questionable safety or steam, gas, or chemical
whereby there may be a flow from one system to the other, the direction
of flow depending on the pressure differential between the two systems.
DAMAGED CONDUCTOR INSULATION We found damaged service conductor insulation.
We recommend that all exposed conductors be repaired or replaced as necessary.
DAMAGED RAFTERS Damage to any of the parallel beams that support a roof.
All damaged rafters should be reinforced or replaced. Sometimes the rafters
extend beyond the exterior walls. These rafter tails are subject to moisture
damage. They must be maintained or damage will result.
DAMAGED SHEATHING Damage to the material used to cover the outside wall
of a frame house or a timber roof. We recommend that all damaged material
DAMAGED WINDOW FRAMES Damaged windows are often a result of deferred maintenance.
We recommend that all damaged window he repaired or replaced as necessary.
DEAD FRONT Switches, circuit breakers, switchboards, control panels and
panel board fronts must be covered so that no current carrying parts are
exposed. This cover is called a Dead Front.
DEBRIS ON ROOF OR IN GUTTERS Gutters filled with debris should be cleaned
to ensure proper drainage. Roofing surfaces covered with debris should
be cleaned not only to ensure proper drainage but also to prevent premature
deterioration of the roof surface.
DECK MOISTURE MEMBRANE FAILED See moisture membrane.
DECK RAILING UPGRADE We recommend that all decks and landings 30 inches
or more above the ground have a railing. The railing should be at least
36 inches high and the spacing between the railing pieces should be no
more than four inches.
DOOR CASING/TRIM The finish trim details around the perimeter of the door
on the interior finished wall.
DOOR FRAME/JAMB The top and sides of the door to include the wall framing
as well as the actual door frame and trim.
DORMER The projecting frame of a recess in a sloping roof.
DOUBLE HUNG WINDOWS Windows with an upper and lower sash, each supported
by cords and weights.
DOUBLED UP BRANCH CIRCUIT (DOUBLE TAP) Two circuits controlled by one
overcurrent protection device. This wiring method increases the possibility
of tripping the overcurrent protection device. Each circuit should be separately
fused with an overcurrent protection device of appropriate amperage.
DOWNSPOUT A pipe that is connected to the gutters and is used to carry
the roof water runoff down and away from the house.
DOWNSPOUT GOOSENECK Segmented section of downspout that is bent at a radius
to allow the downspout to be attached to the house and to follow the bends
and curves of the eaves and ground.
DOWNSPOUT LEADER A pipe for conducting rainwater from the roof to a cistern
or to the ground by way of a downspout.
DOWNSPOUT STRAP Strap used to secure the downspout to the side of the
DOWNSPOUT/GUTTER LEAKS A leaking gutter or downspout can allow water to
penetrate a sidewall and enter the occupied interior through a foundation
wall or slab. Deteriorated gutters and downspouts should be repaired or
replaced as necessary.
DRAIN Any pipe that carries waste water or water born waste in a building
(house) drainage system.
DRAIN TILE A tube or cylinder that is normally installed around the exterior
perimeter of the foundation footings that collects and directs ground water
away from the foundation of the house. The tile can be individual sections
of clay or asphalt tubing or, in more recent construction, a perforated
plastic drain tile that is approximately 4 inches in diameter. The drain
tile leads either towards a sump or to an exterior discharge away from
DRIP LOOP A loop in each of the overhead electrical service entrance conductors
designed to prevent the passage of moisture into the weatherhead service
raceway or equipment.
DRYWALL A wall surface of plasterboard or material other than plaster.
DUCTS Metal piping used for distributing warm or cool air
DWV Those parts of a plumbing system which provide safe, adequate drainage,
waste and ventilation.
EARTH WOOD CONTACT Wood in contact with dirt. This condition is conducive
to the infestation and infection of wood destroying pests and/or organisms.
We recommend that all earth wood contacts be broken and any damaged or
deteriorated material be replaced.
EAVE The part of the roof which extends beyond the sidewall.
EAVES The section of the roof that overhangs the walls of a house.
EFFLORESCENCE A deposit of soluble salts, usually white, on the surface
of concrete and masonry walls due to evaporation of water.
ELECTROMAGNETIC RADIATION Electromagnetic fields are produced by alternating
current in electric wires. There are two components: an electric charge
and a magnetic force, resulting in electromagnetic radiation. High current
power lines are a source of electromagnetic fields. Studies have suggested
a possible increase in leukemia, cancer and miscarriages from exposure
to electromagnetic radiation. Studies are currently in progress to help
quantify the risks. More information can be obtained from the local utility
company, U. S. Department of Energy (202) 586 5000 and the U. S. Environmental
Protection Agency (202)260 7676.
EVAPORATION COILS The part of the air conditioning system where the refrigerant
returns; to gaseous form. Frequently located in the furnace plenum.
EXHAUST FAN Extracts air or excess heat from the interior of a home.
EXPOSED AND ACCESSIBLE Our inspections are limited to a visual review
of those areas of the premises which are exposed to view. Any area which
is not exposed to view, or is otherwise inaccessible because of soil, walls,
floors, ceilings, carpets, furnishings, storage, or any other things, and
is concealed, is not included in our inspection. Our inspection does not
include any destructive testing or dismantling of equipment, systems, or
surfaces. With access and an opportunity for examination, reportable conditions
maybe discovered. If inspection of inaccessible areas is desired, this
will be performed upon arrangement at an additional cost to the interested
parties at such time as access can be provided.
EXPOSED ROOF FASTENERS An indication of significant roofing surface wear
or poor installation. This creates a condition conducive to moisture penetration
and subsequent leakage into the occupied interior. All exposed fasteners
should be covered.
EXPOSED WIRING Wiring or connections not properly covered and protected.
We recommend that all of these connections be repaired and be properly
FAILED Something that no longer functions as designed or intended.
FASCIA A flat, vertical board enclosing the overhang, under the eave that
runs along the roof edge.
FELT EXPOSED/WORN An indication of significant roofing surface wear. Prolonged
exposure to the sun can damage the felt. Damaged felt can result in moisture
penetration and subsequent leakage into the occupied interior. The deteriorated
roofing surface should be repaired, all damaged felt replaced, and exposed
FIRE RESISTIVE BARRIER A fire resistive separation barrier. Fire resistive
walls may not have been required at the time of construction. Present building
code requires a one hour fire resistive barrier between the garage and
the occupied interior. The purpose of this barrier is to prevent the spread
of fire from the garage into the living areas. Flammable liquids are often
stored in the garage. The risk of a fire starting in the garage is significant
enough to warrant recommending that a one hour fire resistive barrier be
FLASHING Material used at connections and penetrations in a roof or wall
to prevent leakage.
FLASHING Sheet metal used at wall and roof junctions and around chimneys
to prevent water entry.
FLASHING DEFECTIVE Flashing installed improperly which creates a condition
conducive to moisture penetration. The connections and penetrations must
be repaired to prevent leakage.
FLASHING INADEQUATE Insufficient flashing. This condition often leads
to leakage. We recommend that all to door, window, deck and roof connections
and penetrations be properly flashed to prevent moisture penetration.
FLUE An enclosed chamber in a fireplace that directs flames, smoke and
other gases to the outside air.
FOOTINGS Concrete set in the soil (foundation bed) that supports the foundation
of the house.
FORMALDEHYDE Colorless, pungent gas used
as raw material in manufacture of particle board, decorative paneling, fiberboard,
wafer board, carpeting, permanent press fabrics and foam insulation. Heat & humidity
increase the level of emission; however, the rate diminishes as materials
age. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency classifies formaldehyde as
a possible carcinogen. Formaldehyde can also irritate the eyes, nose and
throat, and cause headaches and dizziness. Formaldehyde levels can be reduced
by increasing ventilation, reducing temperature and humidity and reducing
the number of new pressed wood products in a home. Removal of wood paneling
or subflooring is sometimes necessary. More information is available from
the U. S. Environmental Protection Agency (202)260 2080.
FORM WOOD Wood used in the forming of a concrete foundation or retaining
wall, typically removed after the concrete has set. If it is left in place,
it can lead to the infestation of wooddestroying pests. We recommend that
all form wood be removed.
FOUNDATION Construction below or partly below grade, which provides support
for exterior walls or other structural pans of the building. The part of
the structure upon which all other construction is built.
FROZEN FIXTURE SHUT OFF VALVES. Plumbing shut off valves that no longer
turn. This occurs when the valves are seldom operated. An inoperable valve
prevents the water from being turned off if it is necessary to repair the
fixture. We recommend that they be repaired and be made operable again.
FUNCTIONAL DRAINAGE A plumbing drain is functional when the fixture empties
in a reasonable amount of time, and does not overflow when another fixture
is drained simultaneously.
FUNCTIONAL FLOW A reasonable flow at the highest fixture in a dwelling
when another fixture is operated simultaneously.
FUSE An overcurrent protection device with a circuit opening fusible member
directly heated and destroyed by the passage of too much current through
FUSE BOX A metal box that contains the fuses that regulate electric current
in a house.
FUSED NEUTRAL Where an electrical neutral wire is fused. If the fuse on
the neutral wire blows, the circuit will be open, and the fixtures and/or
appliances on this circuit will not function. However, power will still
be present through the circuit, right up to the outlet. This creates a
shock hazard. We recommend that this condition be corrected.
GABLE ROOF A roof with two pitches, designed to provide more space on
the upper floors.
GALVANIZED PIPE Steel pipe with a protective zinc coating. Used for supply
of domestic water and waste and vent piping.
GARAGE DOOR SPRINGS Prior to 1976, the counter balance springs used for
tilt up garage doors were not provided with a safety device to control
spring breakage. Without the benefit of a safety device, it is possible
that pieces of the spring may fly across the garage upon accidental breakage.
We recommend that the garage door be springs be upgraded.
GATE VALVE A shut off valve using a rising disc (gate) to control liquid
GFCI Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter: a safety device which monitors
the difference between current flowing through the hot and neutral wires
of a receptacle. If there is an imbalance of current greater than five
milliamps, the current will be cutoff in less than a second. GFCI protection
is recommended in the garage, outdoor and bathroom receptacles. We also
recommend that all pool and spa equipment have GFCI protection. We further
recommend that all kitchen receptacles within six feet of a sink be equipped
with GFCI devices. This will reduce shock and short hazards.
GRADE The ground level around a structure. When the ground is less than
six inches below the top of the foundation, it is considered a marginal
grade. A faulty or marginal grade can lead to moisture damage and/or pest
control problems. If damage Is discovered, we recommend that the height
of the foundation be raised to a minimum of six inches above the ground
and that all damaged material be replaced. If no damage is present, we
recommend that this area he periodically reviewed by a qualified individual
for signs of drainage. Repairs should be made if necessary.
GROUND CONDUCTOR SPLICES AND LOOSE CONNECTIONS The system ground is ineffective
because of splices and loose connections in the grounding conductor. We
recommend that the grounding conductor be repaired or replaced as necessary.
GROUND RECEPTACLES A random sampling of individual receptacles found these
to be operable but some are not grounded. We recommend that all kitchen,
bathroom, outdoor, garage and interior three pronged receptacles be properly
grounded in accordance with current building practice.
GROUND WATER CONTAMINATION Ground water can be contaminated from leaking
underground storage tanks, illegal dumping, poorly contained landfills
or hazardous waste spills. Contaminated ground water can be hazardous to
one's health if it used for gardening or irrigation. Qualified individuals
would have to be retained for evaluation and a determination of what corrective
steps may be necessary.
GROUNDED A conducting connection, whether intentional or accidental, between
an electrical circuit or equipment and the earth, or to some conducting
body that serves in the place of the earth.
GROUNDFAULT INTERRUPTER (GFI) A safety device that interrupts surges of
electricity in appliances and other electrical components found in a home.
GUSSET A strap made of metal or wood attached at the connection of roof
trusses or rafters or foundation area beams and posts. Gussets will help
limit the framing's ability to laterally rack in the event of high winds.
GUTTER/DOWNSPOUT Channel of various materials including plastic and copper
supported at the eaves to direct water away from the foundation of a home
HEARTH The fireproof surface of a fireplace, usually 18 inches wide.
HEAT EXCHANGER A device used to transfer heat in a furnace.
HEAT PUMP A reverse cycle refrigeration unit that both heats and cools.
HIP ROOF A roof with no gables; usually has inclined planes on all four
sides of the building.
HVAC UNIT A single unit which supplies heating, venting and air conditioning.
INACCESSIBLE Any area which is not exposed to view or is concealed because
of soil, walls, floors, ceilings, carpets, furnishings, storage, or any
other things is inaccessible. Inaccessible areas are not included in this
inspection. Reportable conditions may be present in inaccessible areas.
If review of inaccessible areas is desired, this will be performed upon
arrangement at an additional cost to the interested parties at such time
as access can be provided.
INADEQUATE CLEARANCE TO COMBUSTIBLES Gas fired appliance vents must be
far enough away from combustible surfaces to prevent the heat that these
vents carry from causing a fire. Single wall vents should be at least six
inches away from combustible surfaces and double wall vents should be at
least one inch away.
INADEQUATE COMBUSTION AIR The oxygen carrying air which fuel burners need
to operate safely. It is normally supplied through venting ducts or openings
in walls or doors. We recommend that additional venting be installed.
INADEQUATE FOUNDATION CLEARANCE Foundation area clearance between the
soil and the wooden framing which is less than eighteen inches. Insufficient
clearance does not allow access for inspection or maintenance and creates
a condition conducive to moisture damage and decay of wooden members. We
recommend that a minimum of eighteen inches of clearance be provided between
the soil and the framing. Any damaged wooden material found in the course
of this work should be replaced.
INADEQUATE FOUNDATION DRAINAGE Continuous foundation area moisture accumulation
causes damage and/or deterioration to the foundation and/or framing. We
recommend that the drainage be upgraded as necessary to collect the surface
and subsurface moisture approaching the foundation and route it to some
central drainage collection point. All damaged foundation and framing should
be repaired or replaced as necessary.
INADEQUATE ROOF DRAINAGE Significant roof ponding can indicate inadequate
drainage. Standing water can result in leakage. We recommend that the drainage
be upgraded as necessary to properly collect and divert water off of the
INSUFFICIENT ROOF SLOPE A shingle type roofing surface applied over framing
whose pitch is less than three inches in twelve inches. This means that
for every twelve horizontal inches the roof fails to rise at least three inches. This roofing surface is subject
to leakage because of poor drainage. We recommend that the roof be periodically
checked for signs of moisture penetration and patched and sealed as necessary
to prevent leakage and subsequent damage. At such time as replacement of
this roofing surface is made, we recommend the installation of a conventional
built up or single ply roofing membrane.
INSULATION 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.
INSULATION INSTALLED BACKWARDS Insulation installed with the vapor barrier
pointed away from the living space. This can cause a buildup of moisture
and subsequent damage. We recommend that this insulation be repaired and
installed with the vapor barrier pointed toward the heated side of the
building. Any damaged material found in the course of this work should
JOISTS Parallel, horizontal boards laid edgewise from wall to wall to
support the boards of a floor or ceiling.
LAMPCORD WIRING Unapproved extension cord wiring running along the outside
of finished walls, floors or ceilings (sometimes referred to as zipcord
wiring). It is easy to overload the wire and the wire is subject to physical
damage. All lampcord wiring should be removed. Additional convenience outlets
can be installed if desired.
LATHING Strips of wood or other material used as a base for the installation
LEAD 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
LEAD CONTAMINATION Lead can be present outside a structure in the soil
as a result of automobile exhaust and exterior lead based paint. Lead paint
may have been used on the outside of the building and have found its way
into the soil. Proximity to busy roadways can result in automobile emissions
elevating lead levels.
LEAD PAINT Lead based paint is a hazard when paint chips and particles
and dust are ingested by children. Lead accumulates in the blood, soft
tissues and bones, leading to damage to the kidneys, brain and central
and peripheral nervous systems. Children are more susceptible to the toxic
effects of lead paint because lead is more easily absorbed into growing
bodies. Precautionary measures include removing lead from children's environment,
mopping floors and window sills to remove lead dust and washing hands before
eating. Abatement contractors must use extensive precautions to prevent
contamination from lead dust.
LEDGER FLASHING MISSING The ledger is a piece of horizontal lumber, usually
a 2 x 8 or 2 x 10 bolted or nailed to the exterior of a building. Joists
are attached to the ledger and the finished decking or stair landing material
is secured to the joists. Water seeping behind the ledger can cause damage
to the siding and framing. Ideally, the ledger should be flashed at the
top edge to prevent moisture penetration behind the ledger and around the
ledger fasteners. A secondary method of dealing with this condition is
to keep the top edge of the ledger caulked and sealed as well as applying caulking at the ledger fasteners. When the ledger is replaced it should be properly flashed and sealed.
LOOSE/MISSING/WORN SHAKES OR SHINGLES A condition conducive to moisture
penetration and subsequent leakage into the attic and/or occupied interior.
We recommend repair or replacement as necessary to prevent leakage.
MAIN DISCONNECT A device by which the electrical system can be disconnected
from its source of supply. Six or more branch circuits require a main disconnect
MASONRY Construction using materials such as tile, brick, cement, stone
or similar materials.
MASTIC Asphalt material used to seal around roof connections and penetrations.
MEMBER 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.
MINIMAL SURFACE PREPARATION Premature weathering of painted and/or stained
exterior surface due to minimal surface preparation. Prior to the next
application of paint and/or stain, we recommend the exterior be properly
MOISTURE BARRIER Treated paper or metal which retards or bars water vapor.
It is used to keep moisture from passing into walls and floors.
MOISTURE MEMBRANE HAS FAILED The moisture membrane has failed when water
has penetrated through the moisture barrier. There may be damaged framing
below. All damaged material must be replaced or the damage may spread.
Moisture must be prevented from penetrating the framing or additional damage
will occur. Our primary recommendation is to install a new moisture membrane.
This will stop any further leakage and subsequent damage. It may be possible
to seal the surface above, thereby, hopefully stopping further water penetration.
However, there is no guarantee that sealing the surface will work and this
repair will require frequent maintenance.
MORTAR A bonding material used in the construction of brick or stone structures.
MOSS BUILDUP Moss retains moisture and can damage the roofing surface.
We recommend that the moss be removed.
MOULDING Strips of wood or the material used to cover joints between floors
and walls, and walls and ceilings.
MULTIPLE LAYERS Multiple roofing surfaces add extra weight to the roof
framing. Too much weight can crack framing members. Most local building
departments limit the number of roofing surfaces to three. Some, however,
limit it to two. Another problem that can occur with multiple roofing surfaces
is the inability to effectively seal the roof connections and penetrations,
a critical component of the roofing system. When multiple surfaces are
present, the usual way to seal the connections and penetrations is with
a plastic roof cement coating. Unfortunately the plastic roof cement coating
does not last as long as the roofing surface and requires more frequent
maintenance than metal flashing. At such time as replacement of the roofing
surface is made, we recommend that all of the existing roofing surfaces
be removed, the framing resheathed as necessary and all roof connections
and penetrations reflashed before the new surface is installed. This will
help reduce the weight on the framing and the possibility of cracking as
well as prolong the useful life of the new roof.
MULTI WIRE BRANCH CIRCUIT An electrical circuit consisting of two or more
ungrounded conductors having a potential difference between them and a
grounded conductor having, equal potential difference between it and each
ungrounded conductor. This type of circuit is commonly used to energize
the dishwasher and garbage disposal outlet located in the sink base cabinet.
A common problem arises when both hot conductors of the circuit are connected
to the same pole or leg of the distribution panel. If both the dishwasher
and disposal are operated at the same time, the breaker protecting the
circuit will not trip. This is a potential hazard and the circuit should
NEGATIVE GRADING Grading which is sloped toward the structure. Low spots
and negative grading will increase the chances of water penetration through
the foundation and subsequent pooling or puddling in the basement, garage
and/or subarea. We recommend that the site be regraded as necessary to
make sure that surface water runs away from the structure. Any damaged
material found in the course of this work should be replaced.
NO SAFETY GLASS A random sampling of exterior doors and windows and review
of individual shower doors, it revealed some areas which lack safety glass.
This is not uncommon in older buildings as safety glass may not have been
required at the time of installation. Doors and windows not equipped with
safety glass are hazardous if broken. Present industry standards require
safety glass to minimize this hazard.
NO UNDERLAYMENT A tile roof installed directly over the sheathing without
an underlayment. An underlayment provides a moisture barrier between the
tile and the attic. The manufacturer's specifications may permit this method
of installation; however, it is our opinion that without an underlayment,
this roof is subject to premature leakage. We recommend that the tile surface
and the connections and penetrations be periodically examined by a qualified
and licensed roofing contractor for signs of damage and leakage and repairs
be made if necessary.
NOT PRESENT Not installed.
OUTLET (electrical) An electrical receptacle.
OVERFUSED A fuse or breaker too large for the rated capacity of the circuit.
This allows too much current to flow through the conductor (wire) before
the overcurrent protection device blows or trips. This is hazardous. The
rated capacity of the circuit may not have been exceeded yet. However,
increased demand on the circuit may result in the conductor overheating
which can cause a fire. We recommend that all overfused branch circuits
be repaired and equipped with overcurrent protection devices of appropriate
PAINT/STAIN WEATHERED Portions of the exterior are weathered, exposed
and subject to damage. We recommend that all exposed areas be sealed to
provide protection against inclement weather. Prior to the next application
of paint and/or stain, we recommend that the exterior be properly prepared.
PANEL RUSTED All rusted panels should be primed and sealed to prevent
PARAPET WALL 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.
The part of the sidewall of a structure which extends above the roof line.
PARQUET FLOORS A floor that is laid in rectangular or square patterns
often made of prefinished wood or wood veneer squares.
PENETRATIONS Any projection through a roofing surface necessitating flashing,
such as plumbing vents and skylights.
PLENUM A large duct or air chamber in which the air from the cooling or
heating unit is distributed to the ducting and through the ducts to the
POINTING UP The removal of deteriorated mortar between bricks and replacement
with new mortar.
POINT UP MORTAR JOINTS To fill and finish the joints between bricks with
cement or mortar. Often called Tuck Pointing. We always recommend that
this work be done by experienced professionals.
POLARITY REVERSED An electrical receptacle which has been wired with the
hot and neutral wires reversed. Reversed polarity can compromise the grounding
of an appliance and cause some electrical equipment to operate improperly.
We recommend that the polarity be corrected.
POLYBUTYLENE Water piping used for interior piping and the main waterline
to the street. Problems with this pipe have curtailed its use.
PROFESSIONAL INSPECTION 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.
PVC Rigid white plastic pipe and fittings used for supply of domestic
water and yard sprinkler systems and in interior drain, waste and vent
systems. Introduced in the 1960's.
R VALUE A measurement of the ability of insulation to slow the transfer
of heat or cold. The higher the R value, the greater the insulation power.
RADON Radon is a colorless, odorless gas that occurs as part of natural
decay of uranium. Radon is present to some extent in all soils and groundwater
and its levels vary within geographic areas. Radon is classified by the
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency as a known carcinogen. There are no
immediate symptoms resulting from exposure to radon. Most radon enters
the home through cracks and openings in concrete slabs, crawlspaces, sumps
and the tiny pores in hollowwall concrete blocks from the soil underneath.
Sometimes radon enters homes through wellwater. The level of radon can
be measured and mitigation measures taken if necessary. Additional information
may be obtained from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
RAFTER 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.
RAISED/CURLED SEAMS see SURFACE GRANULATION FAILURE.
RANDOM SAMPLING For multiple identical components such as windows, doors,
electrical outlets or heating registers. One per room is chosen at random.
RECEPTACLE An electrical device to receive
the prongs of a plug and which is connected to an electric circuit.
REGISTER A fixture installed at the end of a duct which controls and directs
the flow of air into a room.
RETAINING WALL A vertical structure used to restrict the movement of soil
RIDGE BOARD The horizontal structural member at the top of a roof where
the rafters meet.
ROOF PITCH The degree of slope of a roof.
SASH Framework that holds the glass in a window or a door.
SETTLEMENT Settlement is that instance
in which some portion of the foundation drops below the original "as built" grade.
This occurs as a result of a loss of bearing compaction of fill, erosion
of supporting soil, and/or dehydration (shrinkage of supporting soil)
SETTLING The lowering of elevation of a house or pavement due to weight
SHAKES Hand split shingles.
SHEATHING The material used to cover the outside wall of a frame house
or timber roof.
SHINGLE Sheets of waterproof material used to cover the roofs of homes
and other surfaces.
SIDING Finish material such as wood, vinyl and aluminum used on outside
SILL The lowest piece upon which a window or exterior door rests, usually
slanted downward slightly to provide for rain water runoff.
SILL PLATE Framing lumber placed on and around the foundation to support
exterior wall studs and outer floor joists.
SILT MARKS When a subarea gets wet enough for water to pond, it can leave
a sediment deposit on the foundation walls and foundation area support
SLAB A concrete foundation or floor of a home.
SOFFIT The underside part of a roof that extends beyond the outside walls
of a structure.
SOIL CONTAMINATION Soil can be contaminated from leaking underground storage
tanks, illegal dumping, poorly contained landfills or hazardous waste spills.
Contaminated soil can be a health hazard, especially for children. Qualified
individuals would have to be retained for evaluation and a determination
of what corrective steps may be necessary.
SOIL PIPE Pipe carrying organic waste.
SOLAR HEAT 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.
SPALLING Breaking off of the surface
of brick or concrete.
SPLICE An electrical connection made without proper protection. We recommend
that all of these connections be repaired and be mechanically protected.
SPLITS/CRACKS/TEARS A roofing surface condition conducive to moisture
penetration and subsequent leakage. These need to be repaired as necessary
to prevent leakage.
S TRAP A sink drain line configuration in which the piping beyond the
trap runs vertically instead of horizontally. This can cause the water
in the trap to be siphoned out, allowing sewer gas to enter the occupied
interior. We recommend that the pipe after the trap be repaired so that
it runs horizontally with a slight downward slope until it joins the main
drain and vent piping, or that an approved mechanical vent be installed.
STUD A vertical, framing member in a wall or partition, usually spaced
from twelve to sixteen inches apart.
SUMP PUMP An electric pump, usually installed
in the basement to prevent water from entering the basement area. It empties
water from a "well
or pit" where it is collected and pumps it to the outside of a
SURFACE GRANULATION FAILURE An indication of roofing surface wear due
to exposure. This wear will continue and leaks may eventually develop.
This condition is one indication that the roof is nearing the end of its
useful life. Until the roof is replaced, it should be periodically examined
by a qualified and licensed roofing contractor for indications of further
wear significant enough to result in moisture penetration and repairs should
be made as necessary.
TEMEPERATURE/PRESSURE VALVE A safety valve designed to release excess
temperature and pressure. Commonly used in water heaters and steam boilers.
THERMOSTAT An automatic heating/cooling control device. Thermostats automatically
turn heating or air conditioning on or off as necessary to maintain a desired
THRESHOLD A strip of metal, wood, marble or other material placed at the
base of a door.
TILE ROOF Fired clay, stone or concrete
roofing material. Tile roofs are highly resistant to wear and have a life
expectancy of fifty plus years. However, problems can develop and these
problems need attention in order to prevent leakage. Walking on a tile
roof may result in some tile breakage; therefore, we examine tile roofs
from ground level and other vantage points. We look for cracked and missing
tiles and cracked and deteriorated tile mortar joints. We also examine
the visually accessible connection and penetration flashings for damage
and defects. Problems in these areas create opportunities for leakage and
must be corrected to prevent moisture penetration. The watertightness of
a tile roof depends to a large degree on the condition of the felt underlayment.
The only way to completely examine the underlayment is to remove all of
the tile. This, of course, is not practical. We inspect the felt underlayment
by lifting up the tiles at a random number of places. If the felt is found
to be deteriorated, it must be repaired. Repairing the underlayment requires
removing the tile and it may not be possible to reuse the tile. Often times
repairing the underlayment results in replacing all of the tile and flashing
around the connections and penetrations. Problems may be present at areas
we were unable to access. We recommend that tile roofs be periodically
examined by a qualified and licensed roofing contractor. Occasionally tile
roofing surfaces are installed directly over the sheathing without an underlayment.
An underlayment provides a moisture barrier between the tile and the attic.
The manufacturer's specifications may permit this method of installation;
however, it is our opinion that without an underlayment, a tile roof is
subject to premature leakage. In such cases, we recommend that the tile
surface and the connections and penetrations be frequently examined by
a qualified and licensed roofing
contractor for signs of damage and leakage and repairs made if necessary.
TOILET LOOSE When a toilet is not securely fastened to the floor, the
wax ring seal can deteriorate, causing the toilet to leak. A leaking toilet
can damage the floor and the floor framing. A toilet can leak for some
time before the damage becomes visible. We recommend that the wax ring
seal be replaced now and the toilet be securely fastened before the need
for additional costly repairs becomes necessary.
TON OF REFRIGERATION A measure of the rate of refrigeration equal to 12,000
BTU per hour.
TRANSITION BOOT A rectangular box attached to the end of a duct into which
the register is placed.
TRAP A fitting to provide a liquid seal that prevents the back passage
of gases, without materially affecting the flow of sewage or water through
UNDERLAYMENT Building material, generally paper or felt, used as a protection
against the passage of air and moisture.
UPGRADING RECOMMENDED These are changes that we feel would be beneficial
to the functional use of a system and/or component. They are not required.
UREA FORMALDEHYDE FOAM INSULATION A type of foamedin place insulation
that releases formaldehyde gas. It was banned by the Consumer Public Safety
Commission in 1982 from use in residences and schools. Holding that the
risks had not been proven, a Federal Court lifted the ban in 1983. The
local consumer and/or environmental protection agency should be consulted
for additional information on this type of insulation.
VALLEY A depressed angle formed where two roof planes meet.
VAPOR BARRIER A material or paint applied to a wall, floor or ceiling
to prevent the passage of moisture. Plastic vapor barriers are sometimes
applied over the subarea soil. This helps create a dry air space between
damp soil and wood framing and limits the amount of moisture able to rise
into the framing, thereby reducing moisture damage. A plastic vapor barrier
also provides a reasonable surface upon which to crawl in the event of
needed access to a moist subarea. Finally, a plastic vapor barrier tends
to keep moist soil from drying out completely and reduces the subsequent
shrinkage and cracking that often occurs. This reduces the settlement often
associated with expansive soil subject to fluctuating moisture content.
VENT (PLUMBING) A pipe installed to provide a flow of air to or from a
drainage system and to minimize possibilities of trap siphonage and back
VOLTAGE Electric power. The greater the speed at which electrons travel,
the more power present (240 volts is more powerful than 120 volts).
WATER HAMMER A sudden pounding noise in a piping system caused by rapid
pressure changes due to very quick closing of valves or other restrictions.
It is possible to correct this condition by installing an air chamber.
WATER PRESSURE 55 pounds per square inch is considered in the mid range
of normal water pressure. Less than 30 psi is considered in the low range
of normal water pressure. This usually occurs as a result of mineral deposits
building up inside the domestic water supply piping which restrict the
flow of water. The corroded lines eventually will need to be replaced.
Excessive water pressure (above 100 psi) puts unnecessary strain on the
water heater, water lines and fixtures which can result in leaks. We recommend
that a pressure reduction valve be installed in such instances.
WATT The amount of electricity flowing through a line, measured in terms
of watts. Volts multiplied by amps equals watts.
WEATHER STRIPPING 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.
WET VENT A vent that also serves as a drain. Most modern plumbing practices
do not permit wet vents. This condition should be corrected.
WINDOW WELL The open subsurface space that provides light through a basement
ZONE A system that allows different temperatures in various parts of a