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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 supply system.

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.

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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 staircase.

BASEBOARD A board along the floor against walls and partitions to hid gaps.

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 covering.

BLOWER A fan in a air conditioning or furnace unit which blows air through ducts.

BRIDGING Short, structural members criss crossed between floor or ceiling joists to provide reinforcement and distribution of stress.

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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 back.

CHASE A groove in a masonry wall or through a floor to accommodate pipes or ducts.

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 ducts.

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.

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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 be replaced.

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 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 house.

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 the house.

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.

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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 protected.

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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 felt covered.

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 installed.

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 it.

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.

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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 flow.

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 through downspouts.

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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.

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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 roof.

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 be replaced.

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JOISTS Parallel, horizontal boards laid edgewise from wall to wall to support the boards of a floor or ceiling.

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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 of plaster.

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 laws.

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.

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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 device.

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 prepared.

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 be repaired.

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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.

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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 amperage.

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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 further deterioration.

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 registers.

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.

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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.


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 or water.

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.

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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 or shrinkage.

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 walls.

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 piers.

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 home.

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.

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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 temperature.

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 it.

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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.

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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 pressure.

VOLTAGE Electric power. The greater the speed at which electrons travel, the more power present (240 volts is more powerful than 120 volts).

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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 window.

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ZONE A system that allows different temperatures in various parts of a structure.