Below are terms related to homes and their systems and components. You may encounter these terms in your Home Inspection Report or when communicating with other inspectors or contractors about your home.
F - G
façade: The front of a building; in architectural terms, an artificial or decorative effort.
face brick: Brick made especially for exterior use with special consideration for color, texture and size, and used as a facing on a building.
faced concrete: The broom-finished front and vertical sides of a concrete porch, step(s) and/or patio.
fall: The proper slope or pitch of a pipe for adequate drainage. Also called flow.
fascia: The band running horizontally and positioned vertically under a roof edge, or that which forms the outer surface of a cornice. Fascia board caps the rafter ends of a roof structure and may be used to hold a gutter. The area below the fascia may be referred to as the eave.
fasteners: A general term covering a wide variety of screws and nails, which may be used for mechanically securing various components of a building.
faucet: A device for regulating the flow of a liquid from a reservoir, such as a pipe or drum.
feathering strips: Tapered wood filler strips placed along the butt edges of old wood shingles to create a level surface when re-roofing over existing wood shingle roofs. Also called horsefeathers.
Federal Manufactured Home Construction and Safety Standard: A reasonable standard for the construction, design and performance of a manufactured home that meets the needs of the public, including the need for quality, durability and safety.
felt: A general term used to describe composition of roofing ply sheets, consisting of a mat of organic or inorganic fibers, either unsaturated, impregnated with asphalt or coal tar pitch, or impregnated and coated with asphalt.
fenestration: Any glass panel, window, door, curtain wall, or skylight unit on the exterior of a building.
ferrous: Refers to objects completely or partially made of iron, such as ferrous pipe.
ferrule: Metal tubes used to keep roof gutters open. Long nails called ferrule spikes are driven through these tubes and hold the gutters in place along the fascia.
fibered roof coating: Optimal protection for low-sloped roofs. This thick, high-quality coating seals fine cracks and openings. Renews and rejuvenates old composition roofing and prolongs roof life. Also performs well on metal and concrete surfaces.
fiberglass mat: An asphalt roofing base material manufactured from glass fibers.
finger joint: A manufacturing process of interlocking two shorter pieces of wood end to end to create a longer piece of dimensional lumber or molding. Often used in jambs and casings, and normally painted instead of stained.
finish: In hardware, metal fastenings on cabinets that are usually exposed, such as hinges and locks.
finish carpentry: The hanging of all interior doors, installation of door molding, base molding, chair rail, built-in shelves, etc.
finish coat: The last coat applied in plastering, intended as a base for further decorating or as a final decorative surface. Finish coat usually consists of calcified gypsum, lime and sometimes an aggregate. Some may require the addition of lime or sand on the job. The three basic methods of applying it are trowel, flat and spray.
finish grade: Any surface that has been cut or built to the elevation indicated for that point. The surface elevation of lawn, driveway, or other improved surfaces after completion of grading operations.
fire apparatus access road: A road, fire lane, public street, private street, or parking lot lane that provides access from a fire station to a facility.
fire block: Short horizontal members nailed between studs, usually about halfway up a wall. See also fire stop.
fire brick: Brick made of refractory ceramic material for use in fireplaces and boilers that resists high temperatures.
fire-rated: Descriptive of materials that have been tested for use in firewalls.
fire-resistance rating: A rating based on the period of time that materials and assemblies can withstand fire exposure.
fire-resistive: In the absence of a specific ruling by the authority having jurisdiction, applies to materials for construction that are not combustible in temperatures of ordinary fires and will withstand such fires without serious impairment of their usefulness for at least one hour.
fire-retardant chemical: A chemical or preparation of chemicals used to reduce flammability or retard the spread of flame.
fireplace lintel: A horizontal, noncombustible member that spans the top of the fireplace opening.
firewall: Any wall built for the purpose of restricting or preventing the spread of fire in a building. Such walls of solid masonry or concrete generally subdivide a building from the foundations to 2 feet or more above the plane of the roof.
fitting: A general term that usually refers to a faucet, shower valve, tub filler, and various piping parts, such as tees and elbows.
fixture: In plumbing, a device that provides a supply of water and/or its disposal, such as a sink, tub and toilet.
flagstone (flagging, flags): Flat stones from 1 to 4 inches thick used for rustic walks, steps, floors, etc.
flakeboard: A manufactured wood panel made of 1- to 2-inch wood chips and glue and used as a substitute for plywood in the exterior wall and roof sheathing. Also called chipboard, OSB (oriented strand board) and waferboard.
flame-retention burner: An oil burner designed to hold the flame near the nozzle surface. Generally, the most efficient type for residential use.
flammable vapor-ignition resistance: See FVIR.
flapper valve: In plumbing, a valve that replaces a tank stopper in a toilet that creates a seal between the tank and the bowl.
flashing: A material (typically, metal) that is shaped or molded for the location and used at an angle in a roof or wall to prevent rainwater/moisture leakage into the structure.
flat paint: An interior paint that contains a high proportion of pigment and dries to a flat or lusterless finish.
flat seam: The seam at the junction of sheet metal roof components that has been bent at the plane of the roof.
flexible metal conduit: Conduit similar to armored cable in appearance but without the pre-inserted conductors.
floating wall: A non-bearing wall built on a concrete floor constructed so that the bottom two horizontal plates can compress or pull apart if the concrete floor moves up or down, and normally built on basements and garage slabs.
flood-level rim: The edge of a fixture from which water overflows.
floor area, gross: The floor area within the inside perimeter of the exterior walls.
floor area, net: The actual occupied area not including accessory areas, such as corridors, stairways, restrooms, mechanical rooms and closets.
floor plan: The basic layout of building or addition, which includes the placement of walls, windows and doors, as well as dimensions.
flow rate: The rate at which water is discharged from an outlet. For example, the standard flow rate of a showerhead is 2.5 gallons per minute.
flue: A pipe used to exhaust smoke, gas or air.
flue collar: A round metal ring that fits around the heat flue pipe after the pipe passes out through the roof.
flue damper: An automatic door located in the flue that closes it off when the burner turns off; its purpose is to reduce heat loss up the flue from the still-warm furnace or boiler.
flue lining: A round or square fire clay or terracotta pipe, usually made in all ordinary flue sizes and in 2-foot lengths, and used as the inner lining of a chimney, with the brick or masonry work around the outside. The flue lining in a chimney runs from about 1 foot below the flue connection to the top of the chimney.
fluorescent lighting: A fluorescent lamp is a gas-filled glass tube with a phosphor coating on the inside, normally with two pins that extend from each end. Gas inside the tube is ionized by electricity, which causes the phosphor coating to glow.
flush valve: The valve separating the water in the toilet tank from the bowl.
flux: A material applied to the surface of copper pipes and fittings to assist in the cleaning and bonding process.
fly rafters: End rafters of a gable overhang that is supported by roof sheathing and lookouts.
folded seam: In sheet metal work, a joint created between the sheets of metal when the edges are crimped together and folded flat.
footings: Wide pours of cement reinforced with rebar (reinforcing bar) that support foundation walls, pillars and posts. Footings are part of the foundation and are typically poured before the foundation walls.
forced-air heating: A common form of heating using natural gas, propane, oil or electricity as the fuel. Air is heated in the furnace and distributed through a set of metal plastic ducts to various areas of the house.
form: A temporary structure erected to contain concrete during placing and initial hardening.
foundation: The supporting portion of a structure below the first floor construction, below grade or partially below grade, including the footings, upon which the structure or wall rests, and usually made of masonry, concrete and/or stone, but can be made of alternative building materials.
foundation coating: High-quality, below-grade moisture protection used for below-grade exterior concrete and masonry wall damp-proofing to seal out moisture and prevent corrosion.
free-tab shingles: Shingles that do not contain factory-applied strips or spots of self-sealing adhesive. See also self-sealing shingles.
frieze: In house construction, a horizontal member connecting the top of the siding with the soffit of the cornice.
frost line: The depth of frost penetration in local soil. Footings should be placed below this depth to prevent movement.
frost-protected shallow foundation (FPSF) system: Offers a design option that allows for shallower footing depths by raising the frost depth around the building through the use of insulation.
fully-adhered: A completely attached (adhered) roof membrane.
fully-tempered glass: Flat or bent glass that has been heat-treated to a high surface and/or edge compression to meet the requirements of ASTM-C-1048 type FT. Fully tempered glass, if broken, will fracture into many small pieces (dice), which are more or less cubical. Fully tempered glass is approximately four times stronger than annealed glass of the same thickness when exposed to uniform static pressure loads.
functional drainage: The emptying of a plumbing fixture in a reasonable amount of time without overflow when another fixture is drained simultaneously.
functional flow: A reasonable flow of water supply at the highest and farthest fixture from the main when another fixture is operated simultaneously.
fungal wood rot: A common wood-destroying organism that develops when a wood-containing material is exposed to moisture and poor air circulation for six months or more. Often and incorrectly referred to as dry rot.
fungi: Microscopic organisms that live in damp wood (among other places) and cause mold growth, staining and decay.
fungicide: A chemical that is poisonous to fungi.
furnace: A heating system that uses the principle of thermal convection. When air is heated, it rises, and as the air cools, it settles. Ducts are installed to carry the hot air from the top of the furnace to the rooms in a home. Other ducts, called cold-air returns, return the cooler air back to the furnace.
furring: Strips of wood or metal applied to a wall or other surface to provide a level fastening base for finish material.
fusible link: A form of fixed-temperature, heat-detecting device sometimes used to restrain the operation of an electrical or mechanical control until a certain temperature is reached, usually signifying a fire; a component of a fire door.
FVIR (flammable vapor-ignition resistance): (1) A device designed to prevent ignited vapors from passing out of the combustion chamber. (2) A one-way intake system used to control the movement of make-up air into the combustion chamber. (3) An inner door and burner assembly used to create a sealed junction with the combustion chamber, preventing combustion air and flammable vapors from entering the chamber through the front of a water heater.
gable: The end of a building, as distinguished from the front or rear. The triangular end of an exterior wall from the level of the eaves to the ridge of a double-sloped roof. In house construction, the portion of the roof above the eave line of a double-sloped roof.
gable roof: A type of roof with sloping planes of the same pitch on each side of the ridge; having a gable at each end.
galvanize: To coat a metal with zinc by dipping it in molten zinc after cleaning.
gambrel roof: A type of roof whose slope is broken by an obtuse angle so that the lower slope is steeper than the upper slope; a double-sloped roof having two pitches.
gang-nail plate: A steel plate attached to both sides at each joint of a truss. Also called a fishplate and a gusset.
gas lateral: The trench or area in the yard where the gas line service is located, or the work of installing the gas service to a home.
gaskets: Pre-formed shapes, such as strips, grommets, etc., of rubber or rubber-like composition used to fill and seal a joint or opening either alone or in conjunction with a supplemental application of a sealant.
gate valve: A valve that allows the complete stopping of flow of liquid within a pipe without the ability to modulate the flow.
gauge: The thickness of sheet metal, wire, etc.
GFCI; GFI (ground-fault circuit interrupter): A special device that is intended for the protection of personnel by de-energizing a circuit, capable of opening the circuit when even a small amount of current is flowing through the grounding system.
GFRC (glass fiber-reinforced concrete): A thin, cementitious material that is laminated to plywood or other lightweight backing for use in wall systems that resembles concrete but generally does not perform as well.
girder: A main horizontal beam made of steel, reinforced steel or wood upon which floor joists rest and used to support other structural members or concentrated loads at isolated points along its length.
glaze coat: In roofing, a light, uniform mopping of bitumen on exposed felts to protect them from the weather, pending completion of the job.
glazing: (1) A generic term used to describe an infill material, such as glass, panels, etc. (2) The process of installing an infill material into a prepared opening in windows, door panels, partitions, etc.
glazing bead: A strip surrounding the edge of the glass in a window or door that holds the glass in place.
glazing channel: A three-sided, U-shaped sash detail into which a glass product is installed and held in place.
globe valve: A valve in a pipe that allows the adjustment of the flow of liquid to any rate between fully on and fully off.
gloss: A paint or enamel that contains a relatively low proportion of pigment and dries to a sheen or luster.
gloss enamel: A finishing material made of varnish and pigments sufficient to provide opacity and color, but little or no pigment of low opacity. Such an enamel forms a hard coating with maximum smoothness of surface and a high degree of gloss.
glue-laminated beam: A structural beam composed of wood laminations (or lams) that are pressure-bonded with adhesives to attain a typical thickness of 1-1/2 inches, and looks like five or more 2x4s glued together. Also called glue-laminated lumber, Boise GLULAM®, and (generically) glulam.
GPF (gallons per flush): The unit of measurement by which the flow rate of toilets is measured and regulated. Current U.S. regulations permit a maximum of 1.6 GPF.
GPM (gallons per minute): The unit of measurement by which the flow rate of faucets and showerheads is measured and regulated.
grade: (1) An accepted level or standard, or a position in a scale of size, quality, etc., such as a grade of lumber. (2) The degree of inclination of a slope, road, or other surface. (3) The level at which the ground surface meets the foundation of a building.
grade beam: A foundation wall that is poured level with or just below the grade of the earth. An example is the area where an 8- or 16-foot overhead garage door block-out is located, or where a lower walk-out basement foundation wall is poured.
Grade MW: Moderate-weather grade of brick used for moderate resistance to freezing, such as that used for outdoor planters, etc.
Grade NW: No-weather grade of brick intended for use as a back-up or for interior masonry.
Grade SW: Severe-weather grade of brick intended for use where high resistance to freezing is desired.
granules: Mineral particles of a graded size that are embedded in the asphalt coating of shingles and roofing.
gravel: Loose fragments of rock in sizes varying from 1/8-inch to 1-3/4 inches used for surfacing built-up roofs.
ground: Refers to electricity's habit of seeking the shortest route to earth. Neutral wires carry it there in all circuits. An additional grounding wire or the sheathing of a metal-clad cable or conduit protects against shock if the neutral leg is interrupted.
ground iron: The plumbing drain and waste lines that are installed beneath the basement floor. Cast iron is used in older homes and buildings, and black plastic pipe (ABS) is now widely used in new construction.
ground system: The connection of current-carrying neutral wire to the grounding terminal in the main switch which in turn is connected to a water pipe. The neutral wire is called the ground wire.
ground-fault circuit interrupter: See GFCI.
grounded: Connected to earth or to some conducting body that serves in place of the earth.
grounded, effectively: Intentionally connected to earth through a ground connection or connections of sufficiently low impedance, and having sufficient current-carrying capacity to prevent the buildup of voltages that might otherwise result in undue hazards to connected equipment or personnel.
grounding electrode: A device that establishes an electrical connection to earth.
grounding rod: A conductive rod used to ground an electrical panel.
grounds: Guides consisting of narrow strips of wood or of wide sub-jambs at interior doorways used around openings and at the floor line to strike off plaster. They provide a level plaster line for installation of casing and other trim.
groundwater: Water from an aquifer or sub-surface water source.
grout, grouting: A hydrous, cement mortar whose consistency allows it to be placed or pumped into small joints and cavities between pieces of ceramic clay, slate, tile, etc., and various mortar mixes used in masonry work to fill them in order to make them solid, as well as in foundation work to fill voids in soils, usually injected through drilled holes.
gunnite: A construction material composed of cement, sand and/or crushed slag and water mixed together and forced through a cement gun by pneumatic pressure, used in the construction of swimming pools.
gusset: A flat wood, plywood or similar type of member that is fastened by nails, screws, bolts or adhesive to provide a connection at the intersection of wood members, commonly at the joints of wood trusses. Also called a gang-nail plate and a fishplate.
gutter: A trough made of metal, wood or other material installed at the eaves of a roof that is used to carry rainwater from the roof to the downspout.
gutter strap: A metal band used to support the gutter.
guy wire: A strong steel wire or cable strung from an anchor on the roof to any tall, slender projection for the purpose of support.
gypsum board: Drywall or wallboard used at the interior.
gypsum Keene's cement: Material used to obtain a smooth finish coat of plaster, for use over gypsum plastic base coats only in areas not subject to moisture. It is the hardest type of plaster.
gypsum plaster: Gypsum formulated with the addition of sand and water for use as a base coat plaster.