Glossary of Common Construction
and Architectural terms
Abatement: asbestos control beyond a special operations and maintenance program.
Air ducts: pipes that carry warm and cold air to rooms and return back to the heating and cooling system.
Air gap: the unobstructed vertical distance between the lowest opening of a faucet which supplies a plumbing fixture (such as tank or wash bowl) and the level at which the fixture will overflow. 2. In a drainage system, the unobstructed vertical distance between the outlet of a waste pipe and the flood-level rim of the receptacle into which it discharges.
Anchorage: Devise used to anchor a wire, bar, rod during the curing of concrete.
Asbestos: fine, flexible, noncombustible material. It can withstand high temperatures without change.
Atmospheric: (HVAC) where a heater relies on the surrounding atmosphere for air supply. Air is not forced through unit, but is naturally draft vented.
Baseboard: board along floor attached to wall and partitions in a building .
Basement: any building story having a floor below grade.
Beam: principal horizontal wood, steel or concrete support members of a building.
Bearing wall: wall that supports a floor or roof of a building.
Blower: (havoc) fan used to force air under pressure.
Bonding wire: (pool) an approved conductor that connects all electrical equipment to the metal that constructs the pool.
Box (junction box): (electrical) metal or plastic enclosure within which electrical connections are made; has removable cover to provide easy access.
BTU: (hvac) British Thermal Unit. (A unit of heat.)
Burner tubes: (hvac) tubes that have holes in them where gas comes out and is ignited.
Burner assemblies: (hvac) the gas burners used in a heater.
Cable: two or more insulated conductors wrapped in a metal or plastic cover .
Casing: window and door trim.
Caulking: a resilient material used to seal cracks, fill joints, prevent leakage, and/or provide water proofing.
Central heating system: boiler or furnace flue connected and installed as an integral part of the structure and designed to supply heat adequately for the entire structure.
Chimney: vertical masonry shaft of reinforced concrete or other approved noncombustible heat-resisting material enclosing one or more flues. The chimney removes the products of combustion from solid, liquid or gaseous fuel.
Circuit: path of electrical flow from a power source through a fixture and return to ground or neutral.
Circuit breaker: device that interrupts electrical flow automatically in case of an overload in the circuit. The circuit breaker can be reset by either a switch or push-button.
Condenstate line: drain line attached to the evaporative coil of an air conditioner to remove condensation.
Condensation: change of water from vapor to liquid when warm, moisture-laden air comes in contact with a cold surface.
Conductor: wire or some other material that will carry electrical charge.
Containment: work area isolated from the rest of the building to prevent escape of asbestos fibers.
Composite shingles: roofing material that is made in layers usually with one layer being tar and one being fiberglass for strength.
Corrosion: the gradual wearing away by rusting or by action of chemicals.
Cripple walls: Less than full height walls that rest on the perimeter foundation walls and support the floor(s) above.
Damper: A device used to vary the volume of air passing through an air outlet, inlet, or duct; it does not significantly affect the shape of the delivery pattern.
Double-tap: where two wires are attached to one circuit breaker that is approved for one wire only.
Downspouts: pipe that leads water down from a gutter.
Drain: (plumbing) any pipe that carries waste water or waterborne waste in a building drainage system. (roofing) device that allows for the flow of water from the roof area.
Drip pan: (HVAC) pan shaped panel or trough used to collect condensate from the evaporator coil.
Dry rot: dry crumbling decay in wood caused by various fungi.
Dry wall: wall surface of plaster board.
Eave: lower edge of a sloping roof projecting beyond the wall.
Eavestrough (or gutter ): trough that gathers rainwater from a roof.
Efflorescence: an encrustation of soluble salts, commonly white, deposited on the surface of stone, brick, plaster, or mortar; usually caused by free alkalis leached from mortar or adjacent concrete as moisture moves through it.
Evaporator coil: (HVAC) device made of a coil of tubing that functions as a refrigerant evaporator that cools air when passed over it during the A/C function .
Flashings: metal used around angles or junctions on exterior walls, chimneys or roofs to prevent leaks.
Flex line: a flexible pipe usually used for gas or water.
Flue: a pipe, tube or channel for conveying hot air, gas, steam, or smoke, as from a furnace or fireplace to a chimney.
Flush valve: device located at the bottom of the tank for flushing toilets.
Footing: portion of the foundation that transfers the structural load to the ground.
Foundation: masonry and concrete foundation walls usually below ground level that support house structure.
French drains: underground perforated pipe that removes subsurface water.
Fungi, decay: fungi that are major destroyers of the strength of wood, such as white rot and brown rot.
Fungi, stain: fungi that feed on wood at a slow rate, causing discoloration but little damage.
Fuse: device that stops the electrical flow in case there is a circuit overload for any reason. Fuses can not be reset; they must be replaced.
Gable: triangular end of a building with a sloping roof.
Gas ports: (hvac) openings where the gas comes out in a furnace.
GFCI: (see Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter)
Glazing: fitting glass into window frames and doors.
Ground (grounding): (electrical) electricity always seeks the shortest path to earth. Neutral wires carry electricity to the ground in all circuits. An electrical panel must have a ground connected to either the copper cold water line or a rod driven in the ground.
Ground fault circuit interrupter (GFCI): safety device that senses any shock hazard and interrupts the flow of electricity in the circuit.
Heat exchanger: (hvac) the part inside the furnace that heats up the air.
HVAC: heating, ventilation and air-conditioning.
Insulation: material high in resistance to heat transmission placed in walls, ceilings or floors of a structure.
Joists: structural supports.
Junction box: (see box)
Masonry: stone, brick, concrete, hollow tile or building units or materials, bonded together with mortar to form a wall, pier or similar mass.
Mastic: A sealant with putty like properties that is usually tar base.
Mitigation: to reduce the severity of.
Molding: strip of decorative material with a planed or curved narrow surface prepared for ornamental applications; also used to hide wall imperfections.
NOX rods: (hvac) metal rods used in furnaces.
Piling: structural members driven in the ground and used to support vertical loads.
Pitch: slope of roof.
Pressure release valve: In a pressure tank for water storage, a pressure-actuated safety valve that is designed to open and relieve pressure automatically if the pressure within the tank exceeds the value for which it was designed to operate safely.
Pyrolysis: (hvac) deterioration of metal due to heating & cooling.
Radiant heating system: a system for heating a room or space by means of heated surfaces (such as panels heated by the flow of hot water or electric current).
Radon: naturally occurring, colorless, odorless, radioactive inert gaseous element formed by radioactive decay of radium atoms.
Rafter: series of roof framing members.
Refrigerant: substance circulated under pressure within a cooling system that produces the refrigerating effect.
Reinforced concrete: concrete strengthened with metal bars or wire mesh.
Retrofit: the addition of new building materials, building elements, and components, not provided in the original construction.
Reverse polarity: where the hot (energized conductor) is reversed with the neutral conductor.
Ridge: the line at the junction of the upper edges of two sloping roof surfaces of a roof.
Ridgecap: any covering (such as metal, wood, shingle, etc.) used to cover the ridge of a roof.
Roof covering: material placed on roof.
Roofing: wood, asphalt, tile, slate, metal or water proof materials that forms protection against weather on the uppermost portion of a house.
Run-off: precipitation discharged into stream channels. Water that flows off the land surface with out sinking into the soil is surface run-off.
Secondary condensate line: The emergency condensate line, if operating, indicates the primary line is clogged.
Seepage: movement of water through soil.
Septic system: comprises all piping and facilities used for the collection and disposal of sewage.
Sewer, public sewer: common sewer directly controlled by public authority.
Shear panels: usually plywood panels attached to cripple walls for bracing.
Skylight: glass or plastic opening in roof.
Soil: surface layer of dirt that supports plant life.
Stud: vertical wood members of house framing.
Temperature pressure release valve: a valve that combines the functions of a pressure release valve and a temperature release valve.
Temperature relief valve: a temperature affected safety valve designed to open automatically when the temperature of the water being heated exceeds a preset value.
Wall: a structure which serves to enclose or subdivide a building.
Watt: measure of the power an electrical lamp or appliance consumes.
Weep holes: openings that allow entrapped water to escape.