Glossary of Terms

Aerator Located at the end of kitchen and bathroom faucets. It mixes air with the water in order to provide a smooth, splash-free flow of water. Occasionally debris may collect in the aerator and restrict the flow of water. If this happens, unscrew the aerator and remove the debris.
Aggregate The gravel or stone that constitutes the bulk of mixed concrete normally covered by smooth finish.
Air Gap A safety device on kitchen sinks that prevents contaminated sink water from being drained back into the dishwasher.
Air Hammer A banging noise in plumbing pipes caused by air infiltration.
Arc Fault Arc fault circuit protection is currently required in all bedrooms disconnecting power when an arc (spark) occurs.
Back Flow Preventer See Vacuum Breaker.
Ball Cock A device in flush toilets consisting of a valve connected by a lever with a floating ball. The valve closes when the ball is raised and opens when the ball is lowered.
Base/Baseboard The strip of molding or trim at the bottom of walls. The baseboard adds an attractive finish and protects the wall from scuffs and damage from furniture or vacuum cleaners.
Berm A small ridge of soil that directs the flow of rain and irrigation water towards drains/sewers.
Bleeder Nut A nut located on the underside of the interior shutoff valve that unscrews to drain water from exterior faucets for winterizing.
Commencement Date The date the original purchaser moves into the home or the date the purchase is closed, whichever date is earlier.
CC&R The covenants, conditions and restrictions that govern your community.
Caulking This material is used as a sealant around sinks, tubs and showers. Other applications for caulking include sealing window and door frames.
Check Valve See Vacuum Breaker.
Circuit The electrical system in your home is separated into individual sections referred to as circuits. Depending upon the layout of your home and electrical codes in your area, each circuit may be designed for a room, an area of the home or a single appliance.
Circuit Breakers Prevent electrical overload or shoring. The circuit breaker opens the circuit when an overload or short occurs, thereby breaking the flow of electricity. It can be reset manually moving the circuit breaker lever OFF and then the ON position once the source of overload has been corrected.
Collar Beam A horizontal brace in the roof system that braces opposing rafters.
Common Areas Many neighborhoods have areas that are common property and owned by a home owner’s association. These areas may include streets, parking areas, walkways, slopes and recreational areas. They are maintained and their use is governed by the home owners’ association.
Concrete Dusting A fine dust that accumulates on finished concrete surfaces.
Condenser The unit of an air conditioning system that is located outside the home.
Consequential Damages Unavoidable damage to home owner’s personal property caused by covered contractor repairs
Corner Bead Angled edging used to protect and form an edge where drywall panels meet at outside edges such as on a corner.
Cultured Marble This is a man-made product that has much of the durability and beauty of natural cultured marble.
Damper An adjustable valve in the duct work of the heating system that can be opened or closed to control the flow of air-conditioned or heated air throughout the home. It is also a device in the fireplace or gas heater that controls the air draft up the chimney.
Dehumidifier An electrical appliance that removes humidity from the air particularly useful in basement areas during storage.
Delamination The separation of the top plies or laminate from the base to which they are attached. In vanity and kitchen countertops, the warping or detachment of laminate materials from the wood substrate.
Dethatching The loosening and/or removal of matted grass and leaves from existing lawns that allows the grass to breathe and promotes healthy growth.
Drywall The interior walls of a home are usually constructed of drywall. This   material also is called gypsum board or sheet rock. The material is functional and can be textured and painted to compliment they style of any home.
Efflorescence The white, powdery substance that sometimes accumulate on stucco, masonry, concrete and brick. Excessive efflorescence can be removed by scrubbing with a strong vinegar solution or an commercial product.
Erosion The flow of water from irrigation systems or rain can erode landscaping and change the drainage of the yard. Most erosion can be prevented by maintaining the original grading of the yard.
Face Frame The front of kitchen and bathroom cabinets to which the hinged doors attach.
Face Nailing Nailing through the finished and exposed surface so that the top of the nail is visible.
Fascia The exterior horizontal trim around rafters and positioned directly behind gutters and over gable trim boards. Can be either aluminum or wood-covered.
Fillers A wood putty used in preparation for painting to fill holes or cracks in wood.
Filler Board Cabinet-grad wood used to fill gaps that occur between cabinets and wall openings.
Flue A vertical duct, constructed of sheet metal or clay, that channels smoke or gas fumes from a fireplace or gas furnace out of the home.
Fluorescent The lighting fixtures that provide even, soft illumination in kitchens, bathrooms and other areas of the home may use fluorescent bulbs.
Gabled Louvers A vent that louvers located at the peak of gable ends.
GFCI Abbreviation for Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter. Similar to a circuit breaker in that it is designed to interrupt the flow of electricity. GFCIs are usually located in kitchens or bathrooms. In the event of a short circuit such as dropping an appliance into a filled tub or sin, the GFCI will break the electrical circuit immediately and prevent a serious electrical shock.
Graphite A carbon-based powdered substance that is used as a lubricant for applications in which oil can be damaging. Graphite is not recommended for use on vinyl windows and doors.
Grout Grout is the cement-like material visible between squares of ceramic tile.
Hardware The hinges, locks, handles and other metal attachments to doors, cabinets and drawers are commonly referred to as hardware.
Header The header is a relatively heavy structural wood piece that spans open spaces such as doors and window frames. The header supports other structural lumber.
Home Owner Maintenance As a new homeowner you need to routinely maintain the various features of your home. This continuing maintenance is the responsibility of the homeowner.
Honeycomb In concrete an open cell-like surface texture that occurs while pouring the concrete.
Hose Bibb A water faucet that is outside the home and is intended to use with a garden hose.
Incandescent Lighting fixtures that use traditional light bulbs are called incandescent fixtures. Incandescent lighting is used for lamps, spot lighting and exterior lighting.
Jobsite Superintendent The person who oversees the construction of homes is called the Construction Manager. The jobsite superintendent is responsible for making sure that the subcontractors perform their work on time and to the standards established by the builder.
Joint Compound A plaster-like compound used to finish drywall seams and cover fastener heads.
Joists The horizontal support members used to construct floors and ceilings.
Lockset A door lock or combination of lock and deadbolt.
Manufacturer’s Warranty The appliances and certain other components of a new home are covered by warranties that are supplied by the original manufacturer. The warranties are passed on to you. They include components of the plumbing and electrical systems, heating and air conditioning system, water heater and other manufactured items.
Masonry The stucco, stonework, fireplace, chimney and brickwork in a home.
Mastic A water-resistant construction adhesive used predominantly for installation of ceramic and resilient tiles.
Molding Decorative wood finishes used around doors and windows. Also used for base, tile and exterior area moldings and chair rails.
Nail Pops The natural expansion and contraction of wood can cause the nails or screws that hold the wall surfaces in place to move or pop out of place. The nails can be reset and, if necessary, touch-up paint can be applied.
Oil Canning A loud, booming noise that occurs in sheet metal ductwork that buckles. Can also occur with vinyl siding as a result of temperature changes.
Parging A water-resistant exterior coating used to protect block foundations from water penetration.
Pointing The filling and finishing of brick mortar and stone cement masonry joints.
Ponding (birth bathing) The collection of water on driveways, walkways or lawns. Ponding for excessive periods of time is indicative of grading problems.
Porcelain Enamel Your tubs and sinks may be constructed or porcelain enamel. Made of a silicate paint that is fired onto steel at high temperatures it forms a durable smooth and shiny surface much like glass.
Retaining Wall Large timbers or concrete block, usually assembled into a wall, or back filled with soil.
Return Air Vent Because modern homes feature almost airtight seals, the heating and air conditioning systems require return air vents to draw air back to the heating and cooling system.
Ridge Vent Venting system at the peak of the roofs.
Scaling In concrete, the breaking away of the top surface of the concrete caused by a freeze-thaw cycle and salts. In painting, the flaking or peeling away of paint.
Scuttle Hole The opening in the ceiling that gives access to the attic space.
Settling In the first months and for years after a new home is built some settling can occur as the underlying soil gains and loses moisture. Minor settling is normal, particularly in the first months after a new home is built.
Silicone A synthetic lubricating compound with high resistance to temperature change and water. When added to caulking, it extends elasticity properties and increases the life of the caulking.
Sill Plates A support member laid on the top of the foundation wall that serves as a base for the wall framing.
Soffit A vent located under the ceiling of a roof overhang or an area to hide duct work in the lower level.
Solid Surface Countertops This man-made product can be used for counter tops in kitchens and bathrooms. It provides beauty, durability and a working surface.
Spackle The puttylike material that is used to fill surface irregularities in drywall. Its most common use is to fill nail holes in walls before repainting.
Spalling Flaking or chipping of stone or other masonry materials. Similar to scaling, but the chips and flakes are larger.
Sparker Unit Eliminates pilot light in gas stoves and furnaces.
Strike Plate The metal plate that keeps a door lock latch firmly in place.
Stucco The mortar-like material that covers the exterior is called stucco It provides excellent durability, insulation and beauty to the home. Stucco is relatively brittle so you should avoid sharp blows to walls. Turn sprinklers away from stucco to prevent stains.
Subcontractor Many homes are built by specialized trade people who contract with builders or developers to perform their area of specialization. This allows the builder to select those trades with the highest standards and the best reputation. Examples of subcontractors are plumbers, roofers and electricians.
Subflooring Wood sheet flooring directly over the joists that supports the underlayment or floor covering.
Sump Pump A motorized pump that expels excessive water accumulation that gathers under the home foundation.
Surface Capping The addition of another layer of similar material over the top of existing materials. Usually ¼ inch in depth or greater.
Swale A swale is similar to purpose to a berm, but it is a depression in the ground. It is designed to channel rain and irrigation water away from structures and toward sewers and drains.
Tack Strips The devices between the flooring and carpeting that are used to hold wall-to-wall carpeting in place.
Thermostat The wall-mounted device that controls the heating and air conditioning units. By cycling the heating or air conditioning units on and off, it will maintain a desired temperature in the home.
Underlayment A flooring layer over the base subflooring over which tile or resilient floor covering is laid.
Vacuum Breaker Also called a backflow preventer. This device is placed on exterior faucets to prevent the flow of water back into the water supply system.
Valve Seat An interior part of the faucet valve assembly where the valve rests.
Vitreous China The kiln-fired, pottery material that is used in most toilet bowls and tanks. It is very durable and impervious to water but can be broken by sharp blows from hard objects.
Wall Ties The metal pieces that tie masonry veneer to the frame of the home or, when pouring concrete, the metal pieces that hold concrete foundation wall forms in place until the concrete cures.
Washers A round, rigid rubber or plastic sealing device in water faucet valves.
Washouts An area where water has produced soil erosion.
Weatherstripping An insulating strip of material placed around doors and windows to reduce water entry into the home. Also reduces air infiltration into the home and prevents the loss of heated or cooled air from the home.
Weep Holes Small holes in door and window frames and decorator walls that allow water to drain away are called weep holes. They should be kept free of dirt and debris.
Window Balance A counter balance device in window housing that assists with the opening and closing of a wind0w and then keeps the window in position.
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