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Glossary (A Work in Progress)


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.

AIR CONDITIONING - The process of treating air to simultaneously control its temperature, humidity, cleanliness and distribution.

AIR FILTER - A furnace filter installed in line with the cold air return which filters out dust and debris and prevents its re-entry into the occupied interior.

AIR RETURN - A furnace duct through which interior cool air returns to the furnace. This cool air is then circulated through the heat exchanger, warmed, 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.

AMBIENT TEMPERATURE LESS THAN 65 DEGREES - The temperature of the air surrounding air conditioning equipment should be at least 65 degrees for 12 hours before the equipment is operated. Operating the compressor in cold temperatures can severely damage the compressor.

AMP - Short for Amperes. The rate of flow of electricity through wire.

ANCHOR BOLT - A bolt used to secure a wooden sill plate to a concrete or masonry floor or wall. The purpose of the bolt is to limit the ability of the framing to move independent of the foundation in the event of seismic activity.

ANGLE STOP - A shut-off valve arranged in a 90-degree configuration. It is used to shut off the flow of water to a fixture. A double angle stop is an angle stop that controls both the hot water to the sink faucet and to the dishwasher. As a preventive measure, we recommend the installation of a separate fixture shut-off valve for the dishwasher. This will allow for the uninterrupted use of the kitchen sink in the event of necessary repair or removal of the dishwasher.

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.

AUTOMATIC GARAGE DOOR OPERATOR DOES NOT REVERSE - The garage door was tested and did not automatically reverse. This indicates that the door opener does not have an auto-reverse mechanism, it is broken or it needs adjustment. We recommend that the opener be modified, replaced or adjusted as necessary.