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ACCESSIBLE ROUTE: A continuous unobstructed path connecting all accessible elements and spaces of a building or facility.  Interior accessible routes may include corridors, floors, ramps, elevators, lifts, and clear floor space at fixtures.  Exterior accessible routes may include parking access aisles, curb ramps, crosswalks at vehicular ways, walks, ramps, and lifts.

ADA: The Americans with Disabilities Act.

ADHESION: The tendency of two surfaces in forceful contact to stick together.  The resulting increased resistance to slipping may become greater as residence time increases.

AIR CONDITIONING: The process of treating air so as to control simultaneously its temperature, humidity, cleanliness, and distribution to meet comfort requirements of the occupants of the building's conditioned space.  

AIR DUCT: A pipe, usually made of sheet metal, or flexible material, that conducts air to rooms in a home or building from a central source.

AIR TRAP: A U-shaped pipe filled with water and located beneath plumbing fixtures to form a seal against the passage of gases and odors.

ALCOVE: A recessed space connected at the side of a larger room.

ALLIGATORING: A defect in roofing material consisting of intersecting cracks and ridges in the surface.

ANTI-ICING MATERIALS: Dry or liquid snow and ice control materials applied before a snow and ice event intended to prevent precipitation from bonding (that is freezing) with the pavement, or weaken bonds formed for easier removal.

APRON:  A wood finish piece under a window sill, in the corner formed at the wall surface.

AMPERE: The unit used in the measure of the rate of flow of electricity. Informally called “Amp.”

ANCHOR BOLT: A threaded rod inserted in masonry construction for anchoring the sill plate to the foundation of a home.

ARBOR: A light, open structure having a lattice framework, usually supporting intertwined vines or flowers.

ARCADE: A series of arches supported by a row of columns.

ARCH: A curved structure that will support itself by mutual pressure and the weight above its curved opening.

ASHI: Acronym for American Society of Home Inspectors.

ASHPIT: The area below the hearth of a fireplace that collects the ashes.

ASPHALT: Bituminous sandstones used for paving streets and waterproofing flat roofs.

ASPHALT SHINGLES: Composition roof shingles made from asphalt-impregnated felt covered with mineral granules.

ASTM: The American Society for Testing and Materials.

ATRIUM: An open court within a building or home.

ATTIC: The accessible space between the ceiling framing of the topmost story and the underside of the roof framing. Inaccessible areas are considered “structural cavities and are not subject to inspection.”

AWNING WINDOW: An out-swinging window hinged at the top.

BARRICADE: A physical obstruction that is intended to warn and limit access to a hazardous area.

CARPET: Permanently secured fibrous floor covering.

CLEAN: Free from visible or tactile contamination.

COATING: A layer of any substance intentionally applied to a surface to modify its functional or decorative characteristics.

COEFFICIENT OF FRICTION: The ratio of two forces acting at the interface of two contacting solid bodies.  The force used in the numerator is parallel to the surfaces and the force used in the denominator is perpendicular (normal) to the surfaces.

CONTAMINANT: Any substance on a surface that affects traction performance.

CROSS SLOPE: The slope of a pedestrian walkway that is perpendicular to the direction of travel.

DE-ICING MATERIALS: Snow and ice melting products applied on top of a layer of snow or ice, or both, that is bonded to the pavement.

DIRECTIONAL BIAS: A characteristic of a material whose coefficient of friction measurement may differ depending n the direction in which the material is being tested.

DWELL TIME: See Residence Time.

DYNAMIC COEFFICIENT OF FRICTION (DCOF): The ratio of the horizontal component of force applied to a body required to overcome resistance to movement when the body is already in motion divided by the vertical component of the weight of the body or force applied to the surface where movement occurs.

DYNAMIC FRICTION: The resistance opposing the force required to perpetuate the movement of one surface on or over another.

FAIR: A smooth transition between adjacent walking surfaces.

FALL: Undesirable descent due to the force of gravity usually from a standing posture or during ambulation, to a lower level, usually the ground or floor.

FORESEEABLE PEDESTRIAN PATH: Any place where a pedestrian could reasonably be expected to walk.

FRICTION: Resistance to the relative motion of two solid objects in contact.  This force is parallel to the plane of contact and is perpendicular to the normal force.

GABLE: The vertical triangular end of a building or home, from the eaves to the ridge.

GALVANIC CORROSION: An electrochemical action which takes place when dissimilar metals are in contact in the presence of an electrolyte, resulting in corrosion.

GALVANIZE: A lead and zinc bath treatment to prevent rusting.

GALVANIZED PIPE: A steel or iron pipe which has been galvanized by coating it with a thin layer of zinc.

GAMBREL ROOF: A roof style on a home with 2 slopes on each side, the lower slope steeper than the upper.

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GARRET: An attic in a home.

GINGERBREAD: Highly decorative, elaborate woodwork used in architecture, especially in the trim of a house.

GIRDER: A horizontal beam supporting the floor joists in a building or home.

GLAZING: Installation of glass in windows and doors in a building.

GRADE: (1) Finished surface of ground around a commercial building or home. (2) Refers to classification of the quality of lumber or plywood.

GRADIENT: Inclination of a road, piping, or the ground, expressed in percent.

GRAVEL STOP: Strip of metal with a vertical lip used to retain the gravel around a built-up roof.

GREEN LUMBER: Lumber that still contains moisture or sap.

GROUND: Intentional or accidental connection (bonding) between a circuit or equipment and the earth or other conducting material.

GROUND-FAULT CIRCUIT INTERRUPTER (GFCI): An electrical device that breaks an electric circuit when an excessive leakage current is detected. Intended to eliminate shock hazards to people.

GROUT: Thin cement mortar used for leveling and filling masonry cavities.

GUSSET: Plywood or metal plate used to strengthen joints of a truss.

GUTTER: Metal or wood trough on a building or home for carrying rainwater to downspouts.

HIGH TRACTION: The physical property of a floor or walkway surface that is designed to mitigate slipping during normal human ambulation by providing a reasonably sufficient level of available contact friction.

MANSARD ROOF: A roof with two slopes on each side, with the lower slope being nearly vertical and the upper nearly horizontal.

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MANTEL: A shelf over a fireplace.

MASONRY: General term for brickwork, stonework, concrete blockwork or similar materials.

MASTIC: Flexible adhesive for adhering building materials.

MATTE FINISH: Finish free of gloss or highlights.

MEMBER: A single piece of building material used in a structure.

MILLWORK: Finish carpentry work or that woodwork done in a mill and delivered to the site; relates to interior trim.

MITER JOINT: Joint made with ends or edges of two pieces cut at 45-degree angles and fastened together.

MONOLITHIC: Term used for concrete work poured and cast in one piece without joints.

MORTAR: A mixture of cement, sand, and water, used as a bonding agent by the mason for binding bricks and stones.

MOSAIC: Small colored tile, glass, stone, or similar material arranged to produce a decorative surface.

MUD ROOM: A small room or entranceway in a house where muddy overshoes and wet garments can be removed before entering other rooms of the home.

MULLION: Structural support member between a series of windows.

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MUNTIN: Small bar separating the glass lights in a window sash.

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PEDESTRIAN: A person using legs or leg surrogates (for example , prosthetic limbs, crutches, etc.) as the principal mechanism for locomotion.


RAMP: A walkway surface that has a slope steeper than 1:20 (5%).

RESIDENCE TIME: The period of time between initial sensor contact with the test surface and the instant that relative motion is initiated.

SBR: Styrene Butadiene Rubber

SIDEWALK: A paved surface, such as concrete or asphalt, usually parallel and adjacent to streets.

SLIP: A sliding motion due to loss of traction on a walkway surface (floor, stair tread, pavement).

SLIP RESISTANCE: The property of a floor or walkway surface that acts in sufficient opposition to those forces and movements exerted by a pedestrian under all normal conditions of human ambulation.

SLIP RESISTANT: The provision of adequate slip resistance to reduce the likelihood of slip for pedestrians using reasonable care on the walking surface under expected use conditions.

STATIC COEFFICIENT OF FRICTION (SCOF): The ratio of the horizontal component of force applied to a body that just overcomes the resistance to slipping to the vertical component of the weight of the object or force applied.

STATIC FRICTION: The resistance opposing the force required to start the movement of one surface on or over another.

STICTION: A phenomenon in which a liquid film is squeezed out of the interface between the shoe bottom and the walkway surface as a result of residence time.

SURFACTANT SOLUTION: A solution employed to reduce the water surface tension when testing on wet hard-surface floor materials.

TEGULAR TILES: Ceiling tiles with recessed edges that allow the tile to hang below the ceiling grid of a commercial building.

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TENSION: Pulling or stretching force. Opposite of compression.

TERRAZZO: Wear-resistant flooring in commercial buildings made of marble chips or small stones embedded in cement matrix that has been polished smooth.

THERMOCOUPLE: A safety device on most gas- or oil-fired appliances that shuts off the supply of fuel if the pilot light blows out. Commonly found on furnaces and water heaters.

THERMOSTAT: A device for automatically controlling the supply of heat and air.

THRESHOLD: Wood, metal, or stone member at the floor within the door jamb. Its purpose is to provide a divider between dissimilar flooring materials, or serve as a thermal, sound or water barrier. 

THROAT: A passage located directly above the fireplace opening where a damper is set.

TIE: A structural member used to bind others together.

TIE BEAM: A horizontal timber connecting two opposite rafters at their lower ends to prevent them from spreading.

TIE ROD: A rod in tension, used to bind parts of a building together.

TIMBER: Lumber at least five or more inches in dimension for posts, sills, and girders.

TOENAILING: To drive a nail at a slant with the initial surface in order to permit it to penetrate into a second member.

TRACTION: The friction between the sole material of a shoe and the fixed surface it moves upon.

TRANSOM: The bar or horizontal construction that divides a window. More commonly applied to the sash over the door.

TRANSOM WINDOW: A narrow horizontal window above a window or door, named for the cross bar on which it rests.

TRAP: U-shaped pipe below plumbing fixtures which provides a water seal to prevent sewer odors and gases from entering habitable areas in a building or home.

TREAD: The step or horizontal member of a stair.

TRIBOMETER: An instrument or device specifically designed to measure the available level of traction upon a floor or walkway surface.

Approved Tribometer – A tribometer that is in compliance with the following:

-The tribometer shall demonstrate reliability and reproducibility in measuring the Dynamic Coefficient of Friction per the NFSI: Inter-Laboratory Study (ILS) for Tribometers Designed to Measure the Wet Dynamic Coefficient of Friction (DCOF) of Common Hard Surfaced Walkways.

-The tribometer manufacturer shall be capable of providing calibration, repir, and maintenance, and a reference tile method for field performance verification, and other services necessary to ensure device reliability.

-The tribometer shall be capable of providing a digital display of results for DCOF to the hundredths (two positions right of the decimal point) using a scale of 0.00 to 1.00 or greater.

TRIBOMETRY: The measurement of floor slip resistance or shore traction properties on a walkway surface.

TRIP: An interruption of one’s gait because of an obstruction or an irregularity in or on a surface.

TRUSS: Structural unit of members fastened in triangular arrangements to form a rigid framework for support over long spans.

TRUSS RAFTER: Truss spaced close enough (usually 24" o.c.) to eliminate the need for purlins.

TURRET: A small tower usually on the corner of a building, most common in Victorian-style homes.

WALKWAY: Walking surfaces constructed for pedestrian usage including floors, ramps, walks, sidewalks, stair treads, parking lots and similar paved areas which may be reasonably foreseeable as pedestrian paths.  Natural surfaces such as fields, playing fields, path, walks, or footpaths, or a combination thereof, are not included.

WALKWAY AUDITOR: A person competent to offer reliable observations and opinions regarding the conformance of an audited walkway to relevant safety guidelines or requirements.

WALKWAY SURFACES: Interior and exterior walking surfaces constructed and intended for pedestrian use, including but not limited to floors, ramps, sidewalks, stair treads and paved areas reasonably foreseeable as pedestrian paths.

WALKWAY SURFACE HARDWARE: Includes manhole covers, cellar doors used as walking surfaces, junction box covers, cleanout covers, hatches, sidewalk elevator covers, sewer grates, utility covers, and similar elements that pedestrians can reasonably be expected to walk on.

Glossary of Inspection, Architectural, and Construction Terms
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