As a home inspector and former builder, there are many technical terms that I may use that are unfamiliar to the average home owner. While I always try to break things down to layman’s terms while conducting the home inspection, I thought it might be useful to have a home inspection glossary to refer buyers to. This is just the first of several of these posts to build the glossary. I’ve tried to keep it simple and these are not intended to be exhaustive definitions.
A/C condenser –The outdoor component of a typical air conditioning unit. Consists of a case, cooling fins, fan and a compressor.
A/C disconnect- Local electrical disconnect for the A/C condenser. Typically a T-shaped pull handle inside a water resistant case. May or may not contain fuses.
AFCI- Arc-Fault Circuit Interrupter- Electrical safety device incorporated into a circuit breaker. The AFCI detects conditions where a dangerous electrical arc might start a fire.
Air filters – Typically a fiber mesh impregnated with a sticky film designed to trap dirt and debris. Usually installed in the return a path of a forced air heat or A/C system.
Air handler- the indoor component of the typical A/C system. Minimally consists of a fan, evaporator coil and control board(s).
Aluminum wire – Wire composed of solid or stranded aluminum. Solid aluminum and aluminum wire less than #12 is no longer approved for new construction. Solid aluminum wire presents fire hazard and should be checked for safety by an electrical contractor who specializes in aluminum wire remediation.
Asbestos – A mineral fiber with excellent insulative qualities. Commonly used in a variety of building products until the late 1970s. Although not banned in the US, asbestos is known to cause cancer and it’s removal is regulated by the EPA.
Asphalt – A byproduct of crude oil refinement, asphalt is a black, sticky substance common used in roofing materials and driveways for its waterproofing abilities.
Attic access – An access to the attic from the living space or garage. May consist of a simple scuttlehole, drop down stairs or conventional stairs.