Typical GFCI Outlet

Home Inspection Glossary – Part Five

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 the fifth installment of these posts to build the glossary. I’ve tried to keep it simple and these are not intended to be exhaustive definitions.


frost line: The depth below which the ground does not freeze in the winter. Footings are typically located below grade to avoid frost heaving.

functional drainage: Drainage that appears adequate when draining two or more fixtures in the same bathroom,

fixture does not overflow while draining with the faucet running.

functional flow: Flow that appears adequate for use while running two fixtures in the same bathroom.

gable: The triangular end of a roof in a two pitch roof system.

galvanized: Steel item coated in zinc to prevent corrosion, may be electrically coated or hot-dipped.

GFCI: Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter. Device that measures the flow of current between the hot and neutral legs of a circuit. A difference in these values indicates a loss of current to ground, causing the GFCI to disconnect the circuit.

girder: A main beam supporting structural components such as floor joists. May be wood, laminated wood, or steel.

globe valve: A valve with a spherical interior component that allows the valve to opened incrementally from fully
open to fully closed. Also know as a ball valve.

glue-laminated beam: A wooden structural component consisting of pressured-adhered laminations of wood. Dense and heavy, these can span greater distances than equally sized solid wood beams.

GPF (gallons per flush): The standard by which toilets are measured. Newly installed toilets in North America must use no more than 1.6GPF.

GPM (gallons per minute): The standard by which faucets are measured and regulated.

ground: The tendency of electrical current to seek the shortest path to earth.

ground system: The components of the electrical system that connect to the earth. The neutral bus bar and ground bars must both connect to the earth, usually through a metal water line, or one or more copper ground rods.