ABC’s of Waterproofing Contractors Muddy Technical Talk Clarified

One of the things that happens when you talk with a basement waterproofer or home contractor is they use specialized words. They usually don’t know they’re doing it, because they use them every day and nearly everyone they ever deal with knows exactly what they mean, except you. Some words are specialized and not in a dictionary. When you clarify water, you make it clear. Hopefully, this will do that with their technical words too. These words apply to nearly every type of home contractor, including. If you read through it, you’ll recognize some terms, but with many, you’ll say, “Oh, that’s what that means!” Hope you find them interesting and fun.

A. Amp – measure of electrical current. Anchor – a fitting used to secure to masonry, drywall, and other hard-to-fasten materials. Auger – a spring-like cleaning tool for drains and traps.

B. Baseboard – molding around the perimeter of a room where the wall & floor meet. Bearing Wall – the wall the supports the joist, i.e. the weight of the home. Bleeder Valve – a valve on top of the radiator that lets air escape and water in. Brick Veneer – bricks used in lieu of siding. Bridging – small piece of wood or metal used to brace floor joist.

C. Calcium Carbonate (lime) – CaCO3, a component of mortar and portland cement. Casement Window – window with sashes hung vertically Circuit breaker – safety device that shuts off excess electric current. Circuit Breaker Box – central control panel for current into house. Cleanout – opening that provides access to drainpipe or trap sealed with threaded plug. Concrete – Portland cement, gravel, sand, and water after hardening. Condensation – the formation of water on cold surfaces below the dew point temperature of the surrounding air. Course – one row of bricks or blocks. Crawl Space – a shallow space below the living quarters of a house up to 4′ high. Creosote – preservative (formerly used) for below grade wood, also flammable chimney build up.

D. Damper – adjustable plate that regulates flow of air or smoke in chimney. Decking (roof) – layer of wood that holds shingle nails. Dew Point – temperature at which the water vapor in air becomes saturated and can hold no more moisture. Drip Cap – protective molding usually metal, diverts water over exterior surface. Dry In – stage of construction when building is protected from rain or snow. Dry Rot – fungus that destroys damp wood, leaving the wood looking dry. Drywall – wall board made of gypsum sandwiched between heavy paper.

E. Eave – overhang at bottom of sloping (pitched) roof. Expansion Joint -between blocks of concrete that allows for temperature expansion without cracking.

F. Fascia – the eave board, usually behind the gutter. Finish – to smooth concrete as it sets. Fixture – electrical switch or outlet. Flashing – metal that joins various planes on roof, roof to chimney, vent, etc. Float – flat tool used to smooth stucco, patching, plaster, and concrete, or device on sump pump which turns the pump on when water rises. Flue – channel for passage of hot gas or smoke. Flush – surfaces that are in one plane. Footing – mass of concrete below frost line that supports foundation. Foundation – masonry lower part of walls on which structure is built. Framing – two inch thick lumber that forms structure of house. Frost Line – depth of earth to which it freezes.

G. Gable – triangular part of wall under inverted V of roof line. Girder – the main member in frame floor supporting the joist. Glazing (or putty) – sealing material that seals windows to sash. Grade – ground level. Ground – a safety wire that gives electricity an escape route if a neutral wire becomes defective. Ground Fault Interrupter – a device that shuts off the power if it detects a dangerous current. Gypsum Board – fire resistant panel (drywall) used for walls and ceilings.

H. Hammer Drill (rotary hammer) – drill that turns bit and hammers it into work at same time. Humidifier – a machine that increase or maintain the relative humidity. It adds moisture to the air. HVAC – Heating, ventilation, and air conditioning.

I. Ice dam – ice forming at the cave line from melting snow on the roof. Inner Stop – molding that separates the upper and lower sash tracks in double-hung windows. Insulation – usually a low-density material used to reduce heat loss. Insulation-Fill- a loose form which can be poured or blown. Insulation-Flexible – in blanket or batt form. Insulation-Reflective- usually aluminum foil polished to have a high reflectivity. Insulation-Rigid- insulating board or sheet or block forms.

J. Jamb – one inch wood enclosing a window or door that hold hinges. Jointer – masonry tool that shapes and compresses the mortar joint between bricks or blocks. Joist – framing that supports a floor or ceiling. Junction Box – electric box used to hold switches, outlets, etc.

K. k – Thermal conductivity.

L. Lag Screw – heavy duty wood screw (hex or square head). Latch Side – side of door away from hinge. Load – anything that requires electricity in a circuit. Load Bearing Capacity – amount of weight that can be held without exceeding the designed capacity. Load Bearing Wall – supports weight of house perpendicular to joist.

M. Masonry – brick, stone, etc. Mineral Spirits – replacement for turpentine, used as point thinner made from petroleum. Miter – angled cut in wood. Molding – interior trim of house. Mortar – mix of Portland cement, lime, mason’s sand, and water used for masonry joints. Mortise – shallow rectangular cavity removed from wood so hinge fits flush. Muriatic (hydrochloric) Acid – acid that cleans up masonry by removing old mortar from the surface.

O. OC (on-center) – distance between centers, such as between studs. OSB – Oriented Strand Board, cheaper and stronger than plywood, used for sheathing and sub-floor. Out of Square – meeting other than 90E?. Outer Stop – vertical molding strip inside double-hung window jamb, holds lower sash in place.

P. Partition Wall – wall that divides space but does not support structure of house. Penny – was to identify nail length. Permanent – rate of water vapor transmission through a material, measured in perms; the lower the permanents, the better the vapor barrier. Pier – vertical support structure. Plate – the piece of framing which sits directly on the foundation, also electric outlet cover. Plumb -perpendicular (90E?) to horizontal plane. Polyethylene – plastic film used to provide moisture barrier. Polyurethane – plastic film used to provide moisture barrier.

R. Rafter – lumber which supports roof decking. Rake Edge – slanting edge of sloping roof. Receptacle – electric outlet. Reducer (plumbing) – a fitting that changes size of pipe to connect different size pipes. Rebar reinforcing rod – steel rod placed in concrete to increase strength. Relative Humidity – the amount of water vapor expressed as a percentage of the maximum quantity that could be present in the atmosphere at a given temperature. Increase in temperatures yield an increase in the amount of water vapor that can be held in the air. Ridge – horizontal line across top of a pitched roof. Riser – board that connects two treads in a stairway, has a vertical face. Roll Roofing – roofing material composed of fiber saturated with asphalt. Romex – plastic-wrapped cable used in home wiring. Roof Pitch – slope of roof. Roof Tar (roof cement) – sticky material used to seal holes in roofs, walls, and near flashing. Roofing felt – thick, fibrous paper impregnated with asphalt.

S. Sand Finish – plaster containing sand, leaves a rough surface. Sash – move able part of window holding glass. Seat – sealing component in a faucet, ledge in a sash. Septic System – means of disposing of sewage in the ground. Shakes – wood roofing made by splitting pieces of log. Sheathing – thin structural layer used on siding; holds nails for surface layer (decking on roof). Sheathing Paper – paper used between wood board sheathing and the exterior covering to reduce air infiltration. Shim – thin wedge of wood or metal used to fill a space. Sinker – think cement of coated nail used for two inch lumber. Slab – concrete floor placed directly on the earth. Snake (auger) – spring-like tool used to clean drains. Soffit – horizontal underside of roof overhand. Soffit Vent – air vent to allow circulation to prevent heat build up and wood rot. Soil Stack – vent stack from sewage and main drain, extends out of roof. Spall – surface degradation of masonry. Square – a 90E? angle tool. Stop (plumbing) – shut-off valve. Strike Off – smoothing the concrete surface by removing excess by pulling a pushing a 2 X 4 across it. Stringer – a standing piece of framing that supports a stairway. Stucco – plaster made from a mix of cement, sand, and water, usually over a wire mesh. Stud – one upright in framing of a wall. Stud Gap – void between adjacent studs. Subfloor – rough floor laid on joist. Sweat (plumbing) – connect copper pipe by soldering.

T. Take Off – also called schedule of materials, or a list of all building materials required. Tamped – packed down. Tar and Gravel Roof – flat roof with gravel over tar. Tee (plumbing) – fitting that connects three pipes in a T. Thermal conductivity (k) – the amount of heat expressed in British thermal units (B.T.U.) that will pass through 1 square foot of uniform material, 1 inch thick, in 1 hour when the temperature difference between surfaces of the material is 1E? F. The lower this value, the better the material is for insulating. Thumb Hard – material hardened enough to show a thumb impression. Toe Nail – nail at an angel, like through the base of a stud. T & G – tongue-and-grove – interlocking boards with tongue on one side and grove on the other. Topcoat – last coat of paint, stain, or clear finish. Trap – U-shaped section of pipe that holds water and prevents gas backup. Travelers Wires – pair of wires connecting three-way switches. Tread – part of stairs you step on.

U. Undercut – cut away inner edges of crack or hole like inverted V to provide a stronger patching configuration.

V. Vapor Barrier – a material impervious to moisture, which restricts the movement of water vapor from an area of high vapor pressure to one of lower pressure (into house). Ventilation – the circulation of outside air to replace the air within a building. Viscrin – colloquial industry term for a heavy plastic sheeting used to prevent wet walls. VOC – volatile organic compound, for example, paint, solvent, etc.usually toxic. Volt – unit of electrical pulse.

W. Water Seal – a pool of water in a plumbing trap that prevents gas backing up into house. Water Vapor – an invisible gas (water) present in varying amounts in the atmosphere. Waterproofing – making the foundation impervious to water. Waterproof Membrane – 24 mil high-density polyethylene foundation wrap. Watt – a unit of electrical power (= amps X volts). Weather-Stripping – a flexible material that seals a moving piece to a fixed piece (door). Wire Nut – a plastic nut that screws on the end of wires to join them together. Wood Preservative – chemical applied to wood to prevent dry rot, moisture, and insects.

I hope this helps clarify these technical words. To see them used in context, you may want to visit
http://www.basementwaterproofinginfo.com”>http://www.basementwaterproofinginfo.com for additional examples of their application in construction and repair situations.

George Jenney