Inspection Terminology

Useful definitions regarding your home inspection

 “Automatic safety controls” means devices designed and installed to protect systems and components from excessively high or low pressures and temperatures, excessive electrical current, loss of water, loss of ignition, fuel leaks, fire, freezing, or other unsafe conditions.

 “Central air conditioning” means a system that uses ducts to distribute cooled or dehumidified air to more than one room or uses pipes to distribute chilled water to heat exchangers in more than one room, and that is not plugged into an electrical convenience outlet.

 “Component” means a readily accessible and observable aspect of a system, such as a floor, or wall, but not individual pieces such as boards or nails where many similar pieces make up the component.

 “Cosmetic damage” means superficial blemishes or defects that do not interfere with the functionality of the component or system.

 “Cross connection” means any physical connection or arrangement between potable water and any source of contamination.

 “Dangerous or adverse situations” means situations that pose a threat of injury to the inspector, or those situations that require the use of special protective clothing or safety equipment.

 “Describe” means report in writing a system or component by its type, or other inspected characteristics, to distinguish it from other systems or components used for the same purpose.

 “Dismantle” means to take apart or remove any component, device or piece of equipment that is bolted, screwed, or fastened by other means and that would not be dismantled by a homeowner in the course of normal household maintenance

 “Enter” means to go into an area to inspect all visible components.

 “Functional drainage” means a drain is functional when it empties in a reasonable amount of time and does not overflow when another fixture is drained simultaneously.

 “Functional flow” means a reasonable flow at the highest fixture in a dwelling when another fixture is operated simultaneously.

 “Inspect” means the act of making a visual examination.

 “Installed” means attached or connected such that an item requires tools for removal.

 “Normal operating controls” means homeowner operated devices such as a thermostat, wall switch, or safety switch.

 “On-site water supply quality” means water quality is based on the bacterial, chemical, mineral, and solids content of the water.

 “On-site water supply quantity” means the rate of flow of on-site well water.

 “Operate” means to cause systems or equipment to function.

 “Readily accessible” means approachable or enterable for visual inspection without the risk of damage to any property or alteration of the accessible space, equipment, or opening.

 “Readily openable access panel” means a panel provided for homeowner inspection and maintenance that has removable or operable fasteners or latch devices in order to be lifted off, swung open, or otherwise removed by one person; and its edges and fasteners are not painted in place. This definition is limited to those panels within normal reach or from a four-foot stepladder, and that are not blocked by stored items, furniture, or building components.

 “Readily visible” means seen by using natural or artificial light without the use of equipment or tools other than a flashlight.

 “Representative number” means, for multiple identical components such as windows and electrical outlets, one such component per room; and, for multiple identical exterior components, one such component on each side of the building.

 “Roof drainage systems” means gutters, downspouts, leaders, splash blocks, and similar components used to carry water off a roof and away from a building.

 “Shut down” means a piece of equipment or a system which cannot be operated by the device or control that a homeowner should normally use to operate it. If its safety switch or circuit breaker is in the “off ” position, or its fuse is missing or blown, the inspector is not required to reestablish the circuit for the purpose of operating the equipment or system.

 “Solid fuel heating device” means any wood, coal, or other similar organic fuel burning device, including but not limited to fireplaces whether masonry or factory built, fireplace inserts and stoves, wood stoves (room heaters), central furnaces, and combinations of these devices.

 “Structural component” means a component that supports non-variable forces or weights (dead loads) and variable forces or weights (live loads).

 “System” means a combination of interacting or interdependent components, assembled to carry out one or more functions.

 “Technically exhaustive” means an inspection involving the use of measurements, instruments, testing, calculations, and other means to develop scientific or engineering findings, conclusions, and recommendations.


 “Under floor crawl space” means the area within the confines of the foundation and between the ground and the underside of the lowest floor structural component.