A Glossary Of Home Inspection Terms

Author: The Home Inspection Squad | | Categories: Commercial Inspection , Home Inspection Company , Residential Inspection


Every industry has its own language and terms. These words and phrases can be confusing to anyone who is not part of the daily operations of a specific sector, and the home inspection business is no exception.

To help you understand the terms, acronyms, and phrases regularly used when liaising with a home inspector, The Home Inspection Squad has created this handy reference guide. Here you’ll find valuable information allowing you to comprehend and communicate your home inspection needs effectively.

AFCI (arc-fault circuit interrupter)
A device intended to protect from the effects of arc faults by recognizing characteristics unique to arcing. It functions by de-energizing the circuit when an arc fault is detected.

Carbon-monoxide (CO) detector
A device that detects the presence of carbon monoxide gas and sounds an alarm to alert occupants of unsafe levels. Many models also have smoke alarms as a dual feature. CO detectors may be solely battery-operated or hard-wired into a structure’s electrical system, with batteries as a backup power source.

Conditioned space
The sections of a house that are intentionally heated or cooled and surrounded by a continuous thermal envelope. It includes an air barrier and thermal barrier.

General home inspection
A non-invasive, visual examination of the accessible areas of a residential property which is performed for a fee. It’s designed to identify defects within specific systems and components (as delineated by applicable standards) observed and deemed material by the inspector. 

The client and inspector may modify the scope of work before the inspection process to exclude certain items typically inspected or expand the inspection to include items not usually checked. It’s also called a home inspection and a standard home inspection.

GFCI (ground-fault circuit interrupter; GFI)
A unique device intended to protect personnel by de-energizing a circuit. It’s capable of opening the circuit even when a small amount of current flows through the grounding system.

The International Association of Certified Home Inspectors (InterNACHI) is the world’s most prominent residential and commercial property inspectors’ association, providing certification, training, benefits, and support.

Kickout flashing
Also known as diverter flashing, kick-out flashing is a special type of flashing that diverts rainwater away from the cladding and into the gutter. If missing, it often results in concentrated areas of water accumulation and potentially severe damage to exterior walls.

Major defect
A significant condition of a system or component that renders it non-working, non-performing, non-functioning, or unsafe and requires a professional contractor to evaluate further and repair, correct, or replace.

Minor defect
A small condition of a system or component that renders it non-working, non-performing, or non-functioning and may be repaired, corrected, or replaced by a professional contractor or the homeowner.

Items of interest noted by an inspector during the walk-through survey portion of an inspection.

Oral consultation
A limited visual inspection of specific systems, structures, or components of a property, after which the inspector prepares no written report. They communicate their findings, opinions, conclusions, and recommendations verbally to the client.

Pressure-reducing valve
A valve installed in the water service line where it enters the building to reduce the pressure to an acceptable, desirable rate (40 psi to 55 psi).

A naturally-occurring radioactive gas found in soil that is heavier than air. Radon gas exposure in abnormally high levels is associated with lung cancer. Mitigation measures may involve crawlspace and basement venting and the installation of various forms of vapor barriers and fans.

A shallow drainage ditch used in conditions where one or more sides of a building face an upward slope. A swale should slope away from the building for ten to fifteen feet, at which point it can empty into another swale that directs water around to the downhill side of the building, leading it away from the foundation.

Whole-house fan
A type of fan or exhaust system installed in a home’s attic designed to pull air out of the building and force it into the attic space. It causes a positive pressure differential in the attic. It forces the air out through the gable or soffit vents while simultaneously producing a negative pressure differential inside the living areas. It draws air in through open windows, not to be confused with an attic fan, which removes some hot air from the attic space.

If you’re looking for a home inspector, reach out to the experts at The Home Inspection Squad. With many years of experience in the home inspection industry, we specialize in residential and commercial inspections.

We offer annual home inspections, mobile home inspections, phase inspections, condo inspections, wind mitigation inspections, mold inspections, and thermal imaging inspections.

We offer our services across Salem, Columbus, Phenix City, Opelika, Smiths Station, Auburn, LaGrange, Midland, Cataula, West Point, Valley, Eufaula, Pine Mountain, and the surrounding areas. 

Please view our complete list of services here, or get in touch with us here.