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Construction Terms and Slang

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A/C Circuit
(Alternating Current) The flow of current through a conductor first in one direction then in reverse. It is used exclusively in residential and commercial wiring because it provides greater flexibility in voltage selection and simplicity of equipment design.

Above Grade
The portion of a building that is above ground level.

Accelerator
Any material added to stucco, plaster or mortar which speeds up the natural set.

Acme
(slang) Mythical manufacturer of anything that does not live up to promised performance or expectation.

Acre
43,500 square feet.

Adhesion
The property of a coating or sealant to bond to the surface to which it is applied.

Adhesive Failure
Loss of bond of a coating or sealant from the surface to which it is applied.

Aggregate
Crushed stone, slag or water-worn gravel that comes in a wide range of sizes that is used to surface built-up roofs.

Air Dried Lumber
Lumber that has been piled in yards or sheds for any length of time. For the United States as a whole, the minimum moisture content of thoroughly air dried lumber is 12 to 15 percent and the average is somewhat higher. In the South, air dried lumber may be no lower than 19 percent.

Air Duct
Ducts, usually made of sheet metal, that carry cooled air to all rooms.

Air Filters
Adhesive filters made of metal or various fibers that are coated with adhesive liquid to which the particles of lint and dust adhere. These filters will remove as much as 90% of the dirt if they do not become clogged. The more common filters are of the throwaway or disposable type.

Air Infiltration
The amount of air leaking in and out of a building through cracks in walls, windows and doors.

Airway
A space between roof insulation and roof boards for movement of air.

All Lines Are Busy
(slang) Exclamation used when someone is not paying any attention to you.

Alligatoring
A condition of paint or aged asphalt brought about by the loss of volatile oils and the oxidation caused by solar radiation. Coarse checking pattern characterized by a slipping of the new paint coating over the old coating to the extent that the old coating can be seen through the fissures."Alligatoring" produces a pattern of cracks resembling an alligator hide and is ultimately the result of the limited tolerance of paint or asphalt to thermal expansion or contraction.

Alpha
(slang) Someone who is in a constant alpha (i.e., inattentive) brainwave state, sometimes due to television. See also: Going alpha.

Aluminum Wire
Conductors made of aluminum for carrying electricity. Aluminum generally is limited to the larger wire sizes. Due to its lower conductivity, aluminum wire smaller than No. 12 is not made. Aluminum is lighter and less expensive than copper but not as good a conductor. It also breaks easily.

Ambient Space Pudding
(slang) Bland soothing electronic music (Muzak), that induces sleepiness.

Ammeter
Device to measure the current flowing in a circuit

Amps (Amperes)
The rate at which electricity flows through a conductor.

Anchor Bolts
In residential construction, Bolts to secure a wooden sill plate to concrete, or masonry floor or wall. In commercial construction, Bolts which fasten columns, girders or other members to concrete or masonry such as bolts used to anchor sills to masonry foundation.

Angle Iron
A piece of iron that forms a right angle and is used to span openings and support masonry at the openings. In brick veneer, they are used to secure the veneer to the foundation. Also known as shelf angle.

Annealing
In the manufacturing of float glass, it is the process of controlled cooling done in a lehr to prevent residual stresses in the glass. Re-annealing is the process of removing objectionable stresses in glass by re-heating to a suitable temperature followed by controlled cooling.

Anti-Walk Blocks
Elastomeric blocks that limit lateral glass movement in the glazing channel which may result from thermal, seismic, wind load effects, building movement, and other forces that may apply.

Approach
The area between the sidewalk and the street that leads to a driveway or the transition from the street as you approach a driveway.

Apron
The flat member of the inside trim of a window placed against the wall immediately beneath the stool.

Architect
A tradesman who designs and produces plans for buildings, often overseeing the building process.

Architects Rule
Three sided ruler with different scales on each side. Also referred to as a "scale."

Areaway
An open subsurface space adjacent to a building used to admit light or air or as a means of access to a basement.

Asphalt
A dark brown to black, highly viscous, hydrocarbon produced from the residue left after the distillation of petroleum. Asphalt is used on roofs and highways as a waterproofing agent. Most native asphalt is a residue from evaporated petroleum. It is insoluble in water but soluble in gave. line when heated. Used widely in building for waterproofing roof coverings of many types, exterior wall coverings, flooring tile, and the like.

Astragal
A molding, attached to one of a pair of swinging doors, against which the other door strikes.

Attic Ventilators
In houses, a screened opening provided to ventilate an attic space. They are located in the soffit area as inlet ventilators and in the gable end or along the ridge as outlet ventilators. They can also consist of power-driven fans used as an exhaust system. (See also Louver.)

Auger
In carpentry, a wood-boring tool used by a carpenter to bore holes

Automagically
(slang) How any not-readily-understood process occurs.