Earthquake Strap - A metal strap used to secure gas hot water heaters to the framing or foundation of a house. Intended to reduce the chances of having the water heater fall over in an earthquake and thus causing a gas leak.
Easement - A formal contract which allows a party to use another party's property for a specific purpose. e.g. A sewer easement might allow one party to run a sewer line through a neighbors property.
Eave - The projecting overhang at the lower edge of a roof.
EER (energy efficiency ratio) - A measure of cooling efficiency computer by dividing a cooling unit's output in BTUs by its input in watts.
Efflorescence - A whitish powder sometimes exuded by the mortar joints in masonry work. It's caused by salts rising to the surface.
Elbow (ell) - A plumbing or electrical fitting that lets you change directions in runs of pipe or conduit.
Electric resistance coils - Metal wires that heat up when electric current passes through them and are used in baseboard heaters and electric water heaters.
Electrical entrance package - The entry point of the electrical power including: (1) the 'strike' or location where the overhead electrical lines connect to the house, (2) The meter which measures how much power is used and (3) The 'panel', 'circuit breaker box 'or 'fuse box' where the power can be shut off and overload devices such a fuses or circuit breakers and located.
Emissivity - The efficiency with which a body or material warmer than its surroundings emits radiation.
Energy dissipation basin - A pit or ditch sometimes filled with gravel which is used to collect storm water. Water in the ditch soaks into the ground slowly thus preventing soil eroding runoff and flooding.
Estimating - The process of calculating the cost of a project. This can be a formal and exact process or a quick and imprecise process.
Exposed aggregate - A method of finishing concrete which washes the cement/sand mixture of the top layer of the aggregate - usually gravel. Often used in driveways, patios and other exterior surfaces.
Eutectic salts - A phase-change material.
Evaporator coil - The part of a cooling system that absorbs heat from air in your home. Also see condensing unit.
Expansion joint - Flexible material between two surfaces that enables joints to ride out differing rates of expansion and contraction.
Facing brick - The brick used and exposed on the outside of a wall. Usually these have a finished texture.
Fascia board - Horizontal trim attached to the outside ends of rafters or to the top of an exterior wall.
Felt - Highly absorbent fiber material saturated and impregnated with asphalt and used as backing for rock surfaced roofing materials. Made from organic, asbestos or glass fibers to result in a strong, absorbent and flexible product.
Female Any part, such as a nut or fitting, into which another (male) part can be inserted. Internal threads are female.
Finger joint - A manufacturing process of interlocking two shorter pieces of wood end to end to create a longer piece of dimensional lumber or molding. Often used in jambs and casings.
Finish roof - Shingles, asphalt, etc. used to cover the exterior of a roof.
Fire brick - Brick made of refractory ceramic material which will resist high temperatures. Used in a fireplace.
Fire blocking. Short horizontal members sometimes nailed between studs, usually about halfway up a wall.
Firebrick - Highly heat-resistant brick for lining fireplaces and boilers.
Fixed price contract - A contract with a set price for the work. See Time and Materials Contract.
Flame retention burner - An oil burner, designed to hold the flame near the nozzle surface; generally the most efficient type for residential use.
Flashing - The building component used to connect portions of a roof, deck, or siding material to another surface such as a chimney, wall, or vent pipe. Often made out of various metals, rubber or tar and is mostly intended to prevent water entry.
Floating - The next-to-last stage in concrete work, when you smooth off the job and bring water to the surface.
Floor girder (girder) - A horizontal beam supporting the floor joists.
Floor joist - One of a series of parallel framing members used to support floor loads and supported in turn by larger beams, girders, bearing walls or foundation.
Flue - A pipe or other channel that carries off smoke and combustion gasses to the outside air.
Flue damper - An automatic door located in the flue that closes it off when the burner turns off; purpose is to reduce heat loss up the flue from the still-warm furnace or boiler.
Fluorescent lamp - A light source that instead of "burning" as incandescent bulbs do, uses an ionization process to produce ultraviolet radiation. This turns into visible light when it hits a coating on the tube's inner surface.
Footing - The base on which a masonry wall rests. It spreads out the load to prevent settling.
Forced-air heating - a common form of heating with natural gas, propane, oil or electricity as a fuel. Air is heated in the furnace and distributed through a set of metal plastic ducts to various areas of the house.
Framing - The structural wood and/or metal elements of most homes. The floor and ceiling framing is called the joist work. Wall framing is usually made out of 2" x 4" or 2" x 6" studs. See - rafters, posts, and beams.
Framing in - The construction process generally considered to be from the foundation plate up to the application of exterior finish materials.
Frost line - The depth to which the ground freezes below the surface. This varies from region to region, and determines how deep footings must be.
Fungal wood rot - A common wood destroying organism which develops when wood containing material is exposed to moisture and poor air circulation for a long (6 month +) period of time. Often and incorrectly referred to as dry rot.
Furring - Lightweight wood or metal strips that even up a wall or ceiling for paneling or drywall. On masonry, furring provides a surface on which to nail.
Fuse - A safety device designed to burn out if a circuit shorts or overloads. This protects against fire. Also see circuit breaker, short circuit.