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ABC’s of Waterproofing Contractors Muddy Technical Talk Clarified
One of the things that happens when you talk to a basement waterproofer or home contractor is that they use specialized words. They usually don’t know they’re doing it, because they use them every day and almost everyone they deal with knows exactly what they mean, except you. Some words are specialized and are not in the dictionary. When you clarify water, you make it clear. We hope that they will do it with their technical words as well. These words apply to almost all types of contractors, including. If you read it, you’ll recognize some terms, but many you’ll say, “Oh, that’s what it means!” We hope you will find them interesting and entertaining.
A. Amp – measure of electric current. Anchor – a joint used for fastening to walls, drywall and other materials that are difficult to fasten. Drill – spring tool for cleaning drains and siphons.
B. Floor panel – molding around the perimeter of the room where the wall and floor meet. Bearing wall – a wall that carries a beam, i.e. the weight of the house. Vent valve – a valve on top of the radiator that lets air and water in. Brick veneer – bricks used instead of cladding. Bracing – A small piece of wood or metal used to support a floor joist.
C. Calcium carbonate (lime) – CaCO3, a component of mortar and Portland cement. Casement Window – a window with vertically hung sashes Switch – a safety device that turns off excess electricity. Distribution box – the central control panel for electricity in the house. Cleanout – an opening that allows access to a drain pipe or siphon sealed with a threaded plug. Concrete – Portland cement, gravel, sand and water after hardening. Condensation – 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 under the living quarters of a house up to 4′ high. Creosote – preservative (previously used) for lower quality wood, also combustible chimneys.
D. Damper – an adjustable plate that regulates the flow of air or smoke in the chimney. Boat floor (roof) – a layer of wood that holds the nails for the shingles. Dew point – the temperature at which water vapor in the air becomes saturated and can no longer retain moisture. Drip Cap – protective slat, usually metal, diverts water over the outer surface. Dry In – construction phase when the building is protected from rain or snow. Dry rot – a fungus that destroys moist wood, leaving the wood with a dry appearance. Drywall – wall board made of plaster sandwiched between heavy paper.
E. Eave – overhang at the bottom of a pitched (sloping) roof. Expansion joint – between blocks of concrete that allows thermal expansion without cracking.
F. Fascia – roofing board, usually behind the gutters. Finishing – for smoothing concrete while it hardens. Installation – electrical switch or socket. Flashing – metal that joins different planes on a roof, roof to chimney, vent, etc. Float – a flat tool used for smoothing plaster, patching, plaster and concrete or a device on a sump pump that turns on the pump when the water rises. Flue – a channel for the passage of hot gas or smoke. Flushing – surfaces that are in one plane. Footing – the mass of concrete below the frost line that supports the foundation. Foundation – the masonry lower part of the wall on which the building is built. Framing – The two-inch-thick lumber that makes up the structure of the house. Frost Line – the depth of the ground to which it freezes.
G. Gable – the triangular part of the wall below the inverted V line of the roof. Beam – the main element in the frame floor that supports the beam. Glazing (or putty) – sealing material that seals casement windows. Level – ground level. Ground – a safety wire that gives electricity an escape route if the neutral wire becomes faulty. Ground Fault Interrupter – a device that cuts off the power supply if it detects dangerous current. Gypsum boards – fire-resistant boards (drywall boards) used for walls and ceilings.
H. Hammer Drill (rotary hammer) – a drill that rotates the bit and simultaneously drives it. Air humidifier – a device that increases or maintains the relative humidity of the air. It adds moisture to the air. HVAC – Heating, ventilation and air conditioning.
I. Ice dam – ice that forms on the edge of the cave from melting snow on the roof. Internal limiter – a slat that separates the upper and lower guide of the sash in case of double-hung windows. Insulation – usually a low density material used to reduce heat loss. Insulation filling – loose form that can be poured or blown. Insulation-Flexible – in the form of a blanket or wool. Insulation-reflective- usually aluminum foil polished to be highly reflective. Insulation-Rigid- insulation boards or plates or blocks.
J. Jamb – a one-inch wood that surrounds a window or door that holds the hinges. Grout – a mason’s tool that shapes and compacts the mortar joint between bricks or blocks. Beam – a frame that supports the floor or ceiling. Junction Box – An electrical box used to hold switches, sockets, etc.
K. k – Thermal conductivity.
L. Lag Screw – heavy duty wood screw (hex or square head). Side latch – the side of the door away from the hinge. Load – anything that requires electricity in a circuit. Carrying capacity – the amount of weight that can be held without exceeding the intended capacity. Bearing wall – carries the weight of the house perpendicular to the beam.
M. Masonry – brick, stone, etc. Mineral spirits – a substitute for turpentine, used as a thinner for points made from petroleum. Miter – angular cut in wood. Moldings – interior cladding of the house. Mortar – a mixture of portland cement, lime, masonry sand and water used for masonry joints. Groove – a shallow rectangular cavity cut out of the wood so that the hinge fits flush. Hydrochloric (hydrochloric) acid – an acid that cleans walls by removing old plaster from the surface.
A. OC (on-center) – distance between centers, such as between studs. OSB – Oriented Strand Board, cheaper and stronger than plywood, is used for cladding and subflooring. Out of Square – meeting except 90Ëš. Outer stop – a vertical slat inside the double window jamb, holds the lower sash in place.
P. Partition wall – a wall that divides space but does not support the structure of the house. Penny – he needed to identify the length of the nail. Permanent – the rate of water vapor permeation through the material, measured in perms; the lower the permanents, the better the vapor barrier. Column – vertical support structure. Plate – the part of the frame that is located directly on the foundation, also the cover of the electrical outlet. Plumb – perpendicular (90Ëš) to the horizontal plane. Polyethylene – plastic film used for moisture protection. Polyurethane – plastic film used for moisture protection.
R. Rafter – wood that supports the roof floor. Rake Edge – the sloping edge of a pitched roof. Receptacle – electrical outlet. Reducer (plumbing) – a connection that changes the size of pipes for connecting pipes of different sizes. Reinforcing bar – a steel bar placed in concrete to increase strength. Relative humidity – the amount of water vapor expressed as a percentage of the maximum amount that can be present in the atmosphere at a given temperature. An increase in temperature leads to an increase in the amount of water vapor that can be held in the air. Ridge – horizontal line across the top of a pitched roof. Ascent – the plate that connects two treads in the staircase, has a vertical face. Roof covering – roofing material composed of fibers saturated with asphalt. Romex – plastic-wrapped cable used in home wiring. Roof slope – roof slope. Roofing tar (roofing cement) – an adhesive material used to seal holes in roofs, walls and near flashings. Roofing felt – thick, fibrous paper impregnated with asphalt.
S. Sand Finish – plaster containing sand, leaves a rough surface. Sash – the movable part of the window that holds the glass. Seat – sealing component in the faucet, protrusion in the skirt. Septic system – a method of disposal of waste water into the ground. Shake – a wooden roof covering made by splitting pieces of logs. Cladding – a thin structural layer used on siding; holds the nails for the surface layer (floor on the roof). Cladding Paper – Paper used between wood panel cladding and exterior cladding to reduce air infiltration. Shim – a thin wedge of wood or metal used to fill space. Sinker – Think of the cement coated nail used for two inch lumber. Slab – concrete floor placed directly on the ground. Snake (svrd) – a spring-like tool for cleaning drains. Soffit – the horizontal underside of the roof overhang. Sofit Vent – a ventilation opening that allows circulation to prevent heat build-up and wood rot. Soil Stack – chimney for ventilation from the sewer and main drain, extending beyond the roof. Spall – surface degradation of masonry. Square – a tool at an angle of 90°. Stop (water supply) – stop valve. Strike Off – smoothing the concrete surface by removing the excess by pulling and pushing the 2 X 4 over it. String – the standing part of the frame that supports the staircase. Gypsum – Plaster made from a mixture of cement, sand and water, usually over a wire mesh. Column – one upright in a wall frame. Stud Gap – gap between adjacent studs. Substrate – a rough floor placed on beams. Sweat (plumbing) – connect the copper pipe by soldering.
T. Takeoff – also called material schedule or list of all necessary building materials. Packed – packed. Tar and gravel roof – a flat roof with gravel over the tar. Tee (plumbing) – a fitting that connects three pipes in a T. Thermal conductivity (k) – the amount of heat expressed in British thermal units (BTU) that will pass through 1 square foot of uniform material, 1 inch thick, in 1 hour when the temperature difference between the surfaces of the material 1Ëš F. The lower this value, the better the material for insulation. Thumb Hard – material hardened enough to see a thumbprint. Toenail – drive an angel, as through the base of a peg. T & G – tongue-and-grove – interlocking plates with tongue on one side and tongue on the other. Finishing layer – the last layer of paint, stain or clear finish. Trap – a U-shaped section of pipe that holds water and prevents gas retention. Passenger wires – a pair of wires that connect the three-way switches. Tread – the part of the stairs that you walk on.
U. Undercut – cut the inside edges of the crack or hole like an inverted V to get a stronger patch configuration.
V. Vapor barrier – a moisture-resistant material that limits the movement of water vapor from an area of high vapor pressure to an area of lower pressure (into the house). Ventilation – circulation of outside air to replace the air inside the building. Viscrin – a colloquial industry term for a heavy plastic film used to prevent wet walls. VOC – Volatile Organic Compound eg paint, solvent, etc. usually toxic. Volt – unit of electrical impulse.
W. Water seal – a pool of water in the siphon that prevents gas from returning to the house. Water vapor – an invisible gas (water) present in varying amounts in the atmosphere. Waterproofing – making the foundation impermeable to water. Waterproof membrane – 24 mil high density polyethylene base coat – unit of electrical power (= amps X volts). Weather-Stripping – flexible material that seals the moving part to the fixed part (door). Wire nut – a plastic nut that attaches to the ends of wires to join them together. Wood preservative – a chemical applied to wood to prevent dry rot, moisture and insects.
I hope this helps clarify these technical words. To see them in context, you may want to visit http://www.basementwaterproofinginfo.com for additional examples of their application in construction and repair situations.
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