Home Inspection Terms – Glossary – H-Beam to HVAC


An H-beam is an H-Shaped steel structural member, frequently used as a column.

Hall:   A room at the entrance of a building or a passage that provides access to various parts of a building.

Hard Finish:   The smooth, finished coat of plaster that is applied over rough plastering.

Hardware:   The metal fittings of a building; e.g., hinges, locks, lifts, doorknobs.

Hardwood:   Lumber cut from broad-leaved trees, e.g., oak, mahogany, walnut, birch, that is used for interior finishing and flooring; refers to a type of tree, not the hardness of the wood.

HARV/HVAC/HVACR:   Heating, air conditioning, refrigeration, ventilation. A catch acronym for the four areas of mechanical engineering. It refers to the heating, air conditioning and duct work components.

Hatchway:   A lifting or sliding door in a ceiling that gives access to an attic; a similar door in a floor, giving access to a cellar.

Header:   A framing member which crosses and supports the ends of joists.

Head Jamb:  

A head jamb is a piece of finish material placed across the underside of the top of a door or window opening.

Head Lap:   Shortest distance form the butt edge of an overlapping shingle to the upper edge of a shingle in the second course below. The triple coverage portion of the top lap of strip shingles.

Hearth:   The floor of a fireplace. The front hearth extends out into the room and may be of brick or decorative stone; the back hearth is inside the fireplace and usually made of firebrick.

Heat Exchanger:   The internal metal jacket in a forced air furnace that often cracks or rusts through.

Heating System:   Any device or system for heating a building; usually, a furnace or boiler used to generate steam, hot water or hot air; a burner or air device that uses coal, oil, gas or electricity to heat water or air that is then circulated through the system, Types of heating systems include warm air, hot water, direct steam, radiant and electrical.

Heating, Ventilation, and Air-Conditioning system (HVAC):   A unit that regulates the distribution of heat, cooling and fresh air throughout a building.

Heat Pump:   A reverse cycle refrigeration unit that can be used for heating or cooling.

Hex Shingles:   Shingles that have the appearance of a hexagon after installation.

High Wind Area:   All areas along the coast that have been determined to be in high wind area.

Hip:   The inclined external angle formed by the intersection of two sloping roof planes. Runs from the ridge to the eaves.

Hip Roof:   A roof which slopes upward from all four sides of a building.

Hip Shingles:   Shingles used to cover the inclined external angle formed by the intersection of two sloping roof planes.

Hollow-Newel Stair:   A circular stairway with a well hole in the middle.

Hollow Wall:   A wall, usually of masonry, that consists of two vertical components with an air space in between.

Hood:   A canopy over a casement window; the part of a fireplace that projects over the hearth; a chimney cap that eliminates down draft; a canopy over a cooking appliance that is usually ventilated to control and disperse heat or offensive odors.

Horizontal:   Parallel to the horizon.

Horsefeathers:   See Feathering Strips

Hose Bib:   Faucet on the exterior of the house providing water to a garden hose.

Hot Tub:   A large wooden or fiberglass tub in which a group of people may soak. Usually equipped with water heater, circulating pump, chlorinator and filter.

Hot Water System:   A heating system consisting basically of a boiler, radiators, expansion tank and interconnection piping. The system is filled with water which circulates from the boiler through the pipes and radiators where its heat is liberated, the water returning to the boiler. Such heating systems are classified as gravity or forced circulation systems, either of one or two pipes and with open or closed expansion tanks.

House:   A dwelling; may be single or double; e.g., duplex, townhouse, row house, split-level ranch.

Household Appliances:   Kitchen and laundry appliances, room air conditioners and similar appliances.


See heating, ventilation and air conditioning system.