Glossary – P

Panel:   A section of a surface, e.g., a wall, ceiling, that is raised or recessed and usually enclosed in a frame like border; prefabricated construction materials, e.g., gypsum board, plywood, fiberboard, plasterboard.

Panel Board:   A panel to which are attached electrical meters and control equipment for electrical service distribution.

Panel Heating:   A radiant heating system; one in which pipes or coils are embedded in walls or ceilings to serve as heating panels.

Parapet:   A low wall or railing along the edge of a roof, balcony, bridge or terrace; constructed for protection, to control water, resulting from rain or artificial flooding or to insulate against sun’s rays.

Parapet Wall:   That part of a wall which extends above the roof line.

Parquet Floor:   A floor that is laid in rectangular or square patterns, not in long strips; often of pre-finished, thin, fabricated wood blocks.

Partition:   An interior wall that divides a building; e.g., a permanent, inside wall that divides a house into various rooms.

Party Wall:   A common wall erected along the boundary between adjoining properties; the respective owners have common right of use.

Patio:   A courtyard; an open paved area used for outdoor living and which may or may not be partially or entirely surrounded by rooms or other parts of a house.

Penetrating Oil:   Oil used to loosen joints, particularly rusted ones, between metal parts.

Penthouse:   A building on the roof of a structure that contains elevator machinery, ventilating equipment, etc.; separate dwelling or apartment on the roof of an apartment house or other building; any roof-like shelter or overhanging part, e.g., a part that shelters a doorway.

Percolate:   To pass slowly through a small opening, as a liquid. To filter.

Percolation Rate:   Period of time it takes for water to be absorbed into the soil.

Perimeter:   The total length of the periphery of a given area; e.g., the distance around the outside of a building.

Permanent Incorporation:  When referring to wood framing members, this occurs when the wood is cut to size and nailed in place.

Perpendicular:   Being at right angles (90 degrees) to a given line, plane or surface.

Picture Window:   A large window, usually a fixed pane of plate or insulating glass; sometimes divided into small panes designed to command an interesting view or allow more light into the interior of the building.

Pier:   A masonry column, usually rectangular in horizontal cross-section, used to support other structural members. Also a platform extending into water.

Pigtail:   (1) A flexible conductor attached to a light fixture which provides a means of connecting the fixture of a circuit. (2) A short length of copper conductor that is attached to the end of an aluminum branch circuit by a special fastener. The copper conductor is then fastened to the terminal of a switch or outlet.

Pilaster:   A pier-type projection of the foundation wall that is used to support a floor girder or stiffen the wall.

Piling:   Beams driven vertically to support a building, bridge.

Pilot Flame:   Small gas flame or electric spark that ignites a gas burner in a range, water heater, dryer, furnace or boiler.

Pilot Hole:   Starter hole drilled into wood or metal before inserting a screw or nail to prevent fastener from splitting wood. Diameter of hole must be smaller than fastener.

Pilot Orifice:   Small hole in a pilot through which gas passes before igniting.

Pitch:   The degree of roof incline expressed as the ratio of the rise, in feet, to the span, in feet.

Plaster:   A mixture of lime, sand and water that is used to finish walls and ceilings.

Plenum:   A chamber or large duct above a furnace that serves as a distribution area.

Plumb:   To determine if a vertical surface is exactly perpendicular (90 degrees) to a horizontal plane.

Ply:   A term to denote the number of sheets in a layered construction, such as plywood, roofing, etc.

Pointing (Repointing):  The filling of open mortar joints. Removal of deteriorated mortar from between joints of masonry units and replacement of it with new mortar. Poor:  In below-average condition given its age and function, will need substantial repair or replacement in the reasonably near future, showing definite signs of wear and/or usage.

Porte Cochere:   A roof that extends from a building’s entrance over an adjacent driveway to shelter people getting in or out of vehicles.

Portico:   A roof supported by columns, either part of a building or standing alone.

Powder Actuated Fasteners:   A fastener which is set (usually into masonry or concrete) by a powder charge.

Primary Windows and Doors:   Windows and/or doors which are designed to remain in their respective openings year round and not left open for the entire summer.

Prime:   To apply an undercoat of paint or sealer to seal pores of wood and provide a surface to which finish coats can adhere.

PRV:   Pressure Release Valve. Serves as a safety device on water heaters and boilers.

PTL:   Pressure Treated Lumber. Resistant to water and insects.

Pulley:   A wheel grooved to receive a cord, cable, or belt, such as in a window sash, roll-up garage door, or blower.

Purlin:   A structural member that is laid horizontally to support roof rafters or a roof deck; in mansard roof construction, a base that supports the rafters in the upper slope of a gambrel or mansard roof.

Pyramid Roof:   A roof with four sides and four ridges that resembles a pyramid; usually comes to a point in the center.

PVC:   Polyvinyl chloride (plastic) waste line material.