Air Sampling
Also known as “indoor air quality (IAQ) testing”, “air testing”, “mold testing” or similar, refers to the process of collecting samples of ambient air and its contents from a selected indoor area of a property. The most commonly accepted method of open-area air sampling involves a specially calibrated air pump machine that regulates air flow across special sampling media that captures (collects) contents from the air. Inner-wall air sampling is another method and involves drilling small holes into a wall. A tube can then be inserted into the wall cavity for the purpose of drawing out air so that its contents can be collected on the sampling media. The sampling media is then analyzed by a laboratory to determine the type of and concentrations of any contents (biological or non-biological) present in the air taken from that area of the property.

Abatement is the action of minimizing the presence and danger of hazardous material such as lead, asbestos, and mold by reducing it in amount, degree, or intensity.

In regards to water damage or sewage backup, abatement is the ability of a water damage restoration technician to contain, control, and completely eliminate water related bacteria and/or sewage related pollutants.

Also group into anti-microbial, anti-fungal refers to the prevention of the growth and spreading of fungi (mold) and its spores. This often involves the use of solvents or chemicals applied to building materials for the prevention of such growth.

A naturally occurring fibrous mineral that has been used commonly in a variety of building construction materials for insulation and as a fir-retardant. Due to its strength and heat resistant properties, asbestos has been used for a wide range of manufactured goods, mostly in building materials, machinery friction parts and heat/fire-resistant fabrics. Its inclusion in these products has been a controversy due to the adverse health effects one can experience from exposure. Some of the most common major health issues experienced by those exposed to asbestos include: Asbestosis, Lung Cancer and Mesothelioma.

This term is used, in regards to water damages, to describe the temporary ability of porous materials to hold and retain liquid water and water vapors over a period of time.

Absorption is used to describe the temporary holding of moisture in porous and semi-porous building materials (carpets, sub-floor padding, and sheetrock) that have been water damaged.

Access Flooring
This term is used to describe a raised area of a floor that has removable panels to allow access to the floor and space below the primary floor. For example: in office buildings, a computer floor is often an access floor. In the event of water damage, access floors must be carefully examined by the computer personnel first and only then by water damage technicians.

Acoustic Materials
Acoustic materials are materials, planned to absorb sound and noise, such as carpet and acoustic tiles. These materials are often highly absorbents, and tend to hold a lot of water, moisture, and humidity after a water-related damage.

Administrative Record
An administrative record is a collection of documents established in compliance with Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA) requirements. Administrative records must be available to the public and should be placed at the facility at issue.

An airlock is a chamber allowing entrance to a contaminated space without affecting the environmental conditions of this space, or its surroundings.

An Allergen is a normal substance such as a drug, pollen, or microorganism that causes an acute defensive reaction in a person’s immune system. These reactions include sneezing, itching, skin rashes, and respiratory irritations.

APR stands for: Air Purifying Respirator.


Black Mold – see Toxic Mold

Back Pressure
Back pressure is a result of improper use of air drying equipment during water damage restoration projects. It happens when air drying fans are positioned improperly under wet carpets and to wall cavities. Back pressure is caused by the restriction of air velocity while trapping humidity in surfaces such as walls or cabinet.

Background and Post Clearance Sampling
Usually performed by industrial hygienists, background and post clearance sampling is method to collect historical and current baseline data information for a post clearance testing. After an extensive fire or water damage, most of the historical and baseline data is destroyed due to changes in a structure’s micro flora. In these cases new baseline data must be established for the structure and its occupants after restoration is complete.

Background Concentration
Background concentration is a term, used to describe the level and concentration of air, organisms, and chemicals that are part of natural processes. Background concentrations are gathered outside and are usually the starting point for determining acceptable levels of outside gases, particles and microorganism compared to inside gases, particles and microorganism levels.

Background Measurements
Background measurements are basic readings of a given atmosphere, used as comparative measurements, measuring against questionable atmospheres. Background measurements will include temperature, humidity and moisture readings.

Baseline Data
Baseline data is the environmental information, gathered to determine the accumulations of biological, chemical, toxins and other physical properties of a structure.

Backwashing is the process of removing sewage effluents from contaminated buildings. Flooding contaminated areas with fresh water and detergents, causes flushing contaminates out of their settled sources.

Base Flood Elevation (BFE)
The computed elevation to which floodwater is anticipated to rise during the base flood. Base flood elevations are shown on Flood Insurance Rate Maps (FIRMs) and on the flood profiles. The BFE is the regulatory requirement for the elevation or flood proofing of structures. The relationship between the BFE and a structure’s elevation determines the flood insurance premium.

Biological Contaminants
Agents derived from, or that are, living organisms such as viruses, bacteria, fungi, etc. that can be inhaled and can cause many types of health effects including allergic reactions, respiratory disorders, illness and disease in persons who are exposed or susceptible. Also referred to as biological pollutants, bio-pollutants, microbiologicals, and microbials.

The term biohazard is used to describe any type of biological waste. Often, this biological waste is pathogenic in nature or contaminated in some way. Biohazard also includes infectious agents that present a risk or potential health risk. Biohazard can be found in water damaged buildings where bacteria is present because of a sewage backflow or where fungi is allowed to grow and the condition eventually affects the health of the building’s occupants.

Biohazards must be eliminated by professionals as if improperly handled, both sewage bacteria and wet building material fungi are known to cause serious health effects. In addition, if improperly handled, the contamination is most likely still present in the building, causing a higher risk of exposure to the occupants.

Bioremediation is a cleanup and decontamination process using naturally occurring or specially cultivated microorganisms to digest contaminants naturally and break them down into non-hazardous components.


Is the transfer of a contamination from one area to another area through either physical contact or air exchange. Cross-contamination involving mold can occur when it is on a surface or airborne. Surface cross-contamination occurs when the mold directly touches a person or object that then transfers to a different area of the property. Air cross-contamination occurs when the air in an area contaminated with airborne mold spores exchanges with an area of low or no airborne mold spores. Once occupying a new area, the cross-contaminated mold may come into contact with the resources it needs to begin new growth (a new colony) or a person who could suffer from adverse health effects.



Expert Witness
An individual who possesses an exceptional or specialized knowledge beyond that of the average person, often through education, training or experience, who presents testimony in a legal manner, such as in a trial or administrative hearing, in a deposition or an affidavit, or in any other type of proceeding. Professionals from Indoor-Restore are often retained by council in court cases involving mold in properties, water damage insurance claims or property defects.


Fire Damage Restoration
The process of returning a property to its condition prior to when fire or smoke damage occurred through the cleaning of damaged building material, demolition of irreparable material, cleaning any recoverable household items, applying odor removing detergents and solvents and/or rebuilding any parts of the property that require it.


Also known as “fungus” or “mold”, fungi is a diverse group of single-celled organisms that also include mushroom, smuts, rusts and yeasts. They are decomposers of organic matter such as wood, plants, fabric and animals and can be found both indoors and outdoors. To survive, fungi basically needs organic nutrients, moisture and oxygen.


Gage Pressure
Gage pressure is the usual term that refers to the pressure measured relative to the atmospheric pressure.

Gallons per Minute (GPM)
GPM is a unit of measure used to indicate the rate of water flow. It signifies how many gallons are pumped out by an equipment, outlet or a drain from water source every minute.

Geographic Information System (GIS)
The GIS is a system that retrieves electronic files and databases of environmental measurements taken from a specific location and merge them with electronic maps showing geographic features. This system allows scientist to show large amounts of data on a particular location on a map. Information includes lanscape features as well as wetlands and land use.

Gleying is a term used to describe the formation of black, gray, greenish or blue-gray color in soils after a flood.

Gray Water / Greywater
Gray water is also known as sullage and refers to the non-industrial wastewater from households and small commercial establishments generated from domestic activities like dish washing, laundry and bathing. This is basically 50 to 80 percent of residential wastewater but excludes water from toilets, which is classified differently as blackwater. Gray water derives its name from the cloudy appearance and is neither fresh nor heavily polluted. Gray water is classified differently from blackwater, which contains fecal matter and toxic chemicals.

Grease Fire
A grease fire refers to the type of fire resulting from cooking oil or any other flammable cooking or lubricating materials. This type of fires are classified as Class B, F or K fire.

Ground Fault Interrupter (GFI)
A GFI is a safety device installed in a home or a structure that aims to interrupt surges in electricity from the electrical power lines, appliances and other electrical devices and components.

Groundwater are subsurface water coming from undergound streams, which can be collected through wells. Groundwater can also flow naturally towards the surface of the earth in the form of springs. Groundwater is a potential source of drinking water. Environmental restoration and management is performed to prevent groundwater contamination from pesticides, sewage, industrial wastes and runoffs from agricultural lands.

Groundwater Basin
A reservoir for groundwater is called a groundwater basin. It is defined and bounded by an overlying land surface and underlying aquifers from water is stored in the reservoir. An aquifer is an layer of water-bearing permeable rocks containing gravel, sand, silt or clay. An aquifer is where a groundwater is extracted.

Groundwater Overdraft
A groundwater overdraft is a condition where the amount of water drawn by pumping from a graound water basin is more than what the basin can recharge over a period on years.

Also called a downspout, a gutter is a channel attached to the eaves of the roof for the purpose of diverting water away from the foundations of a home. Gutters are made of various materials but are usually fabricated from plastic, copper or galvanized iron sheets.


Homeowner’s Insurance
Is a form of insurance that can be obtained by an owner of a home as a form of protection in the event of a defect, failure or natural disaster that results in damage to a property, the items contained within it or its occupants. The premium for this insurance is determined by the organization providing the insurance. The extent of what a homeowner’s insurance policy covers varies by policy type and company. It is important for a policyholder to carefully read and understand the level of coverage they have.

Homeowner’s Insurance Claim
A request made by the owner of a property and carrier of a homeowner’s insurance policy for approval of repairs needed to recover from damages that occurred to their property, its contents or its occupants. A claim often is made following a flood, fire or robbery. The limit of what a claim will pay for varies depending on the policy type and company. Typically, maximum payout amounts (or caps) are set by the insurer for the various situations the policy covers.


An incident is an event caused by humans or due to natural occurrences, which requires emergency action or services. Such events, like a wild land fire, require immediate attention to prevent injury or loss of life and to prevent damages to property and natural resources.

Incidental Damages
An incidental damage occurs coincidentally with another loss or disaster. An example is water damage caused by firefighters during the attempt to stop a raging fire.

Independent Adjuster
An independent adjuster is an independent contractor employed by a property and casualty insurance company to act as their representative to settle claims put forward by their insured clients. The adjuster’s job is to evaluate the merits of these claims and recommends courses of actions to the insurance company. Independent adjusters are hired by insurance companies.

Indoor Air Pollution
See Indoor Air Quality; You may also visit our page on indoor air pollution.

Indoor Air Quality (IAQ)
The IAQ within and around homes, buildings and structures refer to the quality of air in these areas in relation to the health and comfort of its occupants. Some of the indoor air pollutants that can cause problems on air quality include microbial contaminants coming from mold or bacteria, chemicals like carbon monoxide and radon, natural or synthetic allergens, and other diffused matter in the air that can cause health effects. These air pollutants have been known to cause respiratory problems like asthma. According to recent findings, indoor air can be more polluted than outdoor air and pose a greater health hazard if not addressed appropriately. Ways to improve indoor air quality include proper ventilation, filtration, and source control. Restoration companies employ techniques for analyzing IAQ include the collection of air samples to be analyzed for mold, bacteria, chemicals and other health stressors. These analysis can lead to the determination of the sources of contaminations so proper remediation can be performed.

Indoor Air Quality Testing
See Air Sampling

An infection is an invasion of microorganisms or bacteria in the body that causes a multiplication of germs and can pose a serious health risk. Infections can be caused by exposure to a bacteria source like molds, fungi, flood or sewage.

An infiltration is a term used in restoration to the leaking of outside air into a home or building through the cracks, fissures and holes in windows and walls. The differential in pressure between conditions indoor against that outside is causing these seepages to occur.

Infrared Drying
Infrared drying is a process used in restoration to enhance the drying process of an area or an object using infrared lamps or heaters through electromagnetic radiation. An electrically operated infrared heater or lamp uses a filament (usually tungsten or carbon) that is enclosed in a heat-resistant casing or tube of quartz glass. A filling on an inert gas, usually halogen, is placed inside the quarts tube to prevent filament degradation.

Infrared Thermal Imaging
The use of specialized digital infrared imaging equipment to detect variances in the infrared light spectrum that can indicate the presence of moisture, mold or water damaged building material. To learn more about infrared thermal imaging and an infrared inspection, visit our Infrared Inspection Services Page.

Inhalable Particulates
These particles are microscopic and airborne in nature and can be ingested into the respiratory system. Some inhalable particulates are components of smog or smoke as a result of recent fires, or spores injected into the air by molds and fungi infestation.

An inorganic compound is a material that is derived from a mineral and not from an animal or plant.

In-Plant Restoration
The terminology is used to refer to the restoration of an item that is performed in the contractor’s plant or facility.

Inspection is the process of looking carefully at something. In restoration terminologies, inspection refers to the careful investigation of a structure for possible damages, which includes structural, water, fire, smoke and microbial damages. During home sales, a pre-sale home inspection is often required before escrow, to check for possible structural, chemical, water and mold damages in the home for sale.

Institute of Inspection Cleaning and Restoration Certification (IICRC)
The IICRC is a non-profit organization devoted to the certification and standard setting for the flooring inspection, floor covering, specialized cleaning and disaster restoration industry. It aims to set the standards within these industries and promote ethics, effective communication and technical proficiency. Aside from its role as a governing body, the IICRC also provides and disseminates information to maintain productive and fair recommendations throughout the industry. This is done to provide protection for the consumers, workers in the industry, and the environment.

Insulation is a material used to prevent of inhibit the conduction of heat, sound or electricity. Electrical wires are coated with waterproof plastic or rubber coatings to protect against moisture or water, which can act as a good conductor. Building insulations are used to slow down the transfer of heat through walls to provide comfort by maintaining a uniform temperature, and to reduce energy costs. Heat transfers are reduced in homes and buildings through the construction of double walls or hollow tiles lined with thermal insulation materials. Soundproofing, on the other hand, provides acoustic insulation or the reduction or elimination of sound intensity.

Intensity is the amount or degree of strength of light, heat, sound, electricity or force per unit area or volume.

Investigative Demolition
An investigative demolition is used in the restoration process to check or investigate possible damaging conditions in a home or building through the removal of certain building components. An example is to detach a panel of a drywall to check or test the conditions of the inner wall for water damage or mold infestation.

An iodophor is a mixture containing iodine, detergent and a solubilizing agent. Iodophors are good sanitizing agents, which slowly releases iodine when it comes into contact with bacteria. Unlike other sanitizers, it leaves no residues as it can sublimate directly from liquid to gas.

An irritant is a substance that causes inflammation or allergies in certain organs like the skin, eyes, lungs and other parts of the body. Irritants can certain chemicals or minerals or can be organic substances.


Jack Rafter
A jack rafter refers the part of the common rafter that is shorter that usual length of the main rafters and is used for framing a hip rafter, a valley rafter or both.

Job Hazard Analysis
Job-related injuries and fatalities occur every day in the workplace, particularly in fire, flood, and water damage restoration. One possible reason for such injuries is that the worker is not well trained in the proper job procedure. A job hazard analysis of a particular project identifies hazards, corrective actions, required safety equipment and the training necessary to ensure employee and public safety.

Job Scope
The job scope refers to the restoration work, the procedures to be followed, and the safety and precautionary measures to be observed when performing fire, flood, sewage, smoke and water damage restoration of homes, buildings and other structures including their contents. The basic guidelines and steps involved in a job scope include:

Loss assessment and evaluation
Consideration of the structure and contents
Categorization of damage (water, fire, smoke, sewage, etc)
Principles of drying
Final inspection and completion

A joist, used in structural terms, refers the horizontal or parallel beams or bars of timber, metal or concrete that runs from wall to wall, beam to wall, or beam to beam to support ceiling rafters, roofs or floors. A bean is bigger and distinct from a joist. Usually, joists are supported by beams. A bandsill is another term for joist used in the construction industry, and is a term used by southeast U.S. home inspectors.



A laminate is a material that is formed by bonding two or more layers of material together in a process called lamination. A laminate is often used in interior finishing and acts as scratch or wear surfaces in countertops or cabinets.

Laminated Beam
A laminated beam is a wooden structural member used in construction and finishing and is made by laminating several pieces of wood together under heavy pressure.

Latent Damages
A certain event can cause damages that are not presently visible or can occur after some time. These types of damages are called latent damages. An example is the occurrence of floods. If drying occurs naturally without proper restoration procedures, latent damages can occur after a few days such as mold infestations, deterioration of wood and structural damages.

Latexes may be natural or synthetic. Common forms are the milky sap that comes from certain plants that coagulates when exposed to air. Latex is used in gloves or used as backing for carpets.

Lead is a material used in paint, pipes of many older homes, and is considered hazardous to health. Proper handling and removal of lead-based materials should be consulted with the local environmental protection agency and coordinated with qualified restoration companies.

Lifting Techniques
During cleaning or restoration activities, it is important to perform proper lifting techniques to prevent injury or damage. This is done by bending your knees while keeping the back straight and maintaining a proper grip when lifting heavy equipment or fixtures.

A resilient flooring material that is made from coating burlap or canvas with powdered cork, rosin and solidified linseed oil is called linoleum. Pigments are added to the materials to provide color. Inlaid linoleum is the finest linoleum floors and is made by inlaying solid pieces of linoleum. Other linoleum varieties like the patterned types are cheaper but are not very durable to wear and tear.

A lintel is a horizontal support used over a door or a window and usually made of angled iron bars.

Load Bearing
The load bearing of a building is a wall, partition or pilaster that supports the load of the structure.

Lowest Floor
The lowest floor in a building or structure refers to the lowest enclosed area, which includes the basement. An unfinished or flood-resistant enclosure that is separate from a basement area and is used particularly for parking of vehicles, access to buildings or storage is not considered the lowest floor.


In restoration terms, maintenance refers to activities performed to care and upkeep surroundings and facilities to prevent damage and deterioration.

Mandatory Purchase
Under the provisions of the Flood Disaster Protection Act of 1973, a mandatory purchase means individuals, businesses, and others who are buying, constructing or renovating properties, which are located in flood-prone areas, are required to purchase flood insurance. Properties without insurance will not receive any direct or indirect financial or disaster assistance from the federal government.

Masonry refers to the construction of structures using materials such as tile, marble, brick, cement, stone, granite or similar materials, which are bound together by mortar. Masonry is a highly durable form of construction.

Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDS)
MSDS are important documentation that provides and explains valuable information about a chemical product. Information included in the MSDS is the name of the chemical, hazardous ingredients, targeted organs that should be protected, spill clean up methods, and what people should do in case of an emergency.

Maximum Contamination Level (MCL)
After flood damage restoration, water sources can be checked for MCL, which is the highest concentration of a particular constituent of drinking water that is permitted by federal and state Safe Drinking Water Act regulations.

Mechanical Contractor
Professionals engaging in plumbing, piping and HVAC work are referred to as mechanical contractors.

Membranes are thin and pliable roofing materials on flat roofs.

Mitigation in structural terms refers to the restoration work on a loss site due to flood, sewage, mold, fire and water damage with the aim of reducing risks, protection, securing and preserving the property.

Mitigate means to lessen or compensate for a previous event that had significant impact on a structure or area.

A coating or discoloration on moist surfaces due to molds or fungi is called mildew.

Mobilization is the process and procedures used by all federal, state, local and private organizations in an area or community in response or support to a particular incident like floods, fires, or natural calamities. This includes the activating, assembling and transporting of needed resources as requested.

Moisture Meter
Also called a hygrometer, a moisture meter is used to measure the moisture content of the structure, structural components and contents. Moisture meters can either be penetrating or non-penetrating.

Mold Remediation
The process of removing, cleaning and treating fungi (mold) that has grown on building material and/or furniture inside of a property. This process often involves the use of special anti-fungal solutions and commercial-grade equipment. To learn more about mold remediation, visit our Mold Remediation Services Page.

Mold Testing
See Air Sampling or Source Sampling

Molds are a form of fungi, which are naturally occurring in nature. These microorganisms produce enzymes that digest dead organic matter and help in the natural process of decomposition. However, mold infestations that occur within the home and other establishments can cause serious health risks to its human inhabitants. Molds are attracted to moisture, particularly on damp areas or surfaces, which have exposure to water damage Molds propagate through spores released through the air and lands on moisture-rich surfaces.

Mycotoxins are a diverse class of compounds that are poisonous or hazardous to one’s health. These are produced by microorganisms like molds, mushroom and other fungi. Mycotoxins are produced on mold spores and they can remain toxic even if the spore is dead.


National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH)
NIOSH is a federal agency that makes recommendations on values for exposure limits of various industrial and commercial substances.

National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA)
NEPA was passed by Congress in 1969 as the basic national law for the protection and care of the environment. NEPA sets all policies and procedures for the protection of the environment. Part of this function includes the authorization of Environmental Impact Statements as well as Environmental Assessments, which will be used as analytical tools for decision making for state and federal environmental managers.

Negative Air Machine (NAM)
NAM is an electromechanical device that is used to create a negative air pressure in an enclosure. This device is used for restoration work to prevent the spread of contaminants to other areas in a structure. This includes asbestos abatement and microbial remediation.

Negative Pressure Drying
Negative pressure drying is a method used for water damage restoration by withdrawing moisture out from walls, floors, crawlspaces, cavities and other areas.

Net Water Demand (Net Water Use)
The amount of water needed in a particular service area is called net water demand. Net water demand includes the irrecoverable losses from the distribution system (pipe leaks, etc), outflow leaving the service area, and evapotranspiration of applied water (ETAW) in that particular area. It does not include reuse of water within the service area.

Non-bearing Wall
A non-bearing wall is part of a structure that does not support anything and carries only its own weight. It is used mostly as a barrier than as a support.

Materials that have poor absorption and evaporation rates are call non-porous. These materials have a permeance factor of <1.

Non-residential areas are locations and structures that are not for residential purposes. This includes but are not limited to churches, farms, nursing homes, schools, clubhouses, recreational buildings, government buildings, merchant locations, agricultural structures, industrial structures, warehoused, hotels and motels with rentals less than 6 months duration.

Normalized Demand
Normalized demand is the process of adjusting actual water use in a particular area within a given year. This is done to account for abnormal occurrences involving water supplies like dry weather conditions, agriculture, rationing programs, floods and other irregularities.


Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA)
OSHA is a U.S. government agency that regulates and enforces safety and health of employees particularly in hazardous occupations such as firefighting and restoration work. OSHA is also responsible in the qualification and certification of personnel protective equipment (PPE).

An odor is a scent or a substance that affects the sense of smell. Odors can be pleasant or can be disagreeable as in the case of sewage or smoke. Deodorizers are used to mask odors after restoration work.

An ohm is a unit of electrical resistance where 1-volt of voltage produces 1-ampere of current.

The start of a particular restoration can be referred to as onset.

Open Drying Process
Open drying is the process of drying out a structure after water damage through opening windows and doors to increase natural airflow inside the structure. Open drying, however, is not recommended unless the outside humidity is 50 percent or lower.

Open Web Steel Joist
An open web steel joist is a roofing steel truss that has a criss-cross pattern.

Open Wiring
Open wiring refers to the bank of wires that is supported by porcelain insulators instead of a conduit and is generally used in industrial settings to feed machinery. Open wiring is an important checkpoint during restoration work and should be initially considered to avoid electrocution.

Operation and Maintenance (O & M)
O & M are activities required to maintain the effectiveness and integrity of remedial or mitigation work in a particular structure or area.

Other Residential
The term other residential refers to hotels or motels where the normal stay of an occupant could be 6 months or more. A residential building is permitted incidental office, a professional private school, or studio occupancy, with the agreement that the total area of such occupancy is less than 25 percent of the total floor area of the building.

Oxidation is the process of removing hydrogen atoms or electrons from a compound or the addition if oxygen atoms to create oxides. This process applies to metals (ex: iron converts to rust or iron oxide), nonmetals (ex: sulfur is converted to sulfur oxide), and organic matter (ex: carbon is converted carbon oxide; hydrogen is converted to hydrogen oxide).

An oxidizer is a substance that gives up oxygen readily. It can be a hazardous material when combined with adjacent fuel, which can start or feed a fire.

Oxidizing Agent
An oxidation agent, also called an oxidant, oxidizer or oxidiser, is a chemical compound that readily transfers oxygen atoms that results to the conversion of metals, nonmetals, and organic matter to oxides.

An oxyacid is a type of acid wherein the hydrogen atom attaches to the oxygen atom resulting to a created atom that is attached to the central atom. An example is sulfuric acid and is used for several industrial and cleaning purposes.

Oxygen is an element with an atomic symbol of O and is an odorless and colorless gas. Oxygen is the third most abundant element in the universe next to hydrogen and helium. It is the most abundant element by mass in the Earth’s crust. Major molecules in living organisms contain oxygen like proteins, carbohydrates and fats. It is also present in inorganic compounds that make up animal shells, teeth and bone. Oxygen in the form of O2 is vital to life and is used in all cellular respiration. It is produced from water by algae and through photosynthesis by plants.

Ozone, with the symbol of O3, is a form of oxygen having three molecules and is an oxidizing agent with a weak chlorine odor. It is produced naturally through sunlight and lightning. At ground level, ozone can irritate the respiratory system and it can be considered an air pollutant. However, ozone is an important part of the stratosphere as it creates a protective layer that hangs 10 to 50 kilometers above the planet’s surface. This layer shields the Earth from the Sun’s harmful ultraviolet radiation.

Ozone Hole
An ozone hole is a thinning of the stratospheric layer of ozone over Antarctica. It was once naturally occurring during springtime, but the ozone hole has been enlarged by CFCs and other pollutants and has grown into the size of the moon.


During restoration work, a pack-out refers to the moving of contents out of a damaged structure to access work areas and perform restoration work in-plant.

A pad is a concrete slab. The terminology is also used to refer to the underlay or padding of carpets.

Paint is a liquid or liquefiable material or mastic composition that when applied to a surface or substrate will be converted to a thin layer of solid opaque film after drying. Paints are used to protect, preserve, decorate or add functionality to and object or surface. Basic types of paints are the latex or water-based paints and enamel or the solvent-based paints.

A parapet is a part of a wall that extends past the roofline.

Parapet Wall
A parapet wall is a low wall or railing that is built along the edge of a roof, balcony, bridge or terrace for protection purposes against the rain, artificial flooding and the sun’s rays.

Particles of Incomplete Combustion (PIC)
PICs are generated wastes that are produced after a fire and coming from ignited materials.

Pathogens are any disease-producing microorganisms. This includes viruses, bacteria or fungi, including molds and mildew. Pathogens can be parasites that cling to hosts and feed upon them and makes them sick. Disinfectants and fungicides are used to kill these microorganisms, particularly in contact points with floods or sewage during water damage restoration.

Periodic Cleaning
Periodic cleaning refers to the cleaning activities that are needed to be performed and to be completed on a regular timetable. Some structural components may require daily, weekly or monthly periodic cleaning.

Permeability refers to the capability of the soil, geological or structural formations to transmit water. Structural materials that have high permeability are not good for basement walls as they allow moisture to seep through the basement interiors and cause water damage.

Permeance Factor
Permeance factor refers to the measurement of the water flow through a material with a specific thickness. Materials can be classified according to permeance factor as porous, semi-porous or non-porous.

Permeate refers to the passing or seepage of a liquid substance through a material until it is saturated.

Personal Protection Equipment (PPE)
Also called Personnel Protective Equipment, PPEs are safety equipment worn by technicians, tradesmen and restoration personnel. PPEs are designed to protect personnel from exposure to pathogens, chemicals and hazardous substances. These include hard hats, rubber gloves, rubber boots, goggles, facemasks, and respirators. All restoration personnel are required to wear PPEs at all times during cleaning and disinfection work.

A plaster is mixture of limewater and sand and is applied over wood, plasterboard, blue or brown board as a veneer to achieve an interior finish to a wall or ceiling.

A plenum is a part of an HVAC system that refers to the main air duct supply for the return air. This is usually installed above a ceiling or below a floor.

A plinth is a piece of wood located at the base of a door casing for decorative purposes. It also refers to the block or slab used to support a column.

A pollutant is a substance or material that contaminates air, soil or water. Pollutants can cause a change in the physical, chemical or biological properties of water and air that makes them unfit for use.

Pollution refers to the alteration of the physical, chemical or biological properties of air, soil and water. This is caused by the introduction of a pollutant into the material that adversely affects their beneficial use.

A polymer is a large molecule composed of two or more smaller or simpler molecules. Examples are nylon, cellulose, etc.

Polymerization is a chemical reaction wherein two or more smaller molecules called monomers are combined to form a larger molecule called polymers. Although polymerization is a standard process, some hazardous polymerization can occur when during the chemical reaction an uncontrolled release of energy occurs.

Polyvinyl Chloride (PVC)
PVC is a synthetic resin that is produced through polymerization. PVC is used extensively in construction as part of structural elements. It is also used in consumer industries to manufacture a wide variety of products. The decomposition of PVC produces hydrogen chloride gases. This gas can turn into hydrochloric acid when it is mixed with water.

A material is said to be porous when it has several minute holes and is permeable to liquids.

Post-conditions are resulting conditions after a previous event that has affected structural components and contents. Example is smoke, soot, gases, and heat stress occurring after a fire or smoke damage. Another post-condition is mold, fungi, mildew, or water absorption after water damage.

Pre-existing Conditions
Pre-existing conditions refer to the scratches, dents, normal wear and tear of a structural or building component or its contents that existed before an occurrence of water, fire and other related damages.

Prefabricated Building
A prefabricated building, or prefab as they are more commonly known, is a structure constructed or assembled on-site using pre-engineered components.

The preparation stage is the important first step when beginning any cleaning or restoration task in a structure. This includes the gathering of proper supplies and making certain that the structure is unoccupied before entering and performing restoration work.

Preparedness refers to the condition or degree of readiness that a household or occupants of a building to cope with a potential emergency situation like a fire or flooding.

Pressure Power Washing
Pressure power washing is a restoration process that utilizes a pressure-washing machine to remove and clean affected surfaces from dirt, smoke, soot and other remnants.

Pressurized Smoke
Pressurized smoke occurs when smoke and other gases from a fire have increased in size due to increased heat. The heat is causing the moving particles to penetrate confined areas.

Prevention activities are directed at reducing the incidence of fire, smoke, sewage and water damage in a home or commercial establishment through education and enforcement of preventive maintenance measures.

Probability of Exceedance
The probability of exceedance refers to the probability that a random flood will exceed a specified magnitude in a specified period of time.

Professional Inspection
A professional inspection is performed by a specially trained and certified home inspector to the check the conditions and structural integrity of a home or building structure. A comprehensive home inspection report is made, which points out possible defects or problems seen during the inspection.

Property Defect
Also known as a “latent defect”, a property defect is a fault somewhere in a property that was not noticed or discovered prior to its sale. The prior owner of the property may or may not have been aware of the defect. Defects are often not discovered by a traditional home or building inspection. Property defects are often associated with construction defects (improper installation, construction methods or defective building material). A common defect is when improper drainage or waterproofing allows for water damage and mold growth within a property.

Protein Fire
A protein fire occurs when the decomposition of animal fats from beef, poultry, fish among others produces a fine clear mist, which has a very obnoxious odor that is capable of penetrating even the smallest of areas.

Puff Back
Puff back occurs when a clogged or malfunctioning furnace discharges deposited soot throughout the house and cause smoke and soot damage to the structure and its contents.


Quality Assurance
The term quality assurance refers to the system of procedures used in selecting a good quality approach in management and labor within an organization and a restoration job site.

Quality Control
The term quality control is a system of procedures and standards that controls the quality of the production and installation of materials at a restoration job site.


Radiation is the transfer of heat energy through space through the motion of waves. Heat will only be generated until the energy strikes and is absorbed by the surface or object in consideration.

Radiant Heating System
A radiant heating system is an electrical heating system that distributes heat through electrical cables installed within baseboard panels.

Radon is a colorless and odorless gas that is emitted from soils, rocks and water due to radioactive decay in certain areas of the United States. Radon is considered a health risk as it is known to cause cancer. Radon testing should be part of a home inspection.

A rafter is a parallel beam that is used to support roof and ceiling framing.

Readily Openable Access Panel
A readily openable access panel is built to provide homeowner inspection for cleaning and maintenance work. This is readily accessible and within normal reach. Access panels can be removed easily by one person and are not sealed or set in place.

Registers are structural components that are used to help regulate the flow of air within the structure.

Relative Humidity (RH)
Relative humidity, or more commonly referred to as RH, is the ratio of the amount of water vapor in the air to the maximum amount possible at the same temperature.

Remedial Investigation
A remedial investigation is performed to collect the data required to make an adequate characterization of an area or site for the purpose of identifying, evaluating, and developing effective remedial and restoration strategies. The remedial investigation process includes the following: determining the nature and extent of the contamination; risk assessment to health and environment; and conducting treatability tests to evaluate effectiveness and performance of treatments considered.

In restoration work, remediation refers to the clean-up action used to reduce, isolate or remove contamination from a home or a business establishment, thus preventing exposure of people and animals to these contaminants. Examples are flood removal from basements or kitchens or mold remediation from drywalls.

Remove and Reset
Remove and reset is the process of removing a structural component or item to facilitate restoration work, and then reinstalling or resetting the same item back in place.

Repair is the process of correcting or modifying an unwanted action or a malfunction in an object or appliance.

Residential Sprinkler System
A residential sprinkler system is arranged for fire suppression in a residential setting or dwelling.

Residue in restoration terms refers to the remains from fire, smoke, soot, gases, floodwater, sewage, etc.

The process of rebuilding or reconstructing a portion of a property to its original look and structural state prior to a destructive incident such as mold growth, water damage, flooding or fire damage.

Restorative Cleaning
Restorative cleaning is part of the restoration process and refers to the cleaning or removal of smoke, soot, gases, floodwater, and sewage residues from a structural component or the contents therein.

Restorative Drying
Restorative drying is part of the restoration process and involves the process of extracting moisture, rolling, and dehumidification to dry out a structure.

Retaining Wall
A retaining wall is a vertical structure that is used to restrict or prevent the flow and movement of soil or water.

A retardant is a material that is used to delay the flow of moisture, water, heat, flame and others.

Resources refer to personnel, equipment, tools, materials, services and supplies that are available of potentially available that is assigned to a particular restoration work.

The term restoration means to perform activities and remedial work to return a site to approximately the same condition as it was before any incident or alteration has taken place. Restoration usually follows remediation, like in the case of flood, sewage or fire damages.

Restrooms are organized places in a home or building where humans can wash hands and use toilets and urinals to dispose of human feces and urine. Restrooms are one of the most heavily used areas in any building and are more susceptible to contamination, thus requiring the need for proper cleanliness and sanitation.

Return Flow
Return flow refers to the portion of water drawn out from sources and into community use that is not consumed by evapotranspiration or system losses. The excess water returns to the source or is transferred to another body of water.

A riparian refers to the bank or land mass adjacent to the edge of a stream or a body of flowing water. This is usually influenced or affected when flooding occurs.

Riparian Area
A riparian area is the land adjacent to a stream, including woodlands, vegetation and floodplains that can directly affect the stream.

A rock is naturally formed solid mass of minerals. Rocks can be classified by their mineral and chemical compositions. They can also be classified by the texture and the processes from which they were formed: igneous, sedimentary and metamorphic.

Roof Drainage Systems
Roof drainage systems are structural components that are used to divert or carry away water off a roof and away from the home or building.

Routine Cleaning
Routine cleaning refers to the type of cleaning in a home or a business and commercial establishment that is scheduled and completed on a regular basis. Usually, routine cleaning involves daily tasks and is part of preventive maintenance procedures.

A runoff is water that flows across the ground and eventually reaches a body of water like streams. Runoffs are a result of rainfall or snow melting. Excessive runoffs can cause floods.

Rust is a powdery and scaly red, orange or brown-colored formation on the surface of irons due to oxidation after exposure to moisture.


Salinity refers to the concentration of mineral salts and chlorides dissolved in water. It is measured by the weight of the total dissolved solids, electrical conductivity or osmotic pressure.

Salinity Intrusion
Salinity intrusion is the movement of salt water into a body of fresh water. This can occur in either surface water or groundwater. Salt intrusion can affect the ecosystem over time as well as the fresh water supply of a community.

Salvage is the actual or monetary recovery of a damaged component or item through remediation or restoration work.

Sand is made of small grains of rock and substrate particles that are generally 0.06 to 2 mm in diameter. Sand is larger than silt and is smaller than the size of gravel. When tracked into household floors from footwear, sand is very difficult to remove by picking up even with a wet mop. It can cause clogs in drains and should be removed by sweeping or vacuuming.

Sanitary Water
Sanitary water is dispersed potable water from a broken water pipe or line.

Sanitation is a process of putting an area or environment into a condition that is free from health risks for human health. This is done through sanitizers or disinfectants that are applied to surfaces and objects within the area.

Sanitizers are chemicals or substances that reduce the number of microorganisms in an affected area down to a safe level. The effectiveness of sanitizers is tested through the 5-log reduction method, wherein sanitizers should exterminate 99.999% of a bacterial test population within 30 seconds. Disinfectants are different from sanitizers in terms of higher kill capability for pathogens. However, disinfectants and sanitizers cannot totally sterilize an area or completely eradicate all microorganisms.

Saturation is achieved in a particular area or enclosure if 100% relative humidity is achieved. This means that the air in that area cannot retain any more water.

Scope is the term used to describe the process of viewing or observing the inner areas of ductwork, chimney chases, crawlspaces, etc during restoration work.

Secondary Container
Secondary containers are containers or bottles that used in cleaning and restoration processes by holding and dispensing cleaning products. These containers are secondary as the contents are transferred from a primary chemical container.

Secondary Damages
Secondary damages are results caused by primary damages or losses. Examples are flood and water damage, which can result to corrosion, rust, mold, mildew, fungi, odor and other after effects if improper remedial and restoration work is performed.

Secondary Treatment
Secondary treatment is the biological process of reducing suspended, colloidal and dissolved organic matter in sewage and effluent from primary treatment systems. It usually involves the use of filters and the activated sludge process.

The sequence of a process is the order that cleaning and restoration activities are done. A pre-determined sequence of procedures is usually set in place, although the order of the jobs may need variation depending on the situation of the area to be restored.

Seepage is the gradual movement or intrusion of fluid and moisture into or through a porous medium. An example is the rain or floodwater seepages through the walls of basements causing water damage to contents and structural components.

Sinks are washbasins or receptacles that are found in restrooms or kitchens. These are usually connected with a source for water as well as a drainage system.

Septage (hauled sewage)
Septage is sewage pumped from domestic septic tanks, holding tanks and portable toilets. This material primarily contains human feces, toilet waste, shower waste, bathtubs, kitchens and laundry wastes.

Sewage is mainly liquid waste containing some solids and is produced from domestic, commercial and industrial establishments. Sewage is one type of wastewater and typically contains washing water, feces, urine, laundry waste and other waste materials that go down drains and toilets. Sewage is a major source of pollution in urban areas and is considered potential health risks if sewage damage in a home is apparent. Remedial and restoration work should be done immediately in such cases.

Sheet Vinyl
Sheet vinyl is a flooring material sometimes used in kitchens and restrooms and has the appearance of linoleum that is cut into pre-sized tiles.

Sludge or sewage sludge contains solid residues that settle from municipal, commercial, or industrial sewage treatment plants. These are also referred to as biosolids or processed organic wastes.

Smoke Residue
Smoke residues are gas products of combustion are made visible by the presence of carbon particles.

Smoke Stain
Smoke stains are discoloration and texture changes on walls and surfaces caused by oxidation after the combustion of various materials.

Sodium Chloride
Sodium chloride or NaCl is the chemical composition of salt, which is used for a variety of household and industrial purposes.

Sodium Hypochlorite
Sodium hypochlorite or NaClO is the chemical composition of chlorine bleach, which is used for a variety of cleaning purposes.

Soil is basically earth or dirt. Soil is a mixture of humus and other particles that are weathered from rock and contains major nutrients like nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium.

A solution is a mixture of two or more substances.

A solvent is an agent that can dissolve a soli, liquid or a gaseous solute to form a solution for a variety of purposes. The most common solvent is water, and is termed the universal solvent. Organic solvents contain carbon-based chemicals. Solvents have low boiling points and can evaporate easily. Solvents can also be removed from a solution through distillation. Organic solvents are used in dry cleaning, paint thinners, glue, spot removers, detergents, perfumes and other chemical syntheses. Inorganic solvents other than water are used in chemical research and technological functions and processes.

Soot are fine particles that are formed from the incomplete combustion of fuels. Soot can be powdery, oily or tar-like depending on the type of combustion fuel.

Source Sampling
Also known as “surface sampling” or “direct sampling”, involves taking a sample from a surface using a swab, microscope slide, tape, bulk or equivalent for analysis by a microbiologist to determine the presence and concentration of dusts, allergens, mold and other particulates. This method is often combined with an air testing method to obtain an accurate assessment of a mold or allergen situation within a property.

A sponge is an absorbent tool that is used to wipe and clean surfaces. Household sponges are synthetic materials similar to the natural sponge, which comes from the marine creatures called poriferans.

Spores are small, specialized reproductive structures that are adapted for dispersal and survival for long periods of time. Spores are part of the life cycle for many plants, algae and fungi including molds.

Sporicides are disinfecting agents that are used to exterminate bacteria and fungi.

A squeegee is a cleaning tool that is edged with rubber and is used for removing water from floors. Window squeegee are sometimes used to remove water and cleaning solutions from windows.

Commonly referred to as “black mold” (see Toxic Mold), this type of toxigenic mold is known to produce the harmful metabolite known as mycotoxins, which can cause adverse health effects for humans and animals, when exposed. Towards the beginning stages of growth, this mold appears white in color, but soon becomes black. To read more about Stachybotrys, visit our Common Types of Mold Page.

Sterilization is the process of completely eradicating an area or an object from all contaminates and microorganism.

Stress Crack
Cracks in plaster and drywalls that are caused by heat or moisture expansion are called stress cracks.

A stream is a general term for a body of water that flows in a natural narrow channel through gravity and flows for at least a part of the year.

A structure refers to a walled or roofed building that is above ground. This includes a manufactured home or a building.

Surface Sampling – See Source Sampling

Surface Water
Surface water refers to all waters with surfaces that are naturally exposed to the atmosphere and the environment such as rivers, lakes, reservoirs, ponds, seas, and other bodies of water.

A subcontractor is a person or a company that has a contract for a specific portion or a project in restoration work.

Subfloors are underlying flooring that are used to support a finished floor and can be used as a structural support for lateral loads.

Substrates are the underlying materials that support layers of other materials on a surface.

Subsurface Drying
Subsurface drying is a water damage restoration process that forces air or use negative air pressure to dry out an underlying member, such as subfloors under carpets or insulation within drywalls.

Subsurface Flood Extractor
Flood extractors are water damage restoration tools that have specially designed suction plates that draws water from carpets and underlying pads into a vacuum chamber.

Submersible Pumps
Submersible pumps are hermetically sealed water pumps used in flood or water removal processes. These pumps are submerged into the body of water where it draws water and pushes it out into a discharge outlet.

Sump Pump
Sump pumps are electric pumps that are installed in basements to prevent or remove water from basement areas.

The Superfund is a special tax collected from the production of chemical feedstocks and raw petroleum. The Superfund money can be used by the EPA in the investigation, evaluation and cleanup work for identified hazardous waste sites.


Tactics refer to the method of deploying and implementing resource for restoration work in order to achieve the objectives of a particular strategy.

Technically Exhaustive
A technically exhaustive home inspection is a comprehensive and detailed investigation and examination of a home or establishments, which includes or involves dismantling, use of advanced techniques, measurements, special instruments, calculations, testing, research and technical analysis. This also requires specialized knowledge or training.

A thermostat is a device that automatically turns heating or air conditioning on or off to control temperatures within a home or building and maintain desired temperatures.

Threshold Limit Values (TLV)
TLVs refer to the exposure limit that restoration workers are allowed exposure to a particular hazardous substance within an 8-hour period and during a 40-hour workweek. The guidelines and values are set by the American Conference of Governmental Industrial Hygienists (ACGIH), which is then controlled and implemented by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).

Tile Drains
Tile drains are underground, perforated pipes that are installed to remove excess water from the soil. The drainage water that are removed are channeled through ditches and sent to waterways.

A toilet is an intrinsic part of a bathroom or restroom and refers to the bowl with a detachable, hinged seat and lid. The bowl is then attached to tank reservoir that contains water and is used a device for flushing. Toilets are used for defecation and urination.

Toilet Bowl
A toilet bowl is the bowl and base of a toilet. It can be made in various materials but common household toilets are usually made of ceramic or porcelain.

Toilet Seat
Toilet seats are the detachable and ring-like seats, usually made of plastic or ceramic, that is hinged to the top of a toilet bowl. Most toilet seats have a lid or cover attached on top. Toilet seats are main contact points for germs and should be properly disinfected during routine cleaning.

Toilet Seat Cover Dispensers
Toilet seat cover dispensers are restroom or washroom fixtures or accessories that are designed to contain and dispense disposable toilet seat covers. The size, shapes and materials of the dispensers depend upon the specifications of the toilet seats.

Toilet Seat Covers
Disposable toilet seat covers are sanitary paper products that are single-use and designed to fit the toilet seat as a covering. It aims to prevent direct contact of the toilet seat to human skin.

Toilet Tank
A toilet tank is attached to the toilet assembly and is used as a reservoir of holding container for water that is used to flush the toilet.

Toilet Tissue
Also called toilet paper or bathroom tissue, a toilet tissue is a soft and lightweight sanitized paper that is used for personal cleaning inside restrooms.

Toilet Tissue Dispensers
A toilet tissue dispenser is a fixture found in restrooms or washrooms that are designed to hold and dispense toilet paper. Dispensers come in various shapes, sizes and materials depending on the dimensions and specifications of the toilet tissue.

Torrents are turbulent, swift-flowing streams caused by a heavy downpour or deluge. Torrents can result to flash floods in various areas and can affect inhabited communities and cause severe flood damage.

Total Dissolved Solids (TDS)
TDC refers to the quantitative measure of dissolved minerals in water after the solution has been evaporated. TDS is expressed in milligrams per liter.

Total Loss
A total loss refers to the condition of a structure or an object that is not economically feasible to repair. This level in particular is set when cost to repair already exceeds 80 percent of the actual value.

Total Phosphorous (TP)
TP refers to the concentration of phosphorous present in water.

Toxic Gas Detector
A toxic gas detector is a mechanical device that is used to measure and quantify the presence of gases and Volatile Organic Compounds (VOC).

Toxic Mold
Also known as “black mold” or “toxic black mold”, are popular terms used to describe dark or black colored mold that may or may not produce toxic byproducts. These terms became highly publicized in the late 1990s and early 2000s when the potentially toxic and black colored species of mold called Stachybotrys was found at a number of properties with the occupants experiencing associated health problems. In actuality, there are only a few species of mold that are potentially harmful in the toxic sense. It’s important to note that while any mold is potentially harmful to those with allergies or who have weakened immune systems, not all mold is toxic and not all toxic mold is black (visit our Mold & Your Health Page for more information). Stachybotrys is a type of mold that is considered toxic. There are also other types of molds that secrete mycotoxins that do not have a dark or “black” appearance. To read about our mold testing service and how we can determine if potentially harmful types of mold are present within your property, visit our Mold & Allergen Testing Page.

Toxic Substances
Toxic substances are hazardous or poisonous substances that can cause physical harm to living organisms.

Transient Germs
Transient germs are germs that are transferred from one object, surface or person to another.

Treated Lumber
Treated lumber are pressure-treated wood that contains a percentage of chromium III, arsenic V and copper. Treated lumber are used in exterior construction to withstand the environment, weather, termites and fungal decay.

A tributary is a stream that discharges into a larger stream, river, lake or any other body of water.

Trigger Sprayer
A trigger sprayer is a device that is attached to a spray bottle that allows a detergent, disinfectant and other cleaning products to be dispensed in a fine or coarse spray.

Trigger Sprayer Bottle
A trigger sprayer bottle is the container where a trigger sprayer is attached. The bottle contains the cleaning products that will be dispensed in a fine or coarse spray.

Trims include moldings, baseboards, doors and window casings, etc and are basically constructed from wood, plastics or metals.

Turbidity is the measure of the content of suspended particles and matter that interferes on how light passes through water and cause restrictions on visual depth. Sediments suspended in water are one component of turbidity.

Type, Building
The building type is a classification system used in the United States to categorize the fire resistance of a particular structure. These classifications include: Type I – resistive, Type II – non-combustible, Type III – ordinary, Type IV – heavy timber, and Type V – frame construction or made entirely of wood.

Types of Mold
See our Common Types of Mold Page


Underwriters Laboratories, Inc (UL)
UL performs the classification and evaluation of the various properties of a particular product that is used in construction and manufacturing.

Ultrasonic Cleaning
Ultrasonic cleaning is the process of cleaning an object using ultrasonic sound waves while submerged in water and detergents to remove soils and particles.

Ultra Low Volume (ULV) Fogger
A ULV fogger is an electromechanical device that is used to distribute and regulate the dispersal of disinfectants and fragrances.

Ultraviolet (UV) Light
UV light is part of the sun’s energy that reaches the surface of the earth. Ultraviolet light have short wavelengths in the non-visible electromagnetic spectrum. UV light in excess can be harmful to plants and animal life, and excess levels are blocked off by the ozone layer. In restoration work, UV lamps are used for drying and for detecting organic deposits in surfaces like urine deposits in carpets.

To unclog means to remove an obstruction from a drain, sink or pipe through mechanical (plumber’s snake or auger) or chemical means (acids, baking soda, etc).

An underlayment consists of wood panels that are used under a finished floor to provide a smooth finish.

Under-floor Crawl Space
Under-floor crawl spaces are the area between the ground and the underside of the floor that are part of a structure or foundation.

Underground Storage Tank
An underground storage tank is used to store water or other materials and is constructed under the foundations or under the grounds in the vicinity of a foundation.

Unpleasant Odors
Unpleasant odors emanate from sewage backup, gray or black waters and these are most commonly reported in restrooms or sinks.

In structural terms, unsafe is a condition used to describe an installed structural system or component that is considered to be a safety risk to inhabitants due to damage, deterioration, defects in the installation, or deviations from residential building standards.

Universal Precautions
Universal precautions refer to the use of safety garments; gloves, mask and goggles, and used during initial contact with contaminants like fluids or hazardous materials.

Unsalvageable refers to an object or structure that has undergone damage that is already of zero value or non-reusable as restoration may not be possible.

Unsanitary Water
Unsanitary waters refer to non-potable water. This includes wastewater, sewage and gray water.

Urban Runoff
Urban runoff includes storm and floodwaters from city streets and gutters. These waters can carry great volumes of rubbish and can include organic and bacterial wastes that are carried into the sewer systems.

Uric Acid
Uric acid is a natural compound that is present in human urine and these are usually deposited on floors, toilet bowls and other surfaces in a restroom. When dried, uric acid salts and residues adhere to the floor and are difficult to remove. A floor neutralizer is needed to loosen and remove these uric acid deposits.

A urinal is a fixture in a restroom that is used to catch, collect and flush urine. Usually made of ceramic or porcelain, a urinal has its own water source and drain.

Urinal Blocks
Urinal blocks are chemical blocks that are inserted into urinal basins for reducing unpleasant odors. Dissolved fragments from these blocks are usually the cause of clogs in the urinal’s drainage.

Urinal Screens
Urinal screens are plastic mats used in urinals. These are perforated to let urine through and are injected with deodorizers to control unpleasant odors. Mats are better alternatives than urinal blocks as they do not dissolve and these can be removed anytime.


Vacuum Freeze-Drying
Vacuum freeze-drying is a technique used in water damage restoration where wet documents like books and paper are frozen inside a negatively pressurized chamber.

Vacuum Pressure
Vacuum pressure refers to the negative pressure usually related to the airflow of an extraction unit like vacuum cleaners, sub-surface flood extractors or a vacuum freeze-drying chamber.

Vapor Barrier
A vapor barrier is a water-resistant material that is used to prevent moisture and vapor seepages into a structure, particularly basements.

Vapor Pressure
Vapor pressure refers to the pressure, measured in pounds per square inch, is the force exerted by a vapor. Confined liquids can vaporize and the accumulation of vapors above the liquid causes the vapor pressure to approach fixed limits called maximum or saturated vapor.

Vapors are diffused or the gaseous form of substances, which are normally in the solid or liquid state at room temperature and pressure. Evaporation is the process where liquids are transformed into gas or vapors. Vapors can be changed back into the solid or liquid state through pressurization or temperature drops. Solvents with low boiling points are called volatile and easily changes to the vapor state. Examples are benzene, alcohol, mercury and toluene.

In environmental concepts, velocity refers to the speed of water flowing in a particular waterway, such as rivers or streams. It also refers to the speed of water flow of a flood.

A veneer is a thin layer of material, usually made of wood, plastic or metal, which is glued to another material or substrate to provide strength and durability. It is also used to provide decorative features in a surface.

Ventilation is an important procedure in restoration work wherein the vapor and gases inside an enclosure is flowed either by natural convection or forced. Ventilation can be achieved through existing openings like windows and doors, or though external equipment.

Venturi Effect
The venturi effect is the creation of a partial negative pressure or vacuum using a constricted flow of fluid or gas through a section of a pipe.

Viruses are very small microorganisms that invade body cells. A virus feed on host cells and eventually kills them. Common diseases known to be caused by viruses include colds, influenza, hepatitis, HIV, herpes, measles, rabies, mump, rubella and small pox.

Viscosity is the property of a fluid that resists the force causing fluids to flow. Counteracting forces are released that creates resistance to the internal flow of a fluid. For most liquids, viscosity increases as the temperature drops.

Vinyl material is composed of thermoplastics and is constructed from chlorides through the process of polymerization.

Vinyl Asbestos Tile (VAT)
VATs are tiles that contain asbestos and these were widely used as floorings in schools, hospitals, and other public buildings before the 1980s. Usage was discontinued when the hazardous effects of asbestos where established.

Vinyl Composition Tile (VCT)
VCTs are glass-fiber, finished flooring materials that are widely used in commercial and institutional structures. Vinyl Composition Tiles replaced the asbestos tile as the flooring of choice for high-traffic areas due to its low cost and easy maintenance requirements. VCTs are applied to smooth and leveled sub-floors using a specialized vinyl adhesive. After installation, VCTs are waxed and then these are buffed using specialized tools and materials to produce an excellent interior finish.

Visqueen is used as a vapor barrier and is made of polyethylene.

Visual Inspection
Visual inspection is the examination or investigation of a site or area affected with damage and this is performed without the use of instruments.

Volatile Organic Compound (VOC)
A volatile organic compound is any carbon-based organic matter that has the properties of easily liquefying into a gaseous matter at room temperature. VOCs are found in various products such as building materials, cosmetics, household cleaners and electrical equipments. This includes paint, solvents, aerosols, cleaners, and air fresheners. Although exposure to VOC usually results to symptoms similar to colds, some believe VOCs as carcinogenic and can be a serious health risk.

Volatility refers to the tendency or ability of a fluid to change into the vapor state. Fluids with a well-known tendency to vaporize rapidly are called volatile liquids. Examples are alcohol and gasoline.

Volt / Voltage
A volt is a measure of electrical potential. Current is measured in amperes.

Vulcanization is a chemical process performed on rubber compounds and these are used in a variety of industrial and commercial purposes. With vulcanization, rubber compounds lose the plasticity properties and become irreversibly hardened after processing.


Wall Covering
A wall covering is any material used to cover a wall’s surface as a final finish.

Warping refers to the physical change of a surface, wall, floor, or ceiling from its original shape as a result of water or heat damage.

To wash means to clean or remove particles through the action of water.

Wash Basins
Washbasins are also called sinks and are used in kitchens or restrooms for cleaning or water-related purposes. Wash basins can be made of porcelain, porcelain enamel or stainless steel.

A washout is the erosion of a relatively soft surface like roadbeds by a sudden flow of water, resulting from a heavy downpour or floods.

Wastewater refers to the used or discarded water from a residential, commercial or industrial drainage system. This includes liquid waste from kitchens, restrooms and commodes.

Water Analysis
Water analysis is the process of testing and analyzing of the material contents of water. This analysis is also used to determine the presence of bacteria and chemicals.

A watermark is a stain on a material’s surface that is caused by water.

Water Damage Restoration
The process of returning a property to its condition prior to when water damage occurred through the extraction and drying of any remaining water, dehumidifying inside air, cleaning and preserving any household items, applying deodorizing detergents and solvents and/or rebuilding any irreparable sections of the property. To read about our water damage recovery services, visit our Water Damage Restoration Services Page.

Is the process of making an area of a property, such as the roof, windows or basement water-resistant or protected from water or moisture intrusion from rain, flooding, or other environmental means by applying certain construction techniques, building materials and/or chemical treatments.

Water Migration
Water migration is the action of water to flow, seep, or move in and out of the capillaries or pores of a material’s structure.

Water Pollution
Water pollution refers to the presence of harmful or unfavorable materials or substances in water that damages the water’s quality.

Water Quality
Water quality refers to the chemical, physical and biological characteristics of water based on acceptable level and these are used with respect to its suitability for a particular purpose.

A watershed is an area of land where all surface drainage and tributaries flow into a single body of water.

Watershed Management
Watershed managements involve the analysis, protection, development, operation and maintenance of a particular watershed. This includes the management of the land, vegetation and water resources of a watershed for the conservation of all its resources for the benefit of all residents.

Watershed Restoration
Watershed restoration is a program of improving the current conditions of a watershed. Work includes the restoration of degraded habitat and provision of a long-term protection for all resources.

Weep Hole
A weep hole is a small home that is designed to drain or relieve water from a certain structural component. It can be constructed as part of the original design, or made after a system or component has become saturated with water.

Wet/Dry Vacuum Cleaners
Wet/dry vacuum cleaners are cleaning and water extraction tools used to suck up water from floors and carpets using a vacuum motor and a wet recovery tank.

Wetlands are areas that are water-saturated and frequently flooded areas. These include swamps, marshes, deltas and coastal zones and contain habitats for flora and fauna that are adapted to a watery environment. Wetlands can purify water and absorb excessive rainfall.

Wetland Restoration
Wetland restoration refers to the process of returning a wetland ecosystem to a close approximation of its original conditions.

Winterize is the process of preparing and protecting a home or a building from freezing and the effects that freezing can have on the home’s facilities and components. Example is properly insulating water pipes to prevent freezing and burst pipes that will cause severe water damage.

Wipers are absorbent cloths from a variety of materials that are used to clean soils and liquids from surfaces.

Wrinkling is the distortion or rippling of a surface due to physical means or as a result from drying out after exposure to water or moisture.


Xenobiotics are plastics or any synthetic substances that are found in the atmosphere.

Xerophlic Fungi
Xerophlic fungi are types of microorganisms that can grow in dry conditions.

Xylene, with a chemical formula of C6H4(CH3), is a toxic solvent used for pesticides, paints and varnishes.

Xylophagous refers the process of fungal destruction of a wood.


Yard Lumber
Yard lumber refers to the lumber that is used for general building purposed. Yard lumber is graded by the size and length of the wood.

Yazoo Tributary
A yazoo tributary or stream is a small tributary that is prevented by levees or embankments from joining the main channel.

Yellowing refers to the yellowish cast on any clear, white or light-colored material due to aging, heat or cleaning.

Yield Strength
Yield strength refers to less than the allowable stress to strain wherein the ratio of stress to strain for a particular structural component has dropped below maximum attainable stress.


Zinc, with the chemical symbol of Zn, is a metallic element that is used for galvanizing steel and provides it with cathodic protection.

Zinc Chromate
Zinc chromate is a pigment that is used if paints to provide it with rust-inhibiting properties.

Zinc Oxide
Zinc oxide, with chemical symbol ZnO, is another pigment used as a rust-inhibitor for primers and paints.

Zone A (unnumbered)
Zone A are Special Flood Hazard Areas that are subject to inundation from the 100-year flood. One-hundred-year floods are calculated to be the level of floodwater that is expected to be exceeded or equaled for an average of a hundred years. One-hundred-year floods have a 1% chance of being achieved in a single year. The predicted area of inundation can be mapped out based on the expected floodwater level. For Zone A, no hydraulic analyses have been performed so no base or flood elevations or depths are determined. For Zone A, flood insurance purchase requirements are mandatory.

Zone AE
Zone AE are Special Flood Hazard Areas that are subject to inundation from the 100-year flood determined by the Flood Insurance Study. Based flood elevations within these zones are identified and shown in flood insurance maps. For Zone AE, flood insurance purchase requirements are mandatory.

Zone AH
Zone AH are Special Flood Hazard Areas that are subject to inundation from the 100-year shallow flooding where average depths are between one and three feet. Usually these areas are attributed to ponding. Base flood elevations are identified in these zones. For Zone AH, flood insurance purchase requirements are mandatory.

Zone B, C and X
These zones are identified in community flood insurance studies as locations with moderate or minimal hazards from principal flood sources in the area. However, buildings in these zones can still be affected by severe flooding if concentrated rainfall occurs and is aggravated by inadequate local drainage systems. Flood insurance is not required by regulation in these areas although it is still available for participating individuals or communities.

Zone D
Zone D areas remain unstudied and flood hazards are undetermined. Mandatory flood insurance purchases are not required although coverage is available voluntarily.

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