Buildings and Architecture Glossary: V, W, X, Y, Z

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- V -

Vacuum breaker: A device in a water supply line that introduces air into the line if water pressure is lost, so as to pre vent contaminated water from being drawn into the line.

Vapor barrier: See Vapor retarder.

Vapor pressure: The partial pressure exerted by water vapor in the air.

Vapor retarder: A sheet material or coating that is highly resistant to the passage of water vapor, used to prevent water from condensing inside a wall or ceiling. Often called, incorrectly, a vapor barrier.

Variable air volume system (VAV): A heating and cooling system for a building that regulates temperature by varying the amount of conditioned air that is delivered to each space or zone.

Vasomotor regulation: The human body’s expansion or contraction of blood vessels as a means to regulate body temperature.

Vault: A structural device consisting of an arch translated along an axis perpendicular to its plane, or a combination of such forms.

VAV: See Variable air volume system.

Vent, plumbing: A pipe that opens a system of waste piping to the air so that it remains always at atmospheric pressure and avoids trap siphoning.

Ventilation, infiltration: Renewing the air in a building by means of air passing through cracks and holes in the building enclosure.

Ventilation, mechanical: Renewing the air in a building with electrically powered fans that introduce a %age of out door air as they recirculate indoor air.

Ventilation, natural: Renewing the air in a building using only the forces of wind and /or convection.

Vernal equinox: The day in late March when the north-south axis of the earth lies perpendicular to the sun’s rays. Day and night have the same length on the vernal and autumnal equinoxes.

Visual task: The focus of one’s attention in a luminous environment.

Voussoir: A wedge-shaped component of an arch.

- W -

Waffle slab: A two-way concrete joist system, which resembles a waffle when viewed from beneath.

Wainscot: An interior wall facing that starts from the floor or baseboard but does not extend to the ceiling.

Warm-air heating system: A system that uses air as a medium to transport heat to the interior of a building.

Wash: A slope on a top surface that causes it to shed water.

Water hammer: A loud knocking sound in water supply pipes caused by the instantaneous deceleration to zero of water in the pipes.

Water, hard: Water that is rich in calcium ions.

Water softener: A device that replaces calcium ions in water with sodium ions.

Weatherstripping: Linear gaskets, pads, metal strips, brushes, or other devices designed to reduce air leakage through cracks around doors and windows.

Weep hole: An opening in the exterior of a wall or window frame that drains to the exterior any water that may accumulate within.

Well: A hole drilled or dug into the ground for the purpose of obtaining water.

Whispering gallery: A concave surface or surfaces that focus sound in such a way that faint sounds can be heard over comparatively long distances.

Wind tunnel: A laboratory device that houses a scale model and simulates the flow of wind around buildings or other objects with a small-scale flow of air around the model.

Wired glass: Glass sheet material formed around a wire mesh that serves to hold the glass together if it should break during a fire.

Working drawings: The technical drawings from which a building is built.

Wythe: A vertical layer of a masonry wall that is one brick, one block, or one stone thick.

- X -


- Y -

Yield point: The stress at which a material begins to distort permanently.

- Z -


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