One of the commonest calls is, “My latch key turns a little bit but then stops.”

If it’s a Yale latch lock and it’s on the right-hand side of the door, then a loose snib might just have fallen down when the door was slammed shut. (The snib is the tiny button or lever that holds the bolt open or closed. A dropping snib on an ERA on the other-hand, is only going to lock you out if it’s on the left-hand side of the door. (These handings are as if you’re standing outside.)

Another possiblity for any lock with a snib is that there’s a huge gap between the door and the frame; and you left the lock snibbed yet managed to slam it shut.

One, more disturbing possibility you should bear in mind however, is that if a thief has broken in through a window or throught the back door, (s)he will usually snib the front door’s latch so as to get some warning if you return.

So, enter the premises cautiously. Send the dog in first.

If you’re choosing a latch lock, some can be snibbed open or closed, but some can only be snibbed open (also known as a hold-back).

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2 comments on “Snibs
  1. denis says:

    One of the worst things you can come across when the snib has dropped is wondering what latchbox is on the inside.If it can be got at through the letterbox all well and good, but if it’s a flat door with no letterbox you’ve got to rely on the tenant to tell you what the colour and length of the box is.Now half the time they don’t know so your on your own to guess.You can use a scope with a light source,but this needs a hole to be drilled.I usually plump for a traditional yale nightlatch(measure 1 1/4″ from the centre of the plug to the right hand side) this will bring it right on the rivet of the snib.But what if it’s a copy of a trad yale nightlatch.If there isn’t any “yale” stamped on the handle it’s a copy and the snib button is the opposite of the yale.I mean here that it locks you out if it’s up on the right hand side of the door(from outside).If you cannot establish this with the customer be wary.The better way of opening is to prise away the beading on the frame and using an “L” shaped wire to knock up or down the snib.You can’t do this if the gap is tight.You will have to make a gap to open it.There will always be some damage doing this sort of job,but it’s better than drilling the door twice.

  2. Neil says:

    I do come across this a lot, where the lock has not been fitted properly so as leaving that gap between the door and the frame, so it becomes so easy to engage the snib, but because of the gap the door still shuts, behind you. The hard part is to find out what night latch is fitted on the inside of the door, always ask the customer, but this sometimes comes up blank, many types from the old style, to the new eg Yale type you have to picture the night latch in your mind, while you decide the next step to move forward, what about the size, 40 or 60mm night latch, take the Yale you can tell the size by looking at the door to where the rim cylinder is fitted, another way is that you should have replacement night latches on your van you can show one to the customer and see if they recognise the type of latch. If this works out all is good. A quick way is to drill a small hole 4mm where the snib will be and just drill through the plate in the night latch as not to damage the snib, insert a wire and you can hook the snib housing downwards to deactivate. Repair and all is good, but on some doors, you can not do this, so you have to get the whole of the rim cylinder out by drilling the fixing screw housing and then snapping the cylinder out, leaving a 32mm hole, so now you can drill 10mm hole towards the latch side to end up close to the snib, then insert the wire.

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