If you are shopping for replacement door knobs or if you are repairing your door locking mechanisms you should know that there are four different types of internal latches that you can purchase.
The first one is a Spring Latch and this is the normal type of latch used in your interior doors. They work with closet doors that you do not lock and they also work with bedroom doors that do lock. The difference between this type of latch and a dead latch is that you can actually force the mechanism open by prying the latch back with a screwdriver. So, why would you want to use this type of latch instead of a Dead Latch in your home? If you have a situation where someone locks themselves in their room such as a child then you can open the door in an emergency without destroying the door. The other option is the universal passkey or some type of push pin you can insert in the door lock to unlock it from the outside. Other than this the cost might be cheaper and if you are applying this type of latch to a closet door or pantry then you don’t need it to be secure.
Dead Latches give you more security on your doors. If you open your door and see that the latch has a small plunger next to the latch you might have asked why. To test it depress just the plunger and then try to move the main part of the latch. You will see that you can’t move it and that is why it is called a dead latch. They provided security for interior and exterior doors and should always be used instead of a Spring or Plain Latch when repairing an exterior door.
Dead Bolts are another type of Security Latch and they are specialized. If you purchase a Dead Bolt and have problems with it then its best to just replace it with the same model from your manufacturer and then have the deadbolt rekeyed at your hardware store. Rekeying is normally free or at a small cost and it will allow you to use the same key for all of your exterior doors or doors you need to secure. Dead Bolts do not include the plunger that a Dead Latch has but they can not be pried back to open them. You can replace just the Deadbolt Latch however because this item is less likely to fail on its own this is why it is probably a good suggestion to replace the entire deadbolt with lock.
Mobile Home Latches are the final type of latch that we will cover today and they come in in the same variety as the others above but they are made especially for mobile homes. If you have a mobile home you will have to search for this type of latch for replacement because they are smaller and a regular latch can not fit your doors.
There are a variety of different latches from different manufacturers but they all work basically the same. The three different types of latches being the Spring Latch, Dead Latch for more security and the Dead Bolt Latch for the most security are what you must look for when shopping for parts.
I have seen some manufacturers such as Kwikset offer latches that are plastic that they have taken off the market because they are cheaply made and deteriorate very quickly. This means you can end up with a stuck latch that is difficult to open or you might get locked out of your pantry just before making dinner. Its best to replace these latches but finding replacement parts can be difficult so you end up replacing the knob and latch at a higher cost. If you do have plastic latches in your home I suggest you replace them before they fail but don’t expect to get any recall service as they were sold to New Home Manufacturers and owners have no idea until they all start sticking and failing at the same time.
It is my guess that other manufacturers have the same problems but I have not run into that or heard of any using such poorly constructed materials. It is probably why that company got a bad name for many years and the cost to recall all of the latches and maybe cover installs with replacement would probably bankrupt them. However losing customers to other manufacturers could be just as bad.
If in doubt you can always ask your hardware person or a manufacture what product is best for your door.