How do I open this hatch?
April 20, 2014 12:16 PM   Subscribe

My townhouse has an attic that is theoretically accessible through a hatch in the ceiling. I have permission to access said hatch for various electrical-related reasons. The thing is, I can't figure out how to open it. Pictures here.

The hatch opens via a hinge along one side. The other side has two little recesses, and in those recesses are two holes. The door is latched shut at these two places (we can see bolts or something going through in the little around the edge of the hatch).

The two holes are small and shaped kind of like the London Underground logo. In the hole there is a small gap, then a slot that spans basically all the way across the rectangle part that looks like it would fit a flat-head screwdriver (though then it wouldn't be able to turn), then there is a part that is threaded like it would take a screw.

It doesn't look like there is anywhere for any sort of conventional key to go, but maybe there is a funky attic key that I need to get from the HOA management company that goes in the gap before the screwdriver-shaped slot (I have a call into them but they are mildly incompetent, and if they know about any key they'd likely have told me when I spoke to them recently to get permission to access it)? Maybe I just need to stick the right kind of screw up there and turn?

Has anyone seen an access panel that looks like this before and have any guesses on how to get in? Again, here are few pictures.
posted by brainmouse to Home & Garden (9 answers total)
I suspect there's supposed to be a key.
posted by jferg at 12:18 PM on April 20, 2014

There's either supposed to be a key or some other component has been removed. Tell the management company that if they don't have a key (which, in fairness, they might not have mentioned because they thought you already had it or somesuch) that they need to call a locksmith to get it open.
posted by Etrigan at 12:38 PM on April 20, 2014

The holes look threaded. Could there have been just a handle screwed into it? Can you get a few bolts and try threading them in and then pulling?
posted by HermitDog at 12:44 PM on April 20, 2014 [2 favorites]

Anything happen if you push up? I'm thinking one of those latches where you push up and then it releases out?
posted by amanda at 1:28 PM on April 20, 2014

I think you're looking for a pole-like, t bar square end key -- see if it's hanging by the electrical panel/fusebox, or in the garage.
posted by Iris Gambol at 1:43 PM on April 20, 2014

Those are coffin locks. Stick some different size Alan keys (hex keys whatever you call them) up in there until you get the right size. And then its usually like 1/2 -3/4 turn to unlock it.

See here
posted by chasles at 2:17 PM on April 20, 2014 [2 favorites]

OK, experimentation and then peeping on my neighbors has determined that it's basically a coffin lock-type operation, but with a regular screw-bolt shaped bolt instead of a hex. A correctly-sized bolt turned far enough opened it right up. Hooray!
posted by brainmouse at 11:33 AM on April 21, 2014 [1 favorite]

Wait! Wait! Please don't leave us in suspense. ...What was up there?
posted by Neeuq Nus at 6:04 PM on April 21, 2014

Some insulation that ended up in my hair (and, obviously, a lot more that stayed up there) and access to the electrical stuff I needed access to so I don't have to put holes in my ceiling. Alas the previous homeowners did not leave any fun surprises.
posted by brainmouse at 10:44 AM on April 22, 2014

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