No one likes having to replace or repair damaged mailboxes. However, mailbox damage is common, especially to curbside boxes. However, damage to other types of mailboxes, such as wall-mounted models or older centralized community boxes, occurs as well.
Vandalism, vehicle damage, and snowplows are the most common ways that mailboxes can take damage or be destroyed. The USPS won’t deliver to heavily damaged mailboxes, making their replacement a necessity.
While there are cases where preventing all damage to mailboxes is impossible, it is possible to reduce the chance of its occurrence.
Install Your Mailboxes Properly
National rules state that curbside mailboxes must be installed six to eight inches back from the curb or roadside, to allow for easy USPS delivery and to keep vehicle traffic safe. They must stand between 41 and 45 inches high, and posts cannot be thicker than 4 by 4 inches for wood, and 2 inches for steel or aluminum posts. Avoid placing mailboxes in unyielding and dangerous supports.
This keeps the mailbox stable but allows the post to fall away if struck by a vehicle. Such a rule prevents damage to vehicles and injury to drivers. Often, such posts can simply be replaced or put back after such a collision.
Switching to multi-unit curbside mailboxes will reduce the chance of damage when managing a community or multiple businesses. These models consolidate multiple curbside mailboxes into one unit and will leave fewer potential damage sites and cut down on repairs and replacement.
Wall-mounted mailboxes get damaged less often, and simply mount to homes or businesses, often near a front door. Placing the mailbox in an area that is easy to access but free of heavy traffic will help to prevent damage.
Centralized mailboxes such as those found in apartment complexes, communities, and larger commercial properties should be in an easy location, but not in an area where vehicle and snowplow damage could easily occur. This is often near a parking lot, on a concrete island, near a well-traveled sidewalk, or in a central lobby that is sheltered from the weather.
Keeping the area around mailboxes well-lit and free of obstructions can help to deter vandals and thieves for all mailbox types. This will also keep tenants safe if they must check their mail during nighttime hours. Some communities may use video surveillance as well.
Upgrade Older Mailboxes
Many older mailboxes lack the security durability that newer models have. This is especially true for centralized mail delivery, in which multiple customer compartments are contained in one cabinet.
Centralized mailboxes are typically used for larger commercial properties and communities. These mailboxes consist of multiple customer units and often one or more parcel lockers. Each customer unit is locking and designed to prevent mail theft.
The main types found today are the older 4B units, which usually have square or vertical compartments, and the newer 4C series of mailboxes which are now required by the USPS for all new, centralized mailbox installations.
The older 4B units are less secure and durable than their 4C counterparts. Therefore, they are more prone to damage, theft, and vandalism. If these issues keep coming up on the properties you manage, it may be a good idea to upgrade to the newer 4C systems.
These mailboxes can mount to walls, recess into them, or stand alone on concrete as freestanding models. The customer locks are improved over the 4B units, and parcel lockers provide extra security for packages. These mailboxes can all mount side by side as well, allowing for custom mail stations.
For extra security and protection, recessed 4C mailboxes can install into sturdy walls and outdoor kiosks. This makes damage nearly impossible but allows for easy USPS delivery. Such a setup is also attractive.
If damage, weathering, or theft is an issue for curbside mailboxes, locking models are available. Some models come in sturdy, durable aluminum that resist weathering well, and these are well-suited for rural areas that experience tough summers or winters.
If The Worst Happens
Sometimes, a mailbox or set of them can get damaged despite taking the best precautions. Car accidents and other collisions happen, and so do natural disasters.
Often, replacement parts are all that is needed to get a mailbox up and functioning again. For curbside mailboxes, posts and compartments themselves can be purchased alone as replacement parts. Doors, flags, and address numbers can also be purchased alone, making any repairs inexpensive and easy.
The same goes for centralized and wall-mounted mailboxes. Centralized 4C models are typically very resistant to damage and tampering, but replacement parts are available for these models as well. These parts range from locks, customer numbers, and doors for compartments and parcel lockers.
Know Your Local Laws
In general, a property owner is responsible for replacing and repairing damaged mailboxes. It may be tempting to reinforce a curbside mailbox to prevent damage to it, but this may increase the chance of injury to drivers if struck, so be sure to follow USPS regulations and local regulations for the installation of these mailboxes.
Some counties, townships, and states have additional rules for mailboxes, and some of these rules require municipal and state road authorities to replace mailboxes struck by snowplows and other maintenance equipment. These accidents happen often on some highways because of conditions in the winter.
Check with your township or state road authority if a mailbox on your property has taken damage from a maintenance vehicle or snowplow. It is possible that they must handle its replacement or repair.
Protect Your Mail Today
Here at National Mailboxes, we provide not only attractive mailboxes but secure models as well that resist tampering and other damage. Contact us today to get started and to keep your USPS mail delivery safe for many years to come.