Mailboxes can take some time and cost to install, and no one wants to wake up to a damaged mailbox, whether they live on a commercial or a residential property. When a mailbox is damaged through any means, it’s on the property owner or manager to make the necessary repairs, or in severe cases, to replace the mailbox.
The USPS will not deliver to mailboxes that are sufficiently damaged, which means you’ll need to address this issue as soon as possible. For mailboxes being used for private delivery, this isn’t as urgent, but you’ll still want to replace as soon as you can for the security of your mail.
But are there ways to prevent damage to your mailbox? Prevention is worth more than a cure, and usually far less expensive.
Some mailbox types are more prone to damage than others. Curbside mailboxes are the biggest offenders, as they must sit near a road where vehicles are close, and are also more subject to vandalism than centralized, wall-mounted, and indoor mailboxes.
First, What Not to Do
It may be tempting to place your curbside mailbox farther back from the road than others, or to anchor it inside a bucket of concrete, but both of these fixes will only result in a lack of mail delivery if you’re getting mail straight from the USPS, and can possibly injure another person.
The USPS has regulations tied to where you can place your mailbox, how tall it can be, and what materials you can use to “reinforce” it.
All mailboxes need to sit on the same side of the road as those of your neighbors, so placing it on the opposite side of the road won’t get you your mail. You’ll also need to ensure your mailbox stands between six and eight inches from the curb or the side of the road. Your local post office can give you some guidance on this if you’re not sure exactly where this location is.
This regulation should keep your mailbox far enough back to avoid traffic driving normally, and still allow the USPS easy access to your mailbox.
It may also be tempting to make your mailbox higher or lower than normal to avoid damage or make your box less visible to vandals, but this will result in the USPS being unable to deliver mail easily, and may even stop your mail delivery.
Using concrete-filled buckets or similar to mount your mailbox may help prevent damage to the mailbox, but it can cause severe damage to a vehicle or drivers. This will lead to far greater problems than a damaged or destroyed mailbox, so ensure that your posts are steel or wood, and no greater than two inches in diameter. Mailbox posts are meant to “break away” during a collision to prevent damage to vehicles and people, and are inexpensive to replace.
What You Can Do to Prevent Damage
After you’re sure your curbside mailbox meets regulations, there are a few things you can do to make sure your box is less likely to get damaged by vehicles, weather, and vandals.
First, ensure you’re installing your mailbox some distance from your driveway, if applicable. Vehicles coming in or backing out, especially at night, can easily strike and damage a mailbox. This is especially true during severe weather such as rain or winter weather, in which mailboxes can become obstructed and almost invisible. Snowplows can pile snow and ice around mailboxes, making them difficult to see as well. While this won’t eliminate the possibility of vehicles striking a mailbox, it will cut down on the chances.
There are also ways to make your curbside mailbox more visible to motorists. Reflective stickers will be available at many hardware stores, and these are designed to reflect headlights at night. Placing a few of these on your mailbox posts should help warn motorists to avoid your mailbox, and will help guide drivers at night as well, keeping them from the side of the road.
Another good tactic is to avoid having a black mailbox, if at all possible. You’ll want a color such as white, silver, or beige, which will also be better at reflecting headlights at night. However, a white mailbox may blend in if you live in a brighter area that receives a lot of snow, so it’s good to keep this in mind, or possibly add a bright newspaper box or two to your mailbox. Toppers are also available that can help your mailbox stand out from the background if contrast is an issue. Dark green, dark blue, or dark gray can also be issues later at night, if you do not have other ways to increase visibility.
Weeds can also obstruct your mailbox from view, and this is most true in rural or country areas. Weeds that grow tall enough can make your other efforts useless, and possibly get you skipped for mail delivery. Cutting down weeds regularly can allow you to make your mailbox more visible.
Vandalism is a bit trickier to prevent than vehicle damage. However, it is a federal crime to damage a mailbox or steal mail, and this can work in your favor if vandalism and mail theft is a problem. It may be possible to catch vandals and prosecute them, and this should deter others in the area from trying the same thing.
Lighting is another good weapon against vandalism, as it deters vandals. Leaving an outdoor light on at night may help, as well as having a clear view from your home to your mailbox. Using a surveillance camera can also help catch vandals, if you are able to do so.
Finally, if you are dealing with vandals, report this activity to the postmaster general. He or she may be able to offer advice and investigate.
We Are Here to Help
At National Mailboxes, we’re here to help you choose the right mailbox to help prevent damage, and replace any parts if damage does occur. Be sure to contact us today with any questions or concerns.