Was your mailbox a winter casualty?

By Tom Phelan - ReminderNews
Featured Article - posted Tue., Mar. 12, 2013
- Contributed Photo

As I drove to church this weekend, I noticed a green plastic chair perched on the snow bank at the side of the road. Its occupant was the homeowner's mailbox. Presumably, somewhere under the snow there lay the post upon which the mailbox had sat, waiting faithfully each day for a delivery of mail.

My trip was less than 3 miles. But I counted three more mailboxes, each of which had suffered a similar fate. The first one was also propped in a chair, a few feet away from the post on which it formerly stood. The other two were actually quite close together on the same road, temporarily mounted on top of large plastic barrels.

Mailbox reinstallation may be on your list of spring projects. You may only need a new post, if you still have a usable mailbox. However, you may want to take this opportunity to present a completely new look to your mail delivery person. The mailbox section at my local home store offered no less than 17 options - from the simple to the sublime - to sit on a post waiting to be opened twice a day. Every one of them was clearly marked, "Approved by the Postmaster General."

Your options include an all-in-one kit with post, mailbox and mounting bracket, as well as a variety of separate choices for posts and boxes. I found a "universal post" that is made of aluminum, one that is "aluminum and composite material," and a cedar post with a metal anchor (no digging involved). There is also the 6-foot prefab post and support made of pressure treated 4x4 lumber (about $22).

The big home stores have taken to offering DIYers the DIFY (do-it-for-you) option, as well. Stuffed inside one of the mailboxes I was examining was a stack of bright notices: "We install mailboxes!" So if you can't see yourself digging a hole and all that goes with it in the early spring, look for the DIFY option.

Regardless of whether you opt for a "kit" or construct your new mailbox from scratch, there are a few USPS parameters you should comply with. Although fairly general, they are accompanied with the caution that the mail may not be delivered to a box that is not serviceable from the carrier’s vehicle. When finished, your box should be 41 to 45 inches off the ground and 6 to 8 inches back from the curb.

To do-it-yourself, dig a hole about 1 foot in diameter and plan for 18 to 24 inches of the post to be below ground level. Add 6 inches to that depth, and fill the bottom with well-packed gravel. Stand the post in the hole, and shovel in 6 inches of gravel at a time. As you progress, use your level to ensure the post is true vertical. Tamp the loose gravel around the post into a hard pack in repetitive steps.

On a simple post, attach a section of 1-inch board to the top. The board should be only as wide as the underside measurement of your box, and an inch shorter than the box length.

Mount the box to the horizontal board, and fasten it from the sides with galvanized screws. The "1 inch shorter" space should be at the front, allowing the door to drop down freely.

Add your house number for less than $5 for a metal one, or as little as 68 cents for the stick-on variety.

If you are sure a snowplow killed your mailbox, check with your town to see if they will offset the cost of its replacement.

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