Most people in rural areas of the United States receive their mail in a mailbox that they own. Mailboxes are typically installed at the edge of the property or at the edge of a driveway or road, giving the mailman free access to place the mail in it. There is more to installing a mailbox, however, than just planting a post and nailing a receptacle on top of it. The United States Postal Service1 has specific regulations that dictate how a mailbox should be installed in relation to its height and distance from the traveled roadbed.
The USPS regulations dictate that you must consult with the Postmaster before moving your mailbox or mailbox support. Further, they want the mailbox to be installed such that the bottom of the box is between 41” and 45” above the ground. Oddly enough, the Post Office doesn’t care what kind of mailbox support you use or how it is installed as long as it supports the mailbox adequately and will “bend or fall away if struck by a vehicle”. They also require that the box be situated between 6” and 8” from the side of the road for ready access by the Postal worker.
Preparing the mailbox location
- Make sure the mailbox will be located away from shrubbery, trees, telephone boxes, underground power transformers and other obstructions. Otherwise, the mailman will not deliver your mail.
- Using posthole diggers or a power auger, dig a hole suitable for the mailbox support. You can use a 4” x 4” ground contact pressure treated post or a larger post or pole as long as it is treated for ground contact.
- You can also manufacture your own mailbox support with metal or any other material that meets the Postal Service requirements.
Installing the mailbox support post
- Cut the post to the proper length and place it in the prepared hole.
- Back fill the hole, tamping the dirt in place as you go to hold the post securely. You can pour the support post hole full of cement but be aware that if somebody hits it and it damages their car or injures them, you could be held liable.
- Make sure the post is plumb and square to the road.
Preparing the mailbox for mounting
- Cut a piece of 2” x 6” dimensional lumber to fit the base of the mailbox. Because most mailboxes are not designed to fit 2” x 6” lumber, you may want to rip a base to fit out of a larger 2” x 8” board. You should use pressure treated lumber for the base, in any event.
Installing the mailbox
- Attach the base to the top or side of your mailbox support post with galvanized fasteners.
- Now place the mailbox on top of the base.
- Secure it in position with galvanized fasteners.
The Postal Service also requires homeowners to maintain their mailboxes in a serviceable state.
A good coat of paint will help preserve the mailbox support post and keep the mailbox from rusting.
The Postal Service also requires that the name placed on the mailbox be in letters at least 1” high. There is, however, no restriction on your creativity as long as you meet Postal Service minimum requlations.
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