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How to Install a Mailbox

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How to Install a Mailbox: Postal Service Guidelines and Regulations You Should Know

“Tough luck for China residents with plow-damaged mailboxes,” read the headlines in December.

The “China” referred to is China, Maine, a town that’s part of snow country — the North Country — in the Northeast.

Snow can come in feet, not inches, in this part of the country — and may not always have a positive effect on postal customers.

A town or public works department may reimburse home owners for mailboxes damaged by plows, but most often, they require residents to fix and replace them.

Not all can, and that’s where Letter Carrier Justin Cummings came in, as told in this story passed on by Postal Service retiree and former Norway, ME, Postmaster Jim Havlin.

“A retired disabled vet was telling me about their mail box that had gotten hit by a plow truck,” Havlin said. “The resident couldn’t fix it himself and said Justin Cummings came over one day and put up a new one for him. In addition, Justin and a friend fixed a few other things for this veteran.”

Cummings delivers to 587 customers a day, working out of the South Paris Post Office, a remotely managed facility which receives mail for four Norway, ME, ZIP Codes. He’s been on the same route for five years but has been delivering mail in that community since 2004.

“Justin goes above and beyond for customers,” said current Norway Postmaster Michael Anderson. “He is very caring towards his customers. He tries to keep an eye out for the elderly, as my whole staff does.”

In addition to being a good neighbor, this letter carrier is an Army Veteran who serves Maine customers all year long, from winter’s first snowfall to spring’s lilac blooms, during the height of summer tourism right through fall’s leaf-peeping season, as do his fellow carriers in Vacationland, another nickname for the Pine Tree State.

When installing or replacing curbside mail receptacles, see recommended USPS guidelines for mailbox installations, below.

Look for Postmaster General’s Seal

Every new mailbox design should be reviewed and receive the Postmaster General’s (PMG) seal of approval before it goes to market. If you opt to construct your own mailbox, it must meet the same standards as manufactured boxes, so show the plans to your local Postmaster for approval.

USPS mailbox guidelines

Placing the Mailbox

Here are some helpful guidelines to follow when installing your mailbox:

  • Position your mailbox 41” to 45” above ground level. (figure a)
  • Place your mailbox 6” to 8” back from the curb. If you do not have a raised curb, contact your local postmaster for guidance.
  • Put your house or apartment number on the mailbox.
  • If your mailbox is on a different street from your house or apartment, put your full street address on the box.
  • If you are attaching the box to your house, make sure the postal carrier can reach it easily from your sidewalk, steps, or porch.

Installing the Post

The best mailbox supports are stable but bend or fall away if a car hits them. The Federal Highway Administration recommends:

  • A 4” x 4” wooden support or a 2”-diameter standard steel or aluminum pipe.
  • Avoid unyielding and potentially dangerous supports, like heavy metal pipes, concrete posts, and farm equipment (e.g., milk cans filled with concrete).
  • Bury your post no more than 24” deep.