Top Notch Mailbox, Halethorpe, MD experts in mailbox installation and repair, recently sat down with our team and helped us get to the bottom of this frequently asked question:
Is it better to repair my old wall-mounted mailboxes or more cost-effective to completely replace them?
Whether you are dealing with horizontal or vertical mailboxes, also called 4B+ mailboxes, Top Notch’s insight will help you dig into the details of your situation and find a solution that’s perfect for you.
How do you know when it’s time to repair or replace your centralized 4B+ mailboxes?
There are multiple ways to know when it’s time to either repair or replace your mailboxes. Maybe they sustained minor damage, or maybe the damage is significant. Maybe your residents are experiencing security issues and theft. Maybe the mailbox center doesn’t meet current ADA requirements and you’re renovating your building. Or maybe your mail center just looks outdated and old, and it’s affecting how your property is perceived.
Whether your mailboxes are irreparably damaged, experiencing security issues or just looking outdated and old, it’s important to understand when it is acceptable under USPS Standards to simply repair or replace your mail center with the same type of box or when you need to upgrade your mailbox system altogether.
At what point is repairing no longer an option?
There comes a time when mailboxes are in such disarray that the USPS refuses to deliver to them. Once your mailboxes turn into a liability for residents, it is time to replace them.
We have seen some very creatively damaged mailboxes. People have used mailboxes for target practice, riddling them with bullet holes. We had one client who had a resident superglue all of the mailboxes shut. Once they’ve been vandalized to such an extent that they are unusable, it’s time to replace them.
How many times can you repair a mailbox before repairs will no longer keep your mail center operational?
Before 2006 and the USPS mailbox regulation changes, Standard 4B and 4B+ horizontal and vertical mailboxes were the norm for the majority of multifamily residential and business mail delivery applications. But now, with newer USPS 4C standards firmly entrenched, STD-4B+mailboxes can only be used in direct one-to-one replacements.
If your project is not disturbing the wall the mailboxes are already mounted in, then replacing old mailboxes with a product of the same style is typically acceptable, though you should always check with your local Postmaster to be sure. But, if your mail center needs any adjustment to the rough opening in the wall or if your project includes new construction, you are required to use the current USPS STD-4C compliant mailboxes. Repair is not an option in this scenario.
How much does a typical repair cost?
Repair professional’s costs can vary widely, plus you have to account for the price of the parts themselves on top of the labor. Depending on how many repairs you end up needing over the lifetime of the original mailbox, it could cost as much as just replacing it once, and you have the additional hassle of repairing it every single time which can put it out of commission, irritating residents and postal carriers alike.
If you are doing any repairs or replacement of individual parts, make sure you always get postal approval. If you are out of code, they can revoke all mailing privileges to your property. Do basic planning of your repair project, but then talk to your local Postmaster so you don’t waste your time, effort and money.
How much does a replacement cost?
When you go from an outdated vertical/horizontal product to a new STD-4C or CBU (Cluster Box Unit), you can add 2-3 times the cost per opening. However, you get much more value in functionality for mail and packages as well as higher-grade materials and construction resulting in enhanced security and long-term durability.
It will be a higher cost upfront, but over time, your savings will be tangible.
How is the experience different for the customer with replacement vs. repair?
Clients come to us often to repair their mailboxes, and usually what happens is the products or parts are no longer being made or the cost of the repairs is too high. We try to convince them to replace or tell them they need to adjust their budget for repairs in order to comply with postal regulations.
We’ve done repairs on people’s mailboxes, against our suggestion, and then in 3-5 years, they are back and ready to replace. We work with everyone but are always upfront with what the process will look like over the long term. We know that some people don’t have the space or the budget to completely replace, and we respect that.
USPS compliance is always changing, and your old mailboxes might not be fully up to code with current restrictions. It’s usually best to update to the newest STD-4C compliant mailbox model that is progressive and updated versus attempting to bring an old mailbox up to code.
What are the benefits of replacing your mailbox instead of repairing it?
Replacing your mail and package delivery equipment has the power to increase your resident’s satisfaction and mail carrier efficiency, while simultaneously improving your property value.
Replacing horizontal or vertical mailboxes with CBU mailboxes or STD-4C mailboxes ensures your building is up to code with no threat of nondelivery from USPS. Your mailboxes will be of the highest quality, highest security, providing many hassle-free years of life expectancy.
Is there any maintenance needed to keep new mailboxes in good shape, so repairs don’t need to be done?
Florence mailboxes are virtually maintenance-free and can withstand extensive weather conditions. But, basic routine cleaning care is recommended.
The surface of all Florence Corporation clear-aluminum or powder-coated products should be cleaned of dirt or grime with a soft cloth dampened with any mild detergent or properly-diluted biodegradable, water-based cleaner.
You should wipe from top to bottom to avoid run-down and try to avoid the use of abrasives, which might damage the product surface. To finish off, rinse with plain water and dry with a cloth. Avoid cleaning during extreme temperature conditions.
Florence’s Mailbox Solutions
Florence is the go-to solution provider for replacement mailboxes due to product reliability, customer service and a wide array of STD-4C mailboxes and CBU product options in addition to an assortment of older horizontal and vertical models.
STD-4C mailboxes can be mounted in or on a wall, in a freestanding cabinet or in an outdoor kiosk. They are available as a recessed mount, surface mount or freestanding in a standalone 4C “Depot” cabinet.
Florence has modular designs with nearly 150 base modules that incorporate security features to help prevent break-ins and provide a greater degree of customization to complement the look and feel of any development. With the increase of packages as a percentage of mail, both CBU and STD-4C boxes include built-in package lockers and stand-alone package locker options.
These convenient solutions ensure larger mail items and packages can be delivered the very first time, saving multiple trips to the Post Office. The U.S. Postal Service now requires one package locker for every five mailbox compartments, but with the rise of Amazon and other online retailers, we recommend one package compartment for every two-to-three mailboxes whenever possible.
If right now isn’t the perfect time for you to replace your mailboxes, don’t fret. Florence also has a collection of replacement parts and products readily available to help you keep your mailroom operations running smoothly.