Wallmounted Mailboxes... How do you use them?

lannadelarosaApril 17, 2008

Excuse my ignorance, but I am on my way to purchasing my first old home. My questions is regarding the differences between the mailbox posts near the curb (modern homes) versus the mailboxes generally wall-mounted to your front door (older homes). The obvious difference for the mailman is that for modern homes the mailman just drives up without getting out of their vehicle where as with the older wall-mounted versions, the mailman has to walk door to door to deliver mail.

On my end, though, how do I indicate when I have new mail that needs to go out? The modern mailboxes have the little red flags that you raise but I've never seen anything like that for the wall-mounted versions. And, p.s., I'm not always great about emptying out my mail every single day and I assume that mail just being in the wall-mounted mailbox is not an indicator that it has to be sent out? And though my home currently has a wall-mounted mailbox, I am considering the idea of the door-slotted mailboxes. Even more confusing!

Let me know how this small difference between modern and old homes really work!

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It has less to do with how "they work" than what kind of a mail route you will be on. Those on posts down near the road are neither modern, nor old fashioned.....they are for mounted postal routes. We live in the country, so of course are on a rural route and they're all down by the road, because if they weren't, the rural mail carrier would not give us postal delivery.

The last home in which I lived didn't have postal delivery period. One had to go to the village to pick it up in a lock box. I had to return the mailbox I'd bought before I moved in.

Those mounted on the house proper are seen in urban or town situations where the carrier walks the route. Of course, if you wanted to put one on a pole in your yard, that'd prolly work, but if you live on a mounted route and had a box on the front of your house, the carrier would not be obliged to leave you mail if he/she had to crawl out of their vehicle.

You need to check with your postmaster or carrier to see if they are obliged to pick up mail you leave in a box to be posted. Here in the country, it's done routinely. In town, they are not required to pick up mail in a box. Tough stuff, IOW. My mother's carrier did pick her outgoing mail up but he didn't have to. So, it doesn't make any difference whether they have a red flag or not, and that's why.

    Bookmark   April 17, 2008 at 1:53PM
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We have a wall mounted box and while we're normally too paranoid to leave mail out for pick up, when we do let our collective guard down, we usually rubber band or paperclip the outgoing pieces together and leave them sticking partially out of the box.

    Bookmark   April 17, 2008 at 2:41PM
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The house I am buying is near downtown and the neighborhood houses just about 100% have wall-mounted mailboxes or mail slots. My future house also had a wall-mounted mailbox but it fell off the wall. ;)

My issue is figuring out how exactly to signal to the postman that I have outgoing mail? I'm very much not a fan of driving out to the post office to send out mail.

Here is a link that might be useful: A picture of the front of the house with fallen mailbox

    Bookmark   April 17, 2008 at 3:05PM
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Usually I just leave a bit of the mail sticking out of the box for outgoing. My husband drops it in the mail box on the corner. He doesn't like leaving mail in our home box. You really should clean out your mail box each day. The wall mounted boxes don't hold much.

    Bookmark   April 17, 2008 at 4:42PM
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I put because I get a lot of catalogs, magazines and large mailings - I can forget (as I occasionally do) for three or four days before I really need to clean it out. It's 15" W x 10" H x 5" deep, holds a lot of stuff. There are a lot of attractive large mailboxes out there now. We've been living here almost 7 months and just got our mailbox up last weekend, up until now the mailman has had to drop the mail in a box on the porch and you can bet he was some cranky about that! (We had to wait until warm weather so as not to crack the siding when drilling through it; the jerkwad flipper didn't bother to put up a mailbox when he resided the house.)

You CAN put a streetside mailbox on a route that has just about all wall-mounted mailboxes or mail slots (there are some people on my street with streetside mailboxes), but you can't go the other way around. If the mail carrier has to hike the route anyway, there isn't really any point to doing a streetside mailbox unless you prefer the appearance since you have a short front walk. I certainly wouldn't punch through that fantastic door for a mail slot; you can go through the wall next to the door but you'll need a special unit with insulation/draft-guard and extension sleeve to do so. (You don't NEED the insulation part but if you either heat or cool your home it's a smart idea.) Personally, I have not been thrilled with mail slots I've had in the past, since too many mail carriers would shove too-large bundles of mail through and mangle some of it, and then there are the pranksters who think it's funny to stuff things through the slot. If you do go with a mail slot, get the basket that you mount on the inside so the mail doesn't scatter all over the floor.

There are several streetcorner mail-drop boxes within a few blocks of my house but if I just can't get out I clip the outgoing mail to the mailbox lid with a clothespin (which the mailman then drops into the box, so it lives there for when I need it). If you're "near downtown" there are undoubtedly streetcorner boxes nearby - if you call the local post office they will probably be able to tell you the locations of the closest ones to your house.

It's a very cute house, except for that truly bizarre gutter situation in front... what were the previous owners thinking?? :-) Great interior trimwork (looks like you have almost as many layers of paint on it as we do!) and lots of light through those wonderful windows. Your garage looks much like ours, which we're giving up on and tearing down this summer since it would cost several times as much to repair it as to replace it and the repairs - structural, foundation, siding, and roof - would be so extensive that it would pretty much be a new structure anyway!

    Bookmark   April 17, 2008 at 5:46PM
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We have a wall mounted mailbox, along with the slot in the door of our 1918 bungalow. On the rare occasion that I use our mailbox for outgoing mail, I also position it in such a way that a portion of the envelope is sticking out. We also do this when other's mail is delivered to us...the mail lady takes it and off it goes to the correct house. Our slot is sealed for weather proofing...but it looks vintage!

Generally, though, I take the mail with me in the morning and drop it in a box on my way to work.

Hubbie walks his mail to the corner mailbox 4 blocks away on after dinner walks.

    Bookmark   April 17, 2008 at 6:58PM
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Having grown up in a big city, it was a revelation to me altogether that people put outgoing mail in the boxes at any time! We always had mail delivery, but no one at all would think of putting mail to go OUT in the box - we just use the nearest mail box on the corner, or go to a post office. You should check with your neighbours or something to find out if in fact your carrier picks up mail at any time, or if he only delivers.

    Bookmark   April 17, 2008 at 7:21PM
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I used to be a postal carrier. I can tell you that here, the carrier has no obligation whatsoever to pick up outgoing mail on a city or suburban route. It's a pity, because they took out all the mail collection boxes they had nearly every two to three blocks in town about the same time the city carriers got little mini-vans to keep their mail stash in. I don't know how they think old people or people who don't drive are going to post letters. My mother, who lived in town, was disabled, and her carrier always took the mail she set out to be posted, but the subs on the route never did.

When I carried mail, I even had to carry stamps I bought with my own money to put postage on envelopes when somebody left change and an unstamped letter.

    Bookmark   April 17, 2008 at 9:00PM
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Wow! I never knew that carriers weren't obligated to pick up the mail on some routes.

Consider also that the wall-mounted routes are usually in older neighborhoods with small city lots with little or no off-street parking. Curb boxes area bad fit in those neighborhoods because of the on-street parking and the impossibility of reaching the boxes from a mail truck with all the parked cars in the way.

When I lived on a wall-mounted route, I would do as others have mentioned, and stick my mail out the top of my lidded box so the carrier could see it. But, in the last 5 or 6 years I've gotten to where I just don't post outgoing mail from home anymore. I bring it to work with me and drop it in the big USPS box in the mail room. Much more secure that way.

Better yet, I seldom mail anything anymore! On-line bill paying is a wonderful thing.

    Bookmark   April 18, 2008 at 10:43AM
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Carriers may not be obligated, but I've never met one who didn't.

As for the wallbox, you're lucky. I believe the USPS does not allow newly built homes to have anything but street-mounted mailboxes or use the cluster boxes that you see at the entry to developments. If you get them to come to your door, you're in good shape.

    Bookmark   April 18, 2008 at 3:54PM
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For the first half of my life, I lived in the country with a rural road-side box, now I'm in town with a wall-mount.

The joys of rural boxes! Kids bashing them with bats, running over them, stealing them--but our carrier always took the mail, and we'd leave a present for him at Christma.

In town, it's different with my wall-mount. If he has no mail for me, he won't even come up, even with my outgoing letters pinned to the top in plain sight. When I get packages, I have a deal with my carrier that he places it inside the door out of sight and rings the bell if it won't fit in the box, but getting a sub to do that...almost never. There used to be three boxes on corners near my house, but the city has removed all but the farthest, which is five blocks away and I'm not walking it in winter. :)

As for stamps, it's post office or grocers for me, but in the country, we left the money and he left the stamps.

    Bookmark   April 19, 2011 at 9:19PM
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"the city has removed all but the farthest,"

No. The post office has removed the boxes, not any local government.

    Bookmark   April 20, 2011 at 10:37AM
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I grew up with one and we just left it sticking out.
I've also seen people clothes pin it to the outside.

We have a mail slot and I LOVE it! I would be so sad to move and have an outside mailbox. We just open the little door and pull our mail out. It's awesome. My boys have been getting the mail for me since they were old enough to walk. :) They love it, too. If I have something outgoing I just let it stick out the front slot.

So, if you are thinking of a slot, I say go for it!

    Bookmark   April 21, 2011 at 10:24AM
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I have a locking box that I've attached to the column on my front porch. It holds a good amount of mail and I leave some items in between the lid and the box when I have outgoing mail. Since I live in the city, I never post items with checks or important information. I wish I had a mail slot, but don't have the heart to cut into my door or the side of my house!

    Bookmark   April 21, 2011 at 10:38AM
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"the city has removed all but the farthest,"

No. The post office has removed the boxes, not any local government. "

Not necessarily. The USPS has no special right to the use of public or private property. My city has moved all boxes (newspaper, postal, whatever) from some of the newly renovated downtown areas. One shopping mall developer who owns about a dozen local properties has done the same.

For anyone buying a wall mounted box - I'd recommend getting one that is wider than it is deep. We bought a great looking (and expensive!) copper mail box, but the thing is just too deep. Postcards and small envelopes end up at the bottom and you have to be elbow deep in the thing to reach them.

    Bookmark   April 25, 2011 at 11:58AM
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just leave it sticking out a bit. if you get on usps.gov, you can schedule pickups of larger packages if you also print out postage and prepay them. it is quite convenient and free.

i live in the city and everyone just leaves outgoing mail sticking out a bit and it seems to get taken. i don't know the last time i had to go to the post office for anything.

    Bookmark   April 25, 2011 at 2:04PM
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"The USPS has no special right to the use of public or private property. "

They do not on private property, but they actually can force local governments to allow them to be installed.

They can also refuse to deliver mail on private property if community boxes meeting their rules are not installed.

    Bookmark   April 25, 2011 at 2:52PM
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Well, when my mother became disabled, she had to visit the USPS and get permission to move her mailbox off the street and put the box on a post at the edge of her carport. When she died, the family who moved into her house had to move the post and box back to the street for delivery.

Maybe there is room in this government agency for regional differences based on tradition and/or weather extremes? Who knows.....but I like being able to get stamps online. Neat.

    Bookmark   April 25, 2011 at 11:26PM
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