Saturday, 15 October 2016

The ground is frozen rock hard, but it is possible to correctly install a mailbox post in the winter.

If you live in a cold weather area, it’s likely only a matter of time until your mailbox is taken out by a snow plow or a sliding vehicle.  Then you are faced with the problem of trying to install a mailbox post in the winter season, which is not ideal.  You could hire a contractor, but we are Diy people and you just need a post in the ground and your mailbox back up.

If the ground is frozen and/or covered in snow and ice, it’s pretty difficult to dig a hole in the ground or get concrete to set in freezing temperatures.  However, there are a couple of ways to get the job done.

Temporary Solution

If needed right way, you can use a 5-gallon bucket with concrete.  Just place your post in the bucket, add a bag of concrete, and then mix in some water.  You will need to allow the concrete to cure in your garage or somewhere warm.  Be sure to prop the post up vertically so that it doesn’t fall over while curing.  Similarly, if you expect your outside temperature to stay below freezing, you can fill a bucket with half sand and half water.  Place it outside, again propping the mailbox post up, and allow it to freeze.  Then move your bucket and post to your curb.  This will be very heavy to move and is a temporary solution.  This is not our recommended method, but will suffice in a pinch if you plan on replacing your post later.
Attaching your mail box on the post...

If you wish to mount your box directly atop the pole or onto the top of an extended arm, you will use method (1).  If you want to hang the box beneath the extended arm, use method (2).

Whichever way you choose, don't ever nail the mailbox to it's support... use galvanized or stainless-steel screws.  If your mailbox does not outlive your post, you want it to be easy to remove.  I have found galvanized square-drive decking screws to be a great choice.

(1)  Mount a board directly on the mailbox post or on the arm extending from the post
If you don't have a board for the post, you must cut a piece of 3/4" plywood or pine that will fit into the base of the mailbox. It should be a tight fit widthwise so the box doesn't bend when you screw it on, and short enough in length so the box door doesn't hit the board when the door opens. Position the board as you like it on the post or arm and secure it with at least 4 wood screws. I personally use #8 or #10 galvanized square drive screws, 2-1/2" -3" long. If you are using a post with an arm, you may want to let the board overhang the end of arm for clearance of the door.

(2)  Hanging  the mailbox under an arm extending from the post
You can purchase a special set of bolts designed for hanging a mailbox at most hardware or home stores. The hardware consists of an eye bolt and an screw eye, interlocked and ready to use. The eye bolt is screwed into the underside of the post arm and the bolt is attached to the top of the mailbox.  It may or may not come with a rubber washer to seal the outside of the hole.

If your hardware store doesn't carry these parts, you can either (1) use an eye bolt on the mailbox and a hook on the post arm, or (2) use an eye bolt and screw eye of the same size and bend either open to allow you to hook them together... then bend them closed. For each eye bolt, you should get two nuts, one for inside and one for outside the box, and a small rubber washer (a faucet washer will do) slightly larger than the nut, for the outside to prevent leaks.

Determine the location of the eye bolts on the box first. Some mailboxes have indentations or raised areas to indicate the suggested location for the eyebolts. Locate and drill the holes in the mailbox. Hold the box up under the arm in the position you want it, and use a pencil to transfer the location of the front-most hole you just made to the underside of the arm, being sure to center it along the width. Measure between the holes on the mailbox, and use this measurement to locate the second hole on the arm. Predrill both holes and install the screw eyes.

Put one nut on each eye bolt, and then push on the rubber washers. Bore out the centers of the washers with a drill if they are too tight for the bolts. Then put the eye bolts through the holes in the mailbox and secure them with the remaining nuts, tightening securely.

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