Should You Repair Your Leaky Mailbox — or Replace It?

Should You Repair Your Leaky Mailbox — or Replace It?
Screenshot: Yevhen Slabun, Shutterstock

Winter used to mean snow on the ground. These days, thanks to climate change, it more likely means an increase in cold rain — but either way, ‘tis the season for wet mail, whether in your leaky mailbox or shoved through your drippy mail slot. Whether it’s bills or holiday cards, wet mail can really wreck your day. Here are some things to consider when (or before) attempting to repair your old mailbox.

Can you seal it up?

The most common cause of wet mail in your mailbox is cracks or rust holes in the coating of the box. If your mailbox is encased in brick or otherwise difficult to remove, you can patch it up with a spray sealant. This waterproofing product goes on like spray paint, and will cover the surface of your mailbox in a rubber coating that can last for years.

However, if your mailbox is simple to remove and there’s more than minor damage, it’s better to replace it rather than try to repair it. You can get a new mailbox for about $35, and it will likely be watertight directly out of the box.

Fix your mailbox’s floppy door

Another common issue with mailboxes is that the door latch can wear out over time. If the door flops open, your mail can definitely get wet or worse, blow away. Fixing your latch is simpler than it might seem. Just remove the broken latch and replace it with a mailbox latch kit. You can also use a magnetic cabinet latch and attach it to the door of your mailbox for about the same price. For either of these repairs, you should only need a screwdriver and a drill, so it is definitely a job worth tackling before buying a whole new box.

Why you can probably skip a mailbox liner

There are a variety of plastic mailbox liners on the market that are meant to keep a rusty mailbox from ruining the mail. These generally aren’t worth the money because they cost almost as much as a new mailbox. The advantage of this repair is that it requires no tools and installs quickly. It’s a good fix if you aren’t able to remove your old box or if you don’t have tools.

When it doubt, replace rather than repair

Keeping your mail dry is really important. Unless you have minor repairs that you can make, you are better off with a new box. Replacing an old mailbox can save you headaches and additional repairs down the road, so consider the likely longevity of your repair before you attempt it. As much as keeping trash out of the landfill is important, keeping your mail from becoming trash in a landfill before you even get to read it is important, too.

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