Your Mailbox

Since the time that Sudden Valley residents started using mailboxes located throughout our Home Owners Association, there have been questions about who the owner of the mailbox is and how they are maintained. This article will help answer those questions.

Until 2010 the United State Postal Service provided a postal station at the Rotunda in Gate 1 for many of our resident’s use. In cost reduction move, the USPS closed the Rotunda station. To fill the mailbox vacancy, Sudden Valley installed “cluster box units” or CBUs throughout Sudden Valley for mail delivery and mailed boxes. The CBUs had to meet stringent USPS requirements in design, installation resulting in A common standard with CBUs already installed in other locations throughout Sudden Valley. Once the new units were installed by Sudden Valley the new CBUs came under the oversight of the USPS the same as previously installed CBUs.

The USPS assigned property owners a mailbox compartment in a CBU located in general proximity to the physical location of their property. The “mailbox” became the property of the owner, the same as if they had that mailbox at their house. Access, maintenance and repair of the mailbox also became the responsibility of the property owner. When a home is sold it is the responsibility of the seller or realtor to transfer the key for that address’s mailbox to the new property owner. The Sudden Valley Community Association does not have the authority to assign, maintain, repair a broken lock, or issue additional/replacement keys for mailboxes. These activities are coordinated by the home owner through the USPS in Bellingham.

The USPS post office for Sudden Valley is the Mount Baker facility. The contact phone number is (360) 752-9825.

Mailbox Locks and Hinges.

Because a mailbox is a mechanically operated device (lock and hinge) and they are subject to the outside environment, routine maintenance is required.

Locks and hinges are subject to wear and to icing due to a rain/freeze event. To help reduce wear and to make keys work easier, these two parts should be lubricated with a light oil lubricant. We made a call to the local post office and were told that Corrosion X spray was the preferred lubricant. A quick search of local stores shows that Corrosion X is available locally from Hardware Sales (360) 734-6140, and Security Solutions NW, (360) 734-4940. Other local stores may also carry this product. The lubricant should be applied twice a year to the lock mechanism and door hinge. Note that some lubricants like WD40 and 10 in 1 oil will collect dust and gum up a lock mechanism over time.

 Recommended Maintenance of a Mailbox.

Timing: April and October

The following steps should be taken twice a year. It is also recommended that the following steps be performed at during the first week in October to help keep the lock from freezing during the winter.

Recommended Maintenance Items:

  • Mailbox key
  • Spray can of light lubricant
  • Soft cloth rag
  • Disposable small plastic bag

Lubrication Steps

  1. Inset the mailbox key half way into the lock.
  2. With one hand place the rag under the key.
  3. With the other hand point the spray can at the point where the key enters the lock.
  4. Squirt two quick shots of lubricant on the key and lock.
  5. Using the rag to keep the dripping lubricant from getting on your fingers, gently inset the key all the way into the lock and turn the key back and forth six times (or more) to work the lubricant into the lock mechanism.
  6. Remove the key and wipe it with the rag to remove excess lubricant.
  7. With rag held at the bottom of the door hinge, squirt one shot of lubricant at the top of the door hinge.
  8. Wait about a minute so that the lubricant can work it’s way down the hinge and then gently move the door back and forth to help work the lubricant into the hinge.
  9. Using the rag, wipe off excess lubricant from the front of the mailbox, hinge and lock.
  10. Check the inside of the mailbox for excess lubricant. Wipe off any lubricant to prevent staining paper type mail.
  11. Place the soiled rag in a plastic bag to prevent staining other items.

During freezing weather sometimes locks will collect rain water or melting snow preventing the key from being inserted or turned in the lock. If this should happen use the above procedure, but instead lubricant use canned windshield deicer spray to melt the frozen moisture and unlock the mailbox. It may take few tries, but with a little patience and persistence the lock should turn. After “unfreezing” a lock the lubricant will have been dissipated. Re-lubricate the lock to prevent re-freezing.