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Seven repair tips from Fix-It Clinic volunteers

At monthly Hennepin County Fix-It Clinics, residents bring in small household appliances, clothing, electronics, mobile devices and more to receive free assistance from skilled volunteers to disassemble, troubleshoot and fix their items. Fix-It Clinics teach valuable troubleshooting and basic repair skills, build community connections and reduce the number of repairable objects that are thrown in the trash.

After helping hundreds of residents get their broken household items back in working order, the handy volunteers at Hennepin County Fix-It Clinics have gained some valuable insights into common repair issues.

Here are seven tips from volunteers:

  1. Don’t be afraid to take something apart! One of the first things to overcome is the fear of taking something apart. (Remember, the item is already broken, so there’s no harm in trying to fix it. Plus, troubleshooting and fixing things is challenging and fun!) There are generally three outcomes when you take something apart:
    • You fix it!
    • You get lost in the disassembly. Prevent this by being methodical in your disassembly and taking lots of pictures to help you put it back together.
    • You make the problem worse. If you hit a dead end, search for help online or bring the item to a Fix-it Clinic for assistance. There’s a wide variety of replacement parts you can find online or at a local hardware store.
  2. Items that seem broken often just need to be cleaned.
  3. A basic tool set can go a long way. You don’t necessarily need a lot of specialty tools.
  4. Look for replacement parts. Many items stop working due to one broken part that is relatively inexpensive to replace. You may be surprised by the variety of replacement parts you can find online or at a local hardware store.
  5. Invest in good-quality household items and consumer goods. Higher-quality items are likely to last longer, making them less expensive and less of a hassle in the long run.
  6. Consider the ability to repair an item when purchasing it, including how feasible it is to take the item apart and the quality of its components.
  7. Some things that are broken may not be worth fixing. Examples include old, energy-hogging appliances such as mini-fridges and dehumidifiers as well as outdated electronics (computers that cannot run on current operating systems, etc.). Make sure to properly dispose of these items. Search the Hennepin County Green Disposal Guide for options.

For more information, visit or call Hennepin County Environment and Energy at 612-348-3777.