What was old is new again

Fix-it Clinics build skills and restore household items

Fix-it Clinics build skills and restore household items

At monthly Hennepin County Fix-It Clinics, residents can bring in small household appliances, electronics, mobile devices, and even clothing that needs mending. Volunteers guide residents through the repair process, helping them disassemble, troubleshoot and fix broken 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. 

Fix-it with confidence

Since they started in 2012, Fix-It Clinics have boosted the confidence of hundreds of county residents, which Fix-It Clinic coordinator, Nancy Lo, believes is the most important takeaway from the clinics. Lo explains, “I really think the main value is that people are leaving with the confidence to try and see if something can be fixed.” Many residents use the skills learned at the Fix-It Clinics to continue to fix other items around the home. 

Don’t be afraid to take it apart

The handy Fix-It Clinic volunteers have gained some valuable insights into common repair issues that can help encourage residents to join the fix-it movement. Volunteers believe one of the first things to overcome is the fear of taking something apart. They encourage people to remember that the item is already broken, so there’s no harm in trying to fix it. Plus, troubleshooting and fixing things is challenging and fun!

At Fix-It Clinics, the volunteers guide you through each step of the repair process at your own pace, giving you practical skills that you can use for other repair needs down the road. To date, 77 percent of items brought in have been repaired, so there’s a good chance you’ll leave a Fix-It Clinic with a mended item. If the item isn’t fixable, you’ll still leave with new skills and the confidence to try fixing other broken items.

Repair and purchasing tips

Looking for more guidance before attending a Fix-It Clinic? Try these repair and purchasing tips from helpful Fix-It Clinic volunteers:

  • Items that seem broken often just need to be cleaned – for example, dust stuck inside a fan.
  • You will need tools and some knowledge of how to use them in order to fix things. You don’t necessarily need a lot of specialty tools – a basic toolset can go a long way. Volunteers have tools available at Fix-It Clinics.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Consider the ability to repair an item when purchasing it, including how feasible it is to take the item apart and how well-made the components are.
  • Some things that are broken may not be worth fixing. Examples include old, energy-hogging appliances like mini-fridges and dehumidifiers as well as outdated electronics such as computers that cannot run on current operating systems. Make sure to properly dispose of these items. Search the Hennepin County Green Disposal Guide for options.

Hennepin County Fix-It Clinics have diverted 18,574 pounds of waste since 2012. Help us reduce even more waste by attending a Fix-It Clinic and give your broken household items a second life. Fix-It Clinics occur monthly at various locations across Hennepin County.