By now you have probably heard of Fix-It Clinics. It is a great idea. Take something broken and learn how to fix it. Or, at least, know you tried before tossing it. It is perfect for kids, too. Kids love to explore and take things apart to see how they work. You might as well make that tendency useful and get some help fixing household items.
“Fix-It Clinics offer free, guided assistance from volunteers with repair skills to disassemble, troubleshoot, and (hopefully) fix small household appliances, clothing, electronics, mobile devices and more”
Sign Up to Receive Virtual Assistance From a Fix-It Clinic Volunteer
In person Fix-It Clinics are among the programs that have been put on hold in 2020. However, Hennepin County has solved this problem by offering one-on-one virtual repair sessions with clinic volunteers. Just fill out an intake form and you’ll be connected with an expert to help you with your repair through a virtual meeting. Of course, to take advantage of this service, you will need some sort of computer with an internet connection fast enough for video conferencing. Plus, you’ll want to pull together some common tools before your meeting — screwdrivers, pliers, and a flashlight. It’s helpful to have a second person helping out. So grab your kids and ask them to aim the camera and help you with the repairs.
What to Bring to Fix-It Clinics
You need to be able to carry anything you bring to a Fix-It Clinic – Sorry no appliances or cars. Bring your own tools if you have them so you can learn on your own equipment, but the experts will have tools on hand, also. The following is a non-exhaustive list of things that Ramsey County suggests bringing in instead of tossing:
- Antique radio.
- Camping lantern.
- Clothing and other soft goods to mend or alter.
- Dremel tool.
- DVD player.
- Electric hot water kettle.
- Hair dryer.
- Paper shredder.
- Remote control.
- Sewing machine.
- Steam mop.
- Telephone headset.
- Toaster oven.
What Happens if You Can’t Fix the Item?
Not everything will be repairable. Know that you are responsible for disposing of any items that can’t be fixed – of course you were responsible for that before you tried. Sometimes you find really cool things inside non-repairable items. We once took apart an old television. It was amazing how many toys we made out of the parts, plus I got a mirror out of the deal. Another bonus — I find that its easier to dispose of something once its taken apart.
Some Good Insider Advice for Attending
In 2014, I had a chance to chat on Facebook with Nancy Lo, the coordinator of the Hennepin Fix-It Clinic program and she let me in on a little secret: Don’t get to the Fix-It Clinic’s early. Sleep in, eat breakfast, go grocery shopping. Show up to the Fix-It Clinic about midway through its drop in hours. The second half is much less crowded than the first. If you show up at the midway point, you’ll still have time to work with an expert, but you won’t have to wait in line as long.
Where to Find Fix-It Clinics
Five counties in the Twin Cities Metro currently offer Fix-It Clinics at rotating sites. These are:
- Anoka County <— Pre-Register at this link.
- Dakota County
- Hennepin County
- Ramsey County
- Washington County
While we try to keep up with these dates on our calendar, we recommend signing up for email updates with your home county.
Beyond Fix-It Clinics
Love getting busy with these practical building skills with your kids? We also recommend Home Depot Kids Workshops to build things together. Tech Take Apart Days at The Works presents kids with the chance to take things apart to see how they work; and Leonardo’s Basement has all sorts of fun, creative building classes and camps.