A Fixit team teaches Abby Fox how to repair her broken kettle.

Credit: WGBH News

'Fixit Clinics' Help People Revive Their Broken Items

April 26, 2017

One movement is aiming to take the mystery away from fixing broken items such as electronics and other items, and get us back into the habit of fixing those things ourselves.

An MIT graduate started Fixit Clinics eight years ago, and now the workshops are held all across the country to teach people how to do self-repairs.

At one of the latest clinics, a toaster, a tripod and a kettle were all broken and in need of some TLC, and they were all in the right place. Peter Mui started the clinics in 2009 to help people learn to help themselves and help the environment.  

“This is fix it clinic No. 207 we’ve had a bunch of Fixit Clinics all throughout the U.S.,” Mui said. “I’m going to say 52 tons of e-waste diverted from landfills — not even just diverted, not recycled, actually — returned to service for their originally intended use. There’s a sense that they don’t have a choice when something breaks, there’s no repair people left anymore to fix this stuff.”

Mui and his team of volunteer coaches train people like Abby Fox, whose kettle is out of commission, on how to get their items back up and running. One of the first lessons was pulling the kettle apart and testing its electricity.

Peter Mui always gives a disclaimer: “You understand that anything we do here could make it worse.”

That warning aside, the process is time consuming. The Fixit team prides itself in resurrecting even the toughest electronics, like Jeannie Finks’ classic radio, which belonged to her father.

“His initials are still on the back of the part that we took off, and he’s since passed away, but it had been sitting on the shelf for the longest time,” Finks said.

It took about an hour for Finks and her Fixit coach to make it happen, but they fixed the radio. Finks said she feels much better about fixing things herself now.

“I think I have more confidence to at least troubleshoot,” she said. 


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