Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Finding Replacement Parts: If It's Broke, Fix It

It seems like more and more items are meant to be disposable; most of the stuff we buy goes directly into the landfill within six months (according to Annie Leonard in The Story of Stuff). Eek! I was raised by some fairly handy people who had more than a passing familiarity with Depression-era sensibilities, so I know my way around a screwdriver and a clamp to hold on some wood glue. But I'm no MacGyver. That's why it's nice to know that often, saving something to use again is often as simple as a phone call or email.

Customer service is your friend! I'm a big fan of contacting the manufacturer directly, and I've found it extremely helpful to hold onto all of our manuals and receipts for toy and baby items, and household appliances. Even if you don't have the skills to fix something yourself, the combo of having all the necessary parts and a good handyperson can make the difference.

Some companies who have been especially helpful to me (all links are to customer service):

Sonicare replaces defective toothbrushes and takes back old or broken toothbrushes for recycling

Regal Lager services Phil & Ted baby joggers; I got an oldie but a goodie from a friend (meaning under 5 years old -- in perfect condition) and got their help figuring out how to replace the missing basket underneath despite the fact that they no longer manufacture parts for this model (don't get me started on how annoying that is but at least they were proactive about working around it)

Mobi will sell you used video baby monitors at cost should there be a problem with your old one (sigh).

Little Tikes sells replacement parts for all of its toys like the doohickey that adjusts the height of our outdoor basketball hoop.

I've had good luck googling appliance parts for our service repairperson for our stove and dishwasher; I've also tried looking on EBay and freecycle when I couldn't find the part elsewhere.

Finally, you can find missing game parts for all the 1/2 Monopoly sets in your house thanks to this tip from DeclutterIt! -- I haven't checked it out yet but I'm thrilled to file this away for future use.

Hopefully, none of our carefully sourced, well-made items of necessity will break ever again (due to planned obsolescence, shoddy manufacturing, or mistreatment!) but if they do...I'm hoping to keep them out of the landfill. Don't forget as a last resort to try to freecycle the item to see if someone else can use it or see value in it (be honest!) -- people have always kept parts cars around and it's possible that someone else can salvage my trash (my trash, possibly their treasure).

*Image courtesy of Rocks in My Dryer; head on over there for more Works for Me Wednesday


Anonymous said... has tons of replacement parts for tons of things. Also I got my refurbished kitchen aid food processor from them and it works great!

Jenn @ Juggling Life said...

6 months?! That's shocking.

Audra Krell said...

I LOVE the tip on Sonicare, we use all their products and it's great to know they are recycling.

eco 'burban mom said...

Just today, my plastic watering can that I have had since college sprung a leak in the bottom seam. My husband asked if I just wanted a new one. (This one is pretty old, missing part of the spout and is dented) I said - no way, let's fix it! He got out his butane welding torch, heated the plastic, pinched it back together and I am back in business!

Mrs. G. said...

Thanks for the Sonicare info. I have a broken one under the sink.

ttelroc said...

What a great list of resources!!

I have dishtowels that I've had for 25 years. Some of the ones I no longer use, but still own, were my grandmothers flour sack towels.

Freecycle is a terrific resource for both giving and getting!

Laura/CenterDownHome said...

Hey Mamabird -- We're past the Little Tikes stage, and into the Nintendo/Xbox stage. As gaming controllers and Guitars and drum pedals (for Guitar Hero and Rockband) bite the dust, I'm calling the manufacturer. So far, they've been great about repairs and replacement. We found a youtube vid on how to fix the guitar controller yourself, which was interesting (and educational)!

A friend whose son is big into Legos was telling me that there is huge ebay market for used Lego parts. (The ones I used to step on anytime I went into my sons' rooms!) My friend's son is designing a Lego model of Solomon's Temple, using specs from the Bible, and needs particular Lego pieces for building. (!)

Come on, Jesse and Owen -- when are you going to design a frickin' temple or build your own telescope or something, like all these other homeschoolers seem to be doing??

Susannah said...

This is some news I can use -- you can actually get a Guitar Hero guitar fixed?? I am calling tomorrow (and not letting the 4-year-old play Jimi Hendrix with it anymore).