We all know that cleaning out the gutters is one of the worst jobs that a home owner has to face if you have trees on your property! Gutters should be cleaned at least two times a year, and it is a hard, dirty, and often dangerous job. It must be done though, or else your home can suffer damage from water, and that can cost thousands of dollars to fix. Getting your gutters cleaned professionally is certainly the preferable option, but in today's tight economy, it may not be practical to spend several hundreds of dollars to get them running smoothly again. Here are some instructions for cleaning your own gutters. Always remember that this is a two person job!

You will need:

· a long garden hose with a strong spray nozzle

· a folding tall ladder

· a garden hoe or long claw

· a plastic tarp for catching debris

· gloves

· non-slip shoes

· a second person

1. This is a two person job, and there is no way around it if you want to be safe. Grab a good friend or your spouse, and decide who is going to climb up the ladder. The other person is responsible for holding the ladder, handing things up to the cleaner and collecting the debris at the bottom.

2. Pick your time wisely. The best time to clean your gutters is when it has not rained for several days, if at all possible. This will cut down on the smell, as well as make cleaning easier.

3. Wear gloves and non-slip shoes. This will help keep you safe on the ladder, and will help save your hand from cuts when you are gathering the leaves, acorns, and sticks that you will find in the gutters.

4. Use a free-standing ladder, not just a straight ladder. You will not be able to lean the ladder up against the gutters, so it needs to be the fold-out kind; the taller the better!

5. Climb up the ladder. Have your helper hand you up your long hose and whatever you are going to use to scrape the debris towards yourself. Never stand on the top rung of the ladder! This is where a garden hoe or long garden claw can come in very handy.

6. Start on the opposite end from the downspout and remove the debris you can reach. Then use your tool to draw the rest toward you and to scrape free any debris that is stuck. Continue down the length of the gutter until all debris is removed. Have your tarp or cloth ready below for throwing the dirty leaves down. Move the ladder as needed until the length of the gutter is clean.

7. Return to your starting point and using the water hose, direct the jet of water toward the downspout and spray until clean, clear water flows from the downspout. Use the hardest spraying setting from your hose as possible. It should get up quite a bit of the debris that was stuck on the gutters. If water is not going down the downspout, you could have a clog, and it is important to get that out if you can. Move the ladder down to the downspout and aim the hose right into it. This will push out a lot of debris from inside the pipe.

8. Now that you are up there anyway, this is a good time to inspect your gutters for damage. You may not be able to repair the gutters yourself, but you should look for leaks and loose seams and loose support screws. If you need to call someone else in to fix it, at least you will be aware of the problem!