A rain chain performs the same job as a downspout, but adds beauty to function. Widely used in Japan, these decorative chains give you plenty of unique options when it comes to funneling water away from your home. Read on to learn more …
What is a Rain Chain?
A rain chain is a decorative and functional alternative to a traditional rain gutter downspout. Designed to visibly guide rainwater down from your roof to the ground, rain chains turn your downspout into a lovely and unique water feature. They not only add a decorative touch to your home, but also add the pleasing sound of water trickling down softly or the soothing sound of water rushing by.
Known as kusari dol’ in Japan (where they originated), have been used for hundreds of years to collect water into large barrels for household water usage. They are also often used in temple designs, with craftsmen creating large, ornate chains that complement the beauty of the temple. Rain chains help the Japanese practice the ancient art of Feng Shui while also conserving water.
How Do Rain Chains Work?
A rain chain attaches to a gutter’s downspout opening and works to to slow and control water runoff from the roof and direct it to the ground. By catching and funneling water away from the base of your house, you help to protect your home’s foundation while also helping to prevent leaks in basements and crawl spaces, and prevent erosion.
Often times the water runoff is directed into a rain chain catch basin. A rain chain basin is a decorative basin designed to catch water from a rain chain; however, any suitable container will work.
Downspouts vs. Rain Chains
While rain chains are more aesthetically pleasing than traditional gutter downspouts, downspouts are sturdier and can handle higher-capacity rainfalls than rain chains. Because of these reasons, rain chains may not be suitable for use in areas that frequently see heavy rain and high winds.
Rain Chain Considerations
Rains chains are available in various designs, materials, and sizes so you can choose one that is right for your home.
Rain Chain Designs
It’s important to consider where the rain chain is going to be placed before you decide on a design. Since cup rain chains rarely splash, they are ideal for areas by windows, doors, and walkways. Cup designs are also more efficient thanks to their funnel design which helps to channel the water down to the ground or into a barrel or base. Catching water in a basin will allow you to use the collected water for watering plants and flowers around your home.
Ring & Link Rain Chains
Link-style rain chains most closely resemble the original design and offer the most open, airy look with modern, clean lines. Link rain chains tend to splash more than the cup-style alternative so you need to be intentional about where you place them.
Cup Rain Chains
While link rain chain designs are closest to the original form, many people prefer a cup rain chain design because they tend to splash less. Cup rain chains are crafted to resemble flower petals, bells, birds, baskets, and many other artistic designs. Images can also be etched onto the cup to accent the shape.
Rain Chain Materials & Finishes
Rain chains can be made from aluminum, stainless steels, and most commonly, copper. We recommend buying a copper rain chain to prevent fading and rusting over time. Copper rain chains also develop a lovely patina over time so if you dig the aged look, you’re in luck.
How to Install a Rain Chain
Installing a rain chain from a gutter is usually quick and easy. Rain chains are made to hang from the hole in the gutter where the downspout was. Simply install the gutter attachment piece that is usually included with your rain chain. Often times a separate installation kit can be bought if your downspout opening is too large, or if water is running along the underside of your gutter and dripping off.