Rain chains are an alternative to downspouts, which are essential components of any gutter system. Like downspouts, they serve to guide rainwater away from the building to prevent the area around the foundations from becoming waterlogged. Although rain chains are still not very common in the western world, they’re by no means a new thing. The Japanese have been using them for centuries both for their functional characteristics and aesthetic elements. In Japan, you’ll often see some particularly elaborate rain chains adorning ancient temples. However, they’re also gradually becoming a popular alternative to downspouts here in the US.
Rain chains are just as much an aesthetic accessory for your home as they are functional. As such, they come in many different forms, ranging from basic chain-like structures to ones with small cups. Link designs are the most traditional, since they’re the closest to the original appearance of the rain chains used in Japan. However, cup designs tend to do a better job of guiding water away from your home, particularly during heavy rain. Rain chains make a good alternative to downspouts in many types of homes, including modern houses and country cabins. Installations are typically accompanied by a ceramic or stone pot at the bottom of the chain for collecting and holding water.
It’s typically very easy to install rain chains, since all you need to do is disconnect the original downspout and hang the chain from the hole in the gutter system. However, if the hole is too large, the chains will not be effective enough. Fortunately, rain chain installation kits are available separately, allowing you to more effectively guide the water down the chain.
Rain chains are typically made from copper, a sturdy material that’s also 100% recyclable. While copper does oxidize eventually to form a layer of greenish residue, it doesn’t compromise the structure in any way, and most people would agree that it only enhances the appearance anyway. By contrast, gutter and downspout systems are usually made from vinyl, which is not nearly as durable or as attractive.
Ultimately, homeowners choose to use rain chains as water features to accent their properties. However, if you live in an area that receives a lot of rain, relying solely on rain chains might not be the best idea, since they’re still not quite as effective at handling a major downpour.