While they certainly aren’t new to the Japanese, rain chains have made their way to the West and provide a beautiful alternative to practical downspouts.
Known as “kusari doi” in Japanese, these chains have hung from the eaves of Buddhist temples for years and are used to funnel rainwater into a barrel.
As the water trickles down the chain links or cups, it creates an interesting water feature, appealing to both the eyes and ears. Rain chains can be used to work with traditional gutter and downspout configurations or replace them entirely.
If replacing a downspout system, it’s a good idea to improve the area where the rain will be settling. There are several options of what to place below the rain chain, such as basins, bowls, or rocks that allow the water to reach the soil below.
Rain chains are not suitable for every house. For example, the roof needs a 3-foot eave for the rain chain to work correctly. Some areas with high winds or heavy rainfall will need additional drainage to keep rainwater away from from the foundation. A French drain can solve this issue.
Rain chains can be plain or highly decorative and generally, they are cheaper than downspouts. Cup-style rain chains can handle more rainwater because each cup can direct rain straight down to the next one.
There are, of course, some downsides to consider about this decorative drainage substitute. Due to the nature of the design, rain chains are less sturdy and can handle less rainwater than a downspout.
Also, depending on the intensity of winter weather, water can freeze on the chains, creating weight on the eaves.
While there are multiple things to consider before choosing to add a rain chain, the delightful sights and sounds coming from it when the next shower comes may just outweigh the cons.