Rain Chains

The concept behind rain chains is quite simple. They are used in the place of downspouts from your rain gutters. Normally, a downspout channels the water from your gutter to the end where it is washed out. The only problem is that this can cause a large degree of flooding, washout or drainage problems in the area where all that water flows. In addition to this problem, traditional downspouts are just plain boring at best and ugly at worst.

No more ugly downspouts for your home. For the ladies, a rain chain can act like a piece of jewelry - a necklace or bracelet - for your home's roof. Depending upon the style you find, it can be ornate or very simple. Because these gutter chains are a Japanese inspired design, most are very simple and maintain an elegance about them. It is just that Zen way that the Japanese strive for. It creates a harmony and balance. The water traveling down and over the rings or other rain chain items also creates a very nice sound and is soothing to the inhabitants.

Another benefit of a rain chain is that it will not get blocked up or clogged from debris or freezing. Since there is really no channel - at least with the original type of rain chain - there is nothing to block. Just another reason to consider rain chains for your frontyard, backyard or both.

You can see a variety of styles of rain chains here.  Photo by http://www.flickr.com/photos/rutlandguttersupply/3648511850/
You can see a variety of styles of rain chains here. Photo by http://www.flickr.com/photos/rutlandguttersupply/3648511850/
Copper rings are a very popular style of rain chain.  Photo by http://www.flickr.com/photos/22553111@N07/2972822831/
Copper rings are a very popular style of rain chain. Photo by http://www.flickr.com/photos/22553111@N07/2972822831/

Original Rain Chains

The first rain chains were designed in a time when access to simple materials were used to form these very practical and yet beautiful pieces all at once. In the early times, these were just as the name implies - a set of interlocking rings that formed a chain. The chain could take on many styles and designs, but basically had the same overall appearance.  Originally, these were made of steel or bronze, but have since been very popular in copper.  Copper rain chains are actually the most easily and readily available types for purchase online or in local home stores.

Some chains would be as simple as single rings interlocking their way down from the gutter to the ground. At the base, there is a bucket or some other type of collecting basin where the water can simply flow out or over and be gently distributed back into the earth. Other designs incorporate a base of river rocks that serves as the collecting basin.

Unlike traditional downspout gutters, these chain and basin combinations help to minimize the direct impact that all the rain run water runoff would cause to your landscaping. This type of assembly helps to maintain that Japanese attitude of being in harmony with nature. Your home need not be an obstruction or damaging element to your property.

Here is a copper rain chain hanging from a home in Japan.  Photo by http://www.flickr.com/photos/10517539@N07/2363133153/
Here is a copper rain chain hanging from a home in Japan. Photo by http://www.flickr.com/photos/10517539@N07/2363133153/
This string of rain chains makes your downspout into a piece of art.  Photo by http://www.flickr.com/photos/chaimzvi/235457724/
This string of rain chains makes your downspout into a piece of art. Photo by http://www.flickr.com/photos/chaimzvi/235457724/
A closer look at a rain chain in action.  Photo by http://www.flickr.com/photos/chaimzvi/235457289/in/photostream/
A closer look at a rain chain in action. Photo by http://www.flickr.com/photos/chaimzvi/235457289/in/photostream/

Contemporary Rain Chain Designs

While the original style of rain chains as interlocking rings from the very simple to intricate design on this theme is still popular, a new trend has emerged. Today, more and more homes are opting for the more ornate style of rain chain designs. Ornate probably isn't the best word, maybe decorative is a better word choice.

Decorative rain chains come in a wide range of patterns. Some are shaped like flowers and several types of flowers in fact. You can also find small bell shaped designs, cups, bowls and others. The tulip design is a common one. Equally functional as their original chain counterparts, these decorative chains add a bit more personality to your home.

Imagine having your nice seamless gutter run along the face of your home only to be dropping its water through a beautiful copper tulip rain chain to the ground where a lovely river rock basin gently delivered the water to your surrounding landscape plants. How about that for a subtle but powerful home improvement project. Even better, the whole thing only takes minutes to install. Okay, truth be told, if you create a nice basin and hook up your rain chains properly to your gutters using a special bracket, it is probably a few hour job. But still, how else can you create such a clean look and nice ambiant sound in that amount of time for just a few hundred bucks.

If that sounds like more than you want to spend on your rain gutter downspouts, than consider making your own rain chains.  You can get some ideas and inspiration from the Youtube video below.  You might even have many of the necessary materials to make your own rain chain in your home or garage right now.  In fact, you'll be surprised by what you can actually make one with and how the freezing water in the winter can make an even more amazing sculpture from your design. 

How To Make Your Own Rain Chain

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Comments 5 comments

jazzuboo profile image

jazzuboo 7 years ago from Queensland, Australia

These are fascinating! I've never heard of them before, but can think of a few places around my home that these would work great. Particularly on the verandah, where I can sit under shelter and watch them in action. Great hub, man...


patioman profile image

patioman 7 years ago from USA, Arizona Author

Thanks Jazzuboo. Yes, these things are very cool. There are some pretty ingenious people out there. Wish I would have thought of the idea....I'm just a few hundred years late.


moonlake profile image

moonlake 6 years ago from America

Love rain chains I have to make one. Great Hub.


patioman profile image

patioman 6 years ago from USA, Arizona Author

Hello Moonlake. Yes, rain chains are a great way to add a nice element to that otherwise boring or stale gutter system. There is definitely a boost to the ambiance outdoors with these hanging. Best of luck on making yours!


MarkMAllen15 profile image

MarkMAllen15 5 years ago

Wow. Great to know about rain chain. So awesome.

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