Rain chains offer a more visual and unique alternative to traditional gutter downspout systems. Originating hundreds of years ago in Japan, rain chains channel water through a series of metal cups, or chains, from the home's gutter system into designated areas. This technique formed to conserve and save rainwater for daily use. Rain chains have the potential of becoming popular with American homeowners as rainwater collection has become part of green building efforts.
Rain chains offer many benefits. Typically visually appealing, they effectively prevent damage to the basement or foundation of the home by directing water away from the structure. Additionally, rain chains contribute to the cleanliness and appearance of a home by directing water, mud, and debris away.
Design and Construction
Rain chains join beneath a small hole in the gutter, which filters the water held in the gutter down the rain chain. Normally, metals such as brass, aluminum and copper provide popular material choices for rain chains. Some homeowners elect to use plastic in place of metal. When reviewing design options, remember that some rain chains offer functionality over aesthetics, while others carry designs solely based on decoration, and therefore do not offer great functionality.
Water flow remains the most essential component in the design and functionality of a rain chain system. Systems using funnels with holes at the bottom linked with chains will see the best results. Adding flat elements to the system will increase water splatter, and using cups in place of funnels can cause too much water to collect, creating issues with weight.
Purchasing a Rain Chain for Your Home
While rain chains remain a common feature in Japanese architecture, they are relatively new to American construction, and therefore are less commonly found in typical home supply stores. Some online venues offer a variety of both functional and designer rain chains ranging from $250 to $450 in cost. In addition, for more creatively ambitious homeowners, rain chains may be easily constructed using supplies found at local hardware stores.