Rain Chains 101

Originating from Japan, kusari doi or rain chains have been around for hundreds of years. Collecting and carrying rain water away from the roof, the rain chain directed it into a barrel, pool or pond where it could be used for household needs. Traditional rain chains were both functional and beautiful, often utilized as a decorative feature in the design of Japanese temples and gardens. Today, rain chains are becoming a popular alternative to the standard downspout, adding an attractive element to the modern home’s gutter system.

Designed to function like standard downspouts, rain chains are comprised of funnels, cups or geometric forms linked together. They are typically attached to the gutter by way of the hole used by the downpipe. Rain chains can be installed in one of two main ways: left hovering above the surface or secured by some method such as an ornamental bowl or barrel. Because the runoff is not enclosed as it is with a downspout, any unchanneled water will overflow on either side of the rain chain. To protect the foundation from flooding or landscaped areas from soil erosion, rain chains should properly drain into a bed of gravel, a rain barrel or some other type of water collection system.

The standard length of a rain chain is eight feet, but is also available in one-foot sections so that it can be customized to meet the needed measurement. They are available in a wide range of materials including copper and brass, but can be readily categorized into three basic types – cup rain chains, link rain chains and themed rain chains. What makes a rain chain so appealing is its ornamental aspect. Rain chains naturally enhance the sight and sound of falling rain, adding another dimension to your home’s curb appeal.