Rain Chains: Everything You NEED To Know About Rain Chains

Looking for an alternative to downpipes? Rain chains are becoming a popular alternative to your traditional downpipes and downspouts and are definitely worth considering.

Different type of metal rain chains
An example of decorative rain chains

What is a rain chain?

In its basic form, a rain chain is a length of chain that allows water to run off your roof, along the chain, and dispersed away from the foundation of your property.  Instead of running down through the centre of your downpipe, rain chains allow the water to flow visible to on-lookers which when set up right, can be aesthetically pleasing to watch.

A nice video showing some beautiful rain chains in action

When should I use a rain chain?

Rain chains can be used in a number of different areas, though personally, I’ve found that rain chains are ideally suited for small roof areas where it’s awkward to install a normal downpipe.  Such examples would be small roofs, such as awnings, canopy, or entrance roofs over a doorway.

Rain chain connected to a small roof gutter
A perfect example of where a rain chain is suitable

As you can see in the photo above this is a perfect spot for a rain chain as there is no area to fit a standard downpipe.

When should I not use a rain chain?

Generally, a rain chain isn’t suitable for areas where you have a large volume of rainwater following as the water won’t trickle down the chain, rather it will gush out onto the floor below. 

Also, you don’t want to use a rain chain where there are high winds or freezing temperatures.  This is because the chain will blow around in the wind and in freezing temperatures you may get the rainwater collecting and freezing within sections of the chain, which in turn will transform into a heavy weight hanging off your gutters.

What types of rain chains are available?

There are a bunch of different rain chain styles, from your standard stainless steel chain all the way up to some fancier decorative chains.  As an example, check out the different styles below:

Standard stainless steel

Stainless steel basic rain chain

A Ring style rain chain

Large ring rain chain

Cup-style rain chains (Copper)

Decorative rain chains in copper and other metals

How much do rain chains cost?

Rain chains can cost as low as $30 for a piece of chain from your local hardware store, all the way up to $2,000 for some of the fancy rain chains.  The length of the chain you require will also impact the cost.

Are rain chains cheaper than downpipes?

Yes, as a general rule rain chains are cheaper than downpipes to install.

Where can you buy rain chains from?

I’ve found some of the best rain chains online.  Use the links below to check out rain chain sites to purchase rain chains along with other components such as downpipe connectors and bowls for the base of the chains:

How do you install a rain chain?

First, before you go to install a rain chain you’ll need to ensure you have everything you need for the job, including:

  • The rain chain (note, as these, come in different sizes make sure you have one long enough to reach the ground from the gutter)
  • A downpipe or pop rain chain connector
  • Some type of ground anchor to connect the rain chain too.

Below are the main steps required to install a rain chain, however, be sure to check out the video below which is also quite helpful:

  1. Cut and install the downpipe rain chain connector in the gutter;
  2. Connect the  rain chain to the gutter via the connector;
  3. Anchor the rain chain to the ground/drainage area;
  4. Using a garden hose spray water up on the roof to test and ensure the water runs down the chain and disperses as expected.

To help, I’ve included two videos below that you might find useful.

Do rain chains need to be anchored?

Yes, I would recommend you anchor rain chains to the ground.  This will stop the chains from swaying around, especially when it is windy where the lighter chains can blow around and get tangled or worst, damage the surrounding areas.  

What should I anchor a rain chain with?

Rain chain connected to ground

There are a couple of different ways to anchor a rain chain.  These include, but are not limited to:

  • Driving a tent peg (decent length) into the ground and connecting the chain directly to the peg or tying it to the peg using some wire;
  • Inserting a pit drain and connecting the end of the rain chain to the pit drain using the likes of wire or decent size cable ties; or
  • If you have excess chain curl it up and bury it under vegetation;

The above photo is a possible way to anchor the rain chain though if you don’t have as much water as this then you can simply anchor the chain directly into a garden bed.

Do Rain chains have different names?

Although the most common name is a rain chain, other names include:

  • Gutter chain
  • “Kusari doi” or “Kusari toi” (Japanese name)

Final thoughts

Overall I think that rain chains are a great decorative alternative to downpipes, however, they do have their place and you need to only use a rain chain if your roof and the surrounding environment support it.  I hope you found this article interesting and if you have any other roofing questions you would like answers to, be sure to reach out to me using the contact form below.

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