The Pros and Cons of Rain Chains

Rain chains, a beautiful yet functional alternative to traditional downspouts, have gained significant popularity in recent years. They can serve an important role in managing rainwater run-off from your roof while also adding an artistic element to your home's exterior. However, they come with their own set of advantages and disadvantages.

This guide explores rain chains and discusses their pros and cons compared to traditional rain gutters for rainwater management. Whether you're considering rain chains or want to learn more about rainwater management, this practical and informative guide can help you make the right choices.

What Are Rain Chains?

What Are Rain Chains?

Originating from Japan, rain chains are artistic alternatives to traditional downspouts. They are essentially a series of decorative cups or shapes chained together, which guide rainwater from your roof gutters down to the ground. When it rains, the water cascades down the chain to create a beautiful waterfall effect.

How Do Rain Chains Work?

Rain chains function on a simple principle of gravity and surface tension. When it rains, water collects in your gutter and is directed towards the rain chain. The chain, adorned with a series of cups or links, serves as a path for this rainfall.

Each raindrop clings to the chain and follows along the links or is collected in the cups to flow elegantly from the roof to the ground. This descent creates a visually pleasing water display and a tranquil sound, much like a natural water feature.

Pros of Rain Chains

Easy to Install

Rain chains are remarkably easy to install, which makes them a practical and user-friendly option. Typically, they can be hung directly from the hole in your gutter where the downspout was previously attached. No special tools are required, and many rain chain kits come with an installation piece known as a "V-hook," which helps attach the chain to your gutter.

Improved Rainwater Management

Rain chains offer improved rainwater management over a "no gutter" system by directing the flow of water from your rooftop to the ground in a more controlled way. Rain chains guide the water down and help to prevent water from pooling around your home's foundation. However, it's essential to remember that their performance varies based on how hard it rains and the design of the rain chain.

Aesthetic Appeal

Rain chains are more than just functional — they are also a unique and beautiful addition to any home exterior. They come in a variety of designs and materials, including copper, aluminum and brass.


Rain chains are an environmentally conscious choice for rainwater management. By guiding rainwater directly into the ground, a barrel or a garden, they reduce the amount of water that ends up in storm drains, lessening the strain on local water treatment facilities. As an added bonus, rain chains are often made from recycled materials and contribute to a circular economy and reduced environmental impact.


Rain chains are highly versatile in design, application and installation. They can be added to any building with a gutter system, from quaint cottages to large commercial buildings. With a wide range of styles and materials available, homeowners can choose a rain chain that complements their home's architecture and personal aesthetic.

Cons of Rain Chains

Possible Installation Issues

While rain chains are praised for their simple installation process, potential issues can arise, particularly for those who own homes with unique architectural features. Some rain chains might be too short for homes with high gutters and could require additional extensions which may not always be readily available.

Additionally, incorrect or improper installation may lead to water damage, including splashing that could impact your home's siding or foundation. Some designs, particularly cup-style chains, might also overflow during heavy rainfall if they're not installed correctly.

Limited Water Capacity

One of the key drawbacks of rain chains is their limited water capacity compared to traditional downspouts. While they are highly effective at managing average rainfall, they might struggle in areas with heavy precipitation. During intense rainstorms, the water may overflow and spill outside the chain, which can potentially lead to water accumulating around the foundation of your house.

Splash and Splashback

Another potential downside to rain chains is the issue of splash and splashback. Unlike traditional downspouts that direct water flow in a controlled manner, rain chains allow water to fall freely, which can lead to water splashing onto nearby areas, such as walkways, decks or the sides of the house. This splashback can create a mess and may lead to potential water damage or slippery surfaces.

Freezing and Icing

In colder climates, freezing and icing can be problematic for rain chains. As water travels down the chain, it may freeze, which can weigh down or damage the chain. This is especially common during freezing rain or snowfall when water solidifies before flowing off the chain. Ice can also block the links and disrupt water flow, causing spills.

Noise Level

A less frequently discussed, but notable con of rain chains is the noise factor. The sound of rain trickling down a chain can be incredibly soothing for some people. However, for others, the noise might be distracting or even disturbing, particularly during heavy rains.

The noise level can also depend on the material and design of the rain chain. For example, chains made of metal might create a louder sound compared to those made from softer materials like resin or glass.

Wind Interference

Rain chains are designed to guide the water down their length, but they might be less effective in windy conditions. Strong winds can cause water to blow off the chain, reducing its effectiveness and leading water to splash on nearby surfaces.


While rain chains don't clog, they do require regular cleaning to prevent the buildup of debris such as leaves and twigs. Without regular maintenance, rain chains might not function as effectively, and the accumulated debris could detract from their aesthetic appeal.

Rain Gutters: A Superior Alternative to Rain Chains

Rain Gutters: A Superior Alternative to Rain Chains

Rain gutters are often considered a superior alternative to rain chains due to their robust functionality and ability to handle various weather conditions. Traditional gutters provide several advantages over rain chains, including a higher water capacity.

They can effectively deal with heavy rainfall and significantly reduce the risk of water accumulation around your home's foundation. Rain gutters also provide a controlled direction for the water flow to minimize the splash and splashback that can occur with rain chains. This type of control significantly reduces the potential for water damage to your home or the creation of slippery surfaces.

Alsco Rainware: Your Ultimate Solution for Rainwater Management

As a professional contractor, your clients look to you for guidance and superior solutions to protect their homes. Choosing Alsco rainware for your projects means delivering peace of mind. Our robust rainwater management system outperforms rain chains, minimizing the potential issues of splashback, water accumulation, icing and noise.
Contact us today to learn more about our products and how they can enhance your projects!