The Pros and Cons of Rain Chains

Whether you’re interested in rainwater collection or preventing rainwater buildup around your home, rain chains can be an effective tool. They are an aesthetically pleasing, thrifty alternative to closed downspouts and provide many benefits for homeowners. That said, there are a few disadvantages you should consider before purchasing them for your home.

A close up image of three links of a rain chain with green oxidation.

Before we dive into rain chain pros and cons, we should take a moment to discuss what they are, where they come from and how they work. Here’s a comprehensive guide that outlines everything you need to know about rain chains.

What is a Rain Chain?

A hanging brown rain chain with three small buckets.

A rain chain is a functional tool that redirects water from your roof. It utilizes a series of cup- or bucket-like containers linked together to form a chain. The length (or height) of a rain chain can be customized based on personal preferences and home needs.

The History of Rain Chains

Rain chains have been around for centuries. They originated in Japan as a beautiful alternative for rainwater redirection and collection. Even today, Japanese temples use ornate and intricately carved rain chains instead of traditional downspouts.

However, that’s not the only limit to rain chain use in the modern world. You can also find them in homes throughout the U.S. and South America, where downspouts are sometimes more difficult to obtain.

How Does a Rain Chain Work?

The mechanism of a rain chain is relatively simple compared to other water redirection systems like downspouts. First, rainwater falls down the roof and into the gutter system. From there, the gutters direct the water to the rain chain.

The rain fills up the topmost cup first, then overflows into the next one, and so on. The process is similar to that of a cascading fountain. The rainwater can either be directed into a collection barrel or re-routed to the ground, to provide a gorgeous and effective addition to your outdoor décor.

4 Pros of Rain Chains

Two links of a dark gray rain chain with bright green trees in the background.

Homeowners have used rain chains for centuries, and there are several reasons why. Here are four advantages of installing rain chains on your property:

1. Rainwater Collection

First and foremost, rain chains are an excellent tool for rain collection. The rainwater can be routed down the rain chain and into a device, like a large barrel or water collection system. This enables you to conserve water, save money and protect the environment.

2. Aesthetics

Rain chains also provide an aesthetic advantage. In fact, many homeowners in the U.S. use them specifically for this purpose. When it rains and water starts pouring down the rain chain, it can be incredibly beautiful and mesmerizing to watch.

3. Ease of Installation

Rain chains are also super easy to install. Essentially, you hang them beneath the opening where the downspout would typically go, and they collect any runoff diverted by your gutters. They’re also easy to customize and maintain, as each chain piece can be removed or replaced without needing special tools.

4. DIY Options

Another advantage of rain chains is the many DIY options available on the market. You can create handmade, customized and personalized rain chains that are relatively inexpensive, and you don’t need that much craft experience to make it happen.

4 Cons of Rain Chains

There are also a few disadvantages of rain chains that you should be aware of before committing to them fully. Here are four cons of choosing rain chains instead of traditional downspouts:

1. Flow Limit

One of the biggest disadvantages of a rain chain is its water flow capacity. Depending on the size of the rain chain, they could be easily overwhelmed during a heavy rainstorm. In fact, if it rains too much and the water starts overflowing, it may make the device completely nonfunctional. If the property where you’re considering adding rain chains experiences significant rainfall, proceed with informed caution!

2. Water Redirection

Rain chains do not redirect rainwater. Instead, they collect the rainwater and route it downward. This is fine if you have a splash block or don’t struggle with water buildup. If you need a rain protection system that redirects the water somewhere else, consider a traditional downspout.

3. Regular Maintenance Required

Rain chains do require regular maintenance. They’re typically created using tiny links that hold the separate pieces together. Unfortunately, these links can become worn over time, requiring replacement.

Also, if you are conserving water via a rain barrel, you’ll need to move or use the water before it overflows. Many times, you can connect a hose to divert water run-off and prevent overflow from the barrel. Otherwise, the rain chain will become ineffective, and you’ll experience water buildup around your home.

4. Installation Issues

While rain chain installation is usually straightforward, it can be complex if the rain chain containers don’t match the diameter of your downspout holes. If the holes are too large, you’ll have to purchase a separate installation kit that will enable you to alter their size.

Rain Gutters are Generally a Better Alternative to Rain Chains

While rain chains are certainly different and provide an interesting aesthetic, rain gutters remain the superior answer to properly collecting and redirecting water away from a home. Besides water spilling off roof edges, homeowners must also concern themselves with keeping water away from the sides of the home to avoid any damage that pooled or channeled water might affect. By utilizing a tight-fitted rain gutter system, proper drainage protects the home in the long run.

Get High-Quality, Durable Rainware from Alsco

The end of a tan aluminum downspout.

Are you searching for affordable and reliable rainware products to protect your home? At Alsco® Metals, we specialize in offering high-quality, low-maintenance aluminum products that will meet any homeowner’s safety and productivity standards.

Contact us today to locate a supplier in your area or speak with one of our customer service professionals for guidance or assistance on your next project!