Rain chains are a unique and fun way to decorate the exterior of your home, but they aren't just for decoration. As a perfect example of where form and function beautifully collide, they are a wonderful alternative to regular downspouts. If you're just now learning about them, but you're not sure what the fuss is all about, here are five fun benefits of their use.
Rain chains are composed of a long length of chains or cups, and they lead water away from your gutters in the same fashion that downspouts do. But before you run out the door to buy them, you may want to know if they actually work.
With a little assistance from gravity and surface tension, the chains function as a channel, directing water away from your roof, so they do work when installed properly. Chains that are shaped like cups have holes at the bottom that the water passes through. Traditional downspouts are known as a closed system, but with rain chains, it's open so that you can see the water as it cascades down to the ground below.
Ease of Installation
The installation process is pretty simple. You'll need to first remove any downspouts you wish to replace. From there, you can hang the chain inside the cavity where the downspout once fitted inside the gutter. However, if the hole is larger than either the cup or the chain at the very top, it's recommended that you get a separate installation kit if your purchase doesn't include one.
With the installation kit comes an attachment, or a "reducer," that fits inside the hole where the downspout went, minimizing the size. At the bottom of the reducer is a horizontal bolt that the rain chain hangs from. This helps prevent water from slipping out of the hole and sliding along the underside of the gutter, missing the rain chain altogether. If necessary, a small amount of silicone caulking can be used to seal the hole around the reducer.
Use Without Gutters
If your home lacks gutters, or you wish to use your rain chain on a shed, you can still enjoy the beauty and function of this product. All you need to do is purchase a separate mini-gutter and attach it where water runs off, like at a doorway or in a valley where two roofs join. From there, you hang the rain chain the same way you would from a standard gutter.
If you're concerned about any issues with your rain chain in the winter, rest assured it can hang beautifully from your home year round.
A lot of homeowners enjoy the ice crystals that form when snow melts off the roof, trickles down the chain or cups, then refreezes at night. The only thing you need to account for is the added weight that can accompany the ice crystals, particularly if your chain is especially long. A standard installation kit should be sufficient to accommodate any increases in weight.
Multiple Styles and Materials
Rain chains come in a variety of styles to suit different tastes, but for the most part they are either made up of a length of interlocking links or cups. Deciding between the two essentially comes down to budget and preference, but some report that the cups tend to splash less than the links. This generally isn't an issue unless the rain chain is located near an entryway. Also, if you wish to alter the length, it might be a little easier to add or take away several cups from the chain as opposed to removing and adding links.
Cups come in variable shapes and sizes, and the non-cup rain chains may take on the appearance of copper leaves or a string of flat circles or other geometric shapes.
They are also made from a variety of materials, each one offering a unique textured look. Most are made of copper or brass, but you can also get chains that are made of iron, stainless steel, aluminum, and even wood from companies such as Monarch Rain Chains.