Rain Chains

Jill Staake

It’s the rainy season in Florida. Nearly every day brings us some precipitation, whether it be a stray afternoon shower, a pounding thunderstorm, or the all day frenzy of a tropical storm. This year, the daily rains have me thinking about rain chains and whether or not they could work for me.

Rain chains come from Japan, where they are often used in place of a downspout. They are sometimes purely practical, but often much more decorative. Their purpose, like downspouts, is to direct water away from the foundations of a building. Sometimes they are aimed toward a rain barrel or rain garden, while other times they are used to water plants that are hidden away beneath overhangs. They have become more popular in the U.S. in recent years, and come in a variety of styles, like these from Plow & Hearth:

Rain Chains PlowandHearth.com

Rain chains work on the principle of surface tension. They guide rainfall along the chain until it reaches the ground or container. The thing is, I’m not entirely sure if they could stand up to the kinds of torrential downpours so common in Florida. They certainly couldn’t be used to replace all my downspouts, but I’m considering adding just one as a link to a new rain barrel (I have one already but would love to add another). They’re so cool to look at, but I’m just not sure about spending the money. Of course, there are plenty of creative people out there who have made their own rain chains, so maybe I should try one of these projects:

DIY Ombre Rain Chain: Design Sponge

DIY Ombre Rain Chain Design Sponge

Wire-Wrapped Rock Rain Chain: Dollar Store Crafts

Dollar Store Crafts

Galvanized Bucket Rain Chain: Curbly


Silverware Rain Chain: I’m Going to Texas

I'm Going to Texas

What do you think? Have you ever tried a rain chain? I’d love to hear any tips or advice, as well as any additional DIY rain chain projects you may know about. Drop your thoughts into the comments below!

  1. Mary Anne says

    I like in the Pacific Northwest Our rain chain is a cheapie from the sale pile at a garden store. It looks kind of like the DIY one on this site without the rocks. It sits right outside our kitchen window and is just beautiful when it is pouring rain! Everyone comments about how beautiful it is. I looked at chains similar to the bucket that tips and pours water. It was so heavy I was worried about damaging the rain gutter. I am perfectly happy with my cheapie version.

  2. Jen Y says

    I bought a chep rain chain at Target & It’s very pretty. I love it when it’s raining. But after the rain the little buckets won’t drain through the bottom so it’s a breeding ground for mosquitos. We’ll have to take it down & drill drainage holes in each little bucket to be able to use it.

    • says

      you would really need to clean out the gutters so as the rain water can run freely along those gutters. In time leaves and dust can build up in side and block them up!!!

    • Louann Swink says

      Some place sell adapters to help guide the water. I have a copper water can at the top of flower cups and that helps! I love, love, love mine!

  3. Tidge says

    When we built our house on a hillside in Virginia 45 years ago, we decided on a flat roof with drains at the corners and rain chains made of 1 1/2″ diameter copper pipe, sliced, with each alternate ring sliced open, fitted to the next closed ring, then soldered closed (much like a child would make a Christmas chain). The rings, when hung, each lead down to a bird bath bowl at ground level, with holes drilled around the perimeter to let the water drip through to a metal barrel buried at each corner of the house. From each barrel there was a buried pipe which surfaced lower on the hillside and had a spigot attached. Alas, the barrels have rusted away and we have filled in with small stones, but the rest is still working well. My designer husband made sure that there was a weak link in each chain, so that if the giant icicles that form in winter ( and they get large!!), won’t pull the whole chain down (or worse!). The birds are happy year ’round! We put Mosquito Dunks (1/2 dunk per bird bath) in the water during the summer, and periodically sweep the water out of the baths and refill when necessary. We were green before it was fashionable!

  4. Linda says

    My daughter gave me one for Christmas.
    I go out on the deck when it rains and listen to the soothing sound.
    it has globes that are open at the bottom so it drains well.
    Live in SoCal

  5. Angel Judy says

    I had several in Ca. Pretty ones where I could see them daily and in the front where others might be tempted to help themselves I used some old hanging lamp chain. They all worked great and all looked great too. Sold the house, rain chains are still there.

  6. Vicki says

    I bought one that is shaped like inverted bells in copper and while its lovely to look at it can’t handle the downpours here in Florida. The bells are large as are the bottom openings but during heavy rains water overflows each bell in all directions. I plan to move it to an outside corner where water won’t puddle in the porch. Even dry it’s heavy but I haven’t had any problems with it bending the gutters. I think some of these homemade ones are great, everyone that has seen mine wants one! Just reallize they can only handle a certain water volumne and then the overflow goes where it will!

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