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How to Make an Easy Rain Chain

A rain chain is an alternative to a gutter downspout. Rain flows from the gutter down the chain to the ground. Rain chain styles range from artistic copper cup chains to cotton braided rope. They offer a relaxing rain splashing sound. Unlike a gutter, the rain chain does not clog with leaves. You can design and make a home rain chain in a short time.

  1. Measure the downspout from gutter to ground. Add a few feet extra for anchoring. The chain should be anchored to keep the chain and flowing water away from the house. A few extra feet allow the chain end to be anchored at a drain outlet or wrapped around a landscape rock.

  2. Check the downspout to be sure it has an outlet tube, the short tube that runs from the gutter into the downspout. This guides water from the gutter to the downspout or the rain chain. If the outlet tube is missing, most hardware stores carry replacements. The outlet tube keeps gutter water from leaking under the gutter and seeping along the house.

  3. Choose decorative link chain at a home improvement center. Suitable materials include steel, copper, brass and aluminum. Select chain for outdoor use like planter or hanging basket chain. When the chain is cut to size, the full length of cut chain should weigh no more than 5 to 7 pounds. If the chain is too heavy, the weight of the chain and flowing rainwater may damage the gutter.

  4. Select a hanger for the downspout hole. Plumbing departments often carry v-wires called pipe hooks that can be squeezed and pushed up into the gutter drain. They expand to stay in place. A rod wider than the gutter hole can also be used. Shove it up into the gutter hole and turn it to straddle the drain. Choose a swivel hook to fit over the hangar. The swivel hook lets you take down or change the rain chain without removing the hanger.

  5. Remove the downspout and clean any debris from the gutter opening. Install the hanger with swivel hook. Hang the chain over the hook. Anchor the ground end with a landscape staple or coil it around the drain area. Be sure the water has a drain path away from the house. The chain can also drain into a rain barrel, decorative pot, or stone-filled pathway.

  6. Explore the many kits and components for making an ornamental rain chain. Many garden centers, specialty plumbing, patio shops and Internet stores offer parts from simple chains to decorative rain cups.

Warning

  • Rain chains are designed to drain gutters or rooflines no more than 30 feet long. If ice forms on the chain, shake the chain to break the ice loose. Remove the chain for winter if you are concerned about ice weight on the gutter. Keep the chain at least 3 feet from the house to prevent splashing on the walls.

About the Author

Phyllis Benson is a professional writer and creative artist. Her 25-year background includes work as an editor, syndicated reporter and feature writer for publications including "Journal Plus," "McClatchy Newspapers" and "Sacramento Union." Benson earned her Bachelor of Science degree at California Polytechnic University.