Chain Downspout?

I ran across a “chain downspout” today.

This chain ran from the gutter to the ground. Could this work? Has anyone seen anything like this? I would normally just say this is a joke and install a downspout. But you should of seen this house. It is 55 years old and was the most meticulous and correct remodel job I have ever seen - inside, outside, over, and under.

I just googled this. It’s called a “rain chain”. Japanese architectural influence. Has anyone seen these?


Chains are used to quiet the dripping sounds of the water and to help diffuse the water hitting the ground.

They are less noisy than your standard downspout but are relatively ineffective in heavy rains.

Yes, once in a while one runs into them. They work, but how well they work, I couldn’t tell you, and I don’t know how they control the water once it hits the ground, which will probably be too close to the foundation.

They have all sorts of decorative chain falls for down spout alternatives.

You find them most often on a 1/2 round copper gutter system and the design can be quite intricate, similar to tiered bird baths.


My future MIL has one install at her house, and it seems to work ok. But she’s here in Southerna California where we rarely get real rain.

It would take an Anchor chain off of an Oil tanker to work here in normal years, but it could serve double duty by securing the house in a Tornado.

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Here are a few…

I have one and it is cheaper than a ladder for roof work.

Ha ha ha. I can picture it now “House saved by rain chain, even a Torando couldn’t take it away!”

Rain chains have been around for centuries and in many different places. Ive seen them in Japan and as weird as it sounds in Williamsburg, Virginia on some of the homes and buildings inside Williamsburg. Some are more decorative and kind of form cascading waterfalls from one cup or bucket down, others are chains (some have a weighted ball on the ends). I think in a hurricane it would beat the snot out of the side of the house though.

The medical centre on Saltspring Island BC, built around 1970, has chain downspouts. Low, wide overhangs and big concrete-lined drainpits at the bottom are important parts of the design, would not work well on a taller house.

I have seen several designs. They work well around here. It rains a lot, but rarely very hard. You have to anchor them to the ground so they don’t swing in the wind. I think the stacked bucket designs look great.

work ok until it freezes and thaws and freezes again then the weight pulls the gutter off the house, happened to me up here in Washington State

That sounds more like a gutter attachment problem.

If there were an enclosed downspout, it too would have been filled with ice and the additional weight load would have transfered to the gutter hangers as well.

Unless, the freeze thaw cycle created an inconceivable amount of continuing and ever expanding ice formations on the chain.


What are the benefits, it has to be more expensive, and it looks kinda funky too. IMO

The NEC may approve this as an alternative to an EGC to protect against lightning strikes. Let’s see if they do.

I have seen a few of these and they do seem to work pretty well except in a cloud burst !

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Chains are super common “downspouts” used in my area on higher end builds and rustic builds. They are great in warm climates, however in areas that get cold such as mine they can become heavy ice blocks in the winter.

The purpose of a rainwater management system (gutters, downspouts, extensions) is to collect rain water from the roof and direct it to a suitable disposal site where it will not damage the foundation of the building. I write up any design that does not accomplish this task. Art is all good and well, but function is the most important.