Rain Chains: The Art of Collecting Rainwater
by Doug Pushard
Though few would argue that downspouts effectively direct water from the gutter to the collecting tank, would we agree that they add to the aesthetic appeal of a landscape? Probably not. Fortunately, for people who wish to transcend function for form, there is another option.
Rain chains ('Kusari doi' in Japanese) offer a highly attractive and unique alternative to traditional downspouts. They are hung from the corners of your roof or canale to guide the flow of water into large barrels to catch the water from the roof for household purposes and gardening. They have been used for hundreds of years in Japan, and are a perfect expression of the Japanese knack for combining aesthetics and practicality.
The principle is simple - rain chains do exactly what downspouts do, but they do it in a way that brings visual pleasure and delight. Rain swirls and flows down, creating a mesmerizing sense of motion and tranquility right outside your window. And they are beautiful on dry days too, as over time, copper rain chains develop a rich blue-green patina. Rainchains can be an integral part of any garden.
Installing rainchains is as simple as 1, 2, 3.
1. Measure from where the chain will attach on the roof to where it wall fall (e.g. into the top of a rain barrel) and buy the desired length.
2. Connect the chain to the downspout. If installing on canales, drill a hole in the canales to hook the chains to. Also, buy an installation kit and a small dam to prevent the water from running off the end of the canales. This can simply be a small, 1" piece of metal fit across the canales with caulking on either side.
3. Install the rain catchment device of your choosing under the chain.
All done! That's what it takes to reap the benefits of harvesting rainwater and enjoying the beauty of the chains!
Chains vary in style from simple chains bought at your local hardware store to artistically designed copper chains that oxidize over time. The Japanese often put a ceramic or stoneware pot beneath the chain, adding to the beauty of the display. But rain chains can also be dropped into traditional rain barrels or tied into underground piping system of rainwater catchment systems.
Rain chains may not be quite as efficient as gutters, especially in areas prone to heavy downpours, but offer a highly attractive alternative in areas where aesthetics are crucial. They are easy to install, look great and can be a great addition to a rainwater harvesting system.
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