Rain Chains vs Downspouts

What Are Rain Chains?

Rain chains and gutter downspouts are both common methods of redirecting rainwater away from your home, especially in areas like Houston where heavy rainfall is common. They work together by diverting rainwater away from the foundation, preventing flooding and potential water damage. 

At War Horse Gutters, our goal is to help you learn what rain chains and downspouts are, how they’re different, and which solution is best for your home.

History of Rain Chains

Rain chains originate from Japan where they are known as “kusari-doi”, and were commonly used to make decorative water features out of redirecting water from gutters into a drain or water collection system.

They are typically built by linking a series of metal cups that are chained together, guiding rainwater down the chain and away from the foundation. Rain chains are made from materials like copper, brass, or aluminum, and are sold in many different colors and styles. 

How Do Rain Chains Work?

Rain chains are built to rely on surface tension and gravity to guide rainwater from gutters to the ground. When it rains, water flows off the roof into your gutters, and is directed towards the connected downspout.

When a rain chain is installed, water flows down the chain, through the interlinked cups until it reaches the ground. This clever design slows down the flow of water to minimize splashing. 

Can Rain Chains Handle Heavy Rainfall?

Although rain chains are fun to look at and can typically handle light rainfall, they may struggle redirecting large amounts of water during storms with excessive rainfall.

This limitation makes them more suitable for areas with less extreme weather conditions. We don’t recommend using rain chains instead of traditional downspouts if you live in cities like Houston. 

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What Are Gutter Downspouts?

How Downspouts Work

Downspouts, also known as waterspouts or downpipes, are the vertical pipes attached to your gutter system that redirects water from the gutter to the ground. Traditional downspouts are durable in most weather conditions, can handle heavy rainfall, and directs rainwater away from your home to prevent erosion and water damage.

Does My Home Need Downspouts?

Yes, downspouts are essential for homes in Houston or areas prone to heavy rainfall. Without a properly installed downspout, your gutters may clog or overflow when it rains. This buildup of water around your property can cause erosion to your yard, water damage to the foundation of your home, or flooding in extreme cases. 

Efficiency of Downspouts in Directing Rainwater

Downspouts are highly efficient in directing rainwater away from buildings, even during intense rainstorms. Their sturdy build and vertical design make them reliable in managing large volumes of water and have proven to be reliable over long periods of time.

Types of Rain Chains

Traditional Rain Chains

Traditional rain chains hang freely from the roof and collect water in interlinked cups along their length of the chain. They come in unique designs and a wide variety of styles and materials. Traditional rain chains are often the most affordable options for purchase. 

Linked Rain Chains

Linked rain chains are similar to traditional designs but have an additional component: metal links that fit into each other like puzzle pieces. This added detail creates a beautiful effect when water flows between them. With slightly higher maintenance due to the possibility of broken links, they offer unique designs that compliment the overall aesthetic of your home. 

Gutter Adaptable Rain Chains

Gutter adaptable rain chains are designed to connect directly to an existing gutter system. They offer an easy installation process and require minimal maintenance. However, they come in limited lengths which may conflict with the height and length of your current gutter system if not installed correctly. 

Cup Style Rain Chains

Cup-style rain chains are a type of rain chain that features individual cups or buckets attached to a chain. These cups are strategically positioned to capture rainwater as it flows down from the roof or gutter. When the cups fill up with water, it creates a soothing sound many homeowners enjoy listening to on a rainy day. Cup-style rain chains are known for their decorative appeal and can add a charming touch to any outdoor space.

Copper Rain Chains

Copper rain chains are one of the most popular because of their beautiful design and durability. The copper exterior is known to have corrosion-resistant properties that ensure they last for years to come. Although they tend to be more expensive, the cost is worthwhile for those looking to increase curb appeal

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Rain Chain Pros & Cons

Advantages of Rain Chains

  • Visual appeal: Rain chains add aesthetic charm to homes and gardens.
  • Soothing sound: The sound of water cascading through rain chains can create a relaxing atmosphere.
  • No Clogging: Unlike downspouts, rain chains are less prone to clogging with debris.

Disadvantages of Rain Chains

  • Limited effectiveness in heavy rain: Rain chains may struggle to handle heavy downpours, leading to overflow and splashing.
  • Not suitable as a sole drainage solution: They are best used in conjunction with downspouts, especially in areas with frequent heavy rainfall.

Comparing Rain Chains and Downspouts

Design and Esthetic

Rain chains offer a decorative alternative to traditional downspouts, enhancing the visual appeal of outdoor spaces.


Rain chains are generally easier to install than downspouts, often requiring DIY installation kits.

Drainage Capabilities

While downspouts are more efficient in directing rainwater away from buildings, rain chains excel in moderate rainfall conditions.


Rain chains are relatively low-maintenance compared to downspouts, which may require periodic cleaning to prevent clogging.


Rain chains can be more expensive than downspouts, especially high-quality copper chains, but they add unique aesthetic value to properties.


Both rain chains and gutter downspouts have their advantages and limitations. While rain chains offer aesthetic appeal and soothing sounds, downspouts are more efficient in managing heavy rainfall and protecting building foundations. The best option for your home depends on factors such as climate, aesthetic preferences, and budget.

For more information about which gutter style is best for your home, call War Horse Gutters to schedule a free consultation with a gutter installation expert near you. With over 15 years of experience serving Houston and surrounding areas, War Horse Gutters will make sure you’ll find the gutters that meet your budget and style preferences. 


Rain chains are effective in light to moderate rainfall, but may struggle redirecting water during heavy storms. We recommend using rain chains as a decorative element for your home, not a reliable gutter system alone.  

Yes, downspouts are built to handle heavy water flow and are known to last for years when taken care of properly. 

Rain chains can be hung anywhere along the exterior of your roof where your gutter is attached. We recommend hanging them in your front entrance way or along the side of your home.  

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