A couple of months ago I got the notion that I wanted a rain chain. This notion lead to some great ideas on creating a water collection basin underneath it, and more ideas for rain gardens.
What is the benefit of a rain chain? Rain chains were first used in Japan where they doubled as elegant water features that blended with the architecture. Not only are they beautiful, but these ‘downspouts’ also slow down water. The benefits of slowing down water during a rain storm is that it’s not pooling in areas, such as your yard (harming your foundation and structure) or collecting in the water storm drains as quickly. This reduces the chances of flooding and surges at water treatment plants. Rain chains and rain gardens are an excellent asset to an urban environment where water quality is super important. Plus, the sound of the cascading water is so neat!!!
After doing some research on the price of rain chains and on how to make them, I decided I’d make my own with copper tubing. I found a tutorial on how to weld the rings together. After a big effort of getting a welder, flux, and all those materials, it did not work. If you want to weld the copper tubing, you will need to invest in a blow torch. So I decided I would make do another way. The total cost of materials was around $35. The cheapest rain chains I’ve seen are $100. I used copper tubing and some copper wire to create the rings. Below is a list of materials I used.
Thin Copper Wire (I used about 50 yards of this)
Polished Glass Stones (I am using the large kind of these glass gems)
First you need to measure how long your rain chain will be. Mine is around 7.5′. This meant I needed around 22′ of tubing. Take the amount of feet you need and times it by 3.
First you take the tubing and wrap around a 2″ piece of PVC piping into a coil. Then remove the piping and slightly extend the copper tubing. Use your cutter to cut each ring out of the coil.
This is where you can loop all the rings together and weld them into a complete circle. But without a welder I used the thin copper wire. I inserted it into one end of the tubing clamped the copper tubing down on it with pliers to hold the wire, then wrapped it around the gap to create a fully closed ring.
I then wire wrapped some glass gems and tied them onto the rings. This slows down the water even more. You can slow down the water even more by creating double rings instead of single rings like I did.
To attach the rain chain to the gutter, I used a Plastic Drain Grate that is used for plumbing. My boyfriend cut a hole in the gutter using a metal round 2″ circle hole saw drill bit, then we inserted the drain grate, and tied the rain chain to the grate using copper wire. We then anchored the chain to the ground using a ground stake to prevent it moving during high winds.
If you are totally replacing a gutter, you can find many videos and tutorials online on how to remove the downspout and how to hang the rain chain.
The rain chain has been up for a few weeks and I’ve already noticed a difference in how water is draining on my property. More water from the gutter is flowing down the rain chain and into the yard, where the rain gardens will be. This is decreasing the amount of water collecting around the other downspout which is putting the water near the home’s foundation. Also, the chain looks really cool when water freezes on it!
There will be more information later on different basins you can create where the rain chain’s water flows to.