Copper rain chains are decorative chains used in place of gutter downspouts. The chains hang from a building roof line. Many materials are suitable for rain chains. Copper is most popular due its artistic beauty and changing patina as it ages. In Japan, copper rain chains are used on temples, shops and homes for their aesthetics. In other countries rain chains appeal primarily to homeowners as architectural options.
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Copper rain chains attach to a roof gutter and carry rain to the ground. As water reaches the bottom of the chain, it is collected in a rain barrel or drained away from the building. The rain chains are easy to install and often replace old downspouts. Copper rain chains frequently have ornate designs such as tulips, fish or birds. These sometimes hang from house eaves as copper sculpture and do not drain from a gutter.
Copper rain chains come as simple chains or as cup chains. Simple chains may be small or large links running from the roof to the ground. Double links are often palm-sized copper tubes interwoven in pairs to form the chain. Cup links are funnel-type boxes or decorative cones on the chain. These funnels gather the water in the upper cup and funnel it through the bottom hole to the next cup on the chain. Cups control flowing water with less splashing than simple chains.
Rain chains install into existing rain gutters. The task takes 5 to 10 minutes to remove the downspout and insert an expandable hangar or bar at the gutter drain hole. The rain chain is suspended from the hangar and anchors to the ground or dangles into a rain barrel. Some chains end in a rock bed or gravel-filled decorative planter that drains to the street.
Copper drain chains require little maintenance. If water flows down the chain and into a rain barrel, the barrel should be emptied periodically and cleaned. Mosquitoes may breed in standing water. In windy areas, the chain should be anchored to control the water flow and chain movement. In ice storms, the chain is shaken to break ice from the links.
Copper rain chains are attractive and add visual interest to a home. The chains do not clog with leaves and debris like downspouts. The chain is open and will not overflow with water backing up into the house eaves. Many home gardeners like using rainwater barrels. Copper chains are an efficient way to fill rain barrels from gutters.
Copper rain chains are primarily effective when they drain 30 feet or less of linear gutter. They should be anchored away from the house foundation to avoid flooding. In icy winters, copper rain chains are beautiful ice sculptures but if ice weight is a concern, the chain is quickly taken down for winter storage. If the copper hangar rubs on a bare aluminium gutter, rubber tips or plastic hose should be cut and slipped over the copper ends to prevent damage where the two metals touch.
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