How to use a chain for a downspout

Written by emily patterson
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How to use a chain for a downspout
Use a chain instead of a downspout to reduce maintenance. (chain image by Tomasz Plawski from

A chain can be used instead of a downspout to direct water into a basin or underground drainage system. The use of a chain instead of a downspout reduces maintenance because debris, such as leaves and sticks, cannot become lodged on a chain like they can in a downspout. There are a variety of decorative rain chains. However, a plain chain serves the same purpose as a rain chain.

Skill level:

Things you need

  • Screwdriver or screwdriver bit
  • Gloves
  • Drill
  • 1/8 inch drill bit
  • Exterior screws, 1 1/2 inch
  • Heavy-gauge exterior hook
  • Tape measure
  • Bolt cutters
  • Chain

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  1. 1

    Unscrew the sheet metal screws that hold the downspout to the gutters. Recycle or store the downspout.

  2. 2

    Drill two 1/8-inch pilot holes though the back of the gutter and into the wood behind the gutter. Place one on each side of the opening for the downspout. This will add strength to keep the weight of the rain chain from pulling on the gutter. Insert a 1 1/2- inch screw into each pilot hole.

  3. 3

    Drill another pilot hole through the back of the gutter and into the wood behind the gutter. Screw in the heavy gauge exterior hook.

  4. 4

    Push the end of the chain through the downspout opening in the gutter. Place the top link over the hook.

  5. 5

    Cut the chain to the proper length with bolt cutters and insert the bottom of the chain into an existing underground drainage system or container that is tipped so water from the rain chain drains away from the building.

Tips and warnings

  • Insert the bottom of the rain chain into a rain barrel to collect water for washing cars or watering plants.
  • The chain will be very heavy if it becomes covered with ice in the winter. Either remove the rain chain for the season or keep the ice thawed by pouring warm water over the chain to melt the ice.

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