One of the few things I dislike about my new place is the complete lack of gutters. As the water running off the back of the house has already worn deep grooves into the concrete patio and managed to splash up onto the sliding door to drip down into the frame, they are near the top of my high-priority list. But I’ve been thinking about the downspouts.

Yes, I have been having serious thoughts about gutters and downspouts. I feel very grown-up.

Regular downspouts are fairly utilitarian and plain, they were designed to carry water and that’s basically all they do.

Sexy.

But hey, it’s not like I have a choice, right? All gutters look the same.

Well … Not really. Meet the chain gutter, or “rain chain”.

Neat!

Originally from Japan, the water falls from one link to the next until it reaches the ground. In motion they are quite lovely, but they do have a few problems that standard downspouts don’t have. Wind, for one – the stronger the wind and the more open the chain’s design the worse it will splatter. They are really designed for steady, slow rains with little wind. (Luckily the area of most concern, the back patio, is fairly well-protected from winds.)

And of course being open there’s a possibility they could freeze in cold weather, becoming giant chaincicles. This would be a problem in my area as we get drizzly cold weather, perfect for building up ice, in the winter time.

They are quite lovely, though, and come in countless designs.

Cute!

Most of them seem to be made of copper, which also has a couple of drawbacks – expense and people stealing your chains for the metal. But there’s always the homemade alternatives, I’ve seen chains as simple as lengths bought from the hardware store to ones made from everything from wire-wrapped rocks to teacups complete with saucers.

I’m not going to rush right out and buy the first gutter or rain chain I see, but it’s fun to look into all the options.

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