Thinking of transforming your outdoor environment with the beauty and functionality of rain chains but your house lacks a gutter system?

It is possible to install rain chains even if you have no gutters attached to your roof eaves. You can mount a bucket at the end of your roof valley and then attach the chain, you can also install a leader cornerhead or a canale extension to serve as a hooking point for the rain chain. Here are details on how to go about it and other gutter-free rain chain solutions

Key Notes

To ensure optimal efficiency when using rain chains without a gutter, it is important to have a vertical water source. This means that the rain chain should be positioned directly below an area of your roof where rainwater flows down in a straight line.

The idea behind this is that as the rainwater cascades down the chain, it has a clear path to follow and can flow smoothly toward the ground.

Having a vertical water source allows the rain chain to function properly and capture as much rainwater as possible. It ensures that the water doesn’t splatter or disperse in different directions, which could result in wastage or inefficient drainage.

You also need a solid mounting point that will handle the weight of the rain chain, the water and any other additional equipment that will help in managing the flow of the water down.

Further Reading

Use a Bucket and Roof Valley

This method involves using a bucket to catch the water and then sending the water through the rain chain. If you take some time to observe the drip patterns from the roof, you will notice that the rainwater tends to naturally concentrate where two roof slopes meet. This section is referred to as the roof valley. Roof valleys with open flashing make it even easier to set up the chains

Open roof valley

You need a rain chain and a container-like item with a hole at the bottom. The container acts as a means of collecting the water and thereafter releasing it onto the rain chain.

DIY no gutter rain chain
Bucket mounted in the valley and Rain chain Photo:

Find a bucket with an opening that is wide enough to capture the flow of water at the end of your roof valley. Observe your home during a rain event to determine what size to accommodate the flow.

Here are the steps

  1. Drill a hole in the bottom of the bucket. Make the hole wide enough to enable you to dangle a hook through it.
  2. Screw hook into the soffit under the roof valley where you’ll hang the bucket. Position the hook about an inch from the edge of the soffit. This will allow most of the bucket mouth to be open to the streaming rain.
  3. Attach the bucket to the hook.
  4. Lay the metal rod across the bottom of the bucket.
  5. From the of the bucket, hook the rain chain to the metal rod
  6. Test and adjust- when it is raining, test by moving the bucket around under the streaming water until you find the position you want the bucket to occupy.

If you prefer cup-style rain chains, you can order one with extra-large cups or simply modify the uppermost cup/contain to accommodate the water flow.

Install the Corner Leaderhead

If you are not into DIY stuff, a corner leaderhead is a great option that will allow you to use a rain chain where there isn’t a gutter.

Corner leaderhead kit for gutterless rain chain installation
Corner leaderhead

This device is designed to easily mount or fit in the valley of your roof. It also comes with a removable brass screen in the top to let water in and keep debris out. Even if you live in an area that doesn’t receive a lot of rainwater, but you’d like to add a rain chain, this is a great way to do it! 

To use a corner leaderhead, follow the steps below.

  1. Attach the corner leaderhead to the wall or fascia board using screws or other appropriate fasteners. Make sure it is positioned at the desired angle and aligned with the rain chain’s path.
  2. Connect the Rain Chain: Attach the rain chain to the corner leaderhead. Depending on the specific design of the leaderhead, it may have a built-in attachment point or require additional hardware such as a connector or hook.
  3. Test and Adjust: Run water through the rain chain to test the flow and ensure it is properly diverted along the desired path. Make any necessary adjustments to the position or angle of the rain chain or leaderhead to achieve optimal water flow and visual appeal.

Use a Canale Extension (for Flat Roofs)

A Canale (roof scupper) is a spout/drain installed in the parapet of a flat roof building to drain rainwater. It can be round, square or rectangular, and protrude from the wall from 4″ to 12″ or more.

Canale extension

To hang a rain from a canale, first, install the canale extension and then simply attach the rain chain to the hole under the length of the canel

Do not hang the rain from the opening at the end of the canel, it won’t work well because, as mentioned earlier, the water source must be vertical

Do not entirely shut the end of the canale since water can back up if the hole for the rain chain is too small to drain it quickly enough. This can also cause excessive splashing. 

Other Gutter-Free Rain Chain Solutions

Installing a Mini Gutter

In situations where a rain chain requires a more extensive water management system, consider installing a mini gutter. This involves attaching a small gutter section to the eave or fascia board, positioned to guide the water directly into the rain chain. The mini gutter provides a stable and controlled path for the water, preventing splashing or uneven flow.

Plumbing Items

You can also use some plumbing items for your gutter-free rain chain installation. Some of these items include;

  • 1″ 90 Degree elbow male and female
  • 1″ flange
  • 1″ nipple
  • 1″ street tee
  • This installation kit combines all the above items

Free-Standing Pole or Post

 Install a freestanding pole or post in a suitable location near where you want the rain chain to be. Attach the rain chain to the pole or post using the appropriate mounting hardware. This method provides flexibility in positioning the rain chain.

Pergola or Trellis

If you have a pergola or trellis structure in your outdoor space, you can attach the rain chain to one of the vertical posts or beams. Ensure that the structure is sturdy enough to support the weight of the rain chain and any potential water flow.

Rain Chain Waterfall

Create a captivating rain chain waterfall by hanging multiple rain chains from a pergola, trellis, or other vertical structures. The chains can be arranged in a cascading pattern, allowing the water to flow gracefully from one chain to the next, creating a stunning visual display.

Rain Chain Fountain

Convert your rain chain into a unique water feature by directing the water flow into a decorative fountain or basin. Place the rain chain above the fountain, allowing the water to cascade down into the basin, creating a soothing and mesmerizing effect.

Hang the rain chain from a tree

You could install a rain chain on a tree or anywhere that can securely handle the load.

Rain Chain on tree
Rain Chain from a tree

Remember to consider the height and angle at which you attach the rain chain to ensure proper water flow and prevent splashing or runoff issues. Adjust the positioning and length of the rain chain as needed to achieve the desired aesthetic and functionality.

If you notice a significant amount of rainwater cascading down your roof, it is advisable to consider reaching out to a gutter contractor and installing gutters regardless. Insufficient diversion of rainwater can lead to detrimental effects on your home and landscaping. The addition of even a modest stretch of guttering can have a profound impact, effectively safeguarding your landscaping from erosion caused by rainwater.

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