Whether you're using a big beautiful commercial chocolate fountain or a cute little home unit chocolate fountain, they all work basically the same (at least the auger style chocolate fountains do). If you have a pump style fountain rather than an auger (cork screw) driven chocolate fountain, my sympathies...chocolate typically clogs in the small plastic tube and it's usually a disaster. Don't worry, the vast majority of chocolate fountains have the far superior auger style.
Pick a location away from air conditioning ducts, swinging doors, dance floors, exterior doors, etc. If you are at a facility that dictates where you need to set up, be assertive if the location is bad. It will ruin the event. Being directly under A/C ducts is awful, as the cold air will actually cool the chocolate and it will start to harden and will flow terribly.
I know you're tempted to, but take my word for it. DON'T use a chocolate fountain outdoors. There's nothing worse than a gust of wind blowing the chocolate all over you and your guests. Or, perhaps the unexpected rainstorm may put a damper on things, it definitely will cause the chocolate to seize (remember water & chocolate don't mix). And if there is no wind or rain, there's bound to be insects. Oh yeah, they love chocolate too.
Leveling your chocolate fountain is a really simple task that takes a minute or two. Most fountains don't come with a level, so go to Home Depot or Lowe's (or your local hardware store) and pick up a little 6-8 inch level. They cost a couple of bucks, and it's money well spent. Don't think you can "eye" it, you can't. Before chocolate is in the fountain, lay the level across the edge of the fountain's bowl. Adjust the feet so the fountain is level. Repeat with the level at different sides of the bowl. The more accurate you are, the better the flow of the chocolate. A level fountain will allow the chocolate to flow evenly around the entire fountain making everybody in attendance say "ooh and awh." An unleveled fountain will have everybody saying, "ugh."
Chocolate does not harden until it drops in temperature to around 70-72°F. By placing the melted chocolate in the tubs inside a cooler (plastic or Styrofoam) you will be insulating it from outside temperatures, it will remain warm and in a liquid state for several hours. If you don't have kitchen facilities at the event, you'll be ready when you get to the event and prepared when you need to add more chocolate. Even if the function is on-site at your home or place of business, the cooler can be stored directly under the table and both you and your chocolate are ready.
If the room is cold, the metal bowl and tiers will also be cold and when the chocolate is poured in, it can harden and not flow properly.
Everything's going great, everybody loves the chocolate fountain, the chocolate is delicious and after a little while, the fountain stops flowing properly. More than likely, you either need to add more chocolate, or your fountain has gotten air trapped in the auger tube, making the chocolate flow uneven or curtain open.
Simply turn off the auger for around 10-15 seconds.
As the chocolate flows back down into the bowl from within the auger tube, you'll probably notice air bubbles popping out of the chocolate.
Turn the fountain back on and the problem should be cured.
If that doesn't cure the problem, make sure that you leveled the fountain and are not under an air-conditioning vent or outside in the wind.
Test your chocolate fountain before you put the chocolate in it, to make sure it's working properly. Bring (or have) plenty of paper towels, sponges, flexible plastic bowl scraper or rubber spatula, extra Just Melt It!, storage containers for leftovers (Just Melt It! tubs are perfect for this). Wear an apron, so you don't get chocolate all over yourself. And have a hairdryer and extension cord handy...this could be really useful before the event to quickly warm up the cold fountain components or after the function to melt any hardened chocolate left in the fountain.
If you've ever had to clean up a spilled chocolate fountain, you won't make that mistake twice. Murphy's law guarantees someone will trip over the exposed cord or some other obstacle and knock over the fountain or the table it is sitting on.
I know I talk about this too much, but it needs to be said. Wet items will cause the chocolate to seize and crumbly items contaminate the chocolate.
A lot of people don't realize that chocolate is absolute poison to dogs. Or could you imagine the little kitty dipping it's paws in and playing in the flowing curtain of chocolate (how cute is that?). Or leaving young kids at a birthday party without adult supervision? Worst of all is a group of drunk adults getting a little crazy with chocolate.
A simple solution is to assign someone (it can be a responsible kid) to be the "guardian of the fountain." If you are the host or hostess, you may not be able to devote adequate attention to the task. I promise you, Chocoholics will cherish this responsibility. They can demonstrate how to dip items, tell people to use a plate to avoid drips or remind people not to double-dip or turn off the fountain when somebody's strawberry falls off the skewer and that person absolutely, positively has to have that chocolate drenched treat. Having an attendant at the fountain is a really smart idea. I have heard stories from our commercial customers of "Kids Gone Wild" at a Bar Mitzvah and drunk adults at a wedding attempting to put their heads under the fountain to drink the chocolate.
Chocolate fountain providers rarely have the opportunity to clean their fountains on-site. If you're not going to have a place to clean the fountain, bring a few large plastic trash bags to put the emptied (but unclean) fountain in for transport home or to the kitchen. You can't believe how much chocolate an emptied fountain still has on it...and it can make one heck of a mess.
When it cools, it will harden. If someone turns on the auger with hardened chocolate in the fountain, it will potentially burn out the motor. If you do leave chocolate in the fountain and it hardens, simply turn on ONLY the heating element to start to melt the chocolate. Then, using a hair dryer, shoot warm air on the tiers and auger tube to melt the chocolate, freeing the auger and tier set from the chocolate. Even if the chocolate has hardened and you have re-melted it, it still is good and can be poured back into a Just Melt It! tub or storage container for future use.