Rayburns and Agas are wonderfully solid beasts. They're made to last... for a long, long time. So while you may not bother giving your ordinary cooker a service, keeping a range in great condition is well worth the effort. So how much are you able to do yourself? And when is the best time to get a professional on the case?
First, there's the lovely, shiny vitreous enamel surface. Obviously it's wise to clean up spills as they occur and not allow them to increase and form a nasty crust, both for appearance's sake and for good maintenance.
You can clean your oven's enamel surface when it's cold or hot. There's no need for fancy cleaning materials. You can't go far wrong with washing up liquid, warm water and a soft cloth. An old square of towelling is ideal because it protects you from the heat if you're cleaning your machine while it's on and stays moist longer than a regular cleaning cloth. If you prefer to use a specialist cleaning fluid make sure it's non-scratch or you'll spoil the surface.
You can clean the chrome surfaces the same way, with warm soapy water, or use a specialist chrome cleaner. And the flue and vent cover also respond well to a warm soapy cloth. Inside, Aga oven lids are made of pressed aluminium. This comes clean with a mild non-scratch cream cleaner on a nylon - not wire wool - scouring pad.
Aga cooking tends to bake spills onto the inside of the oven. But that's no problem. Most of the time you can easily brush crusty spills off the inside with a stiff brush. Or use your hoover when your oven is cool to scrape off and dispose of burnt-on food efficiently. The most important thing to remember is don't experiment! Money-saving cleaners like ordinary household vinegar and lemon juice are no good and can seriously damage the enamel.
For anything other than cleaning it's best to get an expert in for a proper Aga service. The same goes for Rayburns. An expert will know how to remove, clean and re-fit the hinged lids without damaging them, sweep the flue if necessary, remove stubborn deposits and take the central hob out for cleaning. And they'll know how to do so safely without damage to their backs or your enamel!
Some say once a year is ideal. But in reality it probably depends on the way you use your oven. Heavy usage usually means heavier wear and more frequent servicing. Exercise common sense and you won't go far wrong! If in doubt ask your dealer.