Being back home over Christmas and the new year reminded me of the magic of having a range in the kitchen. I grew up in a home with an oil-fired range and the hum of it, the heat of it and its big, solid presence make me long that for our home too. Back before we had the oil-fired range, we had a smaller, solid-fuel range. I’ll never forget the snug, cosy feeling of being wrapped in a towel after bath time and being sat on a kitchen chair in front of the open doors of the range to warm up and dry off while watching the flames flicker within. I remember too in winter being sent outside with my brothers to get clean snow and bring it in to boil up on the range for making tea. We didn’t often have snow and it must have been bad that winter if the water was off too.
Snow seems to be what we all want to leave behind us now. All over social media and even in real conversations with neighbours or on the school run there seems to be a longing for spring to arrive. No doubt no sooner will spring be here and there’ll be talk of summer coming and finally being able to turn off the heating for a few months, making some savings on fuel bills, even if you managed to find a good deal here that kept you all toasty over the winter.
As those of you with an oil-fired AGA or a similar range will already know, ranges need more managing and forethought than the average oven, being a source of heating as well as a means of cooking. If you have a back-up oven and hob, then you can turn off your AGA for the warmer months without worrying. You *might* even think about getting the barbecue set out of the shed (forever the optimist).
Here’s how you give your AGA a real rest over the warmer months without having to worry about giving it too long of a break.
Take action against corrosion
If you are turning it off for more than a few days, then you must allow air to circulate under the hotplate lids. If you don’t do this, then any dampness can cause rust to develop on the hotplates and on the expansion rings around them.
Once you’ve turned your AGA off and it’s completely cooled down, you need to get a clean cloth or some kitchen roll and smear a thin layer of olive oil over the hotplates and expansion rings to protect them. Finally, take an old pencil or a length of dowelling, snap it into two or three pieces and place the pieces under the front of each hotplate lid. This lets air circulate under each lid without the lids looking obviously “up”.
Cut off the oil supply
Once everything’s cooled down you should isolate (or cut off) the oil supply to stay on the safe side. Find the tap – it’s usually on the supply pipe next to the control box – and turn it to the off position. It’s always better to be safe than sorry as heating oil leaks are bad news.
Take the opportunity to give your AGA a good clean
It’s pretty much impossible to clean your range when it’s on as it’s just too hot. When it’s cooled off, it’s the perfect opportunity to give it a really good detailing. Make sure you use only AGA-approved products and take your time over it. You can also repair any chips or scratches with an enamel kit, too.
Your AGA can still have a function
Your cooled-down AGA can function as an extra cupboard in the summer, as well as an extra work surface or table. It’s great because things won’t actually melt for once! You’ll need to protect the surface of the hob with thick pads to avoid chips. You don’t have to take the drying rack off, if you have one – the warm summer air will dry all your clothes, right? (like I said, ever the optimist).
Sort out your annual AGA service
All AGAs need an annual service at least and oil-fired models need servicing twice a year – just after they’re turned off and cold and then again just before they go back into operation. This check-over makes sure there’s no problems that will leave you without your workhorse over the winter.
Fingers crossed we’ll have plenty of warm days this year. But for now, where did I put my coffee and snug socks?
[Disclaimer: This post contains collaborative content.]