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So the other day I took my mower out to clean it up for the season. I tipped it on the side to clean out underneath it. Then I set it flat and changed the oil. I filled the oil to the fill line on the dipstick.

I went to start it for the first time of the season and at first it seemed stuck...I tried again and it unstuck and it wouldn't fire and started to spit what looks to be a gas/oil mixture out of the muffler. I removed the sparkplug and it had that same mixture on it. I tried pulling it a bunch of times to see if it would spit anything from the sparkplug hole. It did not.

Growing up I used to tip my mower on the side all the time to clean it and never had a problem...I called a couple local mower repair places and talked to guys that are saying it should be able to fire and burn off anything inside. A couple guys at lowes tended to agree.

At this point I don't agree.

What gives? Anyone have any ideas?

Muffler
 

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Used to deal with mowers as a PMT for Sears. Often when they would not start, the spark plug was shot or not gapped properly. And you did put fresh gas in the thing right? Ran alright last year? Have you pulled the air filter off, cleaned it and taken a look at what the carb looks like?
 

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Checked the spark plug gap? And it does turn over so the valve is not frozen. Hmmm. Carb problem I suspect or still some condensation hiding in the gas can (did you empty it or add fuel this year), fuel tank or fuel lines. Even with a little oil having snuck in the fuel it should fire and burn it out in short order unless you overfilled. Even then you would probably just end up with billows of smoke.

Choke is working and throttle cable has not worked loose?

Try a VERY SMALL spray burst of starter fluid in the carb I guess. Or some spray carb cleaner? A tiny spray of WD 40 down the spark plug hole and along the shaft for the blade might make it turn a little easier but you said it didn't seem bound up.

Spark plug wire is tight and looks alright.

I still think it is a fuel or carb problem but hard to tell.

Don't mean to treat you like an idiot by the way. I am just running through my own check list. I often had so many lined up that eventually I had to give up troubleshooting and send them off with internal service orders.
 

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There you go. If you pull it off, get a new gasket before you re-attach it.

By the way, ethanol is wonderful in the eyes of us tree hugging environmentalists but is killer to small engines. See if you can get gas without it for the mower.
 
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