Please help - lawn tractor won't start

Hi,
I have an Ariens 1540H lawnmower tractor which ran fine for two months. Today, I let it run out of gas. When I re-fueled it (within 20 min) it won't start. It starts when I use starting spray (one of these things they sell in Home Depot, that you spray into air filter to force engine that won't start). But it dies once the starting spray vapors run out.
I checked fuel lines. The ones going from gas tank to air filter and from air filter to fuel pump have some gas in them. The one coming out of fuel pump to th e engine is dry. There were two other lines going to the pump and both had some gas in them, although I can't say they were full. I took the pump apart; it has a small membrane in it, there was some gasoline in the pump, and the exit "stub" leading out of it was free of obstruction. I put it back together but it still won't start.
So, I guess either the pump stopped working, or there's an air gap somewhere ? I am not good with engines, so any help will be greatly appreciated !
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When you say for two months, do you mean two months this season an a 10 year old machine? Or 2 months since you bought it new and it is under warranty and the dealer will fix this for you for free?
If the latter, don't touch it and screw up the warranty. If the former, I'd guess an air lock of some sort.
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It's past warranty.
How would you deal with an air lock ? Should I try to flush gasoline down the tubes ?
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Amamba,
Air lock is fairly rare and occurs in hot engines. By now your engine should be ready to go. You indicate that the line from the gas tank to the fuel pump has gas but that the line from the pump to the carb does not. Disconnect the gas line at the carb and try to start. If the fuel pump is working gas should squirt out of the gas line. If it does then you have a blockage in the carb. Remove the float bowl and see what's sticking. You may need to replace the float valve. If gas does not squirt out of the pump disconnect the gas line from the tank to the pump. Gas should flow out. If it does look for the fuel filter and replace it. If gas does flow then the fuel pump needs replacing.
Dave M.
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.... Have you checked the fuel filter to be sure it's not plugged or full of water?
Depending on tank design, it's possible you sucked water into the engine. Or worse, dirt, which is clogging the carb's jets.
If it has a fuel pump (not all do) disconnect the output side and crank the engine; see if gas comes out. IS it gas, and not water?
Water sinks to the bottom in gas; so if the tank has a slight riser inside where the gas exits, that would seem to say water was a good possibility. If it's a flush connection, it's not likely water. But ... could the gas you put in have had water in it? You'll probably need direct sunlight to see inside the tank enough to see if there's dirt and debris in there.
An air gap's possible I guess; I've never had that happen to me as a problem.
HTH Pop
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Not a pump. It has 3 lines going to and from it, and the "dry" line, I think now, is just an air intake.
It squirts fuel into the engine, so the pump is working.
The engine starts with starting fluid, bud dies right away.
So, it's the carburetor then ?
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A follow up: I took off the air filter intake and sprayed carburetor cleaner fluid inside the exposed carburetor w/chocke. Did not help. The only part of the carburetor I haven't gotten to is the float, since I haven't figured yet how to take it apart.
Time for professional help ?
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Hmm.. you got me thinking now.
I did let it run out of fuel, and I did put in fresh fuel back in June; however, when it ran out, I borrowed my neighbor's fuel canister and poured about 3 qts of gas. It wouldn't start, so I ran out and bought 3 gal of fresh gas and filled the tank right up.
Now, if my friend's gas was old and full of water, it could be the problem. Coming to think of it, the stuff pouring out of the pump does smell like gas, but it's fairly easy to wash the smell off my hands.. easier than I think a real gas is.
So, should I try and "stir" the gas in the tank so that fresh gas gets to the outlet ? Or just drain it ?
Coming to think of it, I should be able to check it squirting a bit of fresh gasoline straight into the gas line leading into the carburetor.. right ?
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Poop wrote:

Cept for that air gap between your ears, Poop.
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