Pull the spark plug, pull the air cooling intake screens and use a socket on the flywheel nut to see if it will turn.
If the engine is not locked up, you should be able to remove the spark plug and rotate the fan shroud by hand.
Awesome, that's just what I needed to get started. With the air intake screen off (and the spark plug removed) I was able to manually rotate the engine with the fan shroud. The sparkplug was black, and had a very light sheen of oil on it.
If it's got WAY Too Much OIL in it, smell the oil on the dipstick to see if it's full of gas. Over time, my 175 with this same 14HP Kawasaki allowed the fuel to pass thru the carb (with no fuel shutoff solenoid) and it filled the oil pan. That locked up the motor such that it would not turn over.
Yes , you need to drain the oil down first. Then if the oil is super thin and smells of gasoline then don't run the motor for more than a few seconds until you change the oil [ and filter if it has one ].
I didn't notice any smell of gasoline in the oil. I pulled the floatbowl on the carb to look for any fouling or contaminants, but everything looked good. Then I drained the oil level to the appropriate level. Finally, I moved the battery over and started it up.
The good news:
it started immediately with no hesitation (with the choke engaged) and the engine idle speed responded appropriately when I adjusted the throttle lever.
The bad news:
of blueish smoke kicked out of the exhaust. Also, I felt like I could faintly hear a high-pitched metallic "tinging" sound coming from the top end of the engine. But, maybe it's because I was hyper focused on the motor. I let the mower run for approximately 20 seconds and then shut it off.
So, clearly the engine is burning oil. Any ideas what would be causing that? Bad rings on the pistons? Anything else I can do to help diagnose the issue without tearing into the engine?