Central Ac Smell Like Sulfur and Phosphorus

by Tasha L
(Gaithersburg, Md, USA)

I live in an apartment on the bottom floor. Recently, I have notice when I turn on the central ac a FOUL smell would comes from the vents. It smell somewhat like sulfur/phosphorus mixed with sewage.

When I contacted my landlord, the maintenance men said "It's just mildew nothing serious"..I've smelled mildew, unless there's a mildew I'm unaware of, this does NOT smell like mildew...stagnant water MAYBE.

We do not have access to the central ac unit itself since it is locked behind a "closet" door in the house. I don't have much more information than how bad the smell is, it came on kind of suddenly, does NOT smell like a dead animal or anything.

As close as I can call it was sulfur/phosphorus....ANY suggestions would be welcome (fyi: our filter was recently changed so I don’t believe it would be that) also I was told that if it is mold or stale water, isn't this true that this can be harmful to your health to be breathing such fumes?

Thank You

Tasha L

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Jul 22, 2017
P freakin' U NEW
by: DAWN

HELP! My husband and I were just sitting in the front room of our split level(air conditioning on) and a noxious odor came through the room. I got up and checked outside....nothing. walked around the rooms and it seemed to be coming from the vents. We turned off the air, opened windows and it seems to be disapating. It smelled like sewage. Can this order really be from the airconditoner? HOLY CRAP! It smelled gross. Should I call my air guy or a plumber?

Mar 14, 2016
Have it cleaned NEW
by: Anonymous

The air conditioner indoor coil can smell if it is dirty . The evaporator coil and drain pan should be thoroughly cleaned with a chemical meant for that purpose and rinsed. This is a common task for HVAC professionals.

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Jul 25, 2011
Sulfur and Phosphorus Smell
by: Dadan

Hey, Tasha

I believe what you smelling is sewage gas!

I thought in some city Phosphate was used as part of wastewater treatment and sulfur is common in wastewaters. It comes from the decomposition of organic matters.

I could be barking at the wrong tree; you should do some research.


Yes, mold and stale water is harmful to your health in long term, life-threatening diseases.

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